Friday, December 25, 2009

Like & Love

Christmas night! Had a big day…lots of gifts, food and drink, visiting with family and friends, text messages, e-mails and phone calls…tired!

My wife, Jodi, gave me a very cool gift this year…a Kindle. It is a wireless electronic reading device. I am now able to download books to the Kindle in a matter of seconds. No more ordering and waiting for a delivery or going to the bookstore and paying full price. The Kindle will even read the book to you, if you like. Way cool. I enjoy books and now I will enjoy the Kindle! (BTW… I gave her a brand new vacuum cleaner…before you think badly of me, that is exactly what she wanted!)

Not only did I get a Kindle… but I received lots of other stuff too. Clothes, shoes, gourmet snacks and cheeses, several bottles of nice wine, a neat wine stopper, etc, etc. All these things I liked.

After a little while, with a full stomach and the Kindle, I have sat back and reflected a little on Christmas 2009. It was a good one. But one thing has bothered me... our older daughter, Sarah, was not able to be with us today. She and her husband, Marvin, drove in to Baton Rouge from Houston on the 22nd and left yesterday, the 24th, in order to be back in Houston for work obligations on Christmas Eve. Jodi, Caroline (daughter # 2), and I have missed her. This is the first Christmas in 24 years that I have not seen Sarah on Christmas day. (I hope this does not start a trend.)

In any event, it sort of hit me that I sure do like the “stuff” I got today. But I propose that as much as we all like the things money can buy, we love the things it can’t.

I would give up my Kindle in a heartbeat to have Sarah and Marvin at home with us a while longer. The things we love… we can’t touch. Things like relationships, conversations, laughter, contentment, a wink, excitement, anticipation, and a shared thought that hits those we love at the exact same time. I hope this makes sense to you.

A business application to the above thoughts? I think there is…it is not about just the money we can make from the delivery of a quality product or service, it is about the satisfaction (or even delight) we can bring others by how we deliver the product or service. Relationships trump stuff every time.

I hope you and your family had a great Christmas. And I hope your loved ones were there to enjoy the day with you. There is not doubt that the true meaning of Christmas also revolves around relationship. HIS was a gift that money sure can’t buy.

2010 is going to be a great year!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


As those of you who know me well can attest, I generally live my life in a state of confusion about one thing or another.

Take memory for example…it confuses me as to if it is better to have a long one or a short one? If you are studying for a test…maybe a long one is better. If you play cornerback in the NFL maybe a short one is better. If you hold grudges…maybe a short one is called for. If a selling technique you used 25 years ago was successful in a situation similar to the one you are facing now…maybe a long memory is good.

Fortunately or unfortunately I have been blessed/cursed with a good memory (or at least I had one in the past…Has anyone seen my wallet?). In school you were considered smart if you could recall things. I could do that. But experience has taught me that smart is much more than the ability to remember things.

Smart is the ability to reason through a situation. Smart is the ability to see a situation from a different perspective then everyone else. Smart is the ability to act on things that you know are right. Smart is developing relationships with those smarter than you.

A good memory does not equate to smart.

I wonder if you can have a good memory and be smart?

I doubt it.
(BTW… I found the wallet…it was right where I left it.)

What if?

I am sure we have all heard some sayings in the past that we may have doubted were true.

But what if they weren’t?

What if an apple a day really did keep the doctor away? Would we eat the apple? Sounds pretty simple huh. But do you know what is just as simple as eating an apple?

Not eating an apple.

What if working a little harder really did increase our luck? Would we work a little harder?

What if making a few more sales calls really did increase our sales? Would we make the calls?

What if being bold really did bring mighty forces to our aid, as Johann von Goethe the German philosopher said? Would we be bold?

What if you play like you practice really is true? How would we practice? (Not just in sports…but in business practices as well.)

It is just as easy not to develop a good habit as it is to develop one. Choices, choices!

What if?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I received an email from a friend I had not seen or spoken to since college…that’s about 27 years ago. Quite the shocker. He simply said that something made him think of me. He then went to Facebook and since I was not there, he Googled me and found my business website. From there he got my email.

After catching up a bit via email he chided me for not being on Facebook. What he actually said was “It’s a nice century we live in, you should try it”. That night I did not sleep much thinking about all the rather stupid reasons that I had in my head regarding why I had not signed up on Facebook. Things like… if someone really wants to find me they can, I have enough “friends”, Facebook is for kids, and now my personal favorite…what if I can’t figure out how it works?

For the past 10 years I have done everything in my power to learn the most recent trends in business consulting and management techniques. I have conquered e-mail, the blackberry, Internet, and even keyless entry on my vehicle. Why not Facebook?

How about a silly mental block? During my sleepless night I decided to sign up. The next day I was on in about 5 minutes. It is really pretty cool.

I did not sign up to be cool or try to be younger than I am. I signed up because I could. How could I not, when I preach the value of relationships? Things are just things…but relationships are more than things…they are living, breathing, changing creatures to be valued, nurtured, and cherished. Maybe I will develop a few new relationships, maybe I will stir up some old ones...who knows?

Yeah, I’m on Facebook. Are you? It is a nice century we live in.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Not in the Box Score

It is the baserunner who makes a hard slide into second to break up the double play, the infielder who dives and turns a sure double into a single, the batter who fouls off 10 pitches before he gets a hit. It is the volleyball player who saves ball after ball from hitting the floor after a wild pass. It is the quarterback who runs down a faster defensive back after an interception to save a sure go ahead touchdown. It is the leader who, when all appears lost, motivates his team to dig deeper, to try harder, to never ever quit.

None of the above will show up in the newspaper box score the next day, but these plays and leadership may have won the game. Box scores only report the highlights, the "so called" important statistics. Box scores don't document heart. Nor can heart be measured in traditional ways. It can be judged however...if we pay attention.

The funny thing about the players who show heart and don't get the press or credit, is that they don't care about the press or credit at all. They care about the score at the end of the game. Did their team win? Did their TEAM win? Not did I win, or did I play well..but did our team win. Stats take care of themselves when you give 100% and do the things that are important but don't show up in the box score.

In the business world egos can take over. Sometimes owners and managers only want to implement ideas that are theirs...even if it is not the best plan. As consultants, we often spend time trying to figure out how to make a good idea from a "lowly" employee seem like the owner/manager's idea. You see, if it is not their idea it may not get the attention it deserves and possibly will not be implemented. Advising would be lots easier if not for those box scores.

Who gets the credit shows up in box scores.

I admit it... sometimes I look at the box scores to see if one of my kids got the credit she deserves in an athletic event. I read books about business owners/managers who have been innovative in thier organizations. But I know in my heart of hearts that wins are made by plays and leadership that never show up in box scores. Wins are made by employees doing what they do to the best of their abilities.

Box scores aren't bad. They just never tell the whole story. We must look past box scores to the important details...always.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Eating Frogs and Elephants

A wise man once told me that if you have to eat a frog, it’s best not to look at it too long.

For you uneducated, that means if you have a tough job to do, go ahead and do it, it will not get any easier. I generally try to subscribe to this rule but don’t always succeed. It takes intentionality to always get the hard things out of the way first before tackling the easier tasks. Besides, sometimes the hard things are the biggest jobs.

This brings me to the elephant part….How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Last week, while, again, cutting my grass (lots of thinking time there) I realized that I was constantly trimming the edges of my yard and making a pretty large “square” in order to have a clear, relatively large, area to cut. After a few “rounds” on the big area I would unconsciously cut it into smaller squares, and then cut them one at a time. Apparently the larger job was just too much for my mind to handle, so I cut it down to manageable jobs, then completed them one at a time until the entire yard was cut.

Sometimes I think we look at the size of the job and get discouraged, especially if it is a tough, big job. If we could intentionally think in terms of breaking the large job into small tasks they may become more manageable. Just like eating an elephant, your short term activity, multiplied by time, equals your long term accomplishment.

Do the tough ones first, break the job into manageable tasks, and don’t ever, ever quit. There you have Tim’s recipe for success.

Frogs and elephants…breakfast of champions!

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I don’t think there is a time in each of our lives when we haven’t wished that we knew what was going to happen in the future. When I was young, I remember wondering how tall I would be. Now I just wonder how big around... how times have changed!

A funny thing about growth is that we generally cannot control how tall we will be…but we generally have some control of how big around. We also have some control regarding our psychological growth. I have known some people that are mentally stuck in the 4th grade. I would bet that you know a few also. Maybe they are the same people!

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says that we will be the same people we are today in 5 years, but for the people we meet and the books we read. I don’t think Mr. Jones is talking about physically the same. He is talking about mental growth. Learning… in a way that improves our outlook and our potential to make the world, and us, better.

Another of the differences between humans and the rest of the natural world is that we have the ability to think about and ponder “things”. In nature, a tree doesn’t wonder how tall it will be, it does not ponder its future, it just grows as tall as it can. How cool is that?

We humans have a unique ability to be self-limiting. Our growth is sometimes limited by our attitude of pessimism. I wonder what we could really do if we began our career or a project or just our day knowing that we couldn’t fail? What if we could see the future?

I propose to you that we can see the future if we just look. But we have to do more than just look…we have to look in the right places…and we have to take action. The best way to predict the future…is to create it. Knowing what the future will look like is totally dependent upon our vision of it and our effort to affect it. Don’t look where you don’t want to go.

You too are a prognosticator!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Several months ago I was talking with a new friend who is also a business consultant. We were attempting to construct a plan for a client in financial and operational distress. Though our approaches were, and are, very different, after several hours of conversation, it was clear that we both wanted the same thing for our customer…success. The consultant himself had recently experienced some severe financial problems due to a failed investment. I was impressed by his upbeat attitude and his ability to talk about this issue with total openness and without the appearance of bitterness. He was even calling on some of his negative experiences to help our mutual client.

Of course, I was curious about his method of handling what apparently had been a real crisis in his life. When I asked him about his outlook in light of the circumstances, he mentioned support from his family, his Christian faith, and help from friends as factors in keeping his attitude positive. He then asked me a strange question. He asked if I knew about the Chinese symbol for “crisis”. I did not. I did not know even the context of the question.

He explained that the symbol for crisis was actually 2 symbols, the first is the symbol for “danger” and the second is the symbol for “opportunity”. He went on to suggest that he had chosen to believe that his crisis would yield new opportunity. He even mentioned that our getting together may not have happened but for his issues.

I have since done some research regarding Chinese symbols and have learned that he may not have been exactly correct in the interpretation of the symbols…but it didn’t matter. He had made a choice. And that choice was working for him. I consider him a success just by the strength of his mindset.

I have written about choices in the past. They are very important. To see someone who has been kicked around by his own choices and yet pick themselves up and move forward with enthusiasm is truly inspiring. That experience reminded me of a quote by Richard Broadhead, the president of Duke University. It goes like this, “We must outlive our darkest day.”

How do we handle adversity? Do our circumstances dictate how we act and feel? Sometimes we don’t have a choice about our circumstances, yet we always have the choice about our attitude. It is easy to feel good in the midst of good times; it is how we act on the rainy days that our true mental toughness is evident.

My new friend is tough…very tough. I want him on my team any time.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


On July 29, 2009, I attended my son-in-law’s graduation exercise from the Houston, Texas Police Academy. It was quite an event with lots of pomp and circumstance. Marvin graduated ranked 7th in a class that began with 70 participants, 66 graduated. I am very proud of his effort and accomplishment. The graduates came in all sizes, races, and genders. The top 3 graduates were recognized as “high achievers” and received special accommodations.

Ranking and achievement have dominated my thinking since the ceremony. Who are the achievers and why? What achievement does each of us seek…or do we seek any? Should we?

I sure wish I had all these answers. Maybe I should stop thinking so much and actually achieve something myself!

I just wonder if all the candidates at the police academy began as equals. As I said, they came in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But on day number one they were equals. At graduation, 6 months later, only 3 received accommodations. Sure each of them came to day one with all of their experiences prior to that day, but in that line, on that day, none of that mattered, they were equal….or were they?

If they were all equal, why then, did they all not receive the high achievers award on July 29? My belief as to why is this…they had equality of opportunity, not equality of skills, intellect, and drive. They absolutely were not guaranteed an equality of outcome.

I truly believe that we cannot and should not attempt to assure an equality of outcome to all persons. I am an American capitalist and I believe that God has endowed us with certain unalienable rights, among those are the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I believe that God has also blessed each of us with certain abilities unique to each of us individually. He provides us with a certain amount of natural skill and intellect. He gives some more than others, but to each, something. My question is this: does He provide each of us with the same ability to summon drive, determination, and ambition? Is this what is meant by having free will?

No matter your education level, no matter your family background, no matter the direness of your current circumstances, opportunity awaits. If you are waiting for a guarantee of an outcome you just may be waiting forever. If you are waiting for an opportunity, open your eyes, they are all around you. Your achievement depends on you. How bad do you want it?

George Bernard Shaw put it this way:

“I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on
in this world are the people who get up and look for the
circumstances they want. And if they can’t find them,
make them.”

Hard work, determination, and ambition will not guarantee success any more than size, strength, and brainpower. But sitting around waiting on success to interrupt you is a guaranteed path to failure and ruin.

I am curious if those 3 police officer achievers simply decided they were going to be the best and attain the awards ….or if their talents were so great it just came easy for them. I choose to believe the former. They all began as equals…and these 3 made a choice that made them unequal.

I think we do an injustice today by not recognizing those who achieve. Those are the ones I want on my team, whether it is a sporting event, a business endeavor, a mentor, or a charity fundraiser. We may have all started as equals but we sure don’t end up that way.

Another quote from Thomas Jefferson sums it up:

“There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of
unequal people.”

There you have it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Not Wrong, Just Different

Wouldn’t it be terrible if we all liked and wanted the same things? Only one color car would be needed, only one color hair! We would all rush to the beach (or the mountains) for vacation. The tourist industry in one or the other would go out of business…but that would be ok… because the shop owners didn’t want to be there anyway.

Silly, right? Then why am I guilty of thinking that everyone must like and want the same things I do? I tend to fall into this trap everyday. I have to constantly focus and re-focus in order to remind myself that others (my teammates and customers in particular) are not always in tune with my way of thinking.

It takes intentionality for me to not put all people in the same box. They must be thinking this or that because I am thinking this or that….bull! The fact is that the exact opposite may be true….they are probably thinking one way just because I am thinking the opposite!

Well… in any event, I am happy that we are all different. The simple fact that we are all unique allows me to grow and learn as I pursue answers to various questions (business and otherwise). I am amazed by how, sometimes, the persons I am acquainted with approach a situation 180 degrees different than me. Not wrong, mind you…just different. Depending on the relationship with the individual, this situation can be quite stressful or quite exhilarating.

If we are searching for the right answer…it is really cool as we can discuss, argue, and influence each other in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. If we are each searching only for our answer…then it can get ugly…real ugly.

Here’s to open minds and different ways of thinking.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Short-Run Thinking

What is best for me in the next 5 minutes, the rest of the day, or the rest of the week? I admit it… I am sometimes guilty of very short-run thinking.

The counter intuitive reality is that, most of the time, what is best for me, or my customer, in the short run, is not the best thing for me or them in the long run. Interesting! I have to be very careful in this area of both my professional and personal life because short-run thinking is easy! Pursuing longer term achievements takes discipline and is hard.

I have stated before in a blog post that I like to eat…it is fun. But eating too much, too often certainly has its long term consequences. The same goes for financial health…a little purchase here or there on items that provide short term enjoyment can ultimately lead to long term despair, and at the very least, worry.

When we begin a project with a client we are often times looking for “early yardage”, something that can impress them and hook them for the long haul. This works lots of times, but we must be careful that a quick battle victory does not impede the ultimate outcome of the war. What are our real goals? Sometimes even having the conversation is difficult. Who wants to think about 5 years from now when they are hurting in the present? Like I said, long term thinking is hard.

Taking the long view, however, is generally taking on the real source of the problem as opposed to simply alleviating a symptom with a short-term salve. I don’t like pain any more than the next person, but I do understand that most things worthwhile are not attained without some type of short run sacrifice. I have known people that would rather walk with a cane than go through physical therapy. I do not want to be those people…ever!

I’m just trying to psyche myself up for some short term pain in order to achieve some long term gain…. I hope this helps you a little also.

Keep the Faith.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

49 and a Day

Yesterday morning (May 1, 2009) at 9:20 a.m. I surpassed 49 years on planet Earth. I never thought I would make it this long! I am on lagniappe time.

I remember my Dad saying that he really enjoyed getting older as the alternative was very unattractive. I think I agree.

While cutting my grass today (with my push mower… since some low life stole my rider) I thought about what I would, or should, do with my remaining time. Should I just continue to play it safe and survive or sow a few wild oats? I am not talking about wild and lascivious living, but taking a few more risks…living a little more on faith and stop being concerned as much with security. (I have been known to say that sometimes I like belts and suspenders…just in case.)

What do you think? Same boring Tim or should I sometimes drive 50 in a 45?

I will try to blog again soon (and regularly)…as I have taken a forced sabbatical for several months due to unsuccessfully trying to become more secure…

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's Valuable?

Over the past week or so I have been preparing for an approximate 2 hour presentation to one of my customer’s team at their annual retreat. The topic that the customer asked that I concentrate on is “business planning”.

My mind has been whirling with different thoughts and stories that I hope will motivate the group to plan, but even further than just plan, I hope they will take action and implement their plans. Now that I have completed the preparation for the presentation I am able to step back and attempt to assess the value to be delivered by the concepts and ideas that I will be presenting. In doing this, a new thought jumped into my head…. what is truly valuable?

At first I thought of the easy things…money, a house, a car, jewelry…you know…THINGS!!! I then thought that these are, what I call, rival assets….something that, if I give/sell to you, you have and I don’t. But what if I give you a concept or idea that inspires or motivates you to action….and that action results in creation of a new process that allows you to more effectively deliver your goods or service, or motivates you to make a real commitment to more consistently do the things in your business that you KNOW creates profitable sales? Or, in a non-business environment, motivates you to live a more healthy life-style. These non-rival assets of concepts, ideas, motivation, and/or inspiration are where, I think, real value truly lies. These assets are non-rival in that I can give/sell them to you and now we both have the asset.

How cool is that?

Since I sell advice, ideas, concepts, motivation, inspiration, and a few other intangible services, the following statement is going to sound very self-serving. But here goes… I believe that the value of non-rival assets exceeds the value of rival assets by an immeasurable distance. Things are just that…things! But ideas, thoughts, determination, desire, ….these are the intangibles that lives of real worth are made.

I would love to hear your thoughts regarding the value of rival vs. non-rival assets.