Fedora Wearing Poetry Guy

Amongst the longest of all hiatuses, it’s finally time to resume writing.

Lots has changed in my life in the last few months, though I’ll save my personal update and whereabouts for another blog entry. But as a result it’s put me majorly behind my writing eight-ball. Because I’ve been traveling all day and the night is still young w/ lots to do, yet I’m not going to bed tonight until I get a post uploaded to break my streak, I’m going to post a rather simple one from the weekend.

So Saturday I’m at the Farmers Market in Oly with Erica, it’s a cool kitschy place to go and spend a cold and damp summer morning (ahhhhh, the late summer starts in the NW!) and one of my favorites is to sit outside and listen to some fold band while eating “The Skillet” from Dingy’s along the food market portion (BTW, have them ease up on the meats, load it up w/ veggies, a little light on the cheese–and the thing is amazing!) of the Farmers Market.

Anyways, I’m walking along and I see a guy in the distance standing freely, wearing a Fedora-style hat and a white guitar case by his side. And literally I watch waves of people walk by him, and it’s almost as if there’s a vector that as people are getting closer to him they speed up and walk by much more briskly than they approached him. I was really intrigued as I sat and watched this from 150 feet away, but determined to check it out.

So as I slowly walked towards him, trying to listen to what he was saying to passerby’s, I finally made out the dialogue, which went like this:

Fedora-wearing man: “Do you like Poetry?”

Passerby: No. (whilst proceeding to bundle their small children and walk every more quickly)

This happened maybe ten times as I was watching, and I couldn’t help but chuckle–I was intrigued. But Fedora-man remained unfazed. Completely, unabashedly, and unflappably unfazed.

Then, every approximately 5th to 7th passerby the convo went like this:

Fedora-wearing man: “Do you like Poetry?”

Passerby: Yeah.

Fedora-wearing man: “May I read you a poem I wrote?”

Passerby: No.  (proceeding to walk much more quickly)

Still unfazed, he kept going. So then about every 4th person that answered the affirmative to the question about liking poetry (if you’re keeping track, that’s about every 20-28 no’s) someone would stop and say yes, he could read to them. And he did.

So at first I really thought this bizarre. And maybe it is. I sure as heck didn’t answer the question “Yeah” when he posed to me. But then I started thinking about Juan Mann, I did a post about him a while back that you can read here. But, as I thought about it, I was intrigued. Here’s a guy that loves poetry. Apparently he likes people. And he must even not have too great an aversion to hearing the word “No” repeatedly. Like every minute. Great salesman material. But what he loved was what he was doing.

So, there it is. A quick tribute to:

a) Fedora-wearing-poetry-guy-at-the-Olympia-Farmers-Market.

b) Being able to hear no and keep on keepin’ on.

c) And following your purpose and passion. However oddly structured to guys like me that may seem. 🙂

P.S. And on a very serious note–a belated thanks to all those who have or currently serve this Country to protect our freedom and liberty. I have such reverence for those who have provided our Country, and people like me and my family, such faithful service. I am deeply indebted.

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Goodbye, Univera

As many of you now know, yesterday with the internal team and today with the entire external field organization I announced publicly my resignation from Univera as the CEO of International. I’ll be wrapping up my time at Univera through the end of May.

I have nothing but the greatest things to say about my time at Univera. The people involved, and particularly each of the field leaders as well as some key people internally (special thanks to Regan, a great boss and friend, as well as my teammates, too many to mention), have been nothing short of exceptional to me–you’ve been true partners all along the way. I’m also grateful to Bill Lee, who has provided me such an incredible opportunity these past four years.

raz-reagan

It’s now been 4.5 years, and after several expanded roles at Univera, I can think of no other job in North America that could have stretched me as much as did these past experiences. From good times to exceptionally tough times, from long-term strategic planning to dealing with urgent “today” issues, from driving to objective decisions based on market data to those decisions related almost wholly to heart, emotion and subjectivity, there is no other job that I can think of which would have been as powerful an accelerator in my personal and professional life as this one. It’s been 15-years worth of experience in a little under five years of time. And while I have learned so much, at the same time, I feel like I’m just getting warmed up.

Which puts me at a place in my professional career where, for a variety of reasons, I have selected to take a different path and move onto the next thing professionally. The dream that has existed at Univera for each of you still remains; for me, however, for now my dream and destiny rests elsewhere (the details of which I’m keeping quiet about for now). While I’m very excited about my future, I’m also bittersweet for the reasons each of you know.

What’s next?

Rich RazgaitisAs some of you recall, at Convention two years ago when I spoke about our goals and dreams, I made a firm commitment to achieve four goals in my life and created a plan in order to achieve each one. Two have been accomplished (a certain business goal, and also my trip back to Kolkata, India), yet two still remain to be completed–and I’m stubbornly determined to accomplish them both, in addition to some new ones along the way.

The two goals? One is to complete a book I am supposed to write, and it needs to be done this year. The second is a physical health goal, specifically to get down to 15% bodyfat. So I’m still going to succeed at these, no matter how frustrated or off course I’ve been with them both (and as an aside, neither should you be frustrated by any delays in your goal setting/achievement…you can still accomplish them, stick with it, keep re-loading as needed…don’t quit, don’t quit!), and those are going to be a focus this year in addition to my new professional endeavors.

And, there’s more writing I’ll continue to do. It’s not for lack of content that I haven’t blogged for the past month, for a variety of reasons I just felt better to let it rest. But I’m going to continue blogging.

And my focus will largely continue to be about personal development–to try to write in an authentic way, without idle BS that so often peppers our talk that gets in the way of truth, and to try to continue to share stories of people who have done either the ordinary or extraordinary, or have learned lessons along the way.

Some of them are stories of the deepest magnitude, a hero who touched–and saved–so many lives, like that of Rick Rescorla during 9/11. Others have been fun filled gifts of laughter and play, like the Forever Wedding Dance couple who taught us a simple lesson about celebration and having fun. And then there are stories about the unbridled passion to make a difference in the lives of kids–like Geoffrey Canada with the Harlem Children’s Zone. None  of those are original content, simply the pulling of stories of others with a few pieces of commentary alongside.

And it will continue to be sprinkled with some personal stories and anecdotes–some involving my business endeavorsTwitter, Facebook, Blogging and others around personal experiences. So those things will continue, and I hope you’ll freely participate along the way. You can also follow me on Twitter (@richraz2) or on Facebook (“Rich Razgaitis”).

What I get absolutely fired up about is to see people pursue their passion, whatever and wherever that may be, so that each of us can find their destiny and achieve greatness (which, has nothing to do with title or money). These can mean radically different things for all of us. The key, though, for every one of us, is to find and pursue with unbridled passion those things for which you and I were intended.

That is when the magic happens.

It’s the reason that I love movies like Crazy Heart. Stories of redemption, personal calling, overcoming a struggle to achieve greatness. I read a great quote the other day: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I love to connect with those who are fighting the hard battle–but also remain determined and destined to achieve greatness. At the same time, I would love to imprint upon others a distaste for apathy in a way that makes them sick. Yes, we should hate apathy (in most all cases) because it’s one of the greatest thieves from you pursuing your purpose. Being apathetic is giving up, it’s not caring. And once we’ve lost the heart and passion to care, well, I don’t know how to reignite that again–let alone help someone win.

So onwards with the stories of perseverance towards purpose.

Erica and the girls are both torn yet excited for our future. They, too, went “all in” with us on this Univera journey. I’m thankful for the sacrifices they’ve made to let me have the time and adventure with each of you. They’re ready for the next move, though, and are resilient and excited despite this being bittersweet.

I will miss each one of you. Tremendously. Together we have gone through it all, especially those of you who have been on this journey with me for years. It is, really, too difficult to put into words without sounding trite or filled with hyperbole. There’s a lot that’s happened. A lot we learned. And even more we gained.

So I’ll leave it at this: together we’ve been through it all, and I love you a lot. No matter what.

Thanks for a great journey.

Your friend,

Raz

fam-hawaii-black-beach2

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Jake Shimabukuro

jake-shimabukuro
A simple song brings a simple message.

Find your passion.

Watch this guy, Jake Shimabukuro, play the Uke and ask yourself if this guy isn’t just amazingly passionate about what he does? With 50-years of training, I couldn’t do what he just did on this YouTube video.

But, the point is that he couldn’t do what YOU’RE supposed to be doing when you’re connected with your passion and purpose.

So he found his, and as a result can do some pretty amazing stuff.

Have you found yours?

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Patrick Henry Hughes

Patrick Henry Hughes

A friend passed this onto me today, thanks Jan, and it’s such “postable” blog material I had to put it up right away but not without a few comments first.

It starts a little slow and just keeps morphing into this amazing story of a determined spirit to succeed, find a passion and commit to it, and make the most of life as well as hand we’re dealt.

In six minutes I was humbled and inspired. And humbled again.

As I heard the Dad tell his story, and the sacrifices he made to help the dreams of his son, it really made me ask myself a question. If put into that same situation as a Dad, would I have the discipline, humility, and determination to do what he has done? I would hope so, but I am just not sure–he is an amazing man.

And, of course, Patrick Henry Hughes is a pretty exceptional young man himself. All these big muckety muck’s (corporate guys, consultants, speakers, trainers; nothing wrong with them either apart from being overrated) work for years on end to try to deliver profound wisdom and in this little vignette rests a story and lesson I’ll remember for the rest of my life from two “normal” guys in Kentucky.

Patrick, you really are The Man. Pretty sweet stuff you’re made of–same with your Dad.

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Prudence

Prudence

Okay, so here it is…The vlog I’ve been postponing for ten days. Please, don’t even watch it. I was compelled to post it by a Beatles song from 40-years ago. Yeah, I know. It makes no sense. To me, either. I am just trying to follow a “sign.”

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Checking in on You…And Me.

energie-check-up-ii

Here it is…my update so far. How’s your progress coming along?

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Happy New Year! Now, Let’s Just DO IT!

Happy New Year

I used to scoff a bit at the New Year’s resolutions. But no more…

Everybody needs a “restart.” It’s one of the things that made high school or college so great; every year, or ever Semester, you got a do-over. But once you get into working adulthood, the do-overs are a LOT less frequent, and while they can be invigorating they usually are a bit more dramatic (new job, moving, so on). So the very thing that’s great about sleep–the separation of days which results in the proverbial “it’s a new day” sentiments in the morning, is what’s even greater about the New Year on a more broadscale spectrum.

But, you contest, “most New Year resolutions are out the window within weeks or months!”

To which I reply, “so what!”

We will not achieve if we do not try. And our success takes daily work and discipline, but also a day of commitment–otherwise the subsequent days won’t just magically follow. And sometimes, just sometimes, that newfound commitment requires a “new day.” Not always, but it sure can be helpful. So, I’ve come to really appreciate the little gifts we’re given, like a new day, a new week, a new year, and in this case as well a new decade.

So here it is…A few of my commitments that I’m making for the year.

1. Get it shape. Really get in shape. For 16 months I have had this goal of working towards 15% bodyfat (or less) while also exercising and eating well. I’ve ebbed and flowed on this one. And patellar tendonitis this past fall kept me from running my marathons and I fell off my eating wagon. Well, no mas! Erica and I have committed to really make health a priority this year. With my work hours, sometimes relentless travel, as well as natural cravings (I just love food–it’s that simple) I struggle with this one. But enough of the excuses. You’re all busy too. So, we’re getting in shape. We’re changing how we eat. We’re cleaning out the cupboards of junk. And we’re going to fight as best we can the constant deluge of our sugar-crazed society. How are we doing it? South Beach Diet and a rigorous exercise program for 90-days to kick start us, followed by a moderate and sustainable program. And I’m committing to run one marathon this year, barring any more tendonitis. Which isn’t going to happen! Done.

2. Personal development. I used to sell Cutco knives. And I did pretty well. But apart from all the money I made, what I really earned was the benefit of hours and hours and hours of personal development. It was part of my daily personal life as well as our weekly sales meetings, sometimes I taught them and sometimes I listened. But I always learned something–and it’s a behavior that is easy to let fall by the wayside. This next year I’m not going to let myself work on personal development “when it’s convenient”, but instead I’m going to work on it in a consistent and disciplined way. How am I going to do this? Using Success Magazine and it’s website, Philosophers Notes, TED, among other resources–including a little bit of work on developing some Spanish speaking skills.

3. Philanthropy. Last January I spent a few weeks abroad doing work, which probably in my mind receives the least amount of attention for meaningful contributions this past year (I tend to think of my success based on the metrics and results, which is important but can also be misleading) yet in actuality it was probably some of the best work that I did this past year. This coming year, I want to and should do more. And it doesn’t need to involve traveling anywhere, I can do it right in my local community. I volunteer with the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, where I want to spend more time. Also to help better promote and raise contributions for the great Univera Serve First program that helps provide nourishment to children everywhere. But there’s much more I’d like to contribute beyond this–financially and with my time.

There’s more, of course. I’m going to spend more time with the family. Be a better Dad. Develop more spiritually. Turn the phone off more. Improve my professional skills. Grow our business faster…

We all have our things we want to do. I believe one of the keys to keep committing, not give up, re-commit and re-commit, discipline, fail and get back up, and on and on. That’s part of the fun of a New Year. A redo, of sorts. And chance to make a (re)new commitment. I’m sure there will be some stumbles as I work towards my goals, and yours as well. But if we keep on pressing we will be far better off, than if we allowed ourselves the passivity and doubt that lies hiding in wait in our minds and bodies at times.

Happy New Year. Let’s make it a great start to an outstanding year!

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all date. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Raz Family

Happy Thanksgiving
Dear Friends and Family,

Here’s our annual family Thanksgiving video, I hope each of you are having a fantastic day.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Raz Family!

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Make Memories

make-memories

In the summer of ’86 there was a great Wall Street Journal (hereinafter WSJ) article written about a Frozen Custard Stand in Lafayette, Indiana.

I was 13 at the time.

What was I doing reading the WSJ? Well, Friday night WSJ review nights, of course. Some of you know that every week we’d have “article review” where me, my sisters, and my dad would sit around the dining room table (you all did this too, right?) and review our inbox reading for the week (you had one of these also, yeah?) and talk about what we learned.

No, I am not making this up.

The intended purpose was, I assume, about developing cognitive reasoning skills as well as practicing retention, and of course I wouldn’t forget the riveting family fun involved. Well, for real, it ACTUALLY was fun (we didn’t know better 🙂 ) and it enabled us to spend time together. Well, the short of the story was that later in the summer of ’86 we all decided to take a road trip to Lafayette to hit the custard place that we all read about. We were on our way out West, if I recall, but in any event we opted for a two-hour detour just to get a taste of this stuff. We never went there again. I don’t even think we ever really talked about it again.

Fast forward 23-years…

So this week I’m on the road, starting in Dallas (my birthplace), the next day Knoxville, the next day Indy for the day (meeting w/ old friends and also a pretty cool networking meeting that’s fodder for another blog entry) and I’m leaving Indy in a way-too-small rental car making my way up to Merrillville, which isn’t all too far from Chicago.

As I’m driving I basically remember this article (yes, this is bizarre I know–but it’s just how my mind works) from ’86 in the WSJ and that I’ll be driving near Lafayette off I-65. An iPhone Safari search and 30 seconds later and I’ve got the address of the Original Frozen Custard stand  in Lafayette.

So I go. And as I’m there a flood of memories return, from the WSJ review nights (I can still recall talking about the owners of the Custard Stand, and how they reinvented their former business from the 30’s to develop this world-renowned frozen custard because…well, who cares at this point why…) to the trip I took with my family to how good it was when I first tasted it when I was 13.

Prudence should’ve stopped me at the serving of Pumpkin Pie (they don’t allow samples or mixing at all–it’s like Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, kinda), but then I needed to try Mint Chip (not that great) and then some sundae of sorts (pretty good as well, but the Pumpkin was the best), yet I was so enveloped in the moment and all the memories of the past that I just had to have a few samples–and, no, I didn’t eat all of them. But even after sitting outside at this place, literally by myself with nobody else around, amidst a gorgeous afternoon with the crisp smell of Fall in the air, I didn’t want to leave. Because, to leave, meant I would also leave the nostalgia.

The lesson I was reminded of?

Make memories.

And, depending on what you’re doing, who knows if the memories will resurface 23 days, 23 months, or in my case, 23 years later.

make-memories-1

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Leadership Lesson from WHO?

leadership-from-a-symphony-conductor

A symphony. Specifically a conductor of a symphony.

I didn’t think it’d pique my interest, but two minutes turned into five into ten turned into the 23 minute lesson which I’ve thought about quite a few times this evening.

It’s a great lesson. Entertaining. Thought provoking. Educational. Inspirational. Convicting. I think in each of us there are these various styles of leadership that rest within, but for some certain styles are more natural. This was such a unique glance at leadership, and it underscores to me the importance of the principle taught within the mini-lecture, but also how critical leadership is in every environment.

23 minutes. Yeah, it’s a long video for the Web. But, really, it’s a fantastic leadership lesson, and one I never thought I’d hear from a conductor of a symphony. Enjoy.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all date. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

A Great Weekend

tooth-pulling1

Starting next week (or possibly earlier) I’m going to be posting a few great links on the Direct Selling industry, as well as some info on our Company. Today, I’m just sharing some personal highlights from my past weekend.

Erica went out of town for four days, so starting a week ago Thursday evening I was on kid-duty. We started and ended the weekend with Pizza. And, as I think about it, we also ate quite a bit of it in between. Lots of pizza. And even some beer. Well, I was the only one that had beer. Not a lot. I don’t think the kids did. Possibly without me knowing, but don’t think so.

Moving on…

Some highlights included:

The Univera Xperience on Friday night, where the kids came and heard me speak (more fun for me than them). I introduced them at the event and even asked a few questions of Royce, who later informed me “Dad, I liked it a lot when everyone was clapping for me…But I didn’t like it when you started asking me questions and I had to talk.” Ahhh, yes. This is a familiar feeling.

Next day consisted of a soccer game, Royce played great. Hustled hard, that’s what I love. Then off to a car show of sorts that we stumbled upon.

We saw this amazing modified car, that I am thinking we should embrace it at Univera for the next highest rank beyond Blue Diamond (Ambassador?). The kids were, well, freaked out by it. They just didn’t understand why someone would do that to their car. I was no help at providing any suggested answers–but it did remind me of my days when I lived a few short months in Kentucky. Seriously, it did.

A really wild car

Saturday afternoon included a five mile bike ride, where 90% of it was a blast for the kids and the last 10% consisted of tears because they were tired (hey, they were the ones that said “let’s keep going”!). Then dress up of the doggie, who I’m not sure enjoyed it quite as much as Zoe did.

ruby-dressing-up1

The highlight was the tooth pulling, just great. Zoe’s now missing all four and I love it. So cute. And if you have the patience or interest in watching the video below, I documented the actual pulling for Erica since she couldn’t be there–and usually it’s the other way around. Not sure if this little clip will entertain anyone else other than me and my family, but Erica this is for you.

We slept in the trailer that night, falling asleep to the Muppet Movie…Not, like, next to it. Watching it. And waking up a bit cold and sore. Kids kept falling off one of the beds at night (because we were situated on a fairly nice little tilt) and they were on these slippery sleeping bags that caused them to keep sliding right off the bed. I felt a bit bad for them yet I do remember waking up a few times and laughing. Of course, the fifth time I had to pick them up the floor it was starting to get annoying. Note to self: next time it actually will be worth it to level the trailer.

Then, Sunday morning, before the trek to church as I was getting ready I heard a huge thud on the window. I looked out and saw a raft of feathers floating in the air. Yep, a little guy had flown right into our bedroom window and knocked himself out cold. So I showed the kids, and they stayed at his little bedside for 20 minutes but nothing was going on though he was still conscious and half standing–barely–and in a stupora just half-standing there for quite a while. I was surprised he was even alive. So they gave him a little prayer, and then about five minutes later he was on his way. That was a nice little win in the morning.

A Zonked Out Bird

Afternoon we went on a tear cleaning up the place, and as you could see from the video there was much to be done. But, we got a lot of it done. But it probably consumed too much intensity from Dad. Note to self: kids operate at a very different speed than you.

And it finally ended with them watching this movie I got when I was in India in January, a kids movie that was totally done Bollywood style in Hindi with English subtitles. When I bought it I didn’t even conceive that the kids would ask me to read EACH of the subtitles throughout the movie, but after five minutes they quit asking and watched the entire thing, mesmerized, while using Ruby as a pillow.

And at the end of it all I realized how much I had really enjoyed the simple things of life that make it so memorable–and enjoyable. It was, a great weekend. 🙂

Dog Pillow

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Keep on Keepin’ On–From Jerry.

Football and Perseverance

I’m in a blogging rut. Big time. It’s been like two postings in about three weeks. Writing this is an important part of my life, for reasons I don’t fully understand. Successful writing requires consistency. And, right now, my consistency sucks (learned that word reading a Harvard Biz School publication).

It’s not that I don’t have things I’d like to write about.

Topics abound, including…The great experience of Royce making my day by selecting a certain jersey number…A wonderful lesson in leadership that I learned from a cab driver…Another testimonial to tenacity and hard work from a guy who just opened a restaurant…Some observations about motive and parenting–as well as first impressions–I personally experienced while volunteering for the Children’s Museum recently…Even a personal letdown about a goal I had for October (running) that got derailed due to an injury.

So the problem isn’t lack of topics. Yeah, time is an issue. But I choose to make the time for things that are important to me. So, all of us always feel like time as an issue–but if you REALLY want to do something, you’ll find the time to make it happen. Everyone is tight on time.

It’s this motivation issue that I am certain is the key to so many peoples successes and others “failures” (who am I to call someone’s life or shortcoming a failure, apart from my own?). It’s not even that it’s THAT difficult (most things in life aren’t), it’s just that it’s hard to keep going sometimes. It’s easier to diagnose this problem on a smaller scale, like blogging, than something much more substantial.

Yet, I think the drivers and attributes are largely the same for success large and small. For the most part, how someone does everything is how they do anything.

It’s easy to do something when you’re motivated. But even when you have the drive, invariably there comes a period of apathy. Even AFTER you have selected something you’re passionate about.

That period is the magic maker for all of us.

The problem for most of us, is that there are sufficient times we’re not motivated to keep on keepin’ on. It’s why I’m so impressed with people who accomplish successful levels of leadership or difficult activities, such as leadership positions in Direct Selling Companies, or Exec’s in certain companies, marathon or triathlon runners, people who have lost a lot of weight, and on and on. It’s not so much the accomplishment that’s so impressive, it’s the hours and hours and hours of preparation, training, commitment, discipline, and getting after it–especially when you don’t feel like it–that I find so impressive. It’s unusual that people can achieve these things without finding some motivation, sometimes within but often through others. And as I write, one name keeps coming to mind about a man who had such an impact on me years ago.

Jerry Helvey.

He worked at Anderson Unviersity when I played football there. I’m not even sure what he did officially. He seemed to do a little bit of everything–coaching, equipment, field maintenance, teaching.

Unofficially, however, I remember exactly what he did: He kept us going.

Encouraged us. Pushed and carried us. Moved us forward. Sometimes using humor, sometimes sincerity, and sometimes toughness. But he always did the same thing. He kept us moving on towards the goal. Take the next step, take the next step, take the next step.

I wish there were a little secret to success that made it all easy; certainly, there are so many things that involve personal development that can make you a better person, more effective, more efficient. And no question there are better ways to get things done, or some things that are innately impossible that hard work won’t simply solve. But with most goals and objectives you’ll never go against “the law of the farm”, which basically resonates with the reality that hard work and moving forward is the magic maker to the harvest.

I’m sitting here in Seattle working on the laptop at Stumptown and all around me I see people facing choices, and it’s those choices and activities that will help determine their destiny. Particularly during the down periods.

And as I write here, 2,000 miles from my alma mater, and 15-years later, I can still hear his booming voice as he would run through our team while we warmed up during football season, his bellowing voice would call out as if he were saying it to just me “Keep on keepin’ on men. Keep on keepin’ on.”

And, I think I’ll do just that.

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Hannah Montana AND Tony Hawk

Hannah Montana AND Tony Hawk

In the last few weeks I’ve been touched by a few people who have sought as a personal endeavor to give people unexpected gifts and “make a moment.”

You might recall a few weeks ago I posted a story about skateboarding, and little Zoe’s cool new Hannah Montana skateboard for her birthday…and how I never got one growing up (side note to Mom and Dad: you guys gave us lots of great things going up, and importantly education and experiences, so no, I don’t think I needed a skateboard) but that I always wanted one.

About ten days ago Erica and RoZo came home and had a really big surprise for me. I could tell they were excited. Very excited. Giddy with energy, giggling and laughing and cackling.

Royce and Zoe guided me by the hand from the inside of our house, asking me every five seconds along the way if my eyes were closed, to the outside where they presented me with my very own…skateboard! This was one of those magical moments in the last year, clearly not because of the gift itself (at 35 one does not really covet a skateboard anymore, though there are other things with four wheels that I do enjoy) but because of the thought and excitement behind it, and that they knew for so many years it was the very thing I wanted as a child.

Yes, I’m even proud to admit that Zoe and I were cruising around on the Board later that weekend at the park–perhaps you’ll see us around town or at your neighborhood half pipe. Just in case you don’t believe me, and against my better judgment (clearly I don’t take myself TOO seriously) I’m posting some more evidence below.

So now we’ve gone from Hannah Montana to Tony Hawk (legendary Boarder). Or, at least a Hannah Montana wannabe to a Tony Hawk wannabe.

And, in the process, my kids (and Erica) helped me have a bit of fun in the process and made a moment as well.

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A Moment of Reflection

Rich Razgaitis Blog, A Moment of Reflection

Today I spent the day thinking about…

Me.

Not entirely, but the fact of the matter is I spent a bit of time thinking about my life, what I wanted to achieve, where I wanted to go, the impact I felt like I could have, and other such matters. Which, I thought was pretty important stuff.

Until later today.

It all came to a crashing halt this evening. We were at the pool, and there was this little girl there. Royce and Zoe had totally adopted her and were playing with her like a newfound sister. She looked like she was four years old, a tiny kid. Very sweet. The girls loved her.

I later found out she was 10.

And that wouldn’t get much bigger for the rest of her life due to a genetic issue. Some of the chromosomes didn’t just work out the right way for her, yet they worked out fine for me…and probably most of you as well.

Today I wanted to write, and I had a lot of things I was going to blog about. Vision. Passion. Persistence. Purpose. Energy. Somedays not a lot comes to my mind. Today was one of those days where the opposite occurs, I could’ve written for hours.

And then it hit me, so hard, instantaneously and in less then 30-seconds. It was like a wave of emotions and it lead to what was both a rapid and reflective moment; I’m not sure there was an epiphany, but rather just a moment in time that reminded me about how fortunate I am. Really, I don’t even know why I’m blogging about it. But after five minutes at the pool, I just looked at Erica and told her it was time for me to go and write.

It’s not that this little girl isn’t fortunate as well, in her own way. And yet I realized in seeing her situation all the breaks I’ve been given. The access, the shots, the opportunities. Some of it I’ve had to work for, and really hard. There was/is a price to pay. I don’t feel like stuff just falls in my lap.

But then the reality is, that other pieces had a lot to do with the right time, right place. Or, perhaps, I just had the right look. Degree. Background. Experience. Mentor. Team. Whatever.

Maybe things fell more into my lap than I realize, or care to admit. If I were born in Kolkata, India, I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be here doing this. Or at a pool tonight. And writing a blog. Chances are I’d be on the streets fighting for scraps.

So then there are those other people…that inspire me, despite circumstances whether it’s due to something I can’t relate to–where they were born, the family to whom they were born into, a genetic mutation from which there is no simple or future solution.

And I get reflective, and inspired.

I get inspired by the people who made it happen who didn’t have a lot, it wasn’t given to them. To me, the story of Chris Gardner is inspirational. The story of Jack Welch is not. It’s not that Welch wasn’t really good. He was. And it’s not that he didn’t work hard. He did. But, the truth of the matter is, to a degree, the deck was lined up for him. Surely, for a good number of people it is and they STILL don’t activate their potential (Welch certainly pushed his potential to the max). And that’s too bad. But for a lot of people who are successful, well, there were also circumstances that really helped drive it (read Outliers by Malcom Gladwel if you think otherwise).

Yet, then there’s guys like Chris Gardner. Who still had some breaks, but man a lot fewer than the rest of us. Or kids who are ten, and getting older, that live in the body of a four year old whose physical dimensions will change remarkably little over the next decade.

And that stuff just hits me. It’s about the odds, possibly. Not just that I like the underdog story, but that I’m humbled and inspired by it. It makes me realize how much I have, and perhaps at times how little I really do to maximize it–or appreciate it.

Today, I started with thinking about me. And through an exceptionally odd moment, a small point in time that I wasn’t even looking for, barely aware of at first, it led me to just a moment of reflection.

And gratitude.

For the gifts that I’ve been given, but beyond that, for the inspiration that others provide me, through what it is that they can and will accomplish, in spite of circumstances that might be much more challenging than those of which for which I have had to manage.

Which is why I love this quote from Teddy Roosevelt:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

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Just Do It…And Do It Again, And Do It…

Art Williams, Direct Selling, and Leadership

Art Williams is fairly legendary in the Direct Selling industry; he’s a strong leader, a normal “everyday guy” (who also happens to be #843 on Forbes list of “world’s billionaires”!) and delivered a really strong message twenty years back that still makes its rounds on YouTube.

I know not everybody is going to agree with everything that he says in here, or enjoy the way in which he says it; however, there are also some timeless and universal principles in this message as it relates to leadership–and everyday life.

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The Hannah Montana Skateboard

Zoe and her Hannah Montana Skateboard

When I was growing up, in middle school, I wanted a skateboard. Not just a kinda-wanna, I mean I REALLY wanted one. Badly. All my buddies had them, the cool kids were always out in sidewalks of Jones Middle School doing tricks, finding a half pipe somewhere to ride on. I remember reading boarding magazine after magazine, following Tony Hawk and his rise to skateboarding stardom, and all the while I’d circle VERY VISIBLY the exact wheels, binders, ribs, and board that I wanted throughout the magazines as I read (it had to be a custom creation, it was a very specific set up), just in case my parents were trying to figure out what I wanted for my birthday or for Christmas and stumbled upon one of my many magazines and thumbed through it. It was just like the scene out of “A Christmas Story” when that little kid wants a BB gun for the holidays–a borderline obsession.

But, unlike “A Christmas Story” after year went by and the skateboard never came. In fact, my parents wouldn’t let me buy one either and this was one of the “you’ll buy that over my dead body” topics.

Same situation as the motorcycle coveting that happened years later (so I bought one secretly in college with a roommate of mine, who actually proceeded to wreck the thing literally five minutes after we were handed the keys. Sorry Thom, I know you won’t live that one down, but it was a good way to christen it and you helped validate all the fears my parents had over a period of many years about motorcycle ownership within a matter of micro seconds of getting on that thing).

Tonight, my youngest daughter Zoe, opened up her final b-day gift from the weekend. It arrived today from my parents, and I’ll admit I was more than a little surprised when she popped that thing open and out appeared…

…a Tutu?

…Hairbands?

…a Personal Organizer?

…Veggie Tale videos?

No, instead she opened up a box about two feet long–and I could see the sparkle in her eye as she picked it up, and when her little hands were ripping apart the box and her voice was quivering with excitement it was with a duality of emotions when I watched her pull out…

A very rad Hannah Montana skateboard. The very thing she’s been talking about for the last year.

Just like I wanted growing up (though I’m not sure having Hannah Montana on my board would’ve been okay). While I was so happy for her and it was so much fun to see her delight, and this might sound a bit strange, but there was a bit of me that was quite melancholy about it. Certainly I wasn’t envious, I don’t dwell and live in the past (and certainly couldn’t get hung up over not having a skateboard as a kid, only to see mine get one), but perhaps it was the reality that the roles change over time. And I’d become more like them, and they had become more like me.

I was opposed (but, clearly overridden 🙂 ) to Zoe getting the skateboard. Probably all the things that went through my parents mind went through mine. So tonight’s memory was a surprising reminder of the roles and environment that changes over time. It was also a simple, even silly perhaps, perspective about the ways we can be molded by others and our risk envelope is pushed; my desire for Zoe not to have a skateboard was not fully a principled one (if it were she really wouldn’t have gotten one), but instead it was more a preference (that, beginning with my wife, didn’t agree with).

So, Zoe, enjoy that skateboard. I’m glad I got pushed a bit to let you have the joy (and probably a few scrapes and bruises) that only a skateboard can provide. And, I’ll enjoy watching you enjoy it–in fact, when you’re not watching, I might secretly take it out for a few joy rides around the neighborhood half-pipe. Who said it’s too old to relive your childhood, even if it’s your children that help to bring you back?

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The Speed of Leadership

Myspace, Facebook, and Web 2.0

I used to hear someone constantly repeat this expression of “slowing down to the speed of wisdom.” I’m not sure why I disliked that saying so much, but I did. Maybe it was the way it was said (with a tad–a heaping and overfloweth tad–of self-righteousness), perhaps it just sounds so consultant-speake, and, quite likely, I don’t like slowing down TOO much (though there is, of course, great wisdom and insight that’s generated when you just stop and think; it’s all about balance).

Actually, as I write, I realize it isn’t the latter–it’s the first thing that irritated me. So there’s wisdom in slowing down. But this entry is about speeding up. Not just keeping up, but moving ahead.

There’s a great video on YouTube that speaks so visibly to the speed of technology, and it’s transformative effect on how we interact and connect. It’s not that the takeaway is that you should be on MySpace (though apps similar, like Facebook, are  really powerful connection tools). I think there’s something inherent in this that relates to market leadership that requires a Web 2.0 level of communication, connectivity, and speed.

And it’s not about slapping an iPhone application up for your business, or creating a Facebook page–though those both might be good idea. It’s more systemic than that, a more transformative change and cadence that’s rippled throughout our environment, in a way that some people don’t even realize. This has nothing to do with hard work, but the connectivity and speed at which people can work–together, and apart, and how that can create in you a new level of leadership position. There’s a great quote whose author I can’t remember, but it probably dates back five years ago (pre Facebook evolution)–so it’s more applicable today than ever before.

“It’s no longer the big who eat the small, but the fast who eat the slow.”

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The Physicist in Sonoma

Raz, Chris, and Erica

Recently I took a trip to Sonoma, California, one of my favorite places to visit–and even more so when my wife is with me. 

So in touring lots of wineries there’s a lot more than “does the wine taste good?” It includes the atmosphere, the staff, the process they use, their focus, and a lot of it really has to do with their heart and passion for the winery.

For example, I don’t particularly enjoy going into the big commercial wineries where they don’t really have a knowledge or passion for the products. Even if the vineyards are gorgeous, the tasting room decadent, and even the wines excellent, it’s just not my thing. 

What is my thing, however, is to find someone and someplace with a story that led them down a path to where they are today. A unique and unassuming journey, a level of humility and unexpectedness to their ultimate destination, an ease of authenticity and the absence of traditional norms in the business combined with a calm confidence in what they’re doing–and ultimately a passion they’re following.

At the end of our trip, we found exactly that place with Loxton Cellars and the owner, Chris Loxton. http://www.loxtonwines.com/

Raz and Chris touring Loxton

 

Here he is, an Aussie by birth and third generation of grape growers from his native land. But, instead of following the family footsteps he pursues a PhD in Physics, even ends up teaching at the University of Illinois for eight years. Finally, however, he followed his heart to become a winemaker, which he told me he always knew he would ultimately do, and as a result moved to the Sonoma region. Eight years ago he started making his own wine under his unique label. 

When we were there he gave us a private tour, and Chris told the story of his familial generations of grape growing, and his being the first of his generations past of actual wine making (vs. grape growing).

He showed me the way to care for vines and how he learned from both observation and “listening” how to generate the greatest yield and extract the best flavor from the grapes. He demonstrated the harvesting and winemaking equipment and explained the aging process, and types of casks and barrels used for his grapes and how to generate the right flavor tonalities. Chris was clear that his focus was really tight, just two primary styles of grapes and with the objective to simply produce a premium brand that has high value and exceptional taste. It needn’t be widely distributed or highly acclaimed by Robert Parker wine reviews. Instead, it was to be his best, and to follow his hearts passion (and, indeed, it is exceptionally amazing). 

From that experience, what’d I learn?

The fact of the matter is I can’t remember many of the details. Like about the watering, pruning–how and where and when–the harvesting process and how to deal with land gradients and slope with differing soil conditions; about all I can remember is that it’s important to do all those things. In some particular order. 

What I really learned is a lesson in the story of passion and following your heart, taking a risk, and jumping in.

Quite simply, here’s a guy who had a dream, he took the steps to pursue it, he faced his fears in the process of starting any new business venture, and he “just did it.” And while he’s doing well, it’s also not like he’s on easy street. With any business traditional business venture it can be YEARS before you start to even break even (BTW, reason number 72 why Direct Selling is an amazing business opportunity in the right company–low start up costs and an immediately recoverable investment w/ an ability to generate PROFITS right away).

Yet, despite all of the challenges in trying to run a difficult and captial-intensive business, I can tell Chris is happy. In fact, I think he’s having the time of his life, and is following his dream, and a part of his life’s purpose. In doing this, he’s not just making great wine, but he’s touching people like me who see and hear his story and within it sparks a fire of inspiration–and perhaps through a simple story like this through others as well. 

Which leads me to the lesson learned from the Physicist in Sonoma:

Whatever it is, really, whatever it is, find your purpose and passion. Then pursue it. 

Draw down into what really sets you on fire. And then just do it. Pursue it with vigor, with almost a reckless-abandon (but not recklessly, there’s a difference). Push through obstacles and seeds of self doubt or the hallowing cries of critics who have given into the abandonment of their own hopes and dreams and have nothing other to do than stand as an impediment to yours. Remember why you’re doing it, draw deep in your burning fire, and make it happen. Take the chance. And, regardless the outcome, I don’t think you’ll regret it. 

When Chris and I were finishing our time together, I asked him “Was it worth it? Are you glad you made such a switch, from University Physicist to local winemaker?”

His response was telling, he smiled and said to me with a look of consideration “You know, there are days when I’m struggling and people would probably look at my former job at the University of Illiniois with such favor, you know huge grants, get to travel the world, great house in low cost of living, distinguished position of influence…By most standards, very successful and well to do. Then people might look at my situation today and see a bad trade, radically different, making things work even when it’s financially tight at times, driving an old truck around a vineyard, long hours and always a project on the farm or winemaking facilities, tending vineyards and answering the phone and taking out the trash–a bit of everything. So, on the surface, it might look like it wasn’t the greatest exchange. But, I’m my own man, I control my freedom. I get to work with amazing people, and the things that I do endlessly fascinate me. I love meeting new people and talking to them, hearing about their background and learning about and from them; I’m invigorated by the ability to pursue high quality work with a focus and passion, and I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. So, was it a good trade? I wouldn’t change it for a minute; by some standards it was a crazy trade, but by mine I’m living the life I was supposed to live.” 

Which leaves me to the question I wonder myself, which is will I live mine? And will you live yours? 

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Nike Experiment

nike-running

I love hearing various stories about what works for people’s “wellness” initiative, or what they do to get–and stay–motivated to improve themselves physically. And I’d love to hear or read some other comments from readers, so post your comments away!  

Fundamentally, I do think Nike has it right as, with many things in life, it ultimately rests on “just do it” to a large degree. Yet, there are different ways to do it; it’s one reason why I never laugh at whatever it is that people try in order to get in shape–different things will work for different people (sidebar: at the same time, at a certain point we’ve all got to stop chasing panaceas or fads, pick something, and do it diligently). But for some a treadmill is the answer, others the gym, and others it’s swimming or running or weight lifting or spin class. 

So this article caught my eye because it’s a great story about the impact this little device has had on numerous people. It’s not for everybody, but for some people it will change their life. It’s also been one of the ones in which I’ve had some success in staying on a consistent workout, using metrics and goals to chart my progress. So I’m also a believer. 

A few things that have helped me along my wellness journey (by no means have I figured this thing out, and I’m still a ways off from my goal of 15% bodyfat and there are many many people who are way smarter in this subject arena than I am) have included:

-the iPhone application calorie counter, to help monitor and track behaviors over a period of time and helps with accountability while also finding some of the hidden calories that you might not recognize; consistently checking bodyfat on a monthly basis to chart progress;

-utilizing the South Beach diet to help jump start healthier eating over a period of time (it’s a good long-term eating plan as well though I will make a few deviations for my own personal preferences);

-taking a few tips from others that I come across throughout my reading and observation or hearing stories of success from others (e.g. don’t eat anything three hours before you fall asleep);

-and, finally among a few other things, my Nike +. 

The Nike Experiment: How the Shoe Giant Unleashed the Power of Personal Metrics
On June 6, 2008, Veronica Noone attached a small sensor to her running shoes and headed out the door. She pressed start on her iPod and began keeping track of every step she took. It wasn’t a long run—just 1.67 miles in 18 minutes and 36 seconds, but it was the start of something very big for her.
Since that day, she’s run 95 more times, logging 283.8 miles in about 48 hours on the road. She’s burned 28,672 calories. And her weight, which topped 225 pounds when she was pregnant, has settled in at about 145.
Noone knows all of that thanks to the sensor system, called Nike+. After each run, she can sync her iPod to the Nike+ Web site and get a visual representation of the workout—a single green line. Its length shows how far she’s gone, and the peaks and valleys reflect her speed.

Click here to read the full story.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant data you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Day Before!

dscf6930

Here we are, the day before the big event. Lots happened today. All the preparation moments absolutely flew by, it’s like we’re on a locomotive and can’t slow it down. But it’s all good, starting with a fabulous Diamond leadership meeting earlier today, some exceptionally run workshops this afternoon, followed by a lot of fun and celebration this evening–INCLUDING the 70’s disco dance led by the Boogie Machine. What a fun start to this event, looking forward to tomorrow morning.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.