The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


Archive for May, 2011

Our Loans to Repay…

Happy Memorial Day everyone! 

Today is an occasion to celebrate America – our America – our nation of great opportunity and great diversity, yes?  Even though our country and our cultures are engaged in challenging times, today is a day to celebrate our blessings and our future possibilities, don’t you think? 

On any other day, it’s easy to get mired in everything that seems to be wrong with America.  What concerns you the most? Politics?  The economy?  Health care?  World peace?   The NFL lockout?  Lots of opportunities for worry, fear, frustration, and anger, I suppose. 

Conservation of our Earth for future generations is another important concern – and periodic hotbed of debate.  Nothing new however; it is a topic dating back to our original landlords: 

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children.

                                                                   Native American proverb 

Do you believe we’re experiencing (and contributing to) Global Warming?  If we are, what can each of us individually do about it?  Will our children feel the same way about lending us their Earth as we do about our Social Security trust fund?  (Not much “trust” in the use of that trust fund is there?) 

But today is a holiday and a time for celebration not worry; for national pride not fear; for appreciation not anger.  Today, we Americans can celebrate the interesting, diverse, and humorous lifestyle others have helped enrich us with.  An Unknown Sage offers these examples: 

Only in America…can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance. 

Only in America…are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.

Only in America…do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front. 

Only in America…do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke. 

Only in America…do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to  the counters. 

Only in America…do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.                     

Only in America…do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.  

Only in America…do we use the word “politics” to describe the process so well: “Poli” in Latin meaning “many” and “tics” meaning  “bloodsucking creatures.” 

Only in America…do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.                            

Yes, only in America.  And in America, Memorial Day is a day to celebrate our country and the men and women of our armed forces who have preserved a country where cultures of diversity come together unlike any other place on Earth.  It’s a time to salute our service men and women; present and past; too many to count who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life.  

It’s true that we all benefit today from those who came before us.  But what are we making of the opportunities they provided us?  And what will we leave for our future generations?  

In America today, you can be anything you want to be; and most people are.                                 

For today, let’s kick back, relax and enjoy the holiday.  Tomorrow, let’s go back to work – working to be anything we want to be; working to preserve our way of life for future generations; working to pay back the loan on our planet Earth to our children, OK? 


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Hoping in Duple Time…

Hoping in Duple Time… 

The Polka is a happy, little tune – don’t you think?  (Really, Gary?  The Polka?  Slow day?  Having trouble finding something to write about?) 

I was station-surfing the other day; looking for a little hard-rock.  After all, it was Mandatory Monday which I wrote about with “Enthusiasm” (did you read Mandatory Metallica?). Came across Polka music on the radio and it triggered memories of my childhood – and the movie “Home Alone”.  Did you see that movie?  John Candy played Gus Polinski, the leader of a Polka band from Milwaukee. Remember his pride over one of their hits, “Polka-Polka-Polka”?  Classic!

From (of all places): “Polka is defined as a vivacious couple dance of Bohemian origin in duple time; it is a basic pattern of hop-step-close-step; a lively dance tune in 2/4 time.”  Vivacious; lively; duple time; doesn’t that just perk you right up?  OK, who brought the accordian? states, “Polka music is a form of European dance music which originated in Bohemia (what is now an area within the Czech Republic).”  Wikipedia adds: “Apparently, it was so well-received that it became a sort of dance craze, spreading across all of Europe, and to the US.” 

“OK, but the Polka?  Today?”  Well, you see the Polka is part of my family roots.  When I was in grade school my Aunt married into a Polish family in Chicago and before I knew it my older cousin was playing the accordion and everyone was dancing (lively; in duple time!).  I remember the cold beer would flow, as would the rich happiness of blue collar, working families, who made the most of celebrations that they could rarely afford.  Although they struggled to make ends meet, when they partied – they really partied – and they Polka’ed! 

There have been other dance crazes, for sure.  In the ‘60’s it was the Twist.  Who remembers doing the Hustle in the ‘70’s? Today, who hasn’t done the Electric Slide?   How many of these dances will outlast the Polka?  Again, per Wikipedia, “The actual dance and accompanying music called “polka” are generally attributed to a girl, Anna Slezakova of Labska Tynice, Bohemia, in 1834.  Alright Anna – 177 years and still going strong! 

When my relatives danced the Polka years ago, it was all about celebration.  Celebrating some occasion, for sure; but also celebrating family; celebrating life; having some fun.  The hardest working people are often the ones that enjoy family gatherings and modest accoutrements the most, yes?  

I’ve always believed that these celebrations are an expression of hope for the future, too.  Hard working people stay pretty focused day-to-day; living paycheck to paycheck, they have to.  But when it’s time for a family celebration, hope springs eternal!  

Throughout the ages, dances of hope were common among many people. Texas Bix Bender, who brought us such sage advice as, “Don’t squat with your boots on.” and “Never drink down stream from the herd.” also offers us insight about dance, hope, and future-timing.  In the Great Plains and throughout the West, for instance, we’ve all read lore about the rain dance.  And Texas Bix said: 

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. 

So I’m smiling today about the timing of my life and the opportunity to see my Cousin John playing the accordion while my Uncle Frank and Auntie Bernice danced the Polka into the wee hours of the morning. Yes – the Polka – a happy, little tune indeed. 

What stimulates your hope? 


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Good Judgment…

Selling is (or should be) a skill-based game, true?  Recently, I constructively criticized some of my sales brethren for their lack of follow-up on trade show leads; and worse, for being judgmental toward their prospects.  They insulted the decision-maker by thinking she wasn’t the true decision-maker.  (It’s hard to close a deal when you insult the prospect, don’t you think?) 

Sooth Sayers say there are many pitfalls in the sales profession.  Here’s another one:  the “Money Flinch”.  Sales professionals usually learn how to handle questions about money the hard way.  Addressing an early, “How much?” from the prospect requires good judgment; and it has been said that: 

Good judgment comes from experience.  Experience comes from bad judgment.

                                                                  Unknown Sage 

Inexperienced sales people often use bad judgment when dealing with the money question.  They flinch, and (to use horse-speak) accidentally “spook” their prospect.  Here’s how it happens:

  • Early in the very first conversation the prospect asks, “How much does something like this cost?”  (Prospects always seem to ask this question early.)
  • The inexperienced sales rep flinches and says, “Oh, I will need to do a thorough analysis before I could give you a quote.”
  • And – Boom!  Just like that, the prospect is spooked! 

It’s a classic, non-answer answer.  The prospect probably didn’t expect a firm quote; a ballpark figure would likely have sufficed.  Yes, they may ask add-on questions to clarify how the money works, but they’re still just looking for an estimate.  However, the non-answer answer can have unwanted consequences.  It seems evasive, even irritating, and can imply:

  • That this thing must really be expensive (maybe too expensive) if an “analysis” is needed before I can get a ballpark figure.
  • That this thing must be complicated (maybe too complicated) if a “thorough analysis” is required.
  • That this sales rep must be an idiot if he can’t answer a simple, direct question with a direct answer! 

How do we in the profession deal with this?    Well, I like to bring to mind the experience each of us already has (the same experience that can lead to good judgment, if we’ll let it.)  You see, everyone has been in this situation before – as the prospect – remember?  We’ve all looked at something we’re interested in and asked, “How much does something like this cost?”  Remember your irritation when you got a non-answer answer? 

When we’re on the selling side and the money question surfaces, we can leverage this experience; display good judgment; and Viola – be sales professionals!  Here’s how: 

  • First, don’t flinch
  • Second, try something like this;
    • “Well, our typical client invests between $xx and $yy
    • Their average return is $zz.
    • And they also enjoy the benefits of A, B, and C.
    • Of course, to provide you an exact figure we should invest some time to understand your needs.” 
  • And finally close with;
    • “Is that what you had in mind?” 

It’s not foolproof, but it is simple, direct and professional.  I don’t worry about trying to get to foolproof: 

It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

                                                                 Unknown Sage 

So when faced with the “money question”; don’t flinch.  Look them right in the eye and offer a number based on your “typical client”.  Add in the return-on-investment and benefits your clients enjoy; and then see if that’s what they had in mind.  

Anyway, that’s how I do it – how about you? 


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Springing into life…

Last weekend I “barreled into spring” – in Palisade, Colorado at the 2011 Barrel Tasting event.  It was a group travel trip that my wife specializes in creating.  Eight wineries, all members of the Grand Valley Winery Association were our hosts.  What a blast!  Check it out – Wine Barrel Tasting – and please plan on joining us next year.

One aspect of this weekend I enjoyed the most was the opportunity to chat with the winery owners in person; listen to their approach to wine making; learn a bit about their background.  Of course, the gourmet food paired with selected wines was very excellent, too.  Add in Western Slope, Colorado weather; the sights of the Grand Mesa and Book Cliffs mountains; and life is pretty darn good!

Business owners and entrepreneurs – they are the backbone of America’s economy, don’t you think?  Maybe the foundation of our entire society, too.  To me, business owners, especially owners of small and mid-sized businesses, represent the ultimate in commitment.  They go “all in” when they start their business.  Some succeed, a few excel, many fail – but most maintain a grounded sense of self along with a stellar sense of humor.

Like Jeff and Carol Carr, owners of Garfield Estates Vineyard & Winery (Garfield Estates). When I was chatting about his background (a former sales executive in the technology industry, which I can relate to), Jeff shared this adage from and Unknown Sage:

How do you make $100k in the winery business?  Start with $1 million.

I suppose that adage can be applied to many business pursuits, true?  But Jeff said it with the kind of smile that implied he traded-in his go-go, high-stress, hi-tech profession for the manual, outdoor labor of running a vineyard on purpose and not by accident.

The same might be true for Bob and Billie Witham of Two Rivers Winery & Chateau in Grand Junction, Colorado (Two Rivers).  Moved up from Texas and moved out of the nursing home business to open a winery, I’m told; added a most elegant chateau and destination event component to their operation.  Bob’s face had a continuous grin as he served tastes of port, coupled with fine chocolate to the barrel tasters.   Yep, life’s pretty darn good!

Bennett at DeBeque Canyon Winery; Jay at Canyon Wind Cellars; Sue at Plum Creek Cellars; all of them – the epitome of Harlan Cleveland’s view about life:

If you try too carefully to plan your life, the danger is that you will succeed – succeed in narrowing your options, closing off avenues of adventure that cannot now be imagined.

Avenues of adventure – these business owners were probably all successful in previous career pursuits before opening their wine businesses; some of them continue in their profession while simultaneously operating a winery.  Have they found a passion in the form of a business?

Find a job you love and you will never work another day in your life.

                                                                          Unknown Sage

My wife has found “that job” – she’s in the leisure travel business.  She organizes group trips like this one; local, domestic and international; fun and interesting destinations, all.  How cool is that!

What about you?  Have you ever said that you are working in your current job only to make enough money so someday you can pursue that something you’ve always dreamed about?  How much money will it take?  When does “someday” arrive?  Maybe it’s today?  Go on – go for it!


How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could subscribe to my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit

Life after fifty…

Johnny Unitas, the Hall of Fame quarterback for the original Baltimore Colts, once said:  

Be happy today and everyday because you’re dead a long time.  

Facing one’s mortality can be difficult, true?  My Dad had a passion for life; always seemed happy; big Johnny Unitas fan, I guess.  He loved living – died in his sleep at ninety-one.  We all should be so lucky.   

At this stage of my life, maybe from my Dad’s genes, a new flame of intellectual interest is being kindled.  Don’t know why.   Have you had that happen to you?  Seemingly all of a sudden, out of nowhere, have you picked up a new interest, recreation, hobby, passion?  (Not THAT kind of passion, LOL!)   

I’ve started meeting with a writers’ group.  Found them on MeetUp.  We’re a small group.  They take turns reading some of their work-in-process; then the group discusses what they like and ideas for improvement.  I listen in awe.  We share an interest (some might say a passion) for writing.  They are experienced; some even published.  Me – well, you already know about my writing.  

Our group is aspiring novelists, mostly; a few poets, too.  Although I struggle to keep up, they think I’m a professor!  You see, I am constantly asking them questions about how they write what they write.  I guess they find my interest in their interests interesting.  I think I’ll keep the charade going for a little while.   Maybe print up some business cards; take on a pen name.  Ah, the fun of fiction!  

They write deep; their vocabulary is powerful; emotion and deep-meaning woven into their work; their characters are lifelike.  Me?  I write shallow.  Of course, you already know that.  I’d say my writing falls somewhere between texting and the obituaries; with a dose of self-doubt.  It’s like I’m drawing stick figures among artists.  Oh well, that’s why I joined the group.  

The other evening, one writer shared the title and background of one of his nonfiction books, The Second Half Starts at 50.  It’s about how to enjoy a higher quality of life that the longevity of our generation is experiencing.  His title reminds me of Leonardo DaVinci.  Did you know that DaVinci finished painting the Mona Lisa when he was fifty four years old?  Fifty four in his era was well into the “second half”, yes?  Maybe my second half will be full of new experiences, new pursuits, new MeetUps.  Maybe yours, too.  

Thinking of life in terms of “first half” and “second half” can be a bit sobering when one is in the second half.  Now, I find myself listening to other writers’ “deep writing”.  Like one of the group members, Douglas, The Wizard.  He was sharing his award-winning skill of reciting poetry impromptu; he has won contests with this ability.  And in about three minutes, he spoke a few lines that I would have strained to draft; edit; re-write; re-edit; and even then the odds would be 50-50 whether I would actually put it out on my web site.  But The Wizard, he just closed his eyes and the imagery flowed.  Amazing!   

While he recited, I melded the power of his prose in my mind with the wisdom of the other writer’s book title about life’s second half.   The Wizard said, “I am happy to be.”  And I closed my eyes, thought of my Dad, and added, “I am happy to have been.” 


How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could buy my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit

What my Mother taught me…

Posted May 8 2011 by in True North with 4 Comments

Welcome to Mother’s Day evening – was it an enjoyable occasion for you?  On a wonderful, spring day our gathering of family and friends totaled six Mothers in all.  A special occasion indeed!  I hope yours was too.  Do you have a certain routine or family tradition?  Please share a highlight with us.  

Mother’s Day in our household is usually simple; a home-cooked meal, a few adult beverages, cards, candy, flowers – and joy.  Once in a while our sons surprise their Mother.  A couple of years ago they decided a Rockies baseball game would be fun.  Their Mother had a great time – but not because of the game.  

Sometimes occupational distance interferes with the occasion and we can’t gather with our Mothers and our families, yes?  Funny isn’t it – how understanding our Mothers are; how proud they are of our work; how willing they are to accept the circumstances; how a simple phone call can suffice.  Modern families are often disbursed throughout the country, and the world for that matter.  But geography is always trumped by a Mother’s love – a truly powerful emotion no doubt. 

For some of us Mother’s Day is a day more for memories than celebration.  No matter how recent or long ago, the warmth of a Mother’s love rarely fades, don’t you think?  My Mom passed away in 1974, but my eyes mist with the memory of her even as I write today.  Then, remembering the warmth of her love, I feel an imaginary hand of reassurance on my shoulder, and everything is OK again.   Powerful love. 

Mothers have patience, perseverance, and a great sense of humor, too.  I guess they have to in order to be a Mother.  I remember when our younger son rode high school rodeo – over his Mother’s objections.  His idea, and mine I suppose; although I’m no cowboy.  (So why I was involved with this decision remains a mystery to this day!) 

He rode bareback broncos.  “Rode” is a bit of a stretch.  You see, he rarely covered an 8-second ride.  He was bucked off often and when he landed he tended to get hurt.  I think he spent more time riding in an ambulance to the local hospital to get a shoulder re-located, or his neck examined, than he did on the back of a bronc.  But he loved to ride so his Mom stood by, bit her lip and got ready to jump into the ambulance – but only up to the point of re-ride options: 

So, I’m no cowboy, but I’ve sat next to his Mother when we heard that Rodeo Announcer come over the P.A. System to say, “Well folks, he’ll have an option for a re-ride.” And as the announcer glanced down to the stands to see her reaction, he quickly added, “But his Mother says NOooo!” 

I guess there’s a limit to our Mothers’ patience and tolerance, true?  On the other hand, the things they teach us seem limitless.  An Unknown Sage offers this account: 

            What my Mother taught me:

My Mother taught me logic;

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

My Mother taught me irony;

“Keep laughing and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

My Mother taught me about the science of osmosis:

“Shut your mouth and eat your supper!” 

Yes, love; patience; tolerance; teachings.  Here’s to our Mothers past and present.  Let’s not wait a full year to celebrate them again, OK? 


How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could subscribe to my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit

Selling to committees, oh my!

Have you ever sold to or tried to persuade a committee?  Do you “dance with the stars”?  Will you share one of your favorite dances with us?  Perhaps even educate us on how to dance this most difficult dance of selling to a committee? 

John F. Kennedy once described a committee this way: 

                        A committee is twelve men doing the work of one. 

Selling to the twelve to get a decision from the one; committee-based projects can be quite the challenge, yes?  It’s a business dance that at the end of the night can bring a disappointing ending for all save one, lucky sales rep.  But as sales professionals, we must face this dance because we dance for a living – while committees, well they don’t seem to get out much.  

In Corporate America today collaborative, decision-making processes are often preferred by business executives.  You know – get the team involved; gain buy-in; empowerment; leverage group-think; use all of these factors to obtain a better decision for their company.  Yep – form a committee! 

On the sales side?  We’re not as thrilled.  It isn’t the added effort needed to sell to a committee.  Rather, it’s the difficulty in working through a maze like a mouse when the members of the committee have different (sometimes conflicting) needs.  Makes it hard to find the cheese.  And the outcome to the company when committee members disagree on their needs?  Norman Augustine said: 

            A camel is a horse designed by a committee. 

The tempo of the dance can be different, too.  Sales people are sometimes surprised to learn how quickly the “psychological” buying decision of a committee is made; often very early in the sales process vs. at the end, after the committee has considered all of the competing vendors’ proposals.  Of course, the sales reps don’t learn of the decision early – we’ve just started to dance. 

Besides, winning a psychological decision is not the same as placing the order.  Many bad things can and do happen to the sales rep after “winning” the hearts and minds of the committee early.  Seems backwards so far?  Well committees have their reasons.  

First, committees like to use the ensuing evaluation activities to validate their initial decision; make sure they haven’t overlooked anything; CYA.  Second, the committee needs to find out if their executives were just being courteous about this project or truly sincere about actually spending the money and making changes.  Remember: 

            Not to decide is to decide.

                                                                            Harvey Cox 

Additionally, it’s at this stage of the evaluation process where “Sales Rep Stupidity” may enter the dance floor.  Sales reps in the lead might lose their position; become too aggressive; over confident; complacent; even lazy.  Or, the leading sales rep can panic and start to discount their deal prematurely; throw in added items; make additional offers; lose their tempo.  If they do something stupid, either the committee gains benefit or the competitor does, all at the expense of the leading rep. 

The trailing sales reps?  Well, there seems to be no end to the imaginative ways they try to change the mind of the committee – usually quite entertaining. 

At the end of the dance, only one lucky sales rep wins and the rest of us all tie for last.  We all get voted off – this dance is over.   Then it’s on to the next committee; on to the next dance.  


How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could buy my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit

Who do you admire?

Take a moment – who makes your list?  Are they world leaders?  Famous people in history; explorers; religious figures?  Rich and powerful moguls?  Athletes; movie stars; Oprah?  Or is it simply a friend, a family member, or a colleague?  We admire all kinds of people from all walks of life, true?  

And what is it that we admire about them?    Is it their inventions; their impact on mankind; their fame; fortune; beauty?  Have they overcome great adversity; do they have exceptional talent; or are they just pretty cool?  Lots of reasons, I suppose. 

Let me share a few thoughts about Jim, Joe, and Lew – three people I admire.  Jim and Lew?  They are friends and colleagues of mine in Denver; both are Sales Professionals whom I have known for twenty years.  I met them working at ADP, a company I once sold for.  When I was promoted to lead a sales team there I took them with me.  

Pretty straight forward, yes?  So why the admiration, you might wonder.  Well, I left that company when my job was no longer fulfilling.  You know – greener pastures and all that.  In fact, I’ve sought greener pastures several times.   Jim and Lew stayed; stayed and thrived.  Oh, Jim did have a greener pasture fling with another company once for a few months.  But his friend, Lew, helped him return to ADP where he knew he would be better off. 

They have been sales sidekicks throughout the ups and downs ever since; outlasting bad managers; succeeding through product changes, technology changes, and marketplace changes.  While many Sales Professionals nomadically move from company to company, Jim and Lew stay.  While I was seeking adventure, fulfillment, fortune and glory, they stayed their course; they stayed and made a difference.  Admirable.  

And why do I admire Joe?  Well, he is from a totally different walk of life.  You see, Joe Newton may be the most successful, high school boys cross country coach who ever lived.  I’ve written a short story about Joe in my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© called “Playing to Win”.  Although I’m not a runner, I researched Joe’s teams from 1961 to 2000.  Here is an excerpt from my book recapping some of his remarkable, coaching successes at York Community High School in Elmhurst, Illinois: 

In order to attend York a student’s parents or guardian had to be an Elmhurst resident.  This residency rule meant Coach Newton had no opportunity to recruit his cross country athletes. He also faced a minimum 25% turnover of his team every year (through graduation); and an absolute 100% turnover of his team every 4 years. 

During the years from 1961 through 2000, his teams definitely played to win: 

  • Dual meet winning percentage (York vs. one opponent)

York won 94% of these meets.

  • Conference championships (York vs. 8-10 other high schools)     

York won 37 out of 40 years

  • Illinois State championship

York won 21 out of 40 years

Top 10 finishes 39 out of 40 years

  • National championships*  

York won 20 out of 40 years

Top 3 finishes 33 out of 40 years    

* As recorded by the “Cross Country US Postal” organization and including more than 10,100 high schools throughout the USA; with 25% turnover every year, 100% every four years… 

Truly astounding! 

Yep, I admire Jim and Joe and Lew for their long-term success.  How about you – who do you admire?


How’s your day?  When life gets tough you could get a helmet – or, you could buy my book The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©  Please visit