Thursday, February 13, 2014

Physical Update

After turning 29, I set a goal to be in the best shape of my life at the age of 30.  About 4 months from that point, I wanted to post an update.

I was able to complete the P90X workout program for the first time from start to finish. I had started the program a few times before, but always got distracted or off track, so I had never completed it. I was especially happy that I stayed with the program through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I wasn't perfect, I believe there were 2 or 3 days I missed. And I had to start one week over when I got sick, but I kept going and completed the program.

I felt great and was actually considering a second round. But my wife talked me into trying out Insanity. I thought I was in pretty good shape so I jumped right into it.  WOW. It kicked my butt immediately. P90X was a slow, methodical workout everyday with a mixture of all different types of working out. Insanity is extreme cardio practically everyday. I learned very quickly my cardio shape wasn't as good as I thought.

So now I am in my 4th week of Insanity. It is only a 9 week program. I'm excited that working out / exercising seems to finally be a regular part of my life without just a huge mental challenge everyday.  I plan to complete Insanity and then I'm not sure what will be next. I may repeat one of the program, try a new one, or just use different workouts to stay in shape.

With a new baby coming I don't know exactly how that will change everything, but I'm sure it will make it harder to devote as much time to exercise as I have. So I will have to adjust with that.

We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

All In a Name

Well we are just over 2 months from the official due date of our little girl.  The main questions I get asked are How is my wife doing and What are we going to name her.

First, my wife is doing great. She has really impressed me with how well she has handled pregnancy. She has a full time job and really hasn't slowed down much. Of course, she is more tired in general and it is hard to get comfortable at night to sleep. But she still does all the cooking in the house and everything else she has always done. She says I am spoiled by such a great pregnancy for her and I would agree.

Second, we have no idea what we are going to name her. We have a couple of ideas that we like. We had a couple ideas that we did like that are no longer being considered. But really, we don't know what we are going to name her. Naturally, I am an indecisive person and with this particular decision, I am struggling. There are names I hear and I immediately don't like them. Most of the time there is no explanation, they just don't sound right to me. Those are easy to give my opinion on. But if I don't have the immediate dislike, it is very hard to tell if the name is something I really like, or just something I could live with.

We are at the point where we need to get serious. We have 2 names now and if we don't dig into it more, those will be the names.  There are a ton of websites to research baby names. But there is no real way to actually choose the name. It all comes down to what you like. We have 2 simple rules that go hand in hand. Number one - we don't want to name her after ourselves. No juniors or variations of our own name. My wife is named after her mom and dad and isn't crazy about the idea. And I have never liked that idea either. Rule number two - no gender neutral names (as much as possible). It seems like almost any name can be gender neutral these days, but we are talking about the ones commonly accepted that way. Both myself and my wife have gender neutral names unless you see the spelling. It's not that we hates our names, we just don't want the same for our child.

So that leaves us with 4 official names ruled out, our own first and middle names. Other than that, we have a lot of thinking to do.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Yes Year

When I was younger, I was extremely stubborn. As many kids probably are, I was shy and probably afraid of things. While I don't think I was an extreme case, I was definitely far from adventurous or outgoing. I can't quite explain what prevented me from voluntarily doing many things, but I often had to be forced to participate in activities or experiences. I can remember a specific time when there was a church dance and I didn't want to go.  I was vehemently opposed to church but my parents forced me to go. That was probably part of the reason I didn't want to go, but I think the bigger reason was my confidence. I have no rhythm. I mean, absolutely none at all. I think I was afraid of going to the dance because I would be embarrassed. I would either just sit on the side while everyone else had a good time, or I would get out there on the dance floor and look like a fool.  And even though no one cared, I seemed to care.

But my dad was encouraging me to go. I can only guess what his reasons were. I'm sure he thought if I had fun at the dance, I might stat to enjoy church as well. Or maybe he was concerned about something else, I really can't say for sure. But I do remember what he did, he bribed me.  He literally bought me a video camera that I wanted just so that I would go to the dance. I thought I was getting the better end of the bargain so eventually I agreed.  I really can't tell you much about that dance. I'm sure I enjoyed myself a little, but I know I didn't get everything out of it that I could. My attitude was still negative even though I was getting something else for attending. I vaguely remember dancing some and spending plenty of time just hanging out. I meet some people that would end up being good friends later.  Almost 15 years later, I now realize I should have just had a better attitude in general about these kinds of activities. If I had approached all experiences with a more open mind and a more positive attitude, I would have enjoyed all of it more.

There is no doubt that many people have these same feelings and experiences. Who hasn't looked at their past, last week, last year or longer and thought about how they would do things differently? We all know the phrase, "Hind sight is 20/20."  But who is doing something to try and change that?  Who is trying to consciously make better decisions now?

I never really thought about where my personality traits come from, or why I was always so stubborn and difficult with social activities. But as I have aged and developed a better relationship with my dad, the answer is clear. I got it from him. He has been saying for years that he lives vicariously through his children. And it's true, he doesn't do anything himself. His activities include reading the drudge report, being an avid fan of Judge Judy and People's Court, and watching any movie that can be rented from Redbox. He does have a lot of kids and grandkids. I know he loves spending time with all of us and we spend plenty of time with him at his house. But it is extremely difficult to get him to leave the house for dinner, to go out on the boat with the family, to participate in family vacation, or anything else outside of the house.  He has fallen into a rut acting like his life is over outside of the house.  He's not depressed. He's not worried about it. But learning from my childhood, and knowing that we have the same personality. I know he needs a push to get out and have some fun. So that is why I came up with the concept of a Yes Year.  It's simple, he should say Yes to all the activities we invite him to participate in. Rather than an automatic no, he should just say yes. Yes, sure I'll go out and have a great time on the boat.  Or Yes, I'd love to go to the Chattanooga Aquarium with you.

I believe he will enjoy most of these activities. I know he won't enjoy them all.  At the end of the day, there is still stuff that he just doesn't like. But time isn't something that we can get any more of. Once time has passed, it's gone. And the older you get, the harder it is to do certain things.  So I am trying to me a more positive persona and take advantage of opportunities. I hope this Yes Year happens, its going to be hard to convince him.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Baby on the Way

So our house is slowly starting to fill up with baby items. Our little girl isn't due until March and we've done well not to go crazy. But as we find deals owe take advantage of them. Plus, friends have started to give us items as well so those are adding up.

I accidentally started listening to a podcast about parenting.  I was actually searching for business podcasts and came across one with Andy Andrews. I wasn't familiar with him at all, but it had good reviews and I decide to try it out. I enjoyed it right away but it seemed to talk most about his kids and parenting.  After learning more about Andy Andrews, his lessons seem to revolve around his kids and parenting, and those lessons translate to business and life as well.

Either way, I really enjoy the podcast and the parenting information is great. He has mostly talked about how he interacts with his kids and lessons. He has written several books and just released a new one.  In interviews and on the podcast he has been talking about how everyone wants to raise good kids. And he makes the point that we aren't trying to raise good kids, we are trying to raise good adults.  Meaning what matters the most is who our children grow up to be, not just how they act as children.  The difference is teaching kids how to think rather than what to think.

I would imagine without my little girl coming in March, I might not appreciate the information as much. But at this point in my life, I am getting a lot out of the podcasts. I know raising a little girl is going to be quite a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Leadership Style

I read and listen to a lot of material about leadership. There is so much good advice out there is it easy to get overwhelmed or lost.  There seem to be specific leadership styles, generic leadership principles, and all kinds of information in between.  I believe the best way to use the information is really understand the principles and apply them to your personality.

I think that is where many people fail when it comes to learning and applying useful information.  Each person has a unique personality, skills, strengths, weaknesses, etc.  There can't possibly be a one size fits all answer for being the perfect leader.

So what does it take to successfully apply the right leadership principles? Not that I am an expert by any means, but I do have a few thoughts on the matter. I believe there is one trait absolutely essential to successful implementation.

1. Being Self-Aware.
How many times have you met someone and felt like they were completely oblivious to their own faults? Bad breath? Annoying mannerisms? Talks too loud? Too direct? Too nosy? Whatever it is, everyone has faults, just not everyone realizes they have faults.

The same is true about really knowing yourself and your personality. Too many people try to be like the wrong person. Mark Cuban is pretty well known thanks to his success and now his time on Shark Tank. His business and leadership style displayed on the show is probably admired by many people. He is very direct with people on the show and is able to form quick opinions. He can sometimes come across as rude, to the point that my wife can hardly stand watching him.  Robert Herjavec, on the other hand, has a completely different leadership and business style.  He approaches people and topics from a much gentler point of view. If your personality style matches up with Robert, but you try to emulate Mark, this would be a very bad fit.

So the key to successfully learning from leadership principles and business leaders, is knowing yourself first and adapting those principle to fit your personality.  I am not a confrontational person in any way. I will never be a boss that gets angry and yells at my employees. I'm also not the type of boss that gives commands and expects to be blindly followed or obeyed. I believe in working with my employees to get them excited about what they need to do, or at least understand the importance of what they do. If I tried to be a boss that yelled and was extremely direct, it would never work for me.

If you can develop this self-awareness. If you can really be honest with yourself, about yourself, that is the crucial step in making positive changes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I've told this story hundreds of times over the years, mostly when working with new sales reps. But I thought it was time to try and put it on paper.

After my freshman year of college I was recruited to sell door to door for a pest control company. I had never done any type of sales but for some reason I was very excited about the opportunity. My dad has always been in sales and when I told him what I was going to do, he told me it would be the hardest type of sales I could choose but I could do it.

The summer started with a 4 day training school.  We spent long days as a group learning about bugs, sales and schedule. We split our time between class room style learning, individual memorization and role playing. There was as much focus on motivation as anything else. At the end of the 4 days, we were all dying to get out 'in the field' and knock on some doors. The formula was simple, give 70 presentations per day and you will get 1-2 sales. I was so confident I just knew I was going to kill it.

Day One - I worked harder than I have ever worked before.  The day started on the doors at 10 am after a 9am sales meeting.  I worked unbelievably hard until 8:00 pm. I knocked on all the doors. I gave every presentation I could. I literally ran in between doors to make sure I was doing everything right.  I'm proud to say I hit my 70 presentations. I didn't get any sales.  No big deal, I was prepped for that.  If I do it again tomorrow, my hard work will pay off!

Day Two - I didn't think it was possible, but I worked even harder than the first day. I kept running in between the doors. I was enthusiastic and people loved me.  I gave my 70 presentations plus more.  I did everything exactly how I was supposed to.  But what didn't happen was signing any one up for pest control service.  That's okay, I was prepped for this.  My ego was deflated just a little bit, but I was good to go.

Day Three - My enthusiasm exceeded my abilities.  I was determined to knock on more doors and see more people.  I tried to do everything right, but I know there were some cracks in my armor.  I started to feel like I couldn't do it for the first time. But I pressed on and pressed forward.  I finished the day with my hours, my presentations, everything I was supposed to do.  No sales.  The wave of enthusiasm ended. I was halfway through the week and it didn't seem like I could sell pest control even if the homeowner was covered in bugs when they answered the door. I just didn't have what it takes. I went home and that four letter word was the only thing on my mind - QUIT.

Day Four - I drove to my area but mentally I knew I was in trouble. I was too proud to tell anyone I was struggling. Each night when I reported in I pretended to be happy. Each morning at our meeting I pretended nothing bothered me.  But when I went to my territory alone, it all caught up to me.  I spent a few hours knocking on doors and putting in less effort than I had all week. I was going through the motions and there was a voice inside my head telling me it's over.  I couldn't seem to shut that voice up no matter what I did.  This part of the story was normally left out when working with new sales reps, but the truth is I went home in the middle of the day. I reached a breaking point and I couldn't take it any more.  For anyone that has not experienced door to door sales, it may seem ridiculous. But for me I just couldn't take any more. The constant rejection takes a mental toll that cannot be explained, only experienced. I went home and my dad was there. He didn't know how much I had been struggling mentally but it was clear now.  He was extremely supportive, he told me I could quit if I wanted to, but he knew I was capable of it. He told me to take the day off and get back at it the next day.

Day Five - I woke up and the decision was made. Today I would quit officially.  I had lunch scheduled with the owner of the company and I would take that time to let him know I was done. Until then, I would go out and work the doors. I would go through the motions, knocking on doors, giving presentations, asking for the sale.  Then a funny thing happened to me, I made a sale.  I wish I could see my face or go back and experience that moment again.  I know it was pure joy as I finally succeeded with making a sale.  Then I made another sale.  It wasn't even lunch time and I had 2 sales.  Well, as a 19 year old kid, I was back on top. My enthusiasm returned and quitting was the farthest thing from my mind.  When I went to lunch, I'm sure he was prepared to give a pep talk. He knew what is was like to go all week without a sale.  He also had a name and phone number in his pocket for me.  He was holding the golden ticket, someone I had talked to early in the week had called in to get service. I had a sale just waiting for me, I just needed to go fill out the paperwork.  I finished that day with 4 sales and more confidence than any 19 year old should have.

I believe it was a combination of many things that all came together to create that day.  My hard work had been building up all week. I really had been knocking on those doors and giving those presentations, they were going to come through for me. By quitting mentally, I think I actually took some of the pressure off of myself. I finally relaxed and I know that helped. Plus, I got lucky.  That was a good day.  Had I quit back then, my life would be in a totally different place from where it is now.  I can't say for sure where that would be, but I'm pretty confident it wouldn't be as good.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's A Girl

My wife and I found out last week that our first child will be a girl!  I am extremely happy and hope she is healthy and happy.  My wife thinks I will end up spoiling her because I won't be able to tell her no.  If she is anything like my wife, that is bound to happen.  I will have to learn how to practice tough love!

I've tried not to criticize parents too much over the years because I have never been in their shoes.  Sometimes you can't help but judge others or their actions, but hopefully I can learn to parent in my own way. There are many examples from my upbringing that I will try to use, but every situation and child is different so I will just do my best and try to adjust as we go.

Either way, I'm looking forward to this next adventure in our life!