Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pep Talk: "Reap The Harvest"

On a recent visit to the Colorado State Capitol this simple dude from Missouri was expecting to get a lesson about politics. Instead it became a reminder about life.

Care for others. Reap the harvest.

The reminder came from Anthony Lambatos, owner and CEO of Footers Catering. “Long ago when my parents had a restaurant in Denver’s Capitol Hill area - I remember it and dined frequently - my father would always ask expectant women their due date. He made sure to deliver a wonderful meal to their hospital room upon arrival of the newborn.”

Talk about customer service!

But I think more importantly, it speaks to a giving heart. Caring for others. Sure, the Lambatos family was trying to build its business, but the ripple effect of never growing weary of doing good for others? It can be dramatic.

Whenever blessed to entertain an audience with a warm, humorous and encouraging Pep Talk, I cherish recalling a story reflecting the benefits of good works. There are many.

First, as the knuckleheads living at the Denver Rescue Mission know from our weekly Thursday morning chats, having that “never grow weary of doing good for others” type-attitude sure helps when we’re feeling sorry for ourselves. Ever experienced that sensation? You’re kinda down about something, on the verge of wallowing in self pity and then, for whatever reason, you decide to take action in doing something good for another person? Focus on others and not yourself? It has great potential to lift our downtrodden spirits.

Second, we open up great opportunities for that ol’ “Law of Circulation” to rear its beautiful head. I finally get to the story.

This was a while ago. Back during the almost two decades I was the “Buff Guy” covering CU athletics for KCNC-TV, the CBS-affiliate in Denver. The Buffs football team (I think Gary Barnett was the coach at the time) was on the road in Pasadena, California, for a tussle with the UCLA Bruins.

I don’t remember the details, but apparently I was walking around outside the Rose Bowl, just shooting the bull with Colorado fans before the game. A Buff zealot was without a ticket to the game. I had an extra media pass. I gave it to him. He watched the game from the Rose Bowl press box. I never saw him again after that brief encounter, because I watched the game from the sidelines.

Fast forward to about eight years ago. I’m in my hometown of Kansas City getting ready to speak on a Saturday morning. It’s early, about six, just after dawn. Four hours before I’m due on stage. I’m lying in a hotel bed, darling fiancee snuggled nearby, wondering what to do?

In speaking to myself, I ponder, how about a workout? Nope. No gym at the hotel. I know not to disturb the beautiful woman beside me. The business leader does not do early morning well. What to do? People watch!

I remembered a Starbucks about three blocks from our hotel. I say to self, “Go down there and ya know, see what happens.” Bring Kathy back a coffee and  a pastry, too. Be curious, not callous about the possibilities.

I looked outside. It appeared to be a typical chilly and gray wintry Midwest day. I throw on a sweatshirt and head downstairs. While strolling through the lobby, I notice the doormen - two young guys, probably students from a nearby college - looking at me kinda funny.

One sarcastically offers, “Where you going dressed like that?” I say ignorantly and proudly, “To Starbucks. You guys want a cup of coffee?” They respond, “Sure. But dude, you don’t have enough clothes on.” 

Well, I’ve told this portion of the story before. I arrogantly stepped from the warmth of the hotel into Antarctica disguised as the Country Club Plaza. The wind chill? About 35 below zero. I sprinted the three blocks to the coffee shop. Once inside, gasping for air, I was also gasping for solutions: How do I carry a tray of coffee and pastries back to the hotel?

I could not dash back without spilling coffee everywhere. There was no way I was walking back. I was stuck. But then out of the blue, a guy tapped me on the shoulder. It was Robert Thompson. The man who, many years earlier, had received a media pass outside the Rose Bowl before a football game. The CU grad and Denver native had just moved to Kansas City. He finally had a chance to say “Thank you.” He did in spades in the form of a ride back to my hotel!

What are the odds? I’m not smart enough to figure that out. All I know is that my good fortune was trigged by caring for others. Footers’ great success in the catering business, at least according to the son who took over for the father, has been built around caring for others. It takes effort. It takes sacrifice. Most worthwhile things in life do.

This week, care for others. We reap the harvest if we just don’t give up!

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