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Posts Tagged ‘Tenacity’

Turn up the music…

2017 is starting out with lots of challenges for us.  Dramatic change is in the wind (and all over the news), yes?  As Americans, the Executive Branch of our federal government is provoking great change.  At the corporate level, employees of my recently acquired company are feeling the impact of significant change.

The Co-CEO addressed our sales organization in January in an effort to help quell our jitters.  The gesture of his in-person address was impressive (and appreciated).  He was very clear on his vision of our collective future, however.  And change is a big element of his vision for a great future:

Comfort is not the objective in a visionary company.  Indeed, visionary companies install powerful mechanisms to create discomfort – to obliterate complacency – and thereby stimulate change and improvement before the external world demands it. 

Jim Collins

He asked us to embrace the discomfort of change and contribute to our company’s future success.  Many felt it was a big ask.

Change can be very difficult for us to deal with, true?  For me, it’s especially ironic to see how change affects those of us in the sales profession.  I mean, here we are the sellers of change when our clients buy our new products or services to replace their previous products and services.  Sales and change are synonymous, yes?  And yet, I find sales people in particular to be extremely change adverse.

My company has lost several people since the acquisition just because of impending change.  So far, there’s really been nothing materially wrong with our new parent company’s approach to things.  For most of us, our daily routine is the same today as it had been previously.  There are procedural differences; pay and benefits differences; internal systems differences to be sure.  But these changes aren’t really material to the valuable roles we all play.

Nonetheless, some of my colleagues simply won’t embrace the change.  Now it’s not my place to judge whether they’ve panicked or not.  It simply seems to me that they have chosen to depart before giving the new environment a chance.

When faced with uncertainty, where do we turn?

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. 

William Arthur Ward

OK, but while we are adjusting the sails how do we sooth our worries about change; how do we avoid panic?  In my case, I like to leverage music to seek peace of mind.

On the America front we’ve seen civil unrest in the face of change before.  This 8:43 YouTube clip is one example of music; change; and civil unrest: http://youtu.be/VhX3b1h7GQw

To me, music is a powerful reminder of change.  And it’s a reminder that throughout my lifetime change can be fun, too.  (We called our first band The Neighbors’ Complaint!):

So when faced with the possibility of panic in the face of change, I turn to music.  I was recently reminded by my Great Niece of the importance of music in our lives:

Whether we are faced with changes at our company or changes in our country don’t panic – instead consider the words of E.B. White:

I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time.  Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult.

And when in need of a little help to calm the jitters associated with change in order to have one hell of a good time; turn up the music!

GAP

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123116 … ABC

Code?  No.  123116 is the last day of the year; aka the last day to “hit our number” for anyone not on an alternative fiscal year.  The countdown to midnight; to accelerate our accelerators (maybe, to keep our job).

ABC?

ABC: Always be closing. Telling’s not selling.

2000 Drama Boiler Room

Please “tell” us your favorite “sales-closing” story.  But you can wait until after midnight 123116 – stay focused until then, yes?

Here are two of mine.

I worked with a seasoned sales professional years ago at Integral Systems.  He needed this one last deal to exceed his number and qualify for Club.  His prospect was in New York and he started with the old “camp-out-close” – showing up at their office without an appointment; determined to see his prospect; camped out until he did; needed to close the deal.  The prospect played along.

Unfortunately after agreeing to meet, his prospect wasn’t budging any further as my colleague tried every “ABC” tactic he knew – an extra discount; lenient contract terms; even an opt-out, side letter (unacceptable by today’s revenue recognition standards, but a common “last resort” back then).  At the end of a short but spirited interaction between the sales rep and his prospect, the “because-it’s-my-day” close was born.  It likely went something like this:

Prospect:

“I’m sorry, but as I told you; our plan is to finalize our vendor selection in January.  Why should I buy from you today?”

Sales Rep:

“Well Sir; because today is my day; and you have an opportunity to make today a special day for me.  Some day it will be your day; and when that day arrives, someone will have the opportunity to make that day a special day for you.  But today is my day and that’s why you should buy today.”

And his prospect did!

And then there’s the variation of the “because-it’s-my-day” close, I call the “me-or-my-successor” close:

As a sales professional, I have carried a quota for over 40 years.  And I can remember my 2nd quota year as clearly as any.  You see, in my first year, I was more lucky than good.  That led to a promotion, and a hefty quota increase for my second year – I was in over my head.

After 26 weeks into my 2nd year, I was put on a “performance warning”.  At the 39th week, the Vice President of Sales was asking my Sales Manager to fire me.  Since my company had chosen to proactively promote me (perhaps a bit prematurely) at the start of the year, I asked my Sales Manager to give me 52 weeks to sell my annual quota.

We agreed that at the end of the 52nd week, if I was still below 100%, I would resign.  At the end of my 51st week, I was at 75% and significantly behind the required sales dollars necessary to keep my job.  However, I had been working hard on a very large account.

I called the executive at my prospect and asked, “Do you think you will accept our proposal?”  “Yes”, was his response.  “Excellent, thank you!”  I reacted.  And then I added, “Do you think you could place your order this week?”  When my prospect asked why, I said, “Because if you place your order next week, it will be with my successor.”

And at the 52nd weekly sales meeting, with the Vice President of Sales in attendance, I “roll-called” the second largest deal in the Region’s history; finished my 2nd year at exactly 100% of my quota; and kept my job.

123116… “ABC” everyone, “ABC”.  Bon chance!

GAP

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Fear…

I was listening to Townsend Wardlaw’s presentation last month (see TownsendWardlaw.com ).  I’ve known Townsend for several years – IMHO, he is one of the great thinkers in the sales profession.  Last month’s presentation however was less about the tools, tactics and techniques of sales but rather about fear:

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. 

German Proverb

We were chatting before he started his prepared remarks; commenting about the audience for this event (see http://www.meetup.com/Denver-Enterprise-Sales/ ); comparing notes about the preponderance of millennials in the sales work force of today.  I told Townsend how much I enjoy working with millennials – how I find them energetic, articulate, coachable and “fearless”.

Townsend offered his usual insight.  “They are unafraid, Gary… but they are not fearless.”  His perspective was based on the generational phenomena that when growing up, parents of millennials did not allow their children to fail.  It caused me pause – I think Townsend might be on to something.

During his presentation, he offered anecdotal insight to a personal experience when he was responsible for building a sales team from scratch.  He was in total control – staffing; methodology; coaching; results.  Aha yes…that age old “results” thing.  Townsend acknowledged that great sales process, tools, tactics and techniques have one ultimate limitation:

Beliefs trump everything.

And if sales reps (or anyone, I suppose) are fearful, then we can’t accomplish all that we are capable of accomplishing; we literally hold ourselves back:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens most of us.  We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?” 

Nelson Mandela

I took Townsend’s comments and started to develop a list of sales rep fears – what would you add to, or subtract from, it?

Do I belong in this role?

Do I believe it what I’m selling?

Are my competitors better than me?

Can I justify my price?

In the real world let’s face it; many prospects don’t care about what we care about.  They sabotage our (artificial) deadlines; refuse to be “held accountable”; don’t care if they mislead us; beat a continuous discount drum; true?

Townsend did go on to suggest ideas for living with our fears.  He began by acknowledging we can’t “overcome”; “ignore”; or “eliminate” fear – we live with fear – get over it.  He suggested investing in our physical strength; working on our focus; analyzing what the worst that might happen and realizing most times we are dreaming up our own dread; concluding:

Fear can’t live in the light.

He suggested we simply maintain our courage.  Ahh…courage.  Lot’s has been said and written about courage.  Andrew Jackson, military leader and the seventh President of the United States offered this:

One man with courage makes a majority.

That guidance resonates with me.  Over the years as a sales professional I have always maintained the attitude that I am not my number.  Good or bad, I’ve maintained a willingness to face daily competition; it’s just a deal; it’s not my arm or leg that is at stake.

Following the teachings of other, world-class competitors (even a Roman philosopher) I have tried to face each day with the attitude that, today – I am indestructible!

Our fears are always more numerous than our dangers. 

Seneca

And on more than a few days, it has been only been by my attitude that I was able to get through the day.  You?

GAP

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Football and life…

Football season is here – hooray!  Did you watch the opening games?  How ‘bout my Broncos!  Were they good?  Lucky?  Did Carolina blow it?  All of the above!

I love football (much to my wife’s chagrin).  Which is interesting because the sport of football remains branded in my mind and in my life as the one time I literally gave up and quit.  Yes quit. And worse, I let my Mom down.

Oh, I’ve failed in sports; failed in many things over the years.  That doesn’t make me unique; we all fail from time to time:

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor. 

Truman Capote

But quitting?  That’s another matter altogether.  It was my junior year in high school.  I originally had planned not to go out for the varsity team.  Coach Fischer had been my coach freshman year; he had just been promoted to varsity head coach.  He had brought my sophomore coach, Coach Trolliet up to the varsity as an assistant.

I was a starter freshman and sophomore years; played offense, defense and special teams; was a co-captain.  I suppose Coach Fischer simply expected me to continue playing junior year.  Problem was, I had a bad experience my sophomore year.

I wanted to play well, but I required more coaching than Coach Trolliet was willing to offer.  I think he expected me to be a stellar player based on my raw, athletic talent alone.  But that was the problem – “raw”.  I never learned techniques; didn’t really understand my positions; was mostly guessing.  And when I “guessed” wrong – well, there came the boom!  I was even benched once because my confusion was viewed as a lack of effort.

Public ridicule, in front of my teammates; in the classroom; or any other setting, was never motivational for me.  Had the opposite effect – it shook my confidence.  And in football (and in all of life’s pursuits) confidence is a critical element to success:

Confidence is an important element in business; it may on occasion make the difference between one man’s success and another’s failure. 

Alfred P. Sloan Jr.

So I simply planned to be a fan my junior year.  Coach Fischer got wind of it and called me at my home; asked me to reconsider; wanted me to play.  I agreed (but I probably wasn’t committed).

The first few practices went well.  I was motivated not to let Coach Fischer down.  Though still raw, I had enough athleticism to run fast; hit hard; catch; kick; stand out. Trouble was Coach Trolliet had different plans.  He thought assigning me to the 3rd string would be motivational.   It wasn’t; I quit.

I didn’t tell anyone ahead of time; kept it to myself.  After practice, I went in to Coach Fischer’s office and said I didn’t want to play anymore. Football wasn’t fun.  I turned in my equipment; left in shame.

The worst was to come – when I arrived home my Mom was surprised to see me; said she expected me to be at football practice.  And then she found out that her son had quit.  Of all the people I have known in my life, my Mom was the one person furthest distanced from “quitting”.

But I learned from that high school experience.  Turns out Coach Fischer and Coach Trolliet were “educators” after all.  And today I can enjoy being a football fan because football taught me the lifelong lesson that no matter how bad circumstances get – quitting is never, ever, ever an option.

GAP

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Olympians all…

Whatever your favorite sport is today, I doubt anything can top the continuing string of Olympic popularity.  According to Wikipedia:

The Olympic Games (Ancient Greek: Ὀλύμπια Olympia, “the Olympics”) were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of city-states … They were held in honor of Zeus, and the Greeks gave them a mythological origin. The first Olympics is traditionally dated to 776 BC.

That’s 2,792 years (and counting)!  Yes, the ancient Games became a setting for collusion, conniving, and political control (just like the 21st century I suppose).  Its popularity continues nonetheless.

Are you watching the 2016 Summer Games held in Rio de Jeneiro?  What iss your favorite part?  What will be your most long-lasting memory?  The winners – Michael Phelps; Simone Biles; Ladislav Škantár and Peter Škantár – the Slovakian Gold Medalists of the Men’s Canoe Double event?  The Slovaks were able to overcome Mother Nature I think:

Andrew’s Canoeing Postulate

No matter which direction you start, it’s always against the wind coming back.

Perhaps you were more enthralled with the drama surrounding the big upsets – Colorado’s Missy Franklin; Chris Froome; the water pollution that seemed to engulf the entire city?  Yes, the television cameras (and reporters) are there in droves; up front; personal; shoving microphones and cameras in the competitors’ faces even before they caught their breath after their event.  High drama to us – I wonder what the ancient Greeks would think.

Over the centuries the purpose of the Games seems to have morphed IMHO.  The original intent was religious in nature; intended to honor the Greek Gods.  Back to Wikipedia:

In the ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, the Twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus.  Hades and Persephone were sometimes included as part of the twelve Olympians (primarily due to the influence of the Eleusinian Mysteries), although in general Hades was excluded, because he resided permanently in the underworld and never visited Olympus.

I didn’t know that.

Well, here’s what I do know – Olympians are not limited to the Olympic Games.  There are Olympians among us all, true?  For many of us, just facing our daily challenges requires an Olympian effort.  For many of us, just making ends meet is as strenuous as an Olympic Marathon.

And for many of us, we start each day by setting our mind for victory in order to avoid defeat:

If you think you are beaten, you are,

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you like to win, but you think you can’t,

It is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,

For out in the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will –

It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are,

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But soon or later that man who wins

Is the man who thinks he can. 

Unknown Sage

Olympians will reconvene in 2020 at the Tokyo Summer Games. For the winter sports, theirs will be 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The rest of us?  We’ll rise tomorrow morning; set our mind for the competition; meet the demands of our day head-on; thinking (believing) “we can”.  Not something we refer to as “games”.

GAP

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Time off…

I’m reminiscing about my just completed, 2-week vacation.  It was time:

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” 

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.” 

“You must be an engineer”, said the balloonist.  “I am”, replied the woman, “How did you know”? 

“Well”, answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.” 

The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”  “I am”, replied the balloonist, “but how did you know”? 

“Well”, said the woman, you don’t know where you are or where you’re going.   You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.  You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to help. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.” 

Unknown Sage

So, I’m following Steven Covey’s advice:

It was the final of the lumberjack competition, only 2 competitors remained, an older experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack. 

The rules were simply – he who felled the most trees in 24 hours was the winner. 

The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the woods; set to work straight away; working all through the day and all through the night.  He felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win; because he knew that he had superior youth and stamina than the older lumberjack that he could also hear working away in another part of the forest. 

At regular intervals throughout the day the noise of trees being felled coming from the other part of the forest would stop, the younger lumberjack took heart from this thinking that this meant that the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to just keep going. 

At the end of the competition the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won, he looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort. 

At the medal ceremony the younger lumberjack stood on the podium still confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack.  Next to him stood the older lumberjack who he was surprised to see looked a lot less exhausted than he did. 

When the results were read out the younger lumberjack was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. 

He turned to the older lumber jack and said, “How can this be?  I heard you take a rest every hour whilst I worked continuously through the night, and I am younger, stronger and fitter than you old man”! 

The older lumberjack turned to him and said; every hour I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw.”

I love it when the old guy wins!

GAP

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Hunters…

I think it can be hard to discuss successful sales professionals in a positive, uplifting light.  The best of the best earn recognition and rewards that can stimulate envy amongst others in the village.  Nonetheless, permit me to offer this salute to the few, the true, “hunters”.

Throughout my career I’ve enjoyed interacting with and learning from that rare breed of sales professionals.  Maybe I learned too well.

I never enjoyed the materialistic rewards of hunting as much as I enjoyed the intellectual challenge of winning the deal.  The fun of being a hunter for me was the hunt – the kill was actually anticlimactic.

That mentality served me as a buffer from a common frustration hunters face.  Best stated by my friend (and a terrific hunter) John Kleinhenz whom I paraphrase;

There’s nothing worse in the sales profession for a hunter than to kill the proverbial elephant and before being able to enjoy the feast of the kill have the villagers drag the carcass off to feed the masses of those incapable of feeding themselves leaving the hunter no choice but to return to the jungle in search of another elephant.

Now the metaphor of “hunting” in the sales profession is not intended to be disrespectful to our customers.  They are not the “enemy”; nor really the “prey”.  I believe the term hunting simply reflects the reality stated by many including our favorite Unknown Sage:

Nothing happens until somebody sells someone something.

It takes a hunter to initiate the action, without which the company (and every employee) will “starve” from lack of revenue.  In fact, there have been a variety of studies conducted over the decades that conclude the #1 cause of business failure is lack of revenue (aka successful hunting expeditions).

Yet, before assuming that the solution is simply to hire a few hunters, I always caution my clients.  There are downsides to having hunters hunt for us.

Hunters are often outliers – in the village but not really part of the village; nomadic by nature.  In my case, I was never a great fit within my companies.  They enjoyed the elephants I killed.  But I never drove the right car; wore the right jewelry; had the right haberdasher; made the right sacrifices of riches over family.  I’m awkward in most social settings; no particular reason – just always preparing for the next hunt.

Truth be told, many (not all) of the most financially successful hunters I know are assholes.  Now I mean that in the most kind and respectful way LoL!  It’s just that they have invested supreme efforts to gain their success, while being labeled as “born salesmen”; wooing business over lavish lunches and golf outings.  Thick skin and ego are prerequisites in our profession.

In reality, it’s usually the customer that acts as if it’s my duty to provide extravagance in exchange for their business.  And as hunters, we learn how to leverage such extravagance even if it’s really not our personally preferred style.

No, hunters are “a little different” because hunting is so competitive; so difficult.  The hunt becomes consuming as we narrow our focus to compete for the prize.  It’s a zero sum game:  I must win while every one of my competitors must lose.  And we are always on the clock – we must win and win quickly.  With success, the villagers eat; without, we all starve.

So here’s to you fellow hunters – not everyone can do this for a living.

Now let’s get back out there and sell somebody something!

GAP

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123114…ABC…

Code?  No.  123114 is the last day of the year; aka the last day to “hit our number” for anyone not on an alternative fiscal year.  The countdown to midnight; to accelerate our accelerators (maybe, to keep our job).

ABC?

ABC: Always be closing. Telling’s not selling.

2000 Drama Boiler Room

Please tell us your favorite sales-closing story.  But you can wait until after midnight – stay focused today, yes?  Here are two of mine.

I worked with a seasoned sales professional years ago at Integral Systems.  He needed this one last deal to exceed his number and qualify for Club.  His prospect was in New York and he started with the old “camp-out-close” – showing up at their office without an appointment; determined to see his prospect; needed to close the deal.  The prospect played along

Unfortunately, his prospect wasn’t budging as my colleague tried every “ABC” tactic he knew – an extra discount; lenient contract terms; even an opt-out, side letter (unacceptable by today’s revenue recognition standards, but a common “last resort” back then).  At the end of a short but spirited interaction between the sales rep and his prospect, the “because-it’s-my-day” close was born.  It likely went something like this:

Prospect: 

“I’m sorry, but as I told you; our plan is to finalize our vendor selection in January.  Why should I buy from you today?”

Sales Rep:

“Well Sir; today is my day; and you have an opportunity to make today a special day for me.  Some day it will be your day; and when that day arrives, someone will have the opportunity to make that day a special day for you.  But today is my day and that’s why you should buy today.”

And his prospect did!

And then there’s the variation of the “because-it’s-my-day” close, I call the “me-or-my-successor” close:

As a sales professional, I have carried a quota for over 35 years.  And I can remember my 2nd quota year as clearly as any.  You see, in my first year, I was more lucky than good.  That led to a promotion, and a hefty quota increase for my second year – I was in over my head. 

After 26 weeks into my 2nd year, I was put on a “performance warning”.  At the 39th week, the Vice President of Sales was asking my Sales Manager to fire me.  Since my company had chosen to proactively promote me (perhaps a bit prematurely) at the start of the year, I asked my Sales Manager to give me 52 weeks to sell my annual quota. 

We agreed that at the end of the 52nd week, if I was still below 100%, I would resign.  At the end of my 51st week, I was at 75% and significantly behind the required sales dollars necessary to keep my job.  However, I had been working hard on a very large account. 

I called the executive at my prospect and asked, “Do you think you will accept our proposal?”  “Yes”, was his response.  “Excellent, thank you!”  I reacted.  And then I added, “Do you think you could place your order this week?”  When my prospect asked why, I said, “Because if you place your order next week, it will be with my successor.” 

And at the 52nd weekly sales meeting, with the Vice President of Sales in attendance, I “roll-called” the second largest deal in the Region’s history; finished my 2nd year at exactly 100% of my quota; and kept my job.

123114… “ABC” everyone, “ABC”.  Bon chance!

GAP

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Still Stings…

Periodically, I’m reminded of past failures.  You too?  Oh, I try not to dwell on those negative experiences.

Success is the ability to move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Winston Churchill

Easy to enthusiastically retreat to worldwide wisdom when thinking about a recent (or past) failure, isn’t it?  But a few of my recent (or past) failures stand above a retreat.  And when memories of those failures resurface – they still sting.

2 years ago I was asked to deliver a 3-day selling skills training class to a dozen of our newly hired college graduates.  Young; bright; articulate; enthusiastic… these young professionals have a wonderful career opportunity in front of them.

Somehow, their Sales Manager and her Sales Director seemed to think it would be a good idea for these aspiring professionals to go through my class.  It was the worst sales-training event I have ever delivered; and I’ve delivered a lot of sales training events over the past 20 years!  When I see these young colleagues and their managers in my office today – it still stings.

They don’t remember the details; they didn’t know any better; they thought it was just fine.  But I know better; and it wasn’t just fine.  Thank God for Mike Ditka:

Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.

True enough – I’m still kickin’.

I’ve had my share of failure over the years; professional; personal; you name it.  Makes me “normal” I’d say.

We all fail reaching our goals or managing our responsibilities from time to time, true?  And if we all waxed poetic after each and every failure, well there would be a lot of starving poets in the world, don’t you think?

They say the best result to gain from a failure is to learn from it; overcome it; and avoid repeating it in the future.

When an archer misses the mark, he turns and looks for the fault within.  Failure to hit the bull’s-eye is never the fault of the target.  To improve your aim – improve yourself.                         

Gilbert Arland 

Easy to say, but a few of those missed marks still sting.=

I flunked Thallophytes my sophomore year of college.  The only class I ever failed – still stings.  That same year I missed a winning jump shot at the buzzer against Coe College.  I remember that miss like it just happened – still stings.

I can remember to this day the very worst business meeting I was ever involved with (even worse than that 3-day training class).  It was called an “Ops Review”; it was 1994.  I presented my plan for the sales team I was leading to our National VP of Sales and his staff.  After a string of successful sales years, I thought I knew it all.

My Division VP offered to coach me in my prep – but Nooo – like I said, I already knew it all.  It was the single worst business meeting (in 39 years of business meetings) I have ever experienced.   I can remember it like it occurred yesterday – and it still stings.  Thank God for Tom Hopkins:

I never see a failure as failure, but only as the opportunity to develop my sense of humor.

Today I have a healthy sense of humor.  Lots of opportunities to develop it over the years.  Been pretty successful too:

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.

Truman Capote

But every now and then something reminds me – and it still stings.

GAP

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April 20, 1999 never forgotten…

What shocked us then – has become all too common today.

It takes the sun to create a shadow – accept that the dark and the light live side by side in all of us.                       

Chellie Campbell

It’s not just my home town of Littleton – We are all Columbine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Seqhcq23M

Hug a child today.

GAP