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Special Moms…

Posted May 9 2018 by with 0 Comments

Moms are special, true? My Mom was special – I bet your Mom is (or was) special, too. This coming Sunday – in mind; in memory; or in person; please be sure to make it a special day for your Mom.

My wife is a special Mom. She continues to lovingly mother our grown boys and our grandchildren even while their father worries, “How do I get all of these kids off the payroll?” But I digress.

Our Moms have a special sense of humor – just ask our favorite, Unknown Sage:

A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” I wouldn’t know what to say”, the girl replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say”, the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Our Moms are special teachers. Remember many of the life-long lessons you learned from your Mom? These special lessons we learned from our mothers are often passed down through generations. Back to our Unknown Sage:

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!”

Even Bill Gates has a take (including “Mom” in his reference to his parents, and ours):

Excerpt from Bill Gates’ speech to Mount Whitney High School, Visalia, CA:

Rule 1 – Life is not fair; get used to it…

Rule 7 – Before you were born, your parents weren’t
as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Our Moms have a special and immeasurable reservoir of power. I bet your Mom has power; my Mom did. She was stricken with cancer when I was 6 years old. In fact, I no longer remember a time when she was not ill. The last 15 years of her life were spent undergoing cancer treatments.

I watched my Mom’s great power, which she needed in order to deal with a new cancer treatment in the late 1960’s that was so unimaginably harsh – that the administration of this treatment was solely based on the primitive science of trial and error – where the doctors’ routine consisted of observing how much of a dose could she tolerate without dying from the treatment.

It was an experimental treatment back then; offered only as a last resort for terminally ill cancer patients. This wasn’t a cancer cure; just a radical option to extend one’s life another year or two. It was due to her staying power (and that of many other patients like her) before she finally succumbed in 1974, that has helped pave the way to the development of the commonly used, life-saving cancer treatment we all know today as chemotherapy.

How many special Moms have died fighting terrible diseases (and brutal treatments) so the rest of us can benefit from the overly exaggerated term, “modern medicine”?

Mother’s Day – make it special for your Mom if she’s living; make it special for you through your memories of your Mom if she’s not.

GAP

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Horse people…

I like being around horse people.  They have commitment!  For that matter, I like being around farmers, ranchers, and western folk.  I like their foundation of values – God, country, family.  I like their work ethic; centered on kids, crops, and critters vs. board rooms, bank accounts, and bling.

Since moving to Colorado, my wife has become a horse person; and my younger son, his wife, and my granddaughter, too.  After growing up in suburban Chicago, I now live with a whole different “herd”.  And these horse people are committed!

My husband said if I don’t sell my horses, he will leave me.  Some days I miss him.

Unknown Sage

In January, I enjoyed being around western folk and horse people almost the entire month as I worked evenings and weekends with my wife’s company at the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo.  She is the unofficial embroiderer for the National Western Event Center equestrian events.  She embroidered 83 champion coats over a 16 day stretch:

One of my favorite events involved the draft horse teams.  Talk about commitment!  On surface, the audience sees the power and beauty of these teams that campaign throughout the United States.  They certainly exemplify western values as written about in James P. Owen’s book, Cowboy Ethics©:

Ride for the brand.

Those in the know understand what it takes below the surface for these folks to run such campaigns.  The time commitment alone necessary to prepare to compete in a venue such as the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo is indescribable.  Not to mention the small fortune required to enter the event.

When you look at this picture of 14, 6-horse teams (84 tons of horse!) I figure you’re looking at a financial investment of $8,029,000!

$105,000 for tack (42 sets of harness, hitches and reins x $2,500 per set; 3 pairs per team – 2 horses as the wheel team; 2 horses as the swing team; and 2 as the lead team, all with special fitting, matching tack); 14 show wagons with trailer @ $25,000 each = $350,000; 14 pick-up trucks to haul the show wagon trailers @ $70,000 each = $980,000; 14 tractor-trailers to haul the 84 draft horses @ $110,000 each = $1,554,000; and 84 show draft horses @ $60,000 each average public auction price = $5,040,000.

Not counting the cost to hay these horses (50 pounds of hay per horse per day x 84 horses x $5 per pound x 365 days = $7,665,000); and grain them (50 pounds of grain per day…); or to shoe them … or to vet them … or the fuel for the vehicles to haul them … or… or… or…

The $2,500 prize money for the 1st place team (along with a couple of “Champion” jackets provided by NWSS and embroidered by my wife) clearly is not the reason why these western folk compete, true?

While many were watching the NFL playoffs on TV (and perhaps remembering the controversy NFL players started by kneeling during the National Anthem); these teamsters were filling water troughs; grooming their horses; polishing their tack and wagons; mucking manure out of stalls.  They all know one another and enjoy visiting with fellow competitors; sharing stories.  While caring for their critters, they eat their meals in the barn; and prepare for their next event.

And at the start of each and every day, everyone stands and “removes cover” for the singing of our National Anthem.  Yep – I really like being around horse people!

GAP

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Training – more specifically…

Posted Feb 1 2017 by with 3 Comments

I was thinking about training last month.  More specifically, I was thinking about the difference between training horses vs. training sales people.

In their book Peak Secrets from the New Science of Expertise © the authors (who are scientists) take a scientific look at what goes in to training exceptional performers.  More specifically, they drill down into the myths and realities behind “natural talent” vs. developed excellence.  I came away from the read believing their view that the difference-maker is deliberate practice:

…deliberate practice involves stepping outside your comfort zone and trying activities beyond your current abilities. 

Anders Ericsson

I read this book for two reasons.  First, one of my colleagues who I consider “the expert” in our field and the most valuable member of our “Finance Center of Excellence” team recommended it.  He said this book made him worry that he might be losing his expertise; being passed up; out of practice.  More specifically, he paraphrased the authors:

I worry that those with 20 years of experience like me are being passed up by those with 5 years.

Chris Miller

The second reason I read the book is I was heading to lead a 2-day, on-site sales training session.  More specifically, working with a client’s fifteen sales people carrying a combined 247 years of industry experience the majority of that experience selling a competitive product to the one I was now training them to sell.  And none of them had read the book!

I wondered how things would go.  More specifically, would these experienced sales professionals permit me to take them out of their comfort zone for two days of deliberate practice?

Just prior to facing my experienced audience and leading the sales training session, I worked evenings and weekends with my wife’s company at the 2017 National Western Stock Show & Rodeo.  (Pardon my plug – see www.thrivingpetsinternational.com )  One of the equestrian performances featured an Australian horse trainer.  His demonstrations of horse training skill were amazing:

Horse_Trainer

Now I’m no horse trainer, but my understanding of the field is that one key to success with our equine friends is to get them into a comfort zone on the maneuvers you’re asking them to execute.  The contrast struck me.  More specifically, I thought about the difference of approaching stellar performance with people vs. horses.

On the people side, the key is commitment to deliberate practice outside of one’s comfort zone.  On the equine side, the key is the commitment to deliberate practice while keeping the horse inside of its comfort zone.

Well, I did meet for two days with my client to lead a sales training session on how my company’s product is not only different than what they’ve sold over the years, but also different in how they should sell it.

I suspect I “shocked” them out of their comfort zone (citing Peak© to justify my methods), but I definitely fell short of fully enabling them.  More specifically, they were tolerant of observing my role-modeling on how to sell our product.  But they would not practice this new approach (aka “role play”).  And that’s the problem.

More specifically, I believe there is a difference between gaining an intellectual understanding of a particular skill while watching someone else do it vs. the deliberate practice necessary to convert that understanding into the ability to do it yourself – comfort zones notwithstanding.

More specifically, I don’t think the horse trainer scheduled a conference room and talked his horses through their maneuvers via PowerPoint.  You?

GAP

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Luv rules…

Posted Feb 11 2015 by with 5 Comments

Valentine’s Day is on its way – there’s still time to make special arrangements for that special person in our life.

Love_Billboard-2

OK, OK – so I can’t take credit for creating this awesome display of love for my love.  That was someone else’s awesome display of their love for their love.  But I can take “observation credit” for stopping along the roadside while driving through this western Illinois farm community to take the picture, can’t I?  I think my wife will give me credit for a little kind-hearted, photo-plagiarism because I know she knows:

Love rules without rules

Italian Proverb

And who says men are oblivious and have no powers of observation?  OK – so with the billboard approach there were no subtleties.  But observing his demonstration of love reminds us all that for this Saturday, no assumptions; no taking her for granted; no obliviousness; no subtleties are allowed.  On Valentine’s Day, we must shout our love for our love from the top of the mountains!  Of course, we hope our women do the same for the men in their lives:

You know “That Look” women get when they want sex?  Me neither. 

Steve Martin

This Saturday may be a special day in my marriage, but our relationship over the years has taken constant care (and patience).  Thankfully, my wife has patience:

Patience strengthens the spirit,

sweetens the temper,

stifles anger,

extinguishes envy,

subdues pride,

bridles the tongue,

restrains the hand,

and tramples upon temptation. 

George Horne

It’s easier to be patient with the little things I suppose.   But when times get tough, the most convenient person to argue with, vent to, and take our frustrations out on is often our partner, true?  Life seems to move so fast; people seem to be so stressed; the media inundates us with so many sensationalized issues.

I don’t know; are meaningful, loving partnerships easier or harder to find these days?  With everything racing at a break-neck pace, who’s responsible for maintaining a healthy, loving, long-lasting relationship?  Well, here’s a view from Wyatt Webb:

You are 100 percent responsible for 50 percent of any relationship.

Carrying more than ½ the load you say?  Yep – you and my wife, too.

Thankfully, my wife and I are still in love after all of these years.  We will do something quiet this Valentine’s Day; we enjoy our quiet time together – always have.  We’re blessed with sharing many common interests, so spending time together and “decompressing” from our fast-paced life is a nice retreat.

Like you, our conversations will span a variety of topics; children; friends; happy memories; love.  Of course, when we’re together we will also synchronize our calendars; debate upcoming projects; disagree on priorities; discuss business; and almost always review our finances.  Yuck!  Necessary I suppose, but certainly not very romantic.

Yet this Valentine’s Day I will be reminded:

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. 

Mignon McLaughlin

So here’s to February 14th – Valentine’s Day.  May you enjoy it with someone special in your life.  If you’re lucky enough to be in love, may you cherish your quiet time together; sharing common interests; being patient with life’s challenges; relishing the restorative results of romance.

And if you’re with someone but you’re not yet sure if he or she is “the one”, don’t worry – trust your gut feeling:

Love is not finding someone you can live with; it’s finding someone you cannot live without.

Rafael Ortiz

Love rules without rules Valentine’s Day – and every day.

GAP

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Worthless…

Bitcoins: aka virtual currency; electronic money; cryptocurrency.   Engagement: aka the non-monetized metric measuring the effectiveness of social media marketing.  Facebook: aka the new Customer Service media.  I can’t remember a time when I have had more fun getting less worth from such intellectual-based, mass-personalized, business thinking.

Is it me?  Maybe I’m the dinosaur here.  But just in case The Old Guy is on to something, indulge me a little longer, OK?

I like to look at our increasingly complex marketplace of buyers and sellers in a simplified way.  IMO, what connects the buyer and the seller is a transaction.  And – call me kooky – I’d prefer my transactions to include the exchange of money.  Cryptocurrency?  Non-monetized metrics of effectiveness?  Exactly how do I put food on the table with those things?

Now I enjoy the modern, social media; electronically mobile; highly intellectual world as much as the next person.  It’s highly entertaining.  I’m just saying entertainment is not commerce – even for the highly intellectual, highly creative technologies of our day.  Russell Kay cites this universal law:

Grabel’s Law: 

Two is not equal to three – not even for very large values of two.

You tell me – am I crazy if I believe that working for a living and building our businesses should include good, old fashion, hard currency?  Cash money?  Measuring the wrong thing (aka social media engagement); and accepting the wrong form of payment (aka Bitcoins) might be highly innovative; but – and here I go again – innovation is not the same as profit.  And without profit, what do we have?

It nonetheless spoke highly of the firm’s management that they seemed to be going out of business in an orderly fashion.

Norman R. Augustine

One social media premise is that engagement leads to a relationship; and relationship leads to cash money.  So here’s my disconnect:  As a prospect myself, when I’m buying some product or service I just want to buy the product or service – I’m not looking for friendship.  If the seller makes it convenient for me to transact; if they meet my expectations; then I’m likely to transact – repeatedly.

Isn’t it disingenuous to try to establish electronic rapport; or a social media relationship; in order to entice a prospect to transact business?  And after we transact, do we really have to rely on social media to receive customer service?

If a company wants to use social media for their Customer Service delivery platform – fine.  Then institute that approach as company policy; change the voice mail to “Please find our Customer Service Department on Facebook”; and get back to the basics of addressing customers’ needs in a professional and responsive manner.  We don’t care how the vendor solves our issue – as long as our issue is solved, true?

If I have to put my customer service complaint up on an online billboard (aka posting on Facebook) because I can’t get through to their Customer Service Department I assure you I won’t be their customer very long.  IRL, Facebook is not customer service (not even for large values of Facebook).  And real life is a reality:

Reality is that stuff which, no matter what you believe, just won’t go away.

David Paktor

So I promise – if you’d like to transact with me well, you don’t have to friend me on Facebook first.  And the next person who offers to pay me in Bitcoins – I’ll just smile and respond, “I prefer cash, thank you.”

GAP

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