Saturday, December 21, 2019

Three Words

The six, giant Scrabble letters on the bookcase by the door of Chapel HIll’s Franklin Hotel bar spell, REFUGE. Just what I need.
Earlier this week I posted a crazy GIF on FB with a fully-dressed guy falling into the surf with a skimboard while his jeans fell down around his knees. I labeled it “My Decade.” It got a lot of laughs and  comments. I’ve continued to watch it because it cracks me up. But, there’s a ton of truth in the image and the message.
The past decade started with a major challenge and they’ve lined up, one after the other. You’ve had times like these, I’m sure. If you’re trying to live a life that matters you’re bound to step in it on a regular basis.
I just dropped some friends off at a party over here and they’ll call when they’re ready to head home. They asked why I wasn’t going to the party—as I’m sure the hostess and host will. I was invited but, tonight, this week, this year, the end of this decade just doesn't seem to be a time for mixing and mingling. I figured this would be a good place to have one glass of wine.
Chapel Hill during the holidays is waaaay different than any other time of year. Kids are gone for Christmas so every restaurant and bar is, well, available. It’ll be in the high-20s tonight so sidewalk traffic is light and, right now, it’s just me and Matt the bartender.
You would think that in a high-class, high-dollar place like The Franklin the bar would look more like a country club’s. You couldn’t be more wrong. The floor is cement, the furniture is what you’d see on a patio and the backlit bar shelves are made of plumbing pipe and 2x6’s; functional, easy to clear and clean. In fact, the only similarity between this place and a country club bar is the clear to dark, dark brown colors of happiness on the shelves.
You know, if I’m in a bar tonight this is probably where I need to be. Football on the silenced, big-screen and upbeat music just loud enough to be perfect. Matt is rockin’ a great Fedora from Goorin Brothers up in PA that made me smile. He’s not chatty as I was 40 years ago, tending bar up Franklin Street at Spanky’s. He’ll speak if spoken to, but he’s not going into 20 questions.
Having worked behind a bar, I often find some of the best life stories come from folks in that position. In fact, a few minutes ago I asked, in my chatty self, “In a thousand words or less, what’s your story?”
Matt thought a second and said, “How about three words…to be continued.”
To be continued.
That’s why I came here tonight. To hear that. 

The 2020’s…to be continued. Just what I needed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Underwear? Again?!!!

Two weeks from right now there will be a bunch of happy people, a bunch of disappointed people and some sad folks.

The happy people will be with whom they want to be, getting what they hoped and looking ahead to a wonderful day!

The disappointed people will be with folks they wish they weren't, not getting what they hoped for and counting the minutes until Dec 26.

The sad people may be alone or missing someone who was with them in Christmases past; maybe not getting anything; and seeing Christmas as just another day.

I've been some or all three at various times and I've learned a few lessons:
- Christmas is what YOU make it. It's a gamble to rely on others for your holiday cheer.
- It's OK to be your own Santa Claus. In fact, some of the best presents I've ever gotten came from ...Me.
- While all religions don't celebrate Christmas they all have central figures who were giving, caring, loving and all-in when it came to helping others; that is the basic Christmas lesson--and gift.

Finally, exactly one week after Christmas is the New Year which, if you look at it in a positive way, is the best gift of all. You get a new year--and, in this case a new decade--to start over, make some changes if needed and put the past in the...past.

What will you do during the next two weeks to try and have your best Christmas ever or, at least, a Christmas you can enjoy and appreciate.

Let's Holiday UP!!!

Monday, November 4, 2019

AAAIIIEEEE!!!! MY EYES! MY EYES!!! Oh, wait, it's morning....

What’s the first thing you do every morning? 

No, not that. 

I mean, to what do you pay attention? 

Believe it or not, your first focus of the day tends to set the tone for the rest of the day. 

My late mother-in-law used to say, "If you wake up killing snakes you'll be killing snakes all day long."

Ok, well, I appreciate country wisdom as much as the next person...but, you get the meaning.

First thing in the morning I do some stretches in bed. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not doing some sort of heroic workout...I'm just doing some simple movements to (at 67) make sure all the parts are working.

Then, I sit on the side of the bed and, out loud, say, “Thank you.” And, “It’s going to be a great day.”

Now, let's be honest; sometimes neither phrase comes out very enthusiastically, but it’s a positive start.

What could you see, hear, say, feel or think that would start your day off in a positive way?

I have a friend who does a meditation; I tried that and immediately went back to sleep...sitting up.

I tried the early morning workout...3 times...and I distinctly remember thinking on the way back home after the last one, "Just shoot me."

Over the years we all come up with habits that get us out of bed in one way or another. Try a couple of things that are positive and see what works.

One other thing I do is check out before I go to bed. I search, "Positive Quotes" and read one or two before retiring, so I'm setting my mind in a positive way. 

Then, in the morning, right after I do the "Thank you," and "It's going be a great day," I check Pinterest again for another positive quote.

Here's what came up this morning, "Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every now and then or the light won't come in," by Alan Alda.

Maybe it's time to give your rise-and-shine routine a little scrubbing.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

From Wild Wings to Ruling the World

The little guy couldn't have been much more than 4-years old and he was tearing up the game on the tablet in his hands. He was totally oblivious to the chaos around him.

His dad had brought him to Wild Wings on Sunday afternoon for all the pro football games. Fans on all sides were yelling at the tops of their lungs.

Dad was having a beer (just one) and the game king had already had two juice boxes (apple).

As I watched, his fingers flew across the pad and his face immediately reflected wins, losses, shoot downs and being shot down. He was in the zone.

His father looked up from watching the pad over his son's shoulder and our eyes met. Both of us shook our heads, amazed at the kid's prowess.

At 4-years old I was probably still learning to wave bye-bye. Today, saying that young people are growing up with extraordinary techno skills has become, well...ordinary.

Here's the point: No matter what your age, if you are not reaching out to someone younger to learn techno skills, hacks, ideas and predictions you're already falling behind.

Every Tuesday morning at 10 am I meet with an incredibly smart, ambitious and astute 35-year old.  I talk to him about the bigger picture of business and he laughs about the techno-topics I have no idea about.

The one thing we always agree on is that in a couple of decades the 4-year old Pad King and his friends will be ruling the world and we'd better understand the language they are speaking.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Thoughts About a Turkey Leg

Ran into some guys around lunch on Monday and one had what was left of a  Famous Turkey Leg from the NC State Fair.

We all got a laugh about it and I congratulated him on having ANYTHING left after leaving the fair. I can't even remember everything I ate last Friday.

But, after I drove away I thought about the guy's willingness to use what he had to fill a need. I saw a woman throw away about that much turkey leg as I was walking out the fair gate.

Too often, we overlook resources we have that could move us to the next level or, at the least, help us take a step forward. The resources could be time, energy, money, contacts, stuff, knowledge or...leftovers.

A few years ago I met a couple from Nashville, NC, who wanted to start a small business. They needed $375 to get started, but didn't have the cash. I asked them, "When was the last time you cleaned out your closets, attic and garage?"

They looked at me and their eyes lit up. Two weeks later they had a yard sale that pulled in $758. I remember the number because I loved the example.

We always have something we can use; even it it's only our sweat, our brainpower, or a leftover Famous Turkey Leg from the NC State Fair.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Uh, Oh! Time To Pull Over

Recently, I saw a wonderful posting on FaceBook. 

It read, “Do you ever feel like your body’s ‘check engine light’ is on and you’re still driving it like, ‘naaah, it’ll be fine’?”

When we are young and relatively stupid we often ignore the warnings our bodies and vehicles give us until we’re sitting/lying on the side of the road.

I will admit to being guilty on both counts.

Now, though, I’m at a point in life at which I pay much more attention to what my body, mind and heart are telling me. 

I am acutely aware when I need more water, food, sleep and/or exercise. And, instead of pushing my limits as I used to do (often a decision made by my ego), I’ll slow down a bit and, literally, ask, “Mike, what do you need?’

It’s amazing how often I’ll start to convince myself that something serious is happening when, in fact, I simply need to drink a big glass of water.

A few years ago I started checking the list above—water, food, sleep, exercise—when I began to slow down and get the, “Uh, oh“ feeling. 

If I go through my list and there is a check beside each item I know my down feeling comes from something inside my head or heart. So, I’ve added, “Positivity” to the list.

Sometimes a life event, negative thought, or memory will start holding me back and I’ll feel myself easing or oozing into a funk. 

At that point I realize I need a Positive experience/thought/person…and I, purposely, seek it or them out. 

I might watch a movie I know I’ll like, go to a museum or book store, get together with a friend, read something positive (maybe spiritual), look for a positive experience (meditation or going for a walk), or simply make a list of the things that are going right, right now.

As the wonderful Philly group, The Stylistics, sang in 1971, “Stop, Look, Listen.” Very often, that’s all it takes to start getting back on a positive/healthy track.

What is your body/mind/heart telling you—right this minute—you need to pay attention to? 

Use my simple list—water, food, sleep, exercise, Positivity.

Now, ease into it…….

Monday, July 29, 2019

I Don't Want to Grow Up...But....

If you were to talk to some of my best friends they would tell you that I have resisted being a grown-up most of my life. 

And, in many ways--good and not-so-good--I've succeeded; at least from outward appearances.

It seems, though, that we are moving through a time in which even the folks who are supposed to be the grown-ups in the room are acting out. 

In a recent interview, Gayle King of CBS This Morning, said, “The world seems upside down. We are encouraged to be our worst selves. In all levels."

Remember the homecoming parade in the wonderful movie, Animal House? One of the best scenes was when one of the Delta Fraternity guys led the Faber College band down a blind alley.

We are moving through one of those times in America when the folks at the front of the parade aren't leading us where we need to go.

So, if the grown-ups aren't going to act grown-up, what do we do?

Gayle King added, "We need to start holding it down, individually.”

And yes, I hate it! I've spent more than 4 decades perfecting my I'm not a grown-up act.

But, the outcome we are looking at--think again of the Faber College band in the alley--is not something any of us want.

So, here's our first contribution: You and I can do/talk/think something positive. When folks start down the negativity road we are hearing in conversations, seeing on television and online, and feeling in many situations, ask, "What is something good that is happening?"

I know it sounds trite. And, I know there will be some people who talk about the negative as if it is a good thing, but we need to bring them back to the positive. 

Remember, in some of our darkest days the real grown-ups--Lincoln, Roosevelt, King--focused on the future and the positive. 

It seems that we all need to step out and be grown-ups. 

If I'm willing to do it, you certainly can.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

You Take Care of You

One of the lectures we all get as children is, “Don’t be selfish!” 

Unfortunately, a lot of us take that directive waaaay too seriously. We internalize it to mean that almost anytime we are watching out for ourselves we are being “selfish.” 

Please take this moment as permission to take care of yourself. 

If self-care is new to you, start simply; drink more water, take a walk on a regular basis and try to get a little more sleep. 

It’s OK, you now have permission.

 Even the people who lectured you will agree. 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Dealing a Hand of Misery Poker

I bet you have an acquaintance like one of mine, someone who loves to play Misery Poker. If Pouting Paul is in the room when someone notes a challenge, defeat or hurt he always has a worse story. 

Your mentioning that you bumped your hip on the kitchen island this morning brings a tale of woe from PP that has him figuratively helicoptered to Duke Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. 

Now, when he starts dealing a hand of Misery Poker I’ll gently ask, “Paul, what happened today that is good?” 

His awareness is starting to light up.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The 4th Is Over! What's Next?

We’ve all been in jobs in which we were asked to provide annual projections, sometimes 36-months forecasts. 

Long-range corporate planning needs those guesstimates but, from a practical standpoint, I’ve always been more focused and worked with more urgency looking at shorter horizons. 

I use holidays. 

Last weekend’s July 4th holiday signaled the middle of summer; next up, Labor Day. 

I can stay more focused and get a lot done if I'm staring down the barrel of 6-7 weeks instead of 12 months. 

Then, Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year—Easter—Memorial Day. 

From a practical standpoint, what if you looked at the year in chunks from 6-7 weeks to 3 months? 

And yes, if it works better for you to look at the year and break it up into chunks like that then go right ahead. 

Whatever works for you, works for you.

Have a great summer....and get those used fireworks stems out of the front yard...the neighbors were watching.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


Got a haircut yesterday and my barber schooled me.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the slang word, schooled. It means to be taught something in an embarrassing way.

My barber, Chris, is a good guy, laid-back, and has been my barber for years. Yesterday, we were comparing notes on the summer. 

Chris said he had only a few plans and asked what I had coming up.

I said, “Not much going on. Might go to the beach. But, I’ve got a book I’m writing that I’ve just got to finish.”

At this point I was schooled: Chris said, “Oh yeah, you told me about that.”

Now, I only see Chris every 3 weeks, or so, and it takes about as long to cut my hair as it does to eat a reasonably decent cheeseburger. So, if Chris can remember sayingI had to finish a book and I only see him every 3 weeks I’ve probably said something about the book a couple of times. 

In other words, I’ve shot my mouth off about it and have done very little.

Simple. Seven words. “Oh yeah, you told me about that.”


Wisdom—true wisdom—is stunningly valuable. As such, we should take wisdom anywhere we find it. 

Thanks, Chris. I’ll finish the book by the next time I see you.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Just Get Me to 5 O'clock

I’m sure you’ve had one of these days.

Have a 10 am meeting so I’m up and at’em.

Get in the car and the tire light is on. Get out and check and, sure enough, one of the rear tires is almost flat. Nearest air pump is at a local convenience store so I take off. 

Realize on the way that I have no cash for the air machine. But, YES! the machine takes an ATM card! Fill tire so it’s good. I’m rolling.

Make a stop and need the ATM card. Nowhere to be found. Search throughout the car and even call some friends and tell them to look out for my card. 

Than, I realize I left it in the air machine!

Get back in the car and the tire light is on again!

Call my meeting friend and we reschedule.

Head to my local BB&T and Allison, the welcomer, couldn’t have been nicer. Temporary ATM card and am now at the tire place getting the tire checked.

And, it is not even 10 am.

This is one of those days on which you thank God, in all Her wisdom, that today is Friday.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

National Vanilla Milkshake Day!

Today, June 20, is National Vanilla Milkshake Day! 

Now, I'm all for being healthy and eating right and getting some exercise. In fact, for me, today is a gym day.

But, sometimes we get a little too tightly-wound about life issues and miss the fun of life  

I don't drink a vanilla milkshake every day even though it might be healthier than some of the other things I consume. 

However, I AM going to have one of those vanilla treats today.

Find a simple, fun, easy-to-accomplish activity today and do it; we're only in this ride that is life for a short while, we should enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Aaaah!!!!! My Eyes!!!!

God Bless those of you who love to awaken early enough to see the sun rise! Sunrises are beautiful! 

I just wish hey happened later in the morning. 

I get the fact that rising later doesn’t fit with 8-5 jobs. But, if you control your schedule enough to decide when you get up there may be benefits you haven’t expected.

One study says late sleepers are more intelligent than those “meet the sun” advocates; another says we are more creative. I like that.

Winston Churchill spent the first few hours of the day in bed…working. His secretary would sit in a chair across from him as he dictated. He held meetings with a wide range of people while in bed.

Simply go online and check out “famous late risers” and you’ll see a Who’s Who of art and business.

Stop feeling guilty about rising a little later. If you get the job done, who cares what time you get up?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

And, In This Corner!!!!

How’s that black eye doing? Or, your bruised ribs? You know, the ones you gave yourself by beating yourself up in that boxing ring in your mind. 

Be honest, you've been smacking yourself about who you are, what you are doing, what you did in the thing and then another. We all do it and we do it too often.

As long as you're occupied trying to knock yourself out you can't really get anything done. 

Don't you think it's about time to ring the bell and walk to the corner and give yourself a rest? 

Here's a simple suggestion: Anytime you hear yourself in your own head starting a thought with, "I really wish I hadn't..." or, something similar, that's you taking a swing at yourself.

I'm not saying you shouldn't try to learn from the times you stumbled. Yes, when you see areas in which you can improve that's a good thing.

I'm just saying we spend waaaaay too much time pounding ourselves for things that are already done. 

Try this: Stop swinging in your mind for just a second. Put your mental bare fists on your hips, stand in the middle of your ring and think about my new favorite quote, "Maybe, life is not about finding the straightest path to success. Or the simplest. Or even the smoothest. Maybe, it’s about finding one, just one, that allows you to get there at all. But that requires letting go of our old beliefs.”  Nikolas Goke

Your old beliefs are smeared on the knuckles of those mental fists. Every time you pop yourself with a fist you are punishing yourself for those old stumbles.

Now, go to your corner, sit on your stool and take a breather. Forgive yourself by putting some ice on that eye.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

All I'm Asking For Is One Hour

Here’s a simple challenge: Can you be the best you for one hour? 

Not the best you you think you’re supposed to be, but the best you as you are. 

Most of us simply zoom through every day trying to deal with all of—IT—and we rarely approach our potential. The pressure crushes our motivation. 

So, for today, pick one area; health, work, family, mental, social, spiritual or financial and do the best you can for one hour.

I'm betting you'll amaze yourself.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ridin' and Learnin'

What are you listening to as you drive? I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s so important I’m bringing it up again. We spend sooo much time in our vehicles it’s crazy not to spend that time more profitably. Music is fine some of the time, but I’m betting your system would allow you to listen to informational/educational videos on Thumbs down on talk radio, it makes us crazy. Listen to something that makes life bigger, better and more profitable. And be safe, don’t fool with your phone while driving.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Drunk By 7

A friend said about a mutual acquaintance, “You’d better call before 7 pm ‘cause he’ll be drunk by 7.”  

Now, your reaction to that revelation probably ranged from outright laughter to a sad shake of the head.

However, if you were going to connect with our friend the tippler the tidbit above would be good to know. 

Years ago, I worked with a sales professional who kept a cheat sheet on his clients. The notes included birthdays, family connections, hobbies and trivia such as their favorite cocktail or recreational activity. The information helped him connect in positive—and profitable—ways.

My colleague learned the strategy while reading Harvey McKay’s, Swim With the Sharks. 

McKay, owner of McKay Envelope Company in Minneapolis, and author of other business classics, asked his salespeople to fill out a 51-question form on each of their clients. The form included questions ranging from spouses’ and pets’ names to who their favorite sports teams were. 

McKay believed that learning more about clients than simply who could sign a check helped his salespeople connect more closely. The closer connections lowered communications barriers and resulted in business relationships that developed into friendships or, at least, closer acquaintanceships.

How well do you know the people with whom you work, associate and live?

By the way…what’s your best friend’s favorite color?

Friday, May 3, 2019

Change Agents?

How many of you have a relative who, at family functions, stirs things up, creates challenges and then exits, leaving everyone to clean up the mess? 

It’s like that in our work lives. There are folks who bill themselves as Change Agents and promise to “shake things up” and “challenge the status quo” and “set a new direction.” 

That’s great! 

We all fall into ruts and need to move to new frontiers. 

However, if the Change Agents don’t also bring practical steps to moving in the new direction you should beware. 

Ask them, “What are 3 simple, doable actions that move us in the new direction?” 

If they have the 3 that’s GREAT! If not…well…