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.

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, itís doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

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.”

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. 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, itís doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

My Man, Mitch (Mitch Daniels)

MItch Daniels, Governor of Indiana, Rich Razgaitis Mentor

Some of you may know that I had the privilege of spending some of my early work years at some really solid companies–Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson. I have nothing but admiration for these excellent organizations, and appreciation for all the great relationships formed as well as exceptional training, learning, and development.

There are upsides and downsides to all companies, and large companies often share some similar characteristics. One of the best virtues of big companies are the resources. And I’m not referencing the financial resources, but really instead the human resources. Not just to help get things done, but to learn. To listen. To expand your knowledge. Yet it’s only there if you proactively take advantage of it, to really initiate and maximize the impact.

For example, during my years at working at Lilly I’m not sure I went to lunch socially for more than 5-10 times all told. I would either eat at my desk and crank, or, more likely, I’d spend an hour at lunch networking with people from all over the organization–from EVP’s to people who worked in the Call Center and everywhere in between. I started my MBA during my first year at Lilly, but in some ways I learned more over those years in getting to know the people through my lunch meetings–their skills, best practices, lessons learned, mistakes made, all while developing a wide variety of interpersonal connections. I look back and realize there are some of my colleagues that didn’t do any networking more than a handful of times; I don’t offer it as a critique of them, though I know that some of my best experiences, the best lessons, came from the opportunity to connect with someone totally apart than me, those in a vastly different role or background, and to both share my experiences but principally to listen and learn.

Why does this strike me?

I was going through all sorts of paperwork and filing this week, some of it from over a decade ago, and I found my “Networking and Learning” folder from my days at Lilly. And I found pages and pages and pages of notes from the people that I met with over the years, and it’s amazing to recognize the impact that some of those meetings have had on me years later, even to this point today; in ways that I wouldn’t even cognitively recognize, or associate, with that past experience.

One page of notes led to another. And another. At the top of several of those pages was the name “Mitch Daniels”, who was an EVP at Lilly while I was there–in a very senior position (and I’m sure was a CEO candidate but took a federal job in the Bush administration and now is actually Governor of Indiana; I know nothing about his politics, so this is not a political endorsement for him as Governor, though I can vouch that he’s an exceptional individual regardless of his public policy).

I met Mitch many years earlier at the commencement for my undergrad program, he was the featured speaker. I was off to adventures on the East Coast to go work for J&J, and after he spoke on graduation day I went up to him and shared my story and the exciting adventure I was off towards and said “Can’ you give me one piece of advice to take with me, from all of your years of experience?”

His response was simple, he looked me dead in the eye and said:

“Always do the right thing.” And that was it, along with a pat on the back, and some niceties that were exchanged apart from the advice.

So years later when I moved to Indy to work at Lilly Corporate I reconnected with Mitch and reminded him of our interchange and my desire to network and learn from him; ¬†he mentored me for the years that I was working at Lilly. And, this week as I was filing papers, there ¬†it was again in my notes, where he was echoing some of the same principles he’d shared with us at graduation years earlier.

-Do the right thing. Do the right thing. Do the right thing.

Knowing, of course, that it’s impossible to always do the right thing (who doesn’t make mistakes). But also knowing that it’s only through intention and consistent application of “do the right thing” that one makes any significant headway in life.

So there’s the benefit of people, and teams. Personal development. In ways you simply can’t grow otherwise. You don’t have to work in a huge corporation to get the access to these types of resources (though that is a big advantage), and if you don’t have these at your disposal you might just have to work a bit harder. Or, be a bit more intentional about it. Some of the greatest lessons are those I’ve learned through simply shutting up (which I still don’t do enough), asking good questions, and taking a few notes along the way.

Which is something that we can all do–regardless our circumstances–so that we can have the privilege of learning a lesson, perhaps invaluable, from someone else.

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Free Hugs

Juan Mann, Rich Razgaitis, Raz Blog, Free Hugs

I saw this video about Juan Mann, and his simple desire to change the world in a small way by offering people free hugs, and at first I even scoffed at it. Cute, I thought, but maybe it’s a front. Initially skeptical yet intrigued.

But then I did a little bit more reading and research on Wikipedia, and I think this guy is the real deal. With a real mission. Albeit, a simple one.

What do I admire about Juan Mann? That he took a step out of inspiration (or need) and that he just kept stepping.

It wouldn’t be my step, but that’s alright. It was his, something he was passionate about, and out of a personal challenge arose an opportunity to change–in very simple ways–the lives of individuals around the world. And, as leaders, that’s the type of opportunity that presents each of us every day.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. 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, itís doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

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 ūüôā ) 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?

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. 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, itís doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

A Long Story Short

Long Story Short
Rich Razgaitis and Jon Lewis with a little Coffee

There are many great things that I loved about undergrad and grad school; I loved the education and friendships, the challenges and opportunities, the personal development and the learnings, and particularly graduation with an exciting departure to go to Kolkata for a month followed by a new job at Johnson and Johnson.

Yet I also loved the beginnings.

Every semester represented, to some degree, a “do over.” Another way to start again. New classes, often new professors, a mix of new peers, new books, new assignments. A new beginning. If you aced the last semester (academically, relationally, or otherwise) then you had another challenge of doing it again–and better. And if you screwed it up, you got another shot at getting it right.

When I talk with people about their lives, one of the things that I realize is that so many people crave a new beginning. A lot of people can’t see beyond today, ultimately it happens to everybody. But some get more stuck there than others. In fact, so much so, that sadly some people get so engulfed in feelings of ¬†hopelessness and despair, of a finite set of moments that feels infinite, of possibilities that seem impossible, obstacles that are insurmountable, and of accomplishments that seem unattainable, that tragedy strikes in such big ways it’s difficult to fully understand.

And for others, it can simply lead to a paralysis or a life left not fully lived. And a constant longing for a new beginning.¬†For that reason alone, I love stories of “reckless abandon”, where you hear an example of someone that pursued their life’s dream, their purpose, and their heart. Even when they felt few choices existed before them.

A friend of mine from undergrad was a roommate of mine for two years and one of my best friends for many years beyond those days. Without question, he was one of the smartest guys in our University. And he was academically and intellectually DESTINED to be a doctor. No question, everybody knew it. And if I recall, he was considering Neurology specifically. Aced the MCAT’s, had the perfect grades, everybody loved him, perfect bedside manner. Was going to be an absolutely brilliant doctor. Make us all proud.

Yet, at an intersection of his life he took a drastically different turn, which must have required some significant courage. And he pursued his passion. Broke free, and found his calling.

Espresso.

He has made a life of coffee, and because it’s a passion of his he’s found his calling. Perhaps his academic and intellectual destiny didn’t intersect with that of his heart, or perhaps he was simply destined to use his intellect in ways never known in the world of coffee. Fortunately for him, despite going through years of biology and chemistry, he still found the way to make a courageous decision and to follow his heart.

So, tonight, here’s to following your heart, to opportunities that exist before you that you might not fully see, in industries you might not fully expect, and to my friend who has given the gift of his example to me and many others.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. 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, itís doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

Authenticity…From a Kid

 

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Thursday night I was at dinner with my family; it was a gorgeous evening crisp and clean air quickly cooling by the nightfall from a warm and sunny day. Just one of those great casual evenings consisting of hangout-with-the-family time.

Royce, my seven-year old daughter, was really being quite loving with me. She kept holding my hand and looking at me, and wanting to cuddle. And, she’s my “red personality” (see www.colorcode.com) daughter who is an intense driver and go-g0-go, so this was a little unusual for her. Soon to be six-year old Zoe (who is “Blue”; intimacy, relationships, time, details) is usually the one that wants to cozy up.

Then, springing from some a quiet moment, an interesting dialogue occurred. And it went, verbatim, just like this.

Royce: “Dad, sometimes I don’t think I could marry anyone, ever.”

Me: “What do you mean, Royce? I expect you’ll get married someday! And I’m sure the guy will be amazing!”

Royce: “Well, it’s just that I love you so much, and you’re the best Dad in the world, and I can’t imagine anyone better than you! Seriously, you are the best Dad I’ve ever met. Ever! I don’t think I can ever find someone as good as you that I love so much.”

Me: “Royce, that’s is probably one of the sweetest things anybody has ever said to me, you really think I’m a great Dad?”

Royce: “Of course! You’re the best!”

Me: Thanks Royce…But, really, and I feel kinda bad about this, there are times when I don’t feel like such a good Dad to you and Zoe.”

(side note: I’m completely expecting Royce to fully refute my feelings of inadequacy as a Dad, so in retrospect I’m not sure this was quite a genuine response from me–if anything, I was probably looking for a little validation!).

So Royce continues without even a hesitation…

Royce: “Well, that’s because there are times you aren’t such a good Dad. But that’s okay, I love you no matter what and still think you’re the best Dad out there!”

And that was, perhaps, one of the most authentic, transparent, and unconditional moments of love that I’ve felt from another human being in my entire life.

I say it to my kids all the time that “I love you, no matter what”, but to hear it in the context of a very real assessment of my imperfections (because the truth was that day I wasn’t being a very lovable Dad!) made tonight’s moment something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Royce, thanks for a such an authentic experience about what it REALLY means to love someone…no matter what.

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 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, itís doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

The One

stephen-strasburg

Here’s an interesting article related to performance and success, and while not earth shattering at its core the originating subject is about the next baseball wunderkind bazillionaire (pending all things go as planned) who could be another “Dwight Gooden” style game changer.

What I found fascinating is that the bulk of the article is really comprised of interviews from nine “past baseball wunderkids”, of their era, who had the right stuff but it didn’t quite transact. Some of the stories and vignette’s are merely interesting, but others are insightful about the life’s lessons learned from some of the highest potential of their time–and despite the subject being baseball, there are a few things in here that all of us can apply.

“For months Stephen Strasburg has been tailed by raised radar guns, standing-room crowds and breathless scouts filing even more breathless scouting reports. The magic of the 20-year-old righthander from San Diego State has been well-documented: a four-seam fastball that has been clocked at 102 miles per hour, a slider that makes hitters look as though they’re swinging in quicksand, and‚ÄĒas this week’s draft got under way‚ÄĒa legion of baseball men calling him the best pitching prospect ever.
Awaiting him are fame, opportunity and likely the richest contract ever bestowed upon an amateur player (a six-year, $50 million deal if his agent, Scott Boras, gets his way). But there is this too: the unreasonable expectations, the injury risks, the strange whims that have been the rule rather than the exception with the game’s bonus babies. SI rounded up nine pitchers spanning more than half a century who have trod the same turf‚ÄĒthe Strasburgs of their era‚ÄĒto offer some perspective to baseball’s Next Big Thing.
From Paul Pettit (class of 1950) to Mark Prior (class of 2001), an oral history of the flamethrowing phenom…”

Click here to read the full Sports Illustrated story.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. 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, itís doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

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, itís doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

At first she HATED running…

This story out of Sports Illustrated speaks for itself, and is touching on so many levels. Physical improvement. Accountability. Teamwork. Persistence. Heart. Patriotism. Compassion. Love. 

It’s a simple story of a single act that turned into something so much bigger, and for whatever reason really touched me as I read it a second time this evening. I hope you enjoy it, too, and as my dad would say “Grok the Fullness” (Grok the Fullness? Check it out:¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grok¬†). vivian__husband_run1

Vivian White would do just about anything for her son, but this was asking a lot. Take up running? She hated running. Had ever since grade school. Besides, at 47, she was set in her ways.
But he persisted. This was 2005, and Brian Bales was a junior on the Charleston (Ill.) High track team. Every week in the off-season Vivian would drive him to a nearby college and time him in the 200 and the 400. In turn, Brian would try to get her out on the track. Eventually she gave in. At first she was gassed after one lap. Then it was two, then four. If she faltered, there was Brian, backpedaling in front of her like a cornerback and shouting, “Come on, Mom, you can do it!” Or he’d trail her, a hand in the small of her back, saying, “I know it hurts, but you’ll thank me one day.” He taught her how to create a rhythm for her breathing by bouncing a tennis ball as she ran, how to block out pain.

Most 16-year-olds would consider it horrifyingly uncool to train with their mom. Brian loved it. “It made us a lot closer,” he says. “And as soon as she got an iPod, it was like she could outrun a horse.”

Click here to read the full Sports Illustrated story.

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 health, itís doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

A Random Update

dc

This has been the longest I’ve gone for quite a while without a blog update.

I’ve missed writing, and am also a bit embarrassed for the time that’s passed. So as I was thinking of blogging topics I thought better might be a quick highlights from the past week. So this particular entry isn’t focused on volunteerism, leadership, or even a specific musing–it’s really just as the title says. A random update (side note: I think in the past I’ve titled something “A Random Update” so in this case it’s “Another Random Update”).¬†

Last week was an absolutely PACKED schedule, much of it oriented around some great things we’re working for to roll out at Convention–as well as the event itself. This years event is going to be very business focused; from our guest speakers to our tools to our workshops and to a few other things, it’s all oriented around helping those who attend focus on ACHIEVING THE NEXT RANK. Getting the “what’s next” that will lead to their success. But, it’s not all business of course. And even though much of the business focuses on the things I mentioned, it doesn’t mean that it excludes things like the product or cultural piece. That’s also part of getting to the next rank. B

It’s my feeling that, strategically and topically, this is going to be our highest impact event ever for those that go–and particularly for those who go AND bring one, two, ten, or twenty people with them. Your business will grow–it’s that simple.¬†

So that consumed a lot of time. I’m also running more, and decided to sign up for the Portland Marathon in October, so am in the midst of a training program that actually takes quite a bit more time than I realized. So I’ve simply committed to making my wellness goals and the preparation for this event a priority (one of many, but it makes it up higher on the list than before). And, truly, as a result I feel the more I’ve applied myself towards this the more focused, productive, and creative I’ve been. More for another posting, someday.¬†

I left Oly on Wednesday morning, along with Dave Nash, and we arrived into Montreal late that evening and spent the following day with our Montreal team where we worked on the integration plan–a lot of good stuff. We had a great time working together, and on the Montreal side it included Bijan, Rob, and Jonathan–three exceptional individuals who know a lot about this industry.¬†

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From there it led to a great event Thursday night at the Montreal office, and despite the language barrier (the entire meeting was done in French; of course, with the exception of myself and Nash). Was good to see both familiar and new faces. The next morning we flew to Halifax, my first time in Nova Scotia. Rainy and a bit cold, but still beautiful and the people are charming. Friday afternoon I did a Q&A session for the local leaders, and later that evening enjoyed a fantastic dinner (and even some celtic music later in the evening) with Univerians. 

 

Dave and Harry smiling and dialing at the leadership dinner
Dave and Harry smiling and dialing at the leadership dinner

 

 

The Saturday morning attendance was good, probably about 300 and quite a few first-timers; I had to jet to catch my flight to NJ right after I spoke, so I’m sure the event went well but I was off for the great Garden State of NJ. A Newark arrival and rental car with 2.5 hours on the turnpike led me to the BBQ in South Jersey being hosted by Glen Crawford and team where a really nice setup of great food and activities for kids was hosted by the local associates. By 8pm I was on my way to DC and arrived, feeling just a tad spent, close to midnight last night.¬†

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Charles at the mic during the NJ BBQ

DC is a gorgeous city, I love the geography but also the political energy of the city. It’s a bit like the feeling you get driving into Manhattan. And what’s amazing are all the exhibits and museums, most of them totally free. This city is such a great reminder of the privileges of the freedom that we enjoy.¬†

So I woke up this morning on what really was a perfect day and went for a long run–it was fabulous to be able to run through the streets of DC and see the White house and Capitol, many memorials, the Washington Monument, and even the West Potomac Park is spectacular. It helped me realize there are so many virtues to the simple ways to exercise, whether it be walking or running, which include that’s pretty darned cheap and a wonderful way to spend time breathing fresh air and there are incredible sights to see. When I think about my travels from the last few years, one of the things I remember most are some of the runs I’ve been on–from the chaotic streets of Beijing on a weekday morning to the salty seaside of Carlsbad my runs have served as a good way not just to get exercise but to see and enjoy various travels, or even my hometown. Plus, running is a good appetite suppressant, which is something I need more of if I’m to hit my bodyfat goal of 15%.¬†

So to conclude this “random update” my afternoon consisted of participating in a DSA meeting. I sit on the Strategic Planning Committee for the Direct Selling Association, and the role of this committee is to put forth the key strategic recommendations and objectives for the DSA for the following years. There are about 10 Executives that sit on this committee and it’s an exceptional opportunity to learn from peers as well as contribute and give back to our industry. Today we spent some great time discussing and debating some of the most critical strategic drivers for the industry over the following few years.

Tomorrow begins the first of two days of general session DSA meetings, which will be kicked off by the Executive Director of the DSA: Neil Offen (who is ALSO one of our many exceptional speakers at the end of June at our annual convention).

Despite the sheer quantity of activities and initiatives ongoing it was a really engaging and rewarding week.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. 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 heartiness, itís doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy 4th Birthday Buddy

img_34831The reason I write in my blog is to connect with people. Not just from one segment of life, but from many.

And as part of the thread of stories I try to share experiences and observations in leadership, volunteerism, wellness, as well as some stories that are simply personal experiences that fall in none of those particular categories and, might, at times, be more personal.

Today’s entry is one of those. So if the personal aspect is too much, please skip this one today.

I write tonight sitting 3,000 miles away from Erica and my girls, celebrating in spirit the birthday of our son Levi. Who, five years ago today, was born and also died several hours later due to prematurity and a systemic infection that could not be avoided or treated.

Levi, my little friend, I’m not sure if Heaven is wired with Web 2.0, social networking, and blogs along with 802.11N Wifi.¬†Maybe up there you’re on Web 10.0 and we’re just catching up. I’m not sure if you’re yet able to read, if you’re learning to read, perhaps someone is reading to you, or whether you’re even still a youth or not. Somehow, though, I think you will get this message in some way.

Raz Fam celebrating Levi's 2nd Birthday
Raz Fam celebrating Levi's 2nd Birth.

Today I just wanted to acknowledge my appreciation and love for you–especially because I’m on business travel and away from the rest of your family on this special day. I wish you were here so we could celebrate, even if remotely. And if you were here tonight I would call you on a Skype video, sing Happy Birthday to you, tell you how proud I am of you…I’d tell you how I’d take you out for cake and ice cream when I got back home, and we would do the things that dads and sons do–things like wrestle and horseplay on my return visit. We’d probably even break something valuable in the living room. ūüôā But it would be okay, because you would be with me–and I would be with you. And mom would look at us and smile with a look of “You boys…” and Royce and Zoe would be cackling and laughing in the background, all while trying to wrestle with us as well. Levi, we would have had a lot of fun–and I miss you.

Yet, as strange as this may sound, I am certain that God’s got all of those fun activities figured out for you–and more–right where you are.

It is rare that I can look at our family and see only four people; it generally feels like you are missing, and while some of the days that pass make missing you–and what I never got to know of you–easier, never will it be forgotten or a substitute for what a life with you in our family every day could have been like.

So, today’s posting is a simple one.

It’s just an open letter to you wishing you a Happy Fourth Birthday. To let you know that we all miss you so much, and I know we would be so proud of you on this day, yet we also have a sincere contentment that everything works out according to a plan.

It’s just that today, and at this very moment, I really don’t like the way this plan has worked out–even though I know it is for the best.

Happy Birthday my little friend, we miss you so much and I will see you someday soon.

-Dad

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No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. 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 health, itís doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft ó can kill the mood in bedroom.