Tag Archives: tough times

Every Customer Is Precious

Jobs Graph

Responding to my comment that our sheet metal shop was too busy to take walk-in business, my father invited me to join him for a cup of coffee.

Over coffee he related the difficulties involved in opening a business in the midst of the Great Depression—phones not ringing and no customers walking through the door. He recounted driving all over the county, looking for a job to quote and worrying about making payroll.

He expounded on the loyalty of walk-in customers. How a smile and a thank you for a two-dollar order, often resulted in thousands of dollars of business. He declared, “Every customer is precious—you never know where a relationship may lead.” Needless to say, we continued to accept walk-in customers.

During the housing boom, many building material retailers erected signs discouraging walk-in customers: “Contractors Only,” “No Cash Customers,” “Customers Must Have a Trade Account.” The advent of the “Great Recession” resulted in many of those signs being removed, but the message, “We don’t need your business.” had been delivered. Gone was the opportunity to develop new relationships, lost was the opportunity to grow with customers and lingering was the bitterness of rejection.

As with my father and the Great Depression, the lessons of the “Great Recession” are deeply ingrained within many building supply industry leaders. They have come to understand the relationships made during the good times, will be needed when the bad times come, and that today’s small customer, may be tomorrow’s prime account.

Memories Of Wine

The colors of the differing layers of its walls reflect the eons the Colorado River has flowed through the Grand Canyon.  Similarly, the wine corks Terri and I store in a five-gallon water bottle reflect our times together.  Viewing the layers of corks, you realize they reflect the ebb and flow of our prosperity: a layer from bottles of Robert Mondavi and Silver Oak wines on top of one consisting of those from Ernest and Julio.

In the course of one of the Ernest and Julio periods—a time of worry about money and jobs—I was celebrating the New Year with friends in Charleston, South Carolina.  One early morning, I noticed a newspaper headline announcing the CEO of a large corporation had passed away leaving a considerable fortune.  It struck me: I was spending time and energy worrying about money, when this titan of industry would have given everything he had for what I had acquired for no cost…my good health.

I don’t have millions of dollars but I possess wealth of which men of substantial means would be envious: good health, friends and a loving family.  I am blessed with the God given ability to work and surrounded by wonderful people and friends who inspire me by refusing to give in to adversity.  I have learned, I am the most productive, successful and satisfied when I grasp just how fortunate I am.

A long-time friend informed me that he is suffering from a degenerative disease.  Always the picture of health, he never let on to a problem that makes it difficult for him to stand and walk.  When the doctors told him in a relatively short time he would be confined to a wheel chair and eventually bedridden, he informed them they were wrong; he wasn’t going to let that happen and that he no longer needed them.  He never went back to those doctors and he’s still walking.  Listening to his story, I was taken back by the courage it took for him to face each day and shameful of how I let incidents of little importance drive me to distraction.

The market, oil spills, Greece, the economic trials we are facing—there is no profit in fretting about what you cannot control.  I try to cast negative thoughts out by focusing on what I can do.  To brood about “what I can’t do” is negative, debilitating and destructive.  Conversely, concentrating on “what I can do” is positive, invigorating and constructive.

Gazing upon different layers in the bottle of corks, I don’t dwell on the good and bad times.  Instead, I linger over memories of the wine: even the least of which was better than none at all.

Waste Not and Want Not

My maternal grandmother came from a family that belonged to the Protestant Reformed Church of France and my grandfather was raised in the Presbyterian tradition; together they taught my mother to practice Calvinistic thrift.  Notwithstanding her fun loving ways—she loved a good joke and a sip of Scottish nectar—my mother was very careful with money.

My mother’s thrifty nature was deepened by the Great Depression.  Raising two young children , she learned to pinch every penny.  When something broke, it was repaired—with a toolkit consisting of a kitchen knife, a hammer and a pair of pliers, she could fix anything.

Sue Tucker’s mantra was “Waste not; want not.”  Christmas gift-wrappings and greeting cards were saved for the following year.  A meal would last for days.  After Thanksgiving, for weeks we would eat turkey: sandwiches, hash, tetrazini, salad and finally, soup.  Believe me, if she had found a way to do so, paper napkins would have been washed and reused.

I came along when times were easier.  My parents wanted to spare me from the worry of  depression and war; so like many in my generation, I was spoiled.

“Waste not; want not” is a principle almost forgotten by the “Boomer” generation.  My cohorts and I  spawned a disposable world: a new computer comes out, get rid of the old one; something breaks, buy another; cook too much, throw the leftovers away.

I recall my parents’ reminiscing how they made do.  My mother never forgot the lessons she learned during her upbringing and the Great Depression—similarly, the lessons learned during the Great Recession will shape behaviors for years to come.


Waste not; want not.”  Thomas Hardy as quoted by Sue Tucker

The Best Of Human Nature

Early in the morning, I listened to Today Show host Bryant Gumble’s report that Miami had suffered little damage from Hurricane Andrew. When I was unable to complete a telephone call to South Miami, I discovered that areas south of downtown Miami had been destroyed.

That evening an acquaintance called and asked if I would serve on an administrative team to assist in reopening damaged Dade County schools. He explained that many of the school administrators, having to deal with destroyed homes, were unable to work and the magnitude of the project required a team with experience in administration and construction. I agreed and early the following morning we left for Miami.

FEMA arranged for us to be comfortably housed in a luxury hotel located in downtown Miami. Arriving at the hotel and observing little evidence of a disaster, I thought I would be headed home in a couple of days. Later, as we traveled to the school administration’s temporary operations center southwest of downtown, I discovered how wrong I was.

Viewing  the devastation wrought by a storm such as Andrew on television, your perspective is limited and it is difficult to comprehend the true scope of the disaster. I realized this as we drove by miles of destroyed homes; past deserted businesses; through intersection after intersection without traffic signals and past acres of broken and fallen trees.

At the command center, a school board engineer and I were assigned to assess the damages suffered by schools. It appeared to be an easy task—the engineer was familiar with and we had ID’s that granted access to all areas. In reality, with blocked streets and street signs destroyed,it was difficult to find the schools, and when we did, they were occupied by people left homeless by the storm.

One of the first schools we inspected was  located in a lower income neighborhood. As we walked through the school, we passed peopled huddled in the rain-soaked, hot, humid hallways. From one side of the roof we saw vehicles overturned and tossed on top of each other. From the other we saw volunteers feeding hungry people from trailers, marked “Baptist Relief.” It was a contrast I witnessed over and over—devastation and the best of human nature.

We spent six weeks in South Florida. During that time, we executed contracts allowing schools to reopen—providing havens for children, and allowing their parents to begin to put their lives back together.

As I view on television the destruction wrought storms, I think of lessons I learned from Hurricane Andrew: the awe and terror inspired by the power of nature; the resiliency of humans and the willingness of people to help one another.

The World Is Not A Mere Bog

I am convinced that the world is not a mere bog in which men and women trample themselves and die. Something magnificent is taking place here amidst the cruelties and tragedies, and the supreme challenge to intelligence is that of making the noblest and best in our curious heritage prevail.” – Charles Austin Beard

Every Season Has Its Blessings

Do you remember the Charles Russell painting, “Waiting for a Chinook?” For those who don’t, it is a painting of an emaciated steer, standing in snow, waiting for a warm wind, with a nearby wolf staring hungrily at him.

At the end of a long hot summer, I have often thought of myself as the antithesis of Russell’s steer. I picture myself in a bathing suit, with sweat dripping off of my face, a drink in hand, gazing to the north waiting for a cold front.

I have always had a thing about winter. I love the cool, crisp days, the smell of the dry air, forest green pine needles against a deep blue sky and a glass of wine in front of a blazing fire. When I first met my sweet Ohio wife, I would tell her how much I cared for winter and as I grumbled about the cold Dayton, Ohio weather, she would remind me that I loved not winter but Florida winters.

During the eight months that Terri and I dated long distance, she in Ohio and I in Florida, I would tell her about the perfect Florida winters: when the days were cool, nights made for sleeping and weather not being a factor in planning your activities. She believed me and when she moved to Florida, she left her warmest clothes behind. Her first Christmas she learned that sometimes Florida weather can be brutal.

The temperature in the upper 50’s, Terri wore a dress with a light jacket to the Christmas Eve service. When we exited the church, there was a howling northwest wind and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees. The following morning the thermometer registered 9 degrees and never climbed out of the 20’s. I swore to her it was an unusual—if not historic—freeze that would seldom be repeated. She believed me, until her sister Karen and her family came to visit the next Thanksgiving.

When Karen asked what clothes they should bring, confident of good weather, I told her we would spend time at our house on the river in Crystal River and on our boat and to bring warm weather clothes. Thanksgiving day was rainy and cold: in fact, 10 degrees colder than in Dayton. I was frantically looking for jackets and sweatshirts that would fit pre-teen children; Terri’s sister was dressed in a pair of Terri’s jeans and sweater and her husband Don was wearing a flannel shirt and jacket that belonged to me. Don pointedly told me that he couldn’t wait to get back to Ohio where it was warm. The next year I learned about real winter.

We arrived at Terri’s sister’s home with the sun setting and the thermometer hovering just above zero. Terri didn’t want to leave our dog at home, so Foxy, our Fox Terrier,  made the drive with us. As we opened the car door, intent on finding the nearest tree, Foxy jumped out onto the snow-covered driveway and immediately refused to move. When I tried to coax him to follow me he gave me that “I belong to the dumbest humans in the world” look and resolutely sat down in the snow. We solved the problem by carrying him into the dirt floor barn that would become his private privy for the duration of our stay.

That night Foxy, Terri and I slept in a cabin located about 100 yards from Terri’s family home. With heat only from a small electric heater, we fixed a “nest” on the floor for the dog and wearing sweat suits, socks and knit hats, Terri and I crawled into bed.

We were awakened from a sound sleep by a dog desperate to visit the dirt floor barn. I rolled out of the warm bed, put on my shoes and with Foxy in my arms trudged to the barn and then back to the cabin. It was an experience that deepened my antipathy for northern and increased my appreciation of Florida winters. That middle of the night journey also provided me with an insight into how smart a dog can be.

After a fitful, frigid night’s sleep, when I awoke the next morning I felt something cold and wet pressed against my neck. Anxious to find out what it could be, I turned and ended up with my and Foxy’s noses pressed tightly together. Obviously, he had concluded that it made no sense to sleep on the floor when you could jump into a warm bed and snuggle between your two people.

Every season has its blessings: the warmth of summer, the brilliant colors of fall, the crisp cold days of winter, the flowers of spring, the impetuosity of youth, the ambition of the middle years and the wisdom of age. Every time is different; every time is good and every time is bad; every time is what it is. Beyond our ability to change or forecast, the seasons roll by: frustrating in their harshness; sobering in their reality; delightful in their differences and fulfilling in their changes.

The Fifth Season                                                                                                          By C.A. Schlea

In the spring of life,
In the flower of youth,
Everything is bright and new.

In the summer of life,
Time of growth and change,
Each day brings new dreams to pursue.

In the autumn of life,
There’s a settling down —
Contentment and sureness in what we do.

In the winter of life,
Comes peace and wisdom,
Time to relax and reminisce, too.
” –

Business Is Terrible But Life Is Good: Isn’t That Better Than The Other Way Around?

I was driving four of my friends to the Isle of Palms—a beach community located just north of Charleston, SC—to spend a long New Year’s weekend. We left Ocala at 7:00 in the morning and now, nearly noon, my buddies decided it was time for them to get into the bourbon—after all, we were celebrating the new year.

So there I was, the designated driver for four semi-inebriated, would be philosophers, political prognosticators and rock stars. After hours of discussing the meaning of life; arguing about the presidential election eleven months away—Bill Clinton was running and promising to do something about the cost of health care: sound familiar?—playing air guitars and singing along with the radio, I was relieved when we arrived at our destination.

We had rented a three story, six bedroom home directly on the beach. After unloading suitcases, groceries, and coolers I wandered down to the beach to take a long walk. Upon returning, I learned my buddies had made a tee-time for the following day; not yet having taken up golf, I made plans to spend the day with my friend Anne Dozier and David, another friend who also did not play golf.

The following morning Anne, David and I were watching television trying to decide what to do, when an ad came on for a nearby restaurant promising all the oysters you could eat. An oyster, lover, David insisted, we go there for lunch.

The restaurant steamed and served the oysters in galvanized buckets, with a spare bucket for the shells. We hadn’t finished the first bucket, when David ordered a second; during the third bucket, Anne informed him that we were leaving to do some shopping and would return later.

After spending an hour and a half shopping for groceries and other supplies, Anne and I returned to the restaurant to find it closed. I knew David must be nearby, so I knocked on the door to find out if someone knew his whereabouts. The waitress, who had served us, answered the door exclaiming, “Thank goodness you’re here. Your friend is still eating, the restaurant is closed and we want to go home. Can you get him to leave?”

I can only guess how many buckets of oysters he had consumed; yet, we still had to threaten to make him walk to get him to leave. When he did, he indignantly stomped out of the restaurant, leaving me to make apologies and pay the bill. After that experience and the drive up, I knew the next three days were going to be interesting; I didn’t know I was going to have a life-changing revelation.

Everyone was still asleep the next morning when I decided to go out to purchase a newspaper and a cup of coffee. A warm morning for January, I was sitting outside drinking my coffee, when I read in the paper that, after a long illness, the head of a major corporation had died.

As I read about the passing of the man who had built a large conglomerate and amassed great wealth, I realized that I had been freely given blessings—wealth that could not be purchased—that he would have forfeited his entire fortune for: good health and a wife, family and friends who love and looked after me. This past month, I was reminded of that revelation by a comment from a friend.

We were discussing the current economic nightmare, when my friend said, “Life is good; business is terrible.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth, thinking about the CEO who left behind the great fortune, I responded, “Isn’t that better than the other way around: life is terrible and business is good?”

It is important to put our difficulties into perspective. When I have worries, fret about opportunities missed and my stomach turns at the fear of an economic downturn lasting into the future; it’s then I remind myself that if I lost every penny I had, I would be wealthier than many of those  on the Forbes list of the world’s 400 richest people.


The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.”  -Anon.

We Didn’t Miss The Bus, We Were Left Behind

We had convinced the governor to speak by promising to keep a very tight schedule. We started the luncheon at 12:00 p.m. sharp and the governor was to begin his speech at 12:30 p.m.  We were right on schedule when the banquet hall doors burst open and a man entered with two, two-foot tall, fully grown, male, identical twin, motivational speakers. Before I knew what was happening, they were standing on top of the head table, doing a stand up routine. By the time order was restored, the governor only had time to say hello before rushing to his waiting limo. I was irritated until I realized the small guys were far more entertaining than the governor.

Several years later we hired Louise Mandrell to entertain. It was a big expense, around $30,000 plus expenses for a 60-minute show. When the doors opened, there was a crowd waiting to get in. The room was packed and Louise was giving a dynamite performance when I noticed someone running towards the stage. There are witnesses who will swear that when I dove to catch him my body was four foot off of and completely parallel to the floor. My hand touched his shirttail but I was too late to stop him from leaping up on the stage.

It was his birthday and through his drunken stupor he let it be known that he wanted Louise Mandrell to sing happy birthday to him. So at $500 per minute, one of country music’s most noted performers spent nearly ten minutes serenading a drooling but happy drunk.

I have first-hand knowledge of the kind of disaster that can occur when you bus people to an event. I was the Executive Director of an organization that rented the Wet and Wild water park for an evening event. We bussed over 500 people from the convention hotel for an evening of food, drink, swimming and water sliding.

At the end of the evening, I was in my hotel room and congratulating myself on a successful event when the phone rang. I picked up the receiver and heard, “Where’s the bus?” I played along and responded “What bus?” “The bus that is suppose to take us back to the hotel.” At that point I realized there was a problem and I asked, “Did you miss the bus from the water park back to the hotel?” I held the phone away from my ear as the caller screamed, “You moron! There are 30 of us; we didn’t miss the bus, we were left behind!” I told him to stay where he was and transportation would be there shortly. Fortunately, the hotel had a couple of vans and there were town cars waiting for a fare, so I organized a rescue cavalcade and we got everyone back to the hotel.

I later learned, that, after drinking too much beer, the staff person charged with making sure no one was left behind miscounted the number of people boarded and sent a bus back empty.

In over 25 years of managing conventions, I have many memories and stories: some sad, some funny; some that still make me angry, some that amaze me and some I can’t share in mixed company.  Every year I listen to friends greeting each other, stories being shared and dinner plans being made and I am aware that new memories are about to be made.

I have decided to turn off the news: when riding in the car I listen to music or classic radio—Fibber McGee and Molly are hilarious and more sophisticated than you would believe—at home I eschew Katie Couric and the talking heads and turn to the cooking channel.  I do so, because listening to doom and gloom occasions within me an almost overwhelming desire to hunker down; to not go anywhere or spend money on anything.

Here’s the deal: I don’t want to live my life fearful of tomorrow.  There is little I can do about the economy, terrorists, salmonella tainted eggs, gas pedals that stick, global warming, swine flu, hurricanes or any of the other constant litany of disasters waiting to befall me.  Bad, good or sad, I am going to continue making memories.


What good’ permitting some prophet of doom

to wipe every smile away?

Life is a cabaret, old chum!

So come to the cabaret!” – John Kander and Fred Ebb

When Your Ship Comes In Will You Miss the Boat?

We had never been so busy. Not only did we have a large backlog of sales, we were staying late at night to complete estimates and the phone was ringing off of the hook. I started dreaming about how much money we would make if we increased our productivity with new equipment.

I put together a plan listing the proposed new equipment; the reduction in direct cost that would result from increased productivity; financing alternatives and an amortization schedule. It was a great plan; the best I ever produced and I was proud of it. When I handed it to my father he studied it for a minute and then said, “let’s go get a cup of coffee.”

My dad didn’t believe in drinking coffee in the office. Like a cocktail in the evening, to him drinking coffee was a ritual, more about the ceremony than the drink. Going for a cup of coffee meant a break from the every day occurrences in the office, driving to a restaurant, sitting down, being served and having time to talk.

After the waitress served us, my dad asked me to explain my proposal. When I finished doing so, he congratulated me on a good job and then said, “We aren’t going to purchase any new equipment; what we are going to do is raise our prices.” He then explained that after nearly 50 years he knew how cyclical the construction industry was. He opined that the boom we were experiencing was not normal and he didn’t want to be paying for equipment that would be sitting idle.

He told me that there are times when you can make good money and when those times arrive you don’t want to be saddled with a lot of “cheap” work. With higher margins you can afford to work overtime or on weekends; that productivity—while always a question—wasn’t as great of an issue.

We raised our prices and we still got one out of four of the jobs we bid. It was one of the easiest times in my business life: we made good profits kept our crews busy and were not overburdened with work.

The country is in the midst of the “Great Recession;” however, I believe there will be a time—perhaps sooner than we think—that not only will business improve but will boom. I am concerned that companies are so focused on sales, that when the good times come they will not have the capacity to take advantage of high-margin opportunities.

How do you know that the market is turning: that the time is right to raise your prices? For my father it was the number of job we were bidding and phone traffic. If the phones were ringing and our estimators were grousing about not being able to catch up, he would raise prices. He never worried about running cheap work off; he kept his eye on the prize: the high-margin job.

I have faith that business is going to improve; heck it couldn’t get much worse. The challenge is to have benchmarks that you can rely upon to recognize when it is time to increase margins: maybe the phone ringing; the number of orders shipped; sales people grousing or just talking with your customers. Whatever, you don’t want to be like Bob Hope who once said, “My ship came in but I missed the boat.”


Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Be ready when opportunity comes. Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet.” – Roy D. Chapin Jr.

Secure and Risk Free

In 1929, when my mother and father returned from their honeymoon, my dad discovered that the school board had closed the school where my mother was teaching and she was unemployed. Four months later, the stock market crashed beginning the Great Depression. I can only imagine how difficult of a time it was; but despite their struggles, with one child at home and another on the way, my father opened his business in 1934.

My father’s generation lived with insecurity. During the depression, they were constantly beset by worries and then, as the economy improved, they were faced with the uncertainty of a world at war.

It’s easy to understand the calmness of the 50’s decade. People had fought their way through a depression and a world war and they were worn out. They wanted a home, family and few worries. Their hope for their children to never experience the insecurity that had defined their lives, led them to shape and live in communities that were secure and risk-free.

Like many baby boomers, I was raised without worry. Typical of many who started families in the 1930’s, my father’s way to demonstrate his love was to make sure that his family was well cared for; that there was never a worry about food on the table or a house foreclosed. The only insecurity my father manifested— demonstrated by our basement being converted to a makeshift bomb shelter—was due to communism and the bomb.

Having been raised secure and risk free, Vietnam shook my generation to its roots. With the draft lurking, no longer could we look to the future without worry: if you didn’t have a student deferment, you were subject to the draft; if you had a student deferment and you didn’t graduate in four years, you could be drafted; and, if you were married, you still faced the possibility of being drafted. We hated the war for what it did to our friends and classmates and the threat it posed to ourselves.

Now that we have grown up, part of our legacy has been to create programs, institutions and products that eliminate risk. Some nut puts poison in a jar of food, all jars now have tamper-resistant seals; a child gets sick from eating a parent’s medicine, all prescriptions have child-proof caps and planes purposefully crash into buildings, we take off our shoes and go through metal detectors before boarding a plane.

The children of my generation have been raised with a belief the world should be risk-free. They fear their food—fats and chemicals—homes—gas emitted by paints and furniture—and job places—asbestos and mold. Although self reliant, they look to the government to insure their safety. Whenever there is a report about someone being hurt, even an arcane injury, they clamor for government regulations.

The desire for security by eliminating risks permeates our personal lives: our homes and offices have burglar and fire alarms; our cars are equipped with multiple safety devices and for gosh sakes, don’t touch raw chicken. We agonize over global warming and worry about swine flu. With a media that broadcasts news 24 hour a day, every problem is a crisis.

During the years of the Great Depression, Richard Drew invented Scotch tape; Clarence Birdseye, frozen food; Edwin Land, Polaroid photography and Wallace Carothers, nylon. And, with an unemployed wife and a child on the way, my dad opened a business. Despite the risks, they and others innovated, persevered and succeeded.

There’s a perilousness attached to innovation. Just as there is a risk of rejection connected to sales calls; safety in taking the less risky road of offering the same products and the comfort and familiarity of only calling on existing customers. In prosperous times, you can avoid risk and still make a good living. However, success in challenging times requires the courage to forego security and to take the unpredictable path.


People would rather be wrong than be different.” – Henry Jacobsen

INNOVATION is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced. Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation, the changes and their symptoms that indicate opportunities for successful innovation. And they need to know and to apply the principles of successful innovation.” – Peter Drucker

Even the Least of Which Was Better Than None at All

The differing colors of the walls reflect the eons that the Colorado River has flowed through the Grand Canyon.  Similarly, the wine corks Terri and I store in a five-gallon water bottle form layers that reflect our times together.  When studying the corks, you realize that their pedigrees indicate when times were less prosperous: one layer will consist of corks from bottles of Robert Mondavi and Silver Oak wines; while the next layer will be those from Ernest and Julio.

During one of the Ernest and Julio periods—a time when we were worried about money and jobs—I was celebrating the New Year with friends in a home located on the Isle of Palms near Charleston, South Carolina.  One early morning at a local gas station, I noticed a newspaper headline announcing that the head of Time Warner had passed away leaving a considerable fortune.  As I read the story, suddenly it struck me: I was spending time and energy worrying about money, when the head of Time Warner would have given everything he had for what I had acquired for no cost…my good health.

I was surprised when a long-time friend informed me that he has a degenerative disease.  He has always been the picture of health; never letting on that he has a problem that makes it difficult to stand and walk.  He related to me,  that years ago, when doctors told him that in a relatively short time he would be confined to a wheel chair and eventually bedridden, he informed them that they were wrong; he wasn’t going to let that happen and that he no longer needed them.  He never went back to those doctors and he’s still walking.  As he recounted his story, I was taken back by the courage it took for him to face each day and shameful of how I let incidents of little notice drive me to distraction.

The other day as I was taking my daily walk, my thoughts turned to the bad news we have been bombarded with: a terrorist bomb in Times Square; the stock market dropping; the oil spill threatening the gulf coast and the list goes on.  Add the preceding to the economic trials we are facing—Great Recession my eye.  In Florida, it’s the Great Depression—and it’s easy to get down in the dumps; to have a serious case of “woe is me.”

The market, oil spills, Greece—there is no profit in fretting about what you cannot control.  Whenever these negatives intrude into my thoughts, I try to cast them out by focusing on what I can do: develop a new strategy to increase sales; determine where I can cut costs; identify and implement ways to better promote our services and the list goes on.  Pondering about “what I can’t do” is negative, debilitating and destructive.  Conversely, concentrating on “what I can do” is positive, invigorating and constructive.

I don’t have millions of dollars but I am possessed of wealth of which men of great means would be envious: good health, friends and a loving family.  I have the God given ability to work, a great job working for wonderful people and friends who inspire me by refusing to give in to adversity.  When I am the most productive, successful and satisfied is when I grasp just how blessed I am.

When I look at different layers in that bottle of corks, I am not going to dwell on the good and bad times.  Instead, I am going to linger over memories of the wine: even the least of which was better than none at all.


Water for oxen, wine for kings” –Proverb