Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pep Talk: "Desire To Serve"

“I am so happy for you!” said the beaming woman who teaches me Spanish every other Friday. I had just told our wonderful housekeeper that “Miss Kathy” and I were tying the knot this fall. “Listo para una cerveza!” was this simple gringo from Missouri’s response.

My first television sportscasting gig after graduating from the University of Missouri’s School Of Journalism was a great opportunity for me to learn Spanish, connect with the Hispanic culture and become very passionate about serving it. It was in Harlingen, Texas for KGBT-TV, the CBS affiliate there. Weekend sportscaster and weekday reporter. Harlingen sits in the Rio Grande Valley along America’s border with Mexico. Ninety-five percent of the population is Hispanic. When I arrived back in 1986, at least half didn’t speak English. Into that soup fell a knucklehead from Raytown, Missouri who didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. All that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, I love speaking Spanish. I don’t do it very well and cherish any chance to get better. The amazing Tina and I were trying to rap in Spanish. She was being very patient and was beaming about the upcoming nuptials. It’s a joyful moment.

And it makes me think of what a lucky guy I am. But that’s a story for another day, too. Ironically, Tina and I were having this discussion while I’m moving about the house packing for a trip to connect with darling fiancee, who is an incredible business success. When I’m invited to these types of events it always warms my heart to hear employees who work for the Chicago native. They gush about the experience. I love to offer, “Nobody likes working for Kathy Gans more than me.”

Good things come in threes. Third time’s a charm. The terrific trio. One may be overpowered, two can defend themselves but a chord of three strands is not easily broken. Call it what you like, but it seems that good things do come in threes. I am not recommending anybody follow this path (the fallout is significant), but what’s the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again?” Well, only through grace, two divorces opened the door for a most amazing human being to walk into my life. I like to joke, but it’s the truth, “We make a good team.”

And now, to the real point of this Pep Talk. Guys need to grow up. Why do I have buddies who deem it necessary to have a bachelor’s party? Really? I’m an aging, chunky, chalky white dude who has already had TWO bachelor parties. Another is not necessary. But two dudes, former radio talk show buddy Jimmy Doogan and Kuntal Vora, a fellow CU Buff to the bone, refuse to listen.

Bachelor party III is alive and well. It will include a golf outing that I’d like to invite any and all of you to attend. The golf outing will be at the beautiful Raccoon Creek course. It’s a lush Colorado course that reminds me of home, lots of trees. For the past six years, Kuntal and his brother Rahool have directed a golf tournament to honor their father, a wonderful mentor to his sons who died of throat and neck cancer.

Lots of guys with CU connections come together, play some golf, bust each other’s chops and raise money for the university’s effort to prevent throat/neck cancer, or effectively treat it. It’s always been a blast and we’d love for you to join us this year. The tournament will be August 23. Stay tuned for details.

It’s a lot of hard work, organizing and conducting a golf tournament. The brothers were thinking about taking a year off. That’s not gonna happen now. The Naren Vora memorial tourney is still alive. It will tee off the bachelor party day in a wonderful way. Honoring a man beloved by sons and others. Reminds me of my father. We used to have a family golf tournament until he passed. I’m disappointed in myself that it hasn’t continued. I can imagine wherever Hacker Mac is playing golf in heaven today, he’s wondering, “What the hell is going on around here?”

To wrap it up. Lucky guy who has hit the jackpot when it comes to picking a winner begrudgingly relents to insistent buddies about Bachelor Party III. It ends up with a way to serve cancer research and honor a great guy.

The power of this reminder hits me like a ton of bricks. Serving something beyond ourselves, as long as its healthy and productive, is wonderful for us. I can’t wait to be of service to my marriage to the love of my life. I can’t wait to be of service for the golf tournament - join us! - to salute dads, connect with buddies and raise some money for cancer research. Thanks to all of you out there who serve beyond yourself. For those looking to serve, good luck on the search.

A strong desire to serve is good for our well-being and offers hope to others. Let’s live that truth. Daily!

Until next week, adios.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pep Talk: "Venture To Gain!"

I was emailing a childhood friend, who works in higher education on the West Coast, about the precious princess daughter.

The high-school junior is starting to visit prospective colleges. Checking out the campuses. Growing up very fast. Her old man does have one last East High Angel volleyball season to savor before the blue-eyed beauty heads for places unknown. The talented and versatile volleyball setter has eyes for a Pacific Northwest school in a big metropolitan area. Apparently, a lot of kids do. It’s tough to get into, considering the competition. High school grades and scores must be pretty darn good to even be considered.

The email conversation centered on this “checking out the colleges” moment of life. Trepidation time. Applying for college these days is stressful for most families. Just my opinion, but it seems the kids have no time to enjoy high school because they’re already, in their junior or even sophomore years, worrying about college. Is it just me, or is that a tad crazy?

Anyway, back to the story. Rachie’s starting to look around at schools, realizing that grades and scores are important when it comes to choices and seems to have a real sense of purpose to achieve her goal.

I hope she does. The football stadium on this campus is home to one of the most dramatic moments of my life. It’s something I share often in Pep Talk presentations when talking about unity of spirit. One day back in 1989 a young sportscasting dude got a big dose to the power of oneness from a moment inside that venue. It’s something I’ll never forget. I’ve got an emotional attachment to that school, too, or at least its football stadium.

If daughter’s dream becomes reality, who knows, someday I would love to go visit the campus and maybe watch the Colorado Buffaloes kick the home team’s butts. For all the CU fans out there, “Shoulder to shoulder, Buffs to the bone!”

Back to the story again. Daughter has a goal. It’s a good one.

This time of her life takes me back to this time in my life. I was clueless about the college application process. I was lucky that many schools were offering me athletic scholarships. Sure, grades and scores were important but athletic skill was the real door opener to the future at the time for this simple knucklehead from Missouri.

There was little stress at the McIntosh household about the college application process. In fact, it was kind of fun having college coaches stream into the house to sell their schools. My parents were divorcing at the time. Now, that was stressful. Just like life is today for families immersed in the race to find the right school. Hectic. Crazy. Sometimes disappointing and sometimes exhilarating.

When talking with high school kids these days, I like to ask, “How many of you know what you want to do in life?” Many will raise their hands. Then I ask, “How many don’t have a clue?” An equal amount answer with that honesty.

We then talk about the fact that either answer is just fine. If you know what you want to do, great. But understand that things may happen to sidetrack what you believe today is what you plan to do with life. I share about the injury, at around their age, that ended athletics for, as my buddy Billy Mac from Hackensack likes to say, “Wrong Arm.”

I had a plan, but was poked in the eye. Most of us have a similar story, right? Life rarely goes exactly the way we planned. Anybody that tells you differently is lying to you.

And for the “I don’t have a clue” respondents in the audience, they’re encouraged to be okay with that. They are also encouraged to realize, who knows? Something might happen the minute you walk out of the room that will somehow, someway, trigger an “aha” moment.

We just never know when life will chuckle and say, “Okay ladies and gents, it’s time for the roller coaster to get real twisty and jerky.” Good and bad. Hold on.

And that’s exactly what we try to do. Hold on. Also, perhaps, have a backup plan. When I was my daughter’s age I thought - naive me - athletics was my ticket. There was no Plan B.

Time has taught me the risks associated with that belief. We do get poked in the eye. Something physical, emotional or financial ruptures the pipeline that carries fuel for our vision of the present and future. Stuff happens.

But we have to keep dreaming. My daughter’s energized when speaking of this college dream. It’s wonderful to witness. She’s vibrant. I hope the dream comes true. Is there anything better in life than seeing your kids achieve dreams? Wow. Pretty cool, ain’t it?

What about you? Got a dream that has just energized your world? If so, I’d love to hear about it. I have one. That’s being part of the team that starts a fitness regimen for the program candidates at the Denver Rescue Mission. These guys are addicts, and exercise can help them prevail against what ails. I’m a big believer in “A sweat a day keeps the doctor away.” I look forward to building a team - maybe you’ll be on it - of folks who would like to volunteer in working out the knuckleheads’ bodies and minds. That’s my dream. To be the next Jack LaLanne for these guys. What’s yours?

Rachel. You. Me. Dream. Go for it. Take a leap of faith. It’s a well-worn comment but so true: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!” We can’t grow by standing still. We must venture to gain.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pep Talk: "Facing Fallout"

Fallout. Sucks.

The fallout might be a personal or professional relationship that once held such promise but no longer does.

The fallout might be our physical health that once held such promise but no longer does.

The fallout can arrive from many different directions, hit us when we least expect it. Have us wondering, “Are you kidding me?” I love those commercial clips - I forget for whom they toll - we see on television, especially during sporting events. Have you seen it? The legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, on the Green Bay Packers’ sideline, bellowing to anyone within earshot who might be listing, “What the hell is going on around here?’’

Got a few going on right now. A buddy and his long-time bride busting up. Two of my favorite people in the whole wide world. Great parents to a college-aged daughter. Love hanging with them. Thought they had the right ingredients to finish the race. It’s what I get for thinking. Life gets complicated, doesn’t it?

Another family near and dear to my heart also busting up. I’m part of it. This family is big, with many members. We share a similar spirit. Well, actually, I think we share several similar passions, ranging from a devotion to exercise to a devotion to community to a devotion to fun.

“Nothing lasts forever.” So true.

I wonder about the fallout. Speaking from personal experience of two marriages that ran out of steam, the fallout centers around kids. You can’t split them in two, right? You can’t clone them. When the team, whether family, business, athletics or whatever, splits, adjustments must be made. It requires us to adapt. Often, it ain’t easy. In fact, it can be quite painful.

I don’t know for certain what has allowed a somewhat somber and melancholy mood to settle over this simple dude from Missouri who loves to write these weekly Pep Talks for your consideration. I think it stems from the fact it’s my birthday time. Yep, chronologically Father Time has assigned me a new digit, 56. Why does that number seem far advanced than 55? I’m not smart enough to figure that out either.

What I do know is that life at this stage offers many great things: a pending wedding to the most amazing woman in the history of ever, plenty of exciting projects at Victory Productions and great gratitude for the continued good health for two beautiful children who are chasing dreams and goals.

But there is regret. I’m missing my kids. One is 24, living in New York City and kicking butt as an aspiring member of the Late Night With Seth Myers writing team for NBC. The other’s an emerging young woman beginning to consider college choices as she prepares for a final year of high school. Way too busy with school, life, a boyfriend and preparation for one more volleyball season for the Denver East High Angels. Halo! Halo! (Sorry, the weird dad comes out occasionally.)

To the point of this musing. There has been fallout. Because these kids have been forced to live in two different homes after decisions their parents made, I have not experienced as much of their lives as I desire. I’m struggling to see my computer screen clearly right now because of the tears welling in my eyes. Time lost, never to be retrieved. I’m giving credit for these emotional moments to advancing age.

The fallout when things go awry. How will we react? Victim or Student? It’s our choice. Choose wisely.

I think of a few who inspire me to choose the latter. In particular, men from the Denver Rescue Mission. The knuckleheads right off the streets, battling addiction to drugs and alcohol. I am blessed to lead their chapel service each Thursday morning and encourage them to achieve goals and overcome challenges. They know about fallout. You do, too.

One has a dream to start an exercise program for the men. This mentor is a veteran, a Marine. We’re working with the Colorado Fitness Association to round up equipment and volunteers to lead the exercise classes. You go, David!

Another man currently living at the Mission is musically inclined. Plays a mean guitar. We’re talking about starting a band. Full disclosure, I’m all in for this so I can participate as a lead singer!

Dealing with life’s unexpected twists and turns. It’s tough. It usually requires us to venture far from our comfort zone. It’s like skydiving from an airplane. It’s a good reminder that if we want to fly, we must be willing to crash.

Facing the fallout of life’s disappointments. Home. Work. Elsewhere. This week let’s take a cue from the guys just off the streets. Let’s face them with courage, not fear, as our guide!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pep Talk: "Get Off The Bus And Go!"

“We must get out of the tour buses!” bellowed the featured speaker.

He was no travel agent. It was John Brackney addressing the South Metro (Denver) Chamber of Commerce troops at a farewell address after a decade-long run as the vibrant organization’s leader.

A native Coloradan grew up on Denver’s south side and has not ventured very far since in a fascinating professional career that has included law school, private business, non profit, public service and now, his words, “Many irons in the fire and I want to do them all!” endeavors. I’m a big fan and consider him one of the most respected guys in the Centennial State and beyond.

Anyway, in addressing the large throng gathered, Brackney had dozens of hats lying on a table in front of him. Folks in the audience would shout out which hat they wanted the excellent communicator to throw on his head. For instance, one was a cowboy hat. It’s significance? “Here in the West we are straight shooters,” Brackney told the crowd. “Bring your products and services to the marketplace and be honest and forthright in your business interactions. Be straight shooters.”

The warm sunshine pouring through nearby windows paled in comparison to the warmth emanating toward the adoring crowd. I wanted to interrupt his comments with a hearty, “Amen buddy!” I resisted the temptation.

Throughout the presentation, Brackney would place different caps upon his noggin’ and jump enthusiastically into explaining its meaning. It was very cool to watch this entertaining drama unfold. The Chamber should have charged admission and called it a fundraiser for the group. It was fun.

“We’ve got to get off the tour bus” was Brackney’s response to a hat, long ago, given to him by his father, a well-traveled man. HIs parents traveled extensively and would bring hats back for their son.

The “off the tour buses”  bellow had little to do with a particular spot of the world that Brackney’s parents had traveled. Nope. It had almost everything to do with his challenge to chamber members to lace up their traveling shoes on and dive into the community and discover where their respective talents could be of value in the marketplace. 

Get out and connect with folks. Pound the pavement and press the flesh. It takes energy, perseverance and a comfortable pair of shoes. It usually the key to success whether we’re talking business or life, wherever we roam.

Where in your world have you, perhaps, been getting the, somewhat detached, tour bus view?

Where might it be time to depart that particular perch and charge into a new frontier? Perhaps it’s finally deciding to volunteer for your favorite non profit. Maybe it’s finally taking the first step toward a new career? Relationship? Spiritual path? The venues will certainly be varied and vast, but the strategy will be the same.

“Get off the bus and go!”

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