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A Personal Example of Customer Service Worth Bragging About -

Lowe'sFive months ago, I bought a Whirlpool electric range from the Lowe’s that’s near my home. After I finished cooking dinner this past Thursday, I noticed that the oven wouldn’t shut off. It sounded like it had shut off, but when I opened the oven door half an hour later, it was still producing heat. I tried to turn it off several more times, but it was nothing doing. So, I turned off the breaker on the circuit that led to the range. The next morning, armed with my Lowe’s Protection Plan and receipt, I drove to the Lowe’s where I had purchased the range to ask what I needed to do to get it fixed. During the drive, I found myself wondering what kind of bureaucratic hoops the employees of this store were going to make me jump through before they agreed to fix my range. I had no clue that I was in for a very pleasant surprise. After I told a Customer Service Representative named Chastity my story, she immediately took the Protection Plan booklet and my receipt from my hand and said, “Please have a seat, I’ll take care of this.” She made numerous phone calls, was put on hold several times and all the while she was cheerfully helping other customers. Ten minutes later, Chastity motioned me to come up to the counter, handed me a phone receiver and said, “The woman on the phone would like to speak with you.” The woman asked me for my street address and zip code and said a repair person would be at my house on Monday somewhere between 12:00 noon and 4:00 PM and that there would be no charge—which was exactly what I wanted to hear! After I hung up the phone, Chastity thanked me for coming in and gave me a big hug. I was so impressed with the way she handled my situation, that I spoke to the store manager, sang Chastity’s praises to her and later called Lowe’s corporate office and did the same. I’ve never had a reason to brag about Lowe’s before, but I do now. Thank you, Chastity!

An Amazing Example of Paying It Forward -

McDonaldsIt all began at the McDonald’s Drive-Thru in Scottsburg, Indiana around 8:30 PM this past Father’s Day. An unknown woman pulled up to pay for her approximately $6.00 food order. When she looked back, she saw a dad with four kids and told the McDonald’s employee that she would pay for his $36.00 order as well and told him to tell the dad, “Happy Father’s Day.” When the dad found out that his meals were paid for, he agreed to pay for the next two cars behind him. From that point until closing time at midnight 167 consecutive drivers paid it forward. This is a wonderful example of how one simple act of kindness can ignite a chain reaction of kind acts. If you would like to read more about this amazing story, click on this link

Update on My Dog-Walking Neighbor -

MikeAs I mentioned nearly a year ago, Mike is a neighbor of mine who takes his dogs on long walks three times a day. During these walks, he picks up any discarded aluminum cans he finds and some of the people on his route save their cans for him to pick up as he walks by their homes. He sells the cans to an aluminum recycler for $1.00 per pound and donates the money to an animal rescue shelter. This past Saturday, he walked by my house while I was cleaning the garage and stopped to give me an update. During this past calendar, his can collecting netted $1,600 for the animal rescue shelter. To appreciate the magnitude of his efforts, consider that it takes 25 aluminum cans to make a pound. This means he collected 40,000 cans this past year during his walks! That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. In addition: 

  • Mike was healthier.
  • His dogs were happier and healthier.
  • The neighborhood looks better.
  • The environment was improved.
  • Mike got to interact with a lot of neighbors
  • Numerous animals were cared for and found loving homes.

Mike took the simple act of walking his dogs and turned it into an activity that had a meaningful and multi-dimension impact. The world could use more Mikes. 

A Good Start in Life is Great, but it’s Nothing Compared to a Strong Finish -

The Finish LineSome people get off to a very good start in life often for reasons beyond their control--sometimes their parents are able to do things for them that other people's parents can't or they're born with special gifts that others aren't. While we can't do anything to alter the circumstances surrounding the earlier stages of our lives, we can do something about the latter stages which means we can all finish strong. When I think about finishing strong, I'm reminded of the great Major League Baseball player, Roberto Clemente, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His beginnings were humble and poor. As a young man, he worked beside his father in Puerto Rico in the sugar cane fields loading and unloading trucks. In 1955, he began his 18-year Major League playing career. During that time, he was selected to 15 All-Star teams, won 12 Gold Glove awards, won the National League batting title four times and won the National League's Most Valuable award in 1966. Yet, with all these accomplishments, Roberto Clemente is most remembered for how he finished out his life. He died in a plane crash delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua on New Year's Eve, 1972. He wasn't content to rest on his laurels or bask in the limelight of his success. Instead, he was concerned about bringing relief to suffering people whom he had never met. 

Even Irritating Things Happen for a Reason -

Shopping CartMy friend recently made an evening trip to the grocery store that didn’t go as she expected it to. After she picked up the items she wanted and got ready to check out, she remembered that she needed ice cream. So, she returned to the back of the store to get it. When she got ready to check out again, she remembered that she needed butter and went back for it. When she approached the checkout line for a third time, she noticed that the person behind her had only one item, so she asked her to go in front of her. Next, the checker couldn’t figure out how to ring up her tomato and it took more time which began to irritate her. Just as she was paying for her groceries, a car crashed between two pillars outside the front of the store. When she walked to her car, she realized that her car had been hit first on the passenger side. Had she not had these delays, she would have been unloading groceries into her car on the passenger side and would no doubt have been seriously injured. My friend is very thankful for the way things worked out and offers the following advice: “When things don’t go the way we think they should, don't get upset. Remember, things happen for a reason. This could be fate handing you a blessing.” 

A Wonderful Act of Kindness Performed by a Caring Angel -

KindnessJennifer Earl recently posted the most touching article on msn.com. From a rooftop across the street from Wrigley Field, Ryan Hamilton watched as a blind man tried to hail a cab after a Saturday afternoon Cubs game. The area was crowded with thousands of people and the man was having no luck stopping a taxi. As she walked out of a Wrigleyville restaurant, Casey Spellman spotted the man and immediately split from her friends and asked him if he wanted help getting a cab. According to Ms. Spellman, "He said, 'Yeah, you sound pretty, so cabs will probably stop for you before me.'" She then stepped out into the street and within minutes a taxi pulled up. Ms. Spellman then helped the blind man into the cab and hugged him goodbye. Ms. Spellman didn’t think the incident was any big deal, but Mr. Hamilton, who was watching from above, was so touched that he posted his photos of the encounter on Facebook praising the woman for her kindness. The post has since gone viral with nearly 8,000 shares. As Mr. Hamilton put it, “Awesome to see such kindness in a world that the media portrays so much hate in.” If you want more about this beautiful incident or see the photos, click on the following link.  

You Never Know when Fate Will Step In -

Child CrisisThree years ago, Amanda Levens was the associate head coach of the Arizona State University women’s basketball team. According to an article by Chris Murray which appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal, Coach Levens was driving between her home and the ASU campus when a voice on the radio said, “There are more than 17,000 kids in foster care who could use your help. At the time Coach Levens was in her mid-30s, with no kids, single and working 80-plus hours a week as a basketball coach, but something about the plea from the voice on the radio resonated. She thought, “I can help! I want to help!” She went to the first adoption orientation available, took all the required classes, and was matched (about a year later) with a set of brothers who were three and four. The adoption became official a little more than a year ago, but her boys still weren’t calling her Mom.  They called her Amanda or Mama Amanda. Two months later they were in Costa Rica with the ASU basketball team and her boys finally started calling her Mom. In coach Levens’ own words, “It actually took a lot longer than they said it would, but it just melted my heart.” Imagine how different three lives would be if Coach Levens hadn’t had her radio on that day. If you would like to read this heart-warming article in its entirety, click on this link

How a 98-Year-Old Man Created Meaning for His Life and Others -

Apple PieI saw this story on the PBS NEWSHOUR the other night and was overwhelmed by the amount of goodness that was shared by this man. Leo Kellner lives in Hastings, Nebraska and retired from his job at age 92. Shortly after, his wife of 72 years passed away. Four months later, he was sitting in his house wondering what to do with the rest of his life. Then it came to him, he said, “I can bake.”  According to the program transcript, “He made 144 apple pies that first year, and hasn’t stopped since. You might think it provides a great retirement income for Leo, but the thing is, he doesn’t charge a cent. He gives every one of his pies and cakes away for free to friends, those who are sick, or to hospice volunteers, to those attending a funeral, to an elderly woman or a man who just can’t afford a good meal.” He says that baking and giving these cakes and pies away makes him happy because it puts smiles on people’s faces. When asked about any secret ingredients, he responded with, “I make it with love. I don’t just make it just to be making it. I make it with love. That’s my secret ingredient.” Mr. Kellner also admits that if he weren’t doing this, he probably wouldn’t be alive. If you would like to read the entire transcript about Mr. Kellner’s fascinating story, just click on this link

One Famous Man’s Secrets for Growing Old and Thriving -

AgingCurt Schleier recently posted a fascinating article about Carl Reiner on jta.org. Mr. Reiner, who is an actor, writer director and creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” is 95 years old and still going strong with several books about to come out and he’s working on several others. According to the article, “The first thing Carl Reiner does every morning is pick up the paper and read the obituary section to check if he’s named there. ‘If I’m not, I’ll have my breakfast….’” At the suggestion of his nephew, Mr. Reiner set out to find what keeps some old people young. The people he interviewed ranged in age from 92 to 102 and included such notables as Kirk Douglas (100) and Betty White (94). The things these people had in common were the following: they stayed busy, they had a zest for life (one still parachuted while another ran marathons), interacted with others often and they had a funny bone—they found the humor in life and were able to laugh at themselves. This is sound advice from seniors who are thriving. If you would like to read Mr. Schleier’s article in its entirety, click on this link.

The Most Important Things in Life Can’t be Bought; They Must be Earned -

Kind, Loving LifeOne of my connections on LinkedIn posted the following quote by Clarence Francis who retired as Chairman of the Board for General Foods in 1954. The quote points out that the most important things in life can’t be bought; they must be earned. As Mr. Francis put it: “You can buy a man's time; you can buy his physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of his skilled muscular motions per hour. But you cannot buy enthusiasm; you can’t buy initiative; you cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, mind or souls. You must earn these.” When you extend Mr. Francis’ quote from business to life in general, the list of things that must be earned also includes love, friendship and respect. The good news is that all these things are very easy to earn. All you have to do is live a kind, loving and caring life and they’re yours. 

Science Shows there are Huge Benefits for being an Optimist -

Water GlassDerrick Carpenter recently posted an article on verywell.com that listed some of the many scientifically proven benefits that optimists, people who see a glass half-full rather than half-empty, enjoy. First, they’re much happier than pessimists. They also live longer—eight-ten years longer and this additional decade seems to be lived in good health. In addition, they have better and longer-lasting romantic relationships, are healthier, more successful and bounce back from adversity faster and stronger than pessimists. Optimism is all about our attitude and, guess what? We get to choose our attitude. As psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl put, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” If we exercise that freedom wisely and choose optimism, our lives will be much longer and far better. If you would like to read Mr. Carpenter’s excellent in its entirety, click on the following link

There are Things You Can do to Make Yourself Happier -

RelationshipsA recent article by Jane E. Brody, which was posted on newyorktimes.com, pointed out that by regularly engaging in activities that promote positive emotions, we can become happier and healthier. Some of these activities include:

Do good things for other people. In addition to making others happier, this enhances your own positive feelings. It can be something as simple as helping someone carry heavy packages or providing directions for a stranger.

Appreciate the world around you. It could be a bird, a tree, a beautiful sunrise or sunset or even an article of clothing someone is wearing. 

Develop and bolster relationships. Building strong social connections with friends or family members enhances feelings of self-worth and is associated with better health and a longer life.

Practice resilience. Rather than let loss, stress, failure or trauma overwhelm you, use them as learning experiences and steppingstones to a better future. 

The good news is that each of these activities is very doable. If you would like to read Ms. Brody’s excellent article in its entirety, please click on this link

Performing Kind Acts Makes You Feel Wonderful -

BalloonA story by Justin Pazera about a very kind act was recently posted on abc15.com. The story began, “…when 12-year old Vanessa, who lives in west Phoenix, wrote her address and a wish for books and on a balloon and let it go. Several days later it landed 20-miles away in Mesa.” Two sisters, Kathy Schumacher and Barb Mattingly, found the balloon and decided to make the wish come true by sending Vanessa the books she asked for. Then Vanessa decided she wanted to meet the two ladies who sent her those books. Last week, the three met in a small conference room in the Phoenix Library. “Barb and Kathy brought Vanessa's balloon to give back to Vanessa to one day show her own children that wishes really do come true.” When the three met, Vanessa said, “I have a lump in my throat right now.” She went on to say, "I thought that nobody would actually buy me the books but now I see there is kindness in this world. The two sisters said they're just happy the balloon landed in the right spot. "’Just do something nice,’ says Barb. ‘It makes you feel good. And if you can make a child feel good, just do it.’" If you would like to read this entire wonderful story or view the video clip of their meeting, here’s the link

Whose Business is it how You Order Your Steak? -

SteakThe Wall Street Journal recently ran an article written by Hilary Potkewitz titled, “Steak Without Shame.” The article recounted the experience of a woman in an Omaha steakhouse who informed her server that she wanted her steak well-done. Here’s the dialogue that followed: “The server, incredulous, asked if she was sure. (She was). ‘So that means it’ll be cooked all the way through.’ (Yes). ‘No pink in the middle?’ (Correct). ‘The chef will probably need to butterfly it.’ (That’s fine). ‘Your entrees will take longer to come out.’ (That’s OK). ‘You know you could just eat a hockey puck covered in blue cheese instead of wasting a steak.’” And, woe is me, if you have the audacity to order catchup or A1 Sauce to complement your well-done steak. You’ll probably draw some stares and snickers from your fellow diners and even catch some grief from the people sitting at your table. What I want to know is where these “steak Nazis” get their authority to judge others on how they order their steak? I can see judging people regarding how they treat children, senior citizens and pets, but how they prefer their steak should be nobody’s business but their own. What do you think?

Our Attitude has an Enormous Impact on Our Health -

SunriseWe’ve all heard the phrase: “Attitude is Everything.” An article written by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen, recently published in The Arizona Republic, points out that this is especially true when it comes to our health. According to the authors, feeling happy and optimistic reduces our risk of just about everything from heart attack to post-surgery setbacks. In addition, a positive attitude also improves our quality of life, even if we’re diagnosed with a serious disease, and promotes resilience which helps us rebound if we become sick. The authors suggest some things we can do to improve our attitude.

  • Cut the Clutter—clear up the messes in our lives like that stack of bills and correspondence on our kitchen table and make our bed every day.
  • Cultivate Gratitude—take the time to thank those around us for what they do and spend some time counting our blessings.
  • Consciously Look on the Sunny Side—focus on the things that are going well in our lives rather than on the things that aren’t.

If you would like to read this excellent article in its entirety, here’s the link.

'Team:' Work Jargon or is it Real? -

Team WorkFor the last 20 years, it has been common in the workplace to start an email with “Team.” This became widely used as organizations decided that the team approach lead to more cooperation and higher productivity. But, is your team really a team? Is teamwork a strong workplace value with each member feeling they are a valued team member? A recent Gallup poll indicated that 68 percent of employees are not engaged with their work meaning they’re either apathetic toward their job or doing the least amount to get by. How is it in your workplace? Even if your leadership isn’t on board with enhancing your morale, you spend 40 or more hours a week with your coworkers. Each of us can impact our team daily by being kind and appreciative to our coworkers. What can you do today to help your team be a real team?

Angels Often Come in the Form of Total Strangers -

AngelsA friend from Michigan shared this story with me and I want to pass it on to you. “There are extra nice strangers in this world. I hit a deer this morning and the front-end damage to my car included a destroyed radiator. While waiting for the deputy to arrive to take the report, a nice lady named Dana stopped by to ask if she could help. I told her that I was just waiting for the sheriff and because the car was non-functioning, I was getting cold. She stated that she had to drop her kids off at school, but would come back and let me warm up in her truck while I waited. The deputy was there by the time she returned...with a large cup of coffee for me to warm up with. She had been on her way to work and had called in to say that she would be late. Wow! I thanked her for her kindness and sent her on to work. In addition, Dana made a call to her mother-in-law, who lived basically across the road, and she invited me in while I waited for my ride home to pick me up. Two very nice ladies. They were my angels this morning.”

Intentional Acts of Kindness Turn into Awesome Experiences -

SupermarketMy friend, who is also a subscriber, shared a personal experience recently. It’s so wonderful that I’d like to share it with you: “I stepped a little out of my comfort zone today and found the benefits to be significant. I said ‘Hi, how are you’ to a total stranger while at the super market. He walked by quickly and said ‘Not good.’ I then got behind him in the checkout line and asked specifically what was going on. He elaborated and said his sister had just died and he was very upset. I talked with him for a short while and by the time all was said and done I told him, as he was walking out the door, that I would pray for him. He said his name is Edward and then he said, ‘And Diane, too.’ While this required a little extra courage and consumed a little extra time, I’m so glad I did it. It was an awesome experience!” 

Opportunities Abound to Make Other People’s Days -

Birthday CakeNot long ago, I and several members of my family were having dinner at a barbeque restaurant. After we placed our order, I noticed a mother and her young daughter having dinner together in a booth not far from us. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then a birthday cake with lighted sparklers arrived at their table—it was the little girl’s birthday. Seeing that they were alone, I walked over to their booth and asked the little girl if she would like us to sing “Happy Birthday” to her. They looked at each other and both nodded their heads. When we started singing, several other tables joined in and when we had finished, the little girl was smiling and all aglow and the mother had tears in her eyes. It was obvious that our small gesture had made their day and the rest of us felt great for having done so. Opportunities like this come at us on a continual basis and it’s our job as caring human beings to recognize and do something about them. 

Angels - They’re All Around Us -

AngelsAngels are those awesome people who routinely perform acts of kindness as they go about the business of living out their daily lives. They are wonderful to be around and if you start looking for them, you’ll find they’re everywhere. On a recent Monday evening, I was very tired and my wife was working. So, I decided to have dinner at our local Broiler and Tap. After I gave the server my order, I looked around to see who was eating in the lounge area. I noticed there were three late middle-aged people each eating alone. My guess is that they were all widowed. As I continued to observe the goings on, a woman server went to each of these three tables, said something to the person sitting there and then stood by and listened as each of them told her what was on their mind. Before I left, I motioned her over and said, “I have been watching you as you’ve spent time visiting with those people who are eating alone. You are a very kind person and that was such a wonderful thing that you did.” She thanked me for the compliment and said, “I’m a ‘social butterfly,’ it’s what I do.” I said, “No, you are an angel and that’s what angels do.”

Good Relationships Keep Us Happier and Healthier -

FriendsAn article written by Melanie Curtin which appeared in Inc.com, reported on a 75-year-long study conducted by Harvard University that tracked the physical and emotional well-being of 724 men. According to Robert Waldinger, the current director of the study, "The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period." The article goes on to say that we could have everything we’ve ever wanted, but if we don’t have loving relationships, we won’t be happy. Mr. Waldinger further points out that it’s not the number for friends we have that matters, it’s the quality of our close relationships that makes the difference. In his own words, “The good life is built with good relationships.” 

Another Reason Why I Love Trader Joe’s - Trader Joe'sTrader Joe’s has earned the distinction of being “America’s Favorite Grocery Store” three out of the last four years and for good reason. This past November, my wife asked me to go to Trader Joe’s with a grocery list containing nine new holiday novelty items that were featured in its monthly publication—The Fearless Flyer. Since these items were all new, I had no idea where to find them in the store and began to experience a bit of anxiety. As I stood in front of the store with a “deer in the headlights” look on my face, a crew member asked me if everything was alright. After I explained my situation to her, she grabbed hold of my shopping cart and my list and said, “No problem, follow me.” In less than five minutes all nine of these new items were in my cart and my anxiety was gone. This crew member then gave me a hug and told me to have a great day. Where else are you going to find caring personal service like this? 

A Fun-Filled Family Reunion after 50 more than Years -

Ross Reck FishingSeveral weeks ago, five of my wife’s cousins from Iowa who she hadn’t seen in more than 50 years, came to Phoenix for a visit. None of us had any expectations and each of us wondered how the week would go. It turned out to be the most fun week we’ve ever experienced. What made this time even more special is that my wife’s mother, these cousins’ only living aunt, was on hand for the festivities. We cooked three big family-style evening meals at our house and one night, the cousins cooked Iowa pork tenderloins for everyone at the place where they were staying. Each night, we spent hours around the dining room table talking, sharing stories from childhood, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. The atmosphere surrounding each of these dinners consisted of one thing—love. At the end of the final evening, everyone was saying the same thing: “We’ve got to do this again next year!” Plans have already been made and it will happen again next year and none of us can wait. 

Seven Rules of Life -

Rules of LifeA friend of mine posted this set of life rules on Facebook. They are so succinct and dead-on that I felt compelled to share them with you.

  1. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up your present.
  2. What others think of you is none of your business.
  3. Time heals almost anything, give it time.
  4. Don’t compare your life to others. Comparison is the thief of joy.
  5. Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know all the answers.
  6. No one is in charge of your happiness, except you.
  7. Smile. You don’t own all the problems in the world.

If you can think of anything that is missing from this list, please let me know. 

A Sure Way to Make This Year Your Best -

HappyAuthor, Harvey Mackay, posted a column recently in The Arizona Republic where he said if you don’t want this year to look like last year, the time to start making changes is now. As Mr. Mackay put it, “Start by taking charge of your life. It’s not easy, but it is necessary if you want to make this year your best year. You don’t have to do what you’ve always done or what everyone else expects from you. Think about what you want to achieve and why. Then determine how you can make that happen.” He goes on to say, “January 1 may have come and gone, but don’t wait another year to get going on your dream. A happy new year can start today.”

What Neuroscience has to Say About Happiness -

HugThrough the help of a Facebook Friend, I came across an article written by Eric Barker which was posted on time.com. It’s about four personal rituals that neuroscience has concluded make us happy. One of these rituals is touching people—shaking hands, pats on the back, phone calls and, most importantly, hugs. According to Mr. Barker, “Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don’t give it enough credit.” He went on to point out that, “Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.” I read this article right before I attended a church service and decided to test this touching business out. Before and after the service, I shook a lot of hands and participated in a fair number of hugs. I honestly can’t tell you what the sermon was about, but when I left, I felt great. So, I’m inclined to believe that Mr. Barker and these neuroscientists are on to something. If you would like to read Mr. Barker’s entire article, here’s the link.

Four Simple Health Resolutions for 2017 that Everyone Can Keep -

SaladAngie Ferguson, an exercise physiologist from Fort Myers, FL wrote an article titled, 4 Simple Goals to Commit to in 2017, which appeared in a recent issue of the Arizona Republic. These resolutions are so simple that even I can keep them, yet they produce lots of lasting long-term health benefits. They are:

  • Drink more water. Ms. Ferguson recommends eight ounces per hour.
  • Eat more fiber. This helps our digestion, lowers our bad cholesterol and slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into our bloodstream.
  • Increase our consumption of green leafy vegetables. Doing so is not only of great nutritional value, it also promotes tissue repair.
  • Reduce saturated fats. Ms. Ferguson recommends choosing lean cuts of meat and then grilling, baking or broiling them to reduce fat content. She also recommends eating more fish and poultry, and less red meat.

If you would like to read Ms. Ferguson’s entire column, here’s the link.

An 87-Year-Old Man’s Goal for 2017 -

Art FettigInternational author and speaker, actor, playwright and former railroad executive, Art Fettig will turn 88 this coming July. Someone recently asked him what his goals were for 2017. He responded by quoting a phrase an old Bee Gees song: “stayin’ alive.” By saying “stayin’ alive,” Art didn’t mean merely to continue to exist. Rather, his goal is to continue to try to discover new ways to help make this world a better place. As he put it, “I want to discover different avenues for reaching people and touching their lives in a positive way. As long as I can still walk into a room and share a smile or a laugh or bring just one ray of sunshine into somebody's life then I plan to do it. And if I can no longer walk into a room, then I pray that I will find a way to ride into a room somehow and share the joy of living.” If all of us adopted Art’s goal for the coming year, the world would indeed become a better place.

Acts of Kindness Always Leave You Feeling Happy -

ScarfA subscriber sent me an email regarding an act of kindness she had performed. It contains an important lesson and I’d like to share it with you. “About 2 weeks ago, I was at the dentist for my semiannual cleaning. I've seen the same hygienist and assistant for years. It was really cold here at the time and I had on a nice cashmere scarf. While hanging up my coat and scarf the assistant remarked on its softness, loved the colors, and playfully wrapped it around her neck. She asked if she could wear it for a little bit as she'd been cold all day. ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘In fact, why don't you wear it forever. Keep it as my gift.’ She thought I was joking until I finally convinced her I was serious. The joy and gratitude on her face was my great joy seeing her so happy. It was a little gesture and made her happy. I felt happy all day knowing she was happy. Amazing how that works.” We all need to perform more acts of kindness. The payoff for doing so is fantastic and it makes the world a better place.

In the End, Love is the Only Thing that Really Matters - Sunset Love Ross ReckA friend of mine made a very touching post on Facebook regarding her elderly mother and it contains a universal truth that all too many of us tend to forget. I’d like to share her post with you: “When you reach the end of your life and your youth and looks and talents and accomplishments are behind you. When you are motionless in a bed, unable to grasp even the smallest of objects and the last remnants of dignity are stripped away, what is left is one thing. The most important thing. And, that is the pure love that exists between you and others. Yesterday, I was blessed to hear my dear mother tell me that she loved me, even though she can barely get words out. I love you too, mom. I love you, too....” This is a lesson that all of us need to be reminded of again and again.

Lady Gaga Tells Fans that Kindness is More Important than Fame -

DepressionAccording to an article which appeared in theguardian.com, Lady Gaga was in London recently promoting her new album. As she spoke to her fans, she made it clear that kindness is far more important than anything having to do with fame. As she put it, “Money has been put on a pedestal, beauty has been put on a pedestal, celebrity has been put on a pedestal. I have travelled the world and seen the happiest people in the poorest parts of the world. Their values are intact. In the richest homes, I meet the saddest and most depressed people. With this album, I wanted to remind the whole world and my fans that the most important things are love and kindness. Kindness is what will create harmony, not celebrity and not fame.” Lady Gaga seems to be a very well-grounded celebrity with a message for all of us.

Acts of Kindness Make All the Difference in how People View their Day -

KindnessMy cousin posted the following on Facebook: “Wow!!! I decided to stop at the McDonald's Drive Thru tonight before going bowling. As I reached for my purse to pay, the cashier said, ‘The car in front of you paid your bill.’  Thank you to whoever you were!!! I had a really tough day today and that small gesture turned my frown to a smile, THANK YOU again!!!!!” Acts of kindness almost always make peoples’ days. They also leave the kind person feeling very good. Kind acts don’t have to cost money. A smile, a kind word, a compliment and a hug are all examples of kind acts that don’t cost anything and yet, all have the potential making someone’s day. We all need kindness and its ripple effect of well-being now more than ever.

Nice People Really do have More Fun -

Friends at BeachThat’s the title of a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece written by Arthur C. Brooks. He says that while it may appear that the world today belongs to jerks, “…the best available research still clearly shows that in everyday life the nice people, not the creeps, do the best at work, in love and in happiness.” For disbelieving readers, he offers them this challenge: “Deliberately set out to be nice for a week and see how it makes you feel. I’m confident you’ll like the result.” Mr. Brooks said his father was always having cheerful interactions with total strangers like supermarket clerks, bellmen, bus drivers and so forth. When his father died, hundreds of people showed up at his funeral and everyone he spoke to said pretty much the same thing: “He was a truly nice man.” Mr. Brooks concluded that this was a pretty good legacy, so he set out to imitate his father by having his own cheerful interactions with total strangers. In his words, “It has made me a happier person.”


One Amazing Man’s Unique Way of Making a Huge Difference -

Nanjing Yangtze River BridgeChen Si, of Nanjing, China in many ways is an ordinary man. It’s what he does with his weekends that has earn him the labels of angel, Samaritan and hero. For the last 13 years Mr. Chen Si has patrolled the Yangtze river bridge in Nanjing every weekend either on foot or on his motor bike preventing people from jumping off in to commit suicide. This bridge is purported to be the world’s #1 suicide site. So far, Mr. Chen Si has saved 321 people; grabbing some as they’re hanging over the railing ready to let go. According to an article which appeared in NPR.com, Mr. Chen Si has learned the telltale signs of desperation. “‘From the crowd of people, I’ll single out those who look depressed, those whose psychological pressure is great,’ Chen explains. ‘Their way of walking is very passive with no spirit, or no direction. I’ll go and talk to them.’ As Chen patrols the bridge on his motorbike, a lone figure suddenly catches his eye. It’s a skinny, hunched twenty-something man in dirty clothes carrying a plastic bag. ‘I can see your mood’s not right,’ Chen says to the young man. ‘What’s the matter?’ The man tells Chen that he has nowhere to go. He traveles more than a thousand miles to find work but he lost his identity card and can't find a job. ‘Give me some time,’ Chen says. ‘I’ll think of something.’” By doing this, Mr. Chen Si temporarily transferred some of the victim’s burden to his own shoulders and, in the process, saved a live. If you would like to learn more about Mr. Chen Si, or see a video of him in action, here’s a link.  

Incentive Systems are the Wrong Way to Manage Salespeople -

Many sales managers and business executives are mistakenly hung up on the notion that  the only way to get salespeople to perform at a high level and that is to put them on an incentive or commission system. Recently, Wells Fargo was involved in a scandal where its sales employees opened 2.1 million bank accounts without their customers knowing about it just to make their incentive numbers. According to an article by Rachel Feintzeig, which appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Wells Fargo is changing its sales incentive system, but it’s still going to continue to use one. As new CEO Timothy J. Sloan put it, “We want to arm our team members with the right incentives.” Mr. Sloan added that he is very concerned about the “risk of overcorrecting” from the previous system that cost the bank $185 million in fines. It seems that Mr. Sloan is still convinced that an incentive system is the way to go. This could result in his sharing the same fate as his predecessor. 

Getting through Bad Days and Tough Times -

Sarah TrimmerMy wife recently sent me a link to a TED Talk presented by a courageous woman named Sarah Trimmer. During a five-year period, Ms. Trimmer lost both parents, got divorced, had both breasts removed because of breast cancer, had the cancer return two years later which necessitated chemotherapy and radiation treatments and then had her ovaries removed in an effort to prevent the cancer from returning again. To help herself get through these very tough times, she created a system called #startandendhappy. The idea was to start and end her day focusing on elevating her level of happiness. As she said in the talk, “When a person elevates their happiness, they build their mental strength and mental strength is what it takes to get you through the rough times.” To elevate her level of happiness, she starts and ends her days reciting and completing the following five phrases:

  • Today I am grateful for…
  • Today I helped someone by…
  • Something that made me happy today was…
  • Today I learned…
  • Tomorrow I will…

What a great way to start and end our days. If you would like to view Ms. Trimmer’s entire talk (it’s only 12 minutes), here’s the link.

Keeping the Peace at this Year’s Post-Election Holiday Gatherings -

Keeping the PeaceThe recent presidential election was extremely polarizing and many people formed strong opinions for their candidate and against the other candidate. This brings up the issue of how do you deal with people who backed the other candidate at this year’s holiday gatherings. A recent article by Claire Ansberry, which appeared in The Wall Street Journal, presents some excellent advice on how keep the peace:

  • Don’t gloat if your candidate won and don’t predict the end of the country if yours lost.
  • Don’t continue an argument that will get you nowhere.
  • If you need to vent, do it with people who share your view.
  • Clinton supporters should tell Trump supporters that while they weren’t for him, they hope will be a good president. Then get a glass of wine and talk to other people.
  • Put the presidential campaign in a box, leave it on the shelf and move on.

Wells Fargo has it All Wrong -

The company believes that employees must be incentivized to get them to perform at acceptable levels. The problem with incentives is they motivate employees to do only those things necessary to achieve company mandated performance goals and keep their jobs. In the case of Wells Fargo, it involved selling customers things they didn’t want or need rather than looking out for their best interest. I know about repeatedly being cross-sold as I have two small accounts at Wells Fargo and let me tell you, it gets old.   Read Complete Article

Ross Reck’s Take…

rossreckprofileEngaged employees don’t need incentives to perform at high levels. They do so because they believe in their company, its products and its commitment to looking out for the best interest of its customers. If the employees of Wells Fargo were truly engaged with their work, there would be no need to incentivize them and this scandal would have never occurred. Furthermore, the company would have made at least as much, if not more money and its customers would have been a lot happier. Clearly, Wells Fargo has much to learn when it comes to employee engagement. Let’s hope the company gets its act together before it becomes a mere shadow of its former self.

The Simple Secret to Happiness -

Art FettigInternational author and speaker, actor, playwrite and former railroad executive Art Fettig recently reflected in his newsletter on his 87 year-long happy, fulfilling and rewarding life. At the end, he provided some sound advice to people starting out in life. After reflecting on what Art had to say, I strongly feel that this advice applies to everyone, not just beginners and I’d like to share it with you. “Don’t let greed become your master. It takes away all the fun.  Give to get. But do not give to get something in return, that isn’t giving, that’s trading.  Learn to give for the pure joy of giving. That is the secret to happiness and the pursuit of happiness makes for a pretty rewarding life.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen the secret to happiness explained so concisely. Thank you, Art.

A Common-Sense Approach to Dealing with Stress -

StressMy wife told me about a piece of wisdom she got from her aunt more than 50 years ago that she still uses. When she was a girl, she was stressing about something and her aunt said to her, “With all the things in the world to worry about, is that really worry-worthy?” To this day, when she gets stressed and worry builds about many things, she takes a breath and asks herself, “Is that really worry-worthy?” Her aunt’s common-sense approach to stress still resonates with her and those four words help her sort out life’s priorities in short order. So, the next time you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with deadlines and commitments and start to stress, remember to ask yourself, “Is this worry-worthy?”

A Wonderful Example of How Things Should Be -

Sparty MascotMy friend Cheryl posted a wonderful anecdote on Facebook and I’d like to share it with you. “I attended the first Michigan State University (MSU) home hockey game last night and the arena was full of MSU students. I had so much fun with the two male students seated next to me. One was from Turkey and the other from Greece. Neither of them had never seen a hockey game before, even on television. I spent much of the evening explaining the game to them. (It helped a great deal that the basics are similar to soccer; which they understood.) One of the young men said that he was trying to understand baseball as well as American football, too. When Sparty, the MSU mascot came by, they were all about taking advantage of the photo op. At the end of the evening we all shook hands, and they thanked me for my explanations. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting these two young men and observing their enthusiasm for taking in the experience. Isn't this the way it should be?” Yes, Cheryl, this is the way it should be—always. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.


A 75-Year-Old Coach Still Setting Aside Retirement to Make a Difference -

FootballA year ago I wrote about Elliot Uzelac who had coached college football for 40 years with stops at Michigan, Ohio State, Colorado and Maryland. At age 74, he set aside retirement to become head football coach at Benton Harbor High School in Michigan—a crippled program that that had endured 25 straight losing seasons and had lost its last 19 games in a row. Under Coach Uzelac’s leadership, the team posted a 6-3 regular season record and won its first state playoff game ever. In 2016 at age 75, Coach Uzelac is still there making a difference and his team went undefeated with a regular season record or 9-0 and is once again headed for the state playoffs. This is Benton Harbor High’s first undefeated season since 1962. As one of the players said after the game per the Herald Palladium, “This is wonderful. I never thought we’d be 9-0. I never thought we’d be undefeated in my life….” Coach Uzelac set aside his retirement and became, in the eyes of his players, members of the community and the students of Benton Harbor High, a miracle worker. A pretty good tradeoff when you think about it.


Nurses are the Closest Things We have to Angels here on Earth -

NursingI know many of you may feel that mothers are the closest things we have to angels here on earth and you’re right; but mothers have a vested interest in their children. Nurses, on the other hand, have a job to do with no vested interest in their patients—they do what they do because they care. I just spent six days in a hospital because of an infected toe. My room was small with no windows and I was hooked up to an IV pump the whole time. The care I got from these nurses was fantastic. They were all kind, caring, loving and encouraging. Some were quick witted and they all had a great sense of humor. Furthermore, I wasn’t the only one getting this wonderful level of care. I could hear the same level of care being administered up and down the floor. Some of these patients were very sick and some were crabby, but that didn’t stop these nurses from cheerfully doing their thing. So, if you want to see some real live angels in action here on earth, all you have to do is visit a hospital and look around. These angels spend their entire day making the world a better place and I, for one, am thankful they’re here.

An Important Life Lesson from Losing a Son -

Phil ReckMy son Phil passed away two years ago on September 30. Yesterday would have been his 40th birthday. He was a wonderful guy with a quick wit, big heart and a great sense of humor. He has been sorely missed by everyone who knew him. I feel very fortunate that the last words spoken between him, his mother and I before we left on vacation were, “I love you.” This doesn’t make the pain of his loss any easier, but it does make it less hard. Think of how badly his mother and I would have felt if there had been cross words spoken between us or, worse yet, if we weren’t on speaking terms. The pain of his loss would have been so much greater. I would like this to be Phil’s continuing legacy: If you any have strained relationships with people you love, fix them while you still have the chance. As Phil’s passing illustrates, life can turn on a dime and you may not have that opportunity if you wait.

A Role Model for Extending a Helping Hand -

SandwichA friend of mine told me about this story which was posted on Facebook last March. Since then it has been shared more than 30,000 times and received more than 1,500 comments. Cesia Abigail is the 25-year-old owner of Abi’s Café, an El Salvadoran restaurant in Minneapolis. One day, a street person named Marcus walked into her restaurant begging for money. Instead of giving it to him, Ms. Abigail asked why he didn’t have a job. He said he had a lot of felonies and no one wanted to hire him so he had to beg and steal to get money. Despite the fact that her restaurant was not doing well at the time she said, “If you want a job, I have one for you.” He said, “I’ll do anything for food.” She offered him a job washing dishes for two hours a day. As Marcus was putting on an apron, she gave him a sandwich. The first thing he did was wrap half of it in foil, walked outside and gave it to a homeless woman on the street. His comment was, “I know she’s hungry.” After Ms. Abigail posted a photo of Marcus washing dishes on Facebook, she received lots of inquiries from other people wanting to help. In addition, the publicity that has accompanied Marcus’ story has caused her business to flourish. What’s so ironic about this story is the day Marcus walked into her restaurant, things were not going well and she was considering giving up on her dream. Still, she offered to help Marcus in the small way that she could and quickly found herself on the receiving end of a huge helping hand that she desperately needed. What the world needs are more people like Cesia Abigail who have the faith to extend a helping hand without knowing what the outcome will be.

If you would like to read more about this amazing story either go to Abi’s Café on Facebook or the following article by Laura Bult which appeared in the New York Daily News.

One Action—Meaningful Impact! -

Mike, Neighbor of Ross ReckMike, a neighbor of mine, who lives on the street just north of me has been retired for some time. He takes his dog for long walks at least three times a day. Not long ago, I noticed that he was carrying a bag containing aluminum cans that he had picked up during his walk. I thought, “What a nice thing to do while you’re walking.” This past Saturday I was standing in my driveway when he walked by carrying four huge bags of cans. I said to him, “You found all those cans during your walk?” He said, “No, the people on my route save them for me.” He went on to tell me that he sells the cans to a recycler for $1.00 per pound and donates the money to an animal rescue shelter. Last year he raised $1,100.00 through his efforts. It takes 25 cans to make a pound of aluminum. That means he collected at least 27,500 cans during his walks. It’s interesting to think of the multiple impact of Mike’s actions:

  • He was healthier.
  • His dog was happy and healthy.
  • The neighborhood looks better.
  • The environment was improved.
  • Numerous animals were cared for and found loving homes.

Mike took the simple act of taking a walk and turned it into an activity that had a meaningful and multi-dimension impact.

How To Turn An Adversary Into An Ally -

Ross ReckHave you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to work with someone that you really didn’t like, or worse yet, someone you absolutely detested?  The solution to a situation like this lies in the Abraham Lincoln quote, “I don’t like this person, I think I need to get to know him better.” 

A Weekend Filled with Nothing but Love -

Child CrisisMy wife is the director of a foster care and adoption agency. Each year in September, this agency has a camp designed to bring foster and adoptive families together for a weekend of pure fun. Again this year, there were field games, hikes in the woods, hay rides, crafts, 1,400 water balloons and s’mores around a campfire at night. The camp has a huge field about the size of four football fields. The grass is emerald green, the sky was clear blue and the field was surrounded by giant ponderosa pines. The scene on this field took my breath away. There were children running and playing untethered. About 30 of them were flying kites, many for the first time. Others were blowing bubbles from huge bubble wands. Water balloons flew by and burst. There were nearly 200 people on and around that field and it was filled with sounds of laughter, excitement and pure joy. These kids were happy and they knew they were loved. As I looked around, I tried to find someone who wasn’t smiling and I couldn’t. As I tried to take this all in, I felt tears running down my cheeks. This camp represented love in its purest form. I felt so lucky to be there in the presence of caring staff, loving foster and adoptive parents and these very happy kids. 

100% Employee Engagement Guaranteed! (Revised Edition): Introducing a New Management Model [Kindle Edition] -

100% Employee Engagement Guaranteed!Imagine a workplace where every employee is engaged with their work ... where every employee shows up each day excited about giving every bit of energy, creativity and passion to performing their job. These employees don't need to be motivated because they already are and they channel their motivation toward creating a competitive edge for their company that can't be easily copied. They're constantly making innovative changes to products, services and customer experiences while providing superior levels of customer service which results in loyal customers. This means higher levels of repeat and referral business which, in turn, translates into significant increases in market share. In addition, absenteeism and turnover rates for these fully engaged employees are far below industry averages because they absolutely love what they do. This book presents a new management model that guarantees an employee engagement level of 100%. If you implement this model in your organization, every one of your employees will become engaged with their work; all working at their full potential. Think of what it would mean to the success of your business or organization if you could get all of your employees engaged with their work.

Pithy Bits of Life Advice from Harvey Mackay -

Swim with the Sharks - Harvey B. MackayIn a recent column published in the Denver Business Journal, best-selling author Harvey Mackay shared some succinct nuggets of life advice that he’d come across during his very successful career. These nuggets are so dead-on that I’d like to share some of them with you.

  • Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
  • A mistake proves that someone at least tried.
  • If we are facing the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
  • If you always give, you will always have.
  • There’s only one endeavor in which you can start at the top, and that’s digging a hole.
  • The person who makes no mistakes usually doesn’t make anything.
  • In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.

If you would like to read Mr. Mackay’s Entire list of 37 aphorisms, here’s the link.

Love is Such a Profoundly Wonderful Thing -

WaterLast Saturday I stopped at a restaurant to pick up some lunch for my wife and myself. While I was waiting for the food to be prepared, I noticed a party that was occupying several tables. They were excited, smiling and doting over a very young child that was in a child carrier. They snapped photo after photo and sent them to their friends. I decided to walk over and find out what all the excitement was about. When I looked inside the child carrier, I saw one of the most gorgeous and happy baby girls ever. One of the men excitedly told me she was four months old. The baby’s mother quickly corrected him and said she was five months old. The mother told me that her baby had just been baptized and that’s why she was dressed in all white. When I asked if she cried during her baptism, the mother smiled and said, “No, she likes water.” This baby was truly cherished. There was so much love going on between those family members and that baby that I became overwhelmed and had tears running down my cheeks. All I could think of is how wonderful it would be if every baby were surrounded with that much love and how lucky I was to be there.

The Value of Taking Breaks During the Day -

RecessMy oldest daughter sent me a recent article from Today.com. It was about how the Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas went from giving its kindergarten and first-grade classes one twenty-minute recess per day to four fifteen-minute recesses per day. At first some of the teachers were skeptical. As Donna McBride, a first-grade teacher put it, “I was trying to wrap my head around my class going outside four times a day and still being able to teach those children all the things they needed to learn.” The article went on to say, “Some five months into the experiment, McBride’s fears have been alleviated. Her students are less fidgety and more focused, she said. They listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own instead of coming to the teacher to fix everything. There are (also) fewer discipline issues.” The same thing holds true for working adults. If we’re going to be able to perform at our best all day long, we need to take regular breaks where we disengage from what we’re doing and allow our brains and our bodies to reboot. If you would like to read the entire article, here’s the link

Telling Someone to Relax Usually Increases their Stress Level -

Work & Family - Sue ShellenbargerAn article by Sue Shellenbarger, which recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal, pointed out an interesting paradoxical fact: “When someone is getting stressed out, one of the least effective (and perhaps most annoying) things to say is ‘Relax.’” She goes on to say that while the person communicating this directive may have the best of intentions, telling someone to relax has the exactly opposite effect on most people. The article further points out that if you really want to help a stressed out person calm down, a better approach would be to say something like the following: “Looks like you’re having a tough day…Tell me what’s going on.” This acknowledges the other person’s feelings and provides them an opportunity to talk about those feelings. As a result, they begin to relax. This is advice worth hanging on to.

Sound Advice for Those Who Want to Fail at Life -

LonelyA friend of mine posted an Instagram photo on Facebook which contained the following message:

3 Ways to Fail at Everything in Life

  1. Blame all your problems on others.
  2. Complain about everything.
  3. Not be grateful.

People who live by the above three principles spend most of their time making themselves and everyone around miserable. These are the kind of people no one wants to be around because the experience is anything but pleasant. As a result, they travel through life pretty much alone. No one is there to help them along the way, pick them up when they’re down or offer encouragement when they need it. Their life is a lonely, dark and pathetic journey with little or no fun or excitement. There really is no reason to live like this. If you’ve fallen into this kind of behavior pattern and want to turn the situation around, all you have to do is take ownership of your problems and do something about them, stop complaining and be thankful for the things you have. Remember the story of Scrooge in the movie A Christmas Carol. He had spent most of his life living the “3 Ways to Fail at everything in life.” He was always grumpy and people were afraid of him, but when he turned things around, everyone embraced him and a smile returned to his face.

Taking a Book with You Makes Waiting go much Faster - BooksWhen you go to places like a doctor’s office, an airport or a tire shop, chances are you’re going to do some waiting. I have found waiting to be much more tolerable if I have a book with me. The other day, the air conditioner in my car wasn’t working. My plan was to drive my car to an auto repair shop to get it fixed. I didn’t know how long the wait would be, so I took two books with me plus a note pad. As I was about to pull onto the freeway, my car started jerking and I could smell that the engine was hot. I stayed on the frontage road, put the car in neutral and coasted for as long as I could and then nursed the car into a parking lot. I called for a tow truck and was told it would be at least an hour. Because I had those books with me, the hour passed quickly. When I got to the repair place, I was told the wait would be three or four hours. During that time, I finished one book, started another and wrote an issue of my Weekly Reminder. In the middle of all this, my wife called and asked how I was holding up. I told her that I was making believe that I was on a mini vacation at an exotic venue. Yes, it wasn’t the day I had planned, but because I had those books and note pad, the time passed quickly and I was relaxed in what could have been a stressful day.

How Southwest Airlines took care of its Inconvenienced Passengers - Southwest AirlineRecently, Southwest Airlines experienced a technical outage forcing it to cancel about 2,300 flights causing extreme inconvenience to a quarter of a million passengers. Lines were long, tempers became short and there was a lot of waiting before the situation was sorted out.  Southwest provided refunds to passengers who asked for them and allowed them to book a different flight at the same price. In addition, every affected passenger received an email from Southwest CEO Gary Kelly with a subject line that read, “Sorry isn’t enough for your last trip….” Mr. Kelly went on to say, “To be blunt, we failed you and that is simply not acceptable to me. For that, please accept my heartfelt apologies…In a sincere effort to show you how much we would like another chance, we are offering you 50 percent off your next Southwest Airlines flight…I sincerely hope you take us up on this offer so that we may thank you in person for flying Southwest Airlines.” Things like this in the airline industry happen, although normally not on this scale. It’s what an airline does after they happen that demonstrates its commitment to its customers. In this case, Southwest came through with flying colors. People talk about these experiences. If they are handled well, they can actually increase customer loyalty.

An Example of an Inconvenienced Airline Passenger with a Great Attitude -

LuggageA recent issue of The Arizona Republic carried an article written by Alexis Egeland and Samantha Incorvaia which featured an inconvenienced airline passenger name Elijah Rubin. Mr. Rubin was scheduled to fly from Phoenix to Detroit on Southwest Airlines. He arrived at the airport at 8:00 am and was told that his flight was delayed for four hours. His comment was, 

“Things happen.” Four hours later, the passengers boarded the plane only to learn that the flight was cancelled. Mr. Rubin then waited in line for three hours to get his ticket refund and then booked a ticket on American Airlines which cost him $1,200 because was last minute. He then went to Southwest to retrieve his luggage and they couldn’t find it. It’s now 8:00 PM. He stayed at the airport until 2:00 am waiting for his luggage and finally went home. He came back to the airport the next morning and still no luggage. At this point many people would have become irate making themselves and those around them miserable. Mr. Rubin, on the other hand, maintained his composure throughout the entire ordeal. Here’s what he had to say about his experience: “At least this is teaching me patience—that’s a lost art.” What a great example of how to deal with a very trying and inconvenient situation. Traveling would be so much more pleasant if more passengers followed Mr. Rubin’s example.

Time Spent with Friends and Family is Time Well Spent -

Sunset FriendsBelle Beth Cooper posted an article on Buffer Social Blog titled, “10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science.” Of the 10, the one that grabbed my attention was “spending time with friends and family.” Ms. Cooper points out that not spending time with friends and family is one of the top five regrets the dying. So, if we don’t want to have this regret, we need to spend time with these people now while we still have the opportunity. She also referred to a study which found, “…that time spent with friends and family makes a big difference to how happy we feel, generally. She also cited several other studies which concluded that, “…relationships and helping others were important factors in living long, happy lives.” Sometimes during our rushed lives, spending time with family and friends gets put on the back burner. But now we know that those good times we spend with family and friends is time well spent and needs to be a priority.

We Need to Be More Intentional About Spreading Acts of Kindness -

Mitch AlbomAll of us like to be on the receiving end of kind acts, but we tend to forget that other people like to be on the receiving end as well.  Our acts of kindness can impact other people in a number of ways—sometimes they brighten their day, sometimes they make their day and sometimes they change their life.  Columnist Mitch Albom wrote an article in the Detroit Free Press about a homeless Navy veteran whose wife had died some time ago. The man took it hard and didn’t want to live anymore.  He showed up at a Detroit homeless shelter wanting to die, but after the kindness shown him by the people at the shelter, he changed his mind and decided to go on living.  So, let’s all make it a point to become more intentional about spreading acts of kindness.  As you can see, it can make all the difference in another person’s life.

Having Lots of Friends is Good for Us -

FriendsNumerous studies have shown that having a large circle of friends provides us with some distinct advantages when it comes to navigating our way through life. People with lots of friends are healthier, happier, live longer, are better able to deal with stress and are more at peace. In addition, friends keep us from being depressed, boost our self-esteem and our immune system, pick us up when we’re down and help us get through difficult times. So, the more friends we have, the easier and better our life becomes. One group that truly understands this is the Girl Scouts. In fact, they have a song that their leaders teach these girls from early on. It goes like this, "Make new friends and keep the old.  One is silver and the other is gold." This is how we go about the business of building that large circle of friends—making new friends and hanging on to the old ones. The second verse of this song is also worth noting. “A circle is round; it has no end. That’s how long I want to be your friend.” True friendships aren’t fleeting, they’re long-term.

What do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving? -

BenchedMany of us have a hard time of figuring out what to say when we run into a friend or acquaintance who has recently lost a loved one. A friend of mine lost his wife to suicide a few months ago. At the urging of an old friend, he started attending the meetings of an organization called Survivors of Suicide. In a recent blog post, he listed some of the things he had observed at these meetings. “Occasionally people have spoken about how hard it is to talk about their loved ones with friends and acquaintances. Folks are uncomfortable talking about suicide or death and many don't know what to say. Some will even advise survivors to ‘just get over it’ or ‘stop dwelling on the past.’ There's definitely a reluctance to hear the continued expressions of grief, guilt, and anger and a wondering about ‘just how long are you going to keep on feeling this way.’” He then goes on to say, “How good it would be if all of us could learn that listening and affirmation are the most important gifts we can give to those who have suffered such devastating losses. It is so good to be able to talk about our loved ones and share our deepest feelings.” The message here is that when people are grieving, they’re not looking for advice, they’re looking to tell their story and share their feelings with someone who cares. This is what helps them through the grieving process. So the next time you run into someone who has recently lost a loved one, open the conversation with something like, “It’s so good to see you. How are you doing?” Then back off and let them tell you.

Inspiration Can Come from Unexpected Sources -

DoubtNot long ago, I was in a huge funk wondering if I had bit off more than I could chew. I mulled giving up on my current direction which I have been on for a long time, shifting gears and trying something new. At this point, for whatever reason, I decided to look at the Horoscope section of The Arizona Republic. This was an “out of character” move for me, because I hadn’t looked at my Horoscope in more than three years. Here’s what it said: “Stand behind your decisions. There is no room for doubt, no reason to change things up, no reason to quickly come up with something new. Hold your head up high and deliver what you created.” Well, that provided me with the shot in the arm that I needed to snap me out of my funk and put me back on track. So, the next time you’re in need of some inspiration, understand that it will come, but don’t be surprised if it comes from an unexpected source.

The Three Components of how Other People See Us -

SmileI came across a powerful quote by motivational speaker Jay Danzie that sums up how other people see us: “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.” According to Mr. Danzie, our smile is a non-verbal symbol that identifies us. Our personality is always on display as a walking personal billboard of who we are. And, the way we make others feel is the distinguishing characteristic of how we become known. The good news is that all three of these components are under our control. So, if you want people to see you as a pleasant, upbeat person who cares, then you need to smile, exhibit a little enthusiasm and leave people feeling better after they’ve interact with you than before. If you would like to see Mr. Danzie’s short video about this quote, here’s the link

Four Questions for Keeping Your Foot Out of Your Mouth -

SilenceA subscriber shared with me a fascinating quote in response to last week’s about how tongues are made for praising. The quote is from an Indian spiritual master named Sai Baba who passed away in 1918. The quote is: “Before you speak ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true and does it improve on the silence?” If you answer no to any one of these four questions you should probably keep what you are about to say to yourself because there’s a good chance that it’s going to offend, upset or embarrass someone. Asking yourself these four questions before you speak will keep you from missing out on many wonderful opportunities for keeping your mouth shut.

Tongues are Made for Praising -

Frog with tongue of praise.I came across this phrase in a document I read recently. I thought wow, what perfect sense this makes because tongues are indeed made for praising. They are not made for belittling people, cutting them down or making them feel bad. None of these actions make the world a better place. On the other hand, using our tongues to build people up, let them know that we care and making them feel good about themselves do make the world a better place. The reason is that such actions energize the people receiving them and almost always make their day. As such, they feel compelled to make the day of someone around them who will in turn do the same thing. Pretty soon the whole place is bubbling with positive energy because someone took the time to use their tongue to focus on positive things instead of the negative. To see this phenomenon in action, use your tongue to deliver some sincere praise to a few people and then watch what happens.

Finding Joy and Meaning Are Key to Getting through Tough Times -

Sheryl SandbergSheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook and the author of Lean In, recently delivered the commencement address at the University of California at Berkley. Her address focused on what she had learned since her husband’s death a little over a year ago. She said, “I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void — or in the face of any challenge — you can choose joy and meaning.” She went on to say, “My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful.” 

If you would like to read an edited version of Ms. Sandberg’s commencement address, here’s the link.  Or, if you would like to listen to her very moving speech in its entirety, go to her Facebook

Face Your Fears First - Getting Things Done by David AllenRecently I had gotten into the habit of putting unpleasant or scary tasks off because I was afraid to deal with them—it’s called procrastination. As a result, my productivity suffered because of the weight of these tasks hanging over my head. For example, I needed a huge favor from a fairly famous person whom I am not all that close with and who didn’t owe me any favors. I put off calling this person for more than a week because I was afraid that I might be turned down. Finally, because of the encouragement of a mutual friend, I called him. When we connected, he said he was delighted to hear from me and when I asked for the favor, he said “no problem” and took care of the matter immediately. Putting this call off caused me a great deal of stress and rendered me ineffective at what I do. From that point forward, my morning mantra has been, “Face your fears first” and I repeat it several times before I get out of bed. In other words, get any unpleasant tasks behind you right away so that you can get on with the rest of your day stress free. Doing so will not only make you happier, but far more effective as well.

Listening to Someone Else's Troubles can take away Yours -

A Grief ObservedThe other day I went to the Post Office to mail a gift to my mother in law. I was not doing well that morning as I felt very stressed and anxious. When I was called to the counter, I noticed the postal employee who was about to help me was drying her eyes and blowing her nose. I said to her, “It looks like the allergies are getting the best of you.” She answered, “No, my husband passed away two weeks ago and I have been crying a lot.” I then shared with her that I’d lost a son a year and a half ago. She then took hold of my hand and said, “The person may die, but the love lives on.” After we had shared a few more experiences about our respective situations, I got her name from her name tag and told her that I would pray for her. She asked me my name and said she’d do the same. At this point, I had tears running down my cheeks and felt a huge lump in my throat. At the same time, I could feel all my stress and anxiety lifting from my body. As I was about to leave, she smiled and said, “Thanks for sharing Ross.” Tears continued to run down my cheeks all the way to Sprouts Farmers Market which was my next stop, but my stress and anxiety were gone. I had taken the time to listen to someone else’s troubles and, as a result, mine had disappeared. 

Friendships Are Very Good for Us -

The Friendship FactorAn article by Elizabeth Bernstein which recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal, points out that people who have solid friendships live longer and healthier lives. She goes on to say, “Friendship decreases blood pressure and stress, reduces the risk of depression and increases longevity, in large part because someone is looking out for us. Ms. Bernstein further points out that a recent study by the British Journal of Psychology “looked at 15,000 respondents and found that people who had more social interactions with close friends reported being happier….” The lesson here is that the quality of our lives will be a great deal better if we intentionally spend some time not only nurturing our current friendships, but cultivating new ones as well.

The Power of Handwritten Note Taking -

Writing - Note TakingAccording to an article by Robert Lee Hotz which recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal, students who take handwritten notes outperform those who type them on a keyboard. While handwritten note takers take fewer notes than those who type them (22 words per minute vs.33), they learn better, retain information longer and more readily grasp new concepts. The primary reason cited for the differences is that when people take hand written notes, they actually process the information in their mind as they write it down. On the other hand, people who type their notes, take verbatim notes which are not processed nearly as much in their mind. Thus, while key board note takers are better able to keep up with the pace of the lecturer, they don’t learn as much during the process. The article went on to say that these findings are likely to apply to any situation where “…we try to collect our thoughts in writing, whether in a classroom, a business meeting or a doctor’s office….” I found this article both fascinating and enlightening.

Happiness During Retirement isn’t just about Money -

RetirementMost of the advice about preparing for retirement centers around making sure that you’ve put enough money aside in order to live comfortably. However, an article written by Brian Stoffel which appeared in a recent issue of USA Today points out that it takes more than money to have an enjoyable retirement.” Mr. Stoffel cited a survey conducted by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave which points out that in addition to having a reliable paycheck, the other things that retirees missed most about not working were social connections, having a purpose and work goals and mental stimulation. So if you want to have an enjoyable retirement, in addition to making sure you have enough money set aside, also make sure that you cultivate plenty of friendships outside of work and identify a number of worthwhile activities (at least four) that will replace the sense of meaning and the mental stimulation you’ll lose when you leave your job. If you would like to read Mr. Stoffel’s complete article, here’s the link.

The Five Top Regrets of Dying People -

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie WareBronnie Ware is an Australian author, songwriter and an international speaker. Prior to that, she worked many years as a palliative care specialist dealing with patients who had gone home to die. She was with them during the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. When she questioned them about any regrets they had or anything they wished they had done differently, here are the five most common things she found:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.

She ended her article with the following: “When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.” If you would like to read this wonderful article in its entirety, here’s the link to click on.

Ross Reck - Destination Work -

Ross ReckRoss is the author of The Engagement Formula, Turning Your Customers into Your Sales Force, The X-Factor and his very popular newsletter: Ross Reck's Weekly Reminder. He is also coauthor of Instant Turnaround!, REVVED! and the best selling The Win-Win Negotiator.

A compelling and dynamic speaker, Dr. Reck has been featured at hundreds of meetings, conferences and conventions throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia. His consulting clients include Hewlett-Packard, John Deere, American Express, Janssen-Ortho, Inc., Shire Pharmaceuticals, Philip Morris International, the Chicago Cubs, Rolls-Royce and Xerox.

Dr. Reck received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1977. From 1975 to 1985 he served a Professor of Management at Arizona State University. During his career at ASU he was the only two-time recipient of the prestigious "Teaching Excellence in Continuing Education" award and was identified by the university as an "Outstanding Teacher." Since 1985 he has dedicated his full time efforts to improving the way that the world conducts business.

Literally Taking the Time to Stop and Smell the Roses is a Good Thing -

RoseI have always appreciated the phrase “stop and smell the roses” metaphorically which means to take time out of one’s busy schedule to appreciate or enjoy the beauty of life. On the other hand, I have only recently begun to appreciate it from a literal standpoint. The other day, I was out for a morning walk when I saw a gentleman approaching from the opposite direction. He was about 50 yards away when he stopped by a rose bush, bent over and took several deep smells from one of its blooms. When he finished smelling, he took a step back and saluted the bush with a “thumbs up.” As we passed, he smiled at me and said, “That’s a really fragrant rose bush, you should take the time to smell it.” Out of sheer curiosity, I did and wow, what an experience! I bent over one of the blooms and inhaled deeply through my nose several times as the fragrance seemed to make its way through my entire body. I found the experience so rewarding that I too stepped back and gave the rose bush a thumbs up. The next time you come to a blooming rose bush, take the time to stop and smell one or more of its blossoms. You’ll find that doing so will set the tone for the rest of your day.

Go for it while You Still Have the Chance -

The Poetry of John Greenleaf WhittierIt's not uncommon to hear people making excuses about why they didn't take advantage of the opportunities that life sent their way. You'll hear them say things like, "I could have done this or that...."  Then come the excuses: "...but at the time my kids were little," or "but we had just bought a new house," or "but it seemed like too big of a risk" Unfortunately, many of these people continue this pattern of making excuses right into their old age. Then all they have to reflect on during their "golden years" are regrets about all those opportunities they let pass by and now it is too late to take advantage of them. As John Greenleaf Whittier put it, "Of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, what might have been?" On the other hand, those who took advantage of the opportunities that life threw at them have many fond and exciting memories of look back on.  So, if you don't want to torture yourself later in life with, "What might have been," go for it while you still have the chance!

The Simple Truth about Happiness -

Listening with the Third EarI came across an interesting quote made by a psychologist named Theodor Reik more than 50 years ago. "In order to be happy oneself, it is necessary to make at least one other person happy." He went on to say, "The secret to human happiness is not in self-seeking, but in self-forgetting." What Dr. Reik is saying that we humans do not have the capacity within our individual selves to make us happy. Rather, we have to reach out to others and touch them in ways that make them happy before we can be happy. This means that if we focus on making others happy, our own happiness will take care of itself. And, the more people we make happy, the happier we'll be. So, take the time to reach out to those around you and touch them in ways that make them happy--smile, say something that brightens their day, hand them a flower, give them a hug, shake their hand or pat them on the back. I challenge each of you to do this for just one day and at the end of that day, take stock of how you feel about yourself. You'll find that Dr. Reik is dead on!

Do you want to be Right or Happy? - HappinessThis has to be one of the strangest questions I’ve ever heard.  It implies that you can only be one or the other–right or happy.  In reality, you can be both pretty much all the time unless you’re being right is tied to your having to prove to someone else that they’re wrong.  Now you’ve created a problem for yourself because no one likes being shown they are wrong–it makes them feel bad and puts them in the frame of mind of wanting to make you feel the same way.  This, in turn, can affect your happiness.  So, if you’re right and you and you know it, keep it to yourself and be happy about it.  Trying to prove that someone with a differing opinion is wrong can only erode your happiness and it solves nothing.  As Dale Carnegie once said, “A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.”  So the next time someone asks you if you want to be right or be happy, smile answer them with a very affirming yes; because it’s easy to be both.

How to Break out of a Personal Slump -

SleepLike many professional athletes, most of us have fallen into an occasional slump where we’re not performing at our usual level of effectiveness.  A slump usually takes the form of a lengthy drought between successes.  And, like professional athletes, many of us try to break out of our slump by working harder and longer.  What we often find, however, is that rather than bringing us out of our slump, all this extra work actually prolongs it.  Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal interviewed a number of prominent sports psychologists regarding the advice they give professional athletes on how to break out of a slump.  They all agreed that the key is to stop overworking and take time to relax.  As it turns out, we perform at our best when we’re well rested and relaxed which, in turn, enables us to break out of our slump.  So, if you ever find yourself in a personal slump, remember the key to breaking out is to back off and stop trying so hard.

A Great Example of How to Live -

Ross ReckLast week I attended the most amazing memorial service ever. The deceased person’s name was Joe. I had only known him for a few years and right after I met him he was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He was unable to eat or drink and had to use a feeding tube. During this time, he was always upbeat, smiling and saying kind things to people. After he passed away, a memorial service was held and the church was packed with many of his long-time friends who flew in from all over the country. What made the service so amazing is that the people who spoke about Joe’s life all said the same thing in a slightly different way: “Joe was one of those rare individuals whose life mission was to make other people happy.” What a great example to live our lives by. 

Four Sentences that lead to Wisdom -

Bury Your DeadI just finished a fantastic book titled Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. It’s a Murder Mystery set in and around Montreal. The main character is a Chief Inspector named Armand Gamache. In the book, Mr. Gamache mentions four sentences that lead to wisdom that were passed on to him by his mentor. They are so concise and dead on that I felt compelled to share them with you. They are: 

  • I’m sorry
  • I was wrong
  • I need help
  • I don’t know

If we can learn say these four sentences honestly when situations call for them, it will make our relationships stronger and each of us a better person. 

It’s Easy to Forget How Blest We Are -

SleepI fell into this trap recently when it appeared that things weren’t going well in certain aspects of my professional life and I began to stress out.  When this happened, I lost track of the fact that I have a wonderful wife, a fantastic family, lots of great friends, a nice roof over my head and two cars that run and are paid for. I focused only on things that were missing in my life instead of what I already had. I was waking up at night with feeling anxious and unable to go back to sleep. Then one night when I woke up, the lyrics from an old Bing Crosby song popped into my head: “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings.” I sang those lyrics over and over in my mind and it finally snapped my out of my funk. All I can say is thank you Bing Crosby!

America is still a Land of Opportunity -

Kyrsten SinemaThe Arizona Republic recently published a feature article about Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema written by Rebekah L. Sanders.  Ms. Sinema’s story is truly amazing. She was born in Tucson, AZ. When she was still a child, her parents divorced and her mother moved the family to Florida. For several years they were so poor that the family live in an abandoned gas station with no electricity or running water. Since then, she has graduated from high school at the age of 16 and was co-valedictorian or her class. She went on to obtain her bachelor’s degree when she was 18. She has since earned a Masters of Social Work, a Juris Doctorate and a PhD in Justice Studies—all from Arizona State University. She has also served four terms as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, one term as a member of the Arizona Senate and is currently serving her second term as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives. But here’s the real kicker: she’s only 39 years old! So, if you have a dream and are willing to work hard, America is still a land of tremendous opportunity.

A Lesson About Relationships from a Head Football Coach--Revisited -

RiveraThis past October 27, I posted a Reminder dealing with the fact that in the National Football League, the players typically hang out in the locker room and the head coach hangs out in his office. This sends a very clear message that the head coach is the boss and the players are the subordinates. As a result, relationships between players and their head coach are typically not very open or honest. Ron Rivera, head coach of the Carolina Panthers decided to change all that after receiving some advice from fighter pilots. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal written by Kevin Clark, the pilots told him, that to promote honest relationships with his players, he needed to” remove rank” when addressing them. As a result, Coach Rivera now hangs out in the locker room as an equal rather than a boss. As Coach Rivera put it, “Unless you are exposed to them there, when they let their hair down, you won’t get to know them….” I pointed out back then that “the players absolutely love the arrangement and have responded by winning the first six games of the season.” Today, I’m convinced that Coach Rivera is really on to something, because the Panthers’ record is 17 wins against only one loss and they’ll be playing in the Super Bowl. The lesson here is that when you sincerely reach out to people, they respond in a big way.

Kindness can turn you into a Celebrity -

CafeteriaA recent article by Kaila White, which appeared in The Arizona Republic, featured a very special dining hall cashier at the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University named Vicke Davis. According to the article, everyone knows her and loves her because she cares about the students who eat there. She knows their names, what year they are, what classed they’re taking and even where they went on vacation—she refers to these students as her “Barrett babies.” One day, last semester, a student named Quintin Woods asked her what her ideal vacation would be. She responded with “the Northern Lights;” she wanted to see the Aurora Borealis. This past week, Mr. Woods, along with about 100 other students presented Ms. Davis with a check for nearly $2,500 that they had collect from fellow students to pay for a trip to Canada so that she can finally see the Northern Lights. They also presented her with a camera so she can take pictures. This is a wonderful example which illustrates that if you love people, they will love you back. If you would like to see the warm hearted video of here being presented this check, here’s the link:

You Never Know When a Kind Person May Appear -

MangoThis past Sunday, I was walking through the produce department at the Sprouts Farmers Market near my home when I overheard a conversation between a father and his preteen son. The boy asked his father, “What does a mango taste like?” The father, obviously trying to blow his son off said, “Like a mango.” The son came back with, “That doesn’t help.” The dad then came back with, “It’s sweet.” At this point, a man who worked in the produce department and had overheard the conversation said to the son, “Would you like to try one?” The son was shocked and so was the dad. The produce man then said, “Follow me and I’ll cut you a slice.” He then picked out a ripe red mango and cut pieces for both the son and the father. After they tasted it, they both raved about how good it was. At this point, the father asked the produce man to pick out four good mangos for them. When the episode was over, three people had smiles and the world had two new mango fans thanks to the kind thoughtfulness of the produce man.

Life Advice from Mother Teresa -

Mother TeresaThe Arizona Republic recently ran an Op-Ed piece about Mother Teresa. The article pointed out that The Vatican recently announced that Mother Teresa, who put together a home for the dying in the slums of Calcutta, will likely be canonized into sainthood in September. The article also pointed out that in 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. In her acceptance speech, she gave some simple but eloquent advice on how to make the world a better place. She said, “Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family. Smile at each other.” If each of us would commit to following this advice on a daily basis, the world would indeed be a much better place.

A Caring Christmas Story for This New Year -

SproutsTwo days before Christmas, I was grocery shopping at the Sprouts Farmers Market near my home. As I was standing in the checkout line, I noticed that the woman ahead of me was buying a large standing rib roast, a turkey, a ham and lots of potatoes. As it turned out, she had three friends who were experiencing “life crisis” situations and she was going to cook a Christmas dinner for each of them. At this point I overheard her telling the checker, “I can’t solve their problems for them, but there are two things I can do: I can cook and I can pray.” When I heard this, I got the woman’s attention and told that she was a very kind person who was doing some wonderful things for her friends. She smiled at me and said, “I don’t know if my cooking will help their situations, but I do know it will make them feel better for a while.” This is a wonderful example of someone making her own Christmas season brighter by brightening the lives of others.

Now is the Perfect Time to Repair Strained Relationships -

Handshake

With all the good will that gets passed around during the holiday season, it's the perfect time to repair any strained relationships you might have in your life.  People are generally in a great mood, which makes them far more open to forgiving and accepting forgiveness.  So, if you have any strained relationships, now is the perfect opportunity to make that phone call and say, "I've missed you.  Can we get together for lunch sometime soon?"  Or, to walk over to a fellow employee's work area and say, "I'm sorry about the way I acted during the meeting last month."  If you do this, you'll not only crank up the intensity of the holiday spirit that's already inside you, but you'll start the New Year with a clean slate as well.

Please feel free to leave a comment on my blog.  All you have to do is click on this link.  I would love to hear from you.

One-Sentence Wisdom 

  • “Tis the season for forgiveness, moving forward, and healing!” -- Ron Birmingham
  • “Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.” -- Hannah Arendt

Pass it on
If you know of someone who you think would enjoy reading my Reminder, please forward it to them.  Also, feel free to use this content in your own publications—newsletters, blogs, etc.

Five Simple Rules to be Happy -

SmilesSomeone recently made a post on Facebook about a wonderful elderly woman with an incredible attitude. The end of the post listed this woman’s “five simple rules to be happy.” These rules are so succinct and dead-on that I felt compelled to share them with you.

  • Free your heart from hatred.
  • Free your mind from worries.
  • Live simply.
  • Give more.
  • Expect less.

Advice doesn’t come any more straightforward than this. 

A Welcome Gift that everyone can give every Day -

KindnessBeing kind to others does not receive nearly the credit it deserves when it comes to making us happy. The truth is that it’s impossible to be truly happy if you aren’t kind to others. As Harold Kushner put it,” When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.” Acts of kindness usually involve simple things that anyone can do such as smiling at someone you meet on a sidewalk or holding the door open for someone as the enter a building or asking someone how their day is going and then listening to their answer. At the same time, these simple acts can have a profound impact on making yours and the other person’s day better. As Scott Adams put it, “Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. So, let’s get out there and spread some kindness. It’s what makes the world a better place.

Phrases that Could Tarnish Your Image at Work -

Beth Braccio HeringBeth Braccio Hering of CareerBuilder wrote an article titled, “Loose Lips Might Lose a Job,” which recently appeared in The Arizona Republic. In her article she listed several phrases that could potentially damage your career because they make you come across as anything but a team player. Some of these phrases are:

  • I can’t take on any more work. I’m completely overwhelmed already.
  • Joe is an idiot.
  • That’s not fair!
  • That’s not how we did it at my old company.
  • I’m bored.

These phrases make you sound like you’re whiny, arrogant or self-centered. This is not the kind of person that coworkers want to support or bosses want to promote. As Ms. Hering put it, “Remember, silence is golden—especially if it prevents you from uttering one of these potentially career damaging phrases.”

Serving Others helps keep us Younger -

Art FettigArt Fettig, an 85 year old American author, speaker, song writer, poet and playwright, made an eloquent comment on my Reminder from two weeks ago about the 74 year old coach that set aside retirement to make a difference. It resonated so strongly with me that I’d like to share it with you. He said, “Ross, what a great story. When folks discover the pure joy to be found in some way serving others their aging takes a back seat and they find youth they’ve never known was there.” Doing kind things for others energizes us because it makes us feel good. It tells us that we are still making a meaningful contribution in this world. So, if you want to discover some of that lost youth and experience the boost in energy that comes along with it, get out there and spread some kindness. This time of the year, there are lots of opportunities to do just that.

Do Something Joyful -

Trader Joe'sI went to Trader Joe’s the other day feeling a little bit down. As I approached the counter with my cart full of groceries, I asked the checker how she was doing. She smiled and answered, “Every day’s a gift.” She then asked how I was doing. I said I was “hanging in there.” She responded with, “Are you in some kind of a funk?” I said, “Yes, I think so.” She then looked up at me and said, “Do something joyful.” I decide to try to follow her advice. After I returned and put the groceries away, I worked out at the YMCA. The experience was pleasant, but not joyful. I then cleaned part of the garage. I experienced a sense of accomplishment, but still no joy. I then cooked dinner for a friend who is experiencing health issues on a number of fronts which have left him weak and very tired. I took the dinner to his home and we visited for an hour and a half. This experience was not only pleasant, it was truly joyful!  It snapped me out of my funk and I felt great for the rest of the day. So the next time you find yourself in a funk or feeling sorry for yourself, do something joyful for someone else. I guarantee it will make the rest of your day a whole lot better.

A 74 Year Old Coach Sets Retirement Aside to Make a Difference -

FootballElliot Uzelac had coached college football for 40 years with stops at places like Michigan, Ohio State, Colorado and Maryland. During 2006-2010, he revived the football program at St. Joseph High School (Michigan) by posting a record of 45-13 during his five years there. In the summer of 2011 he retired from coaching just before his 70th birthday. Four years later he had become restless and bored. According to an article written by Mike McCabe, which recently appeared in The Detroit Free Press, his wife Wendy suggested that he go back into coaching. His response was, "I want to do something better than that." His wife came back with: "Then go to Benton Harbor…You go there. You help them. We've loved these eight years here, and you know and I know that those kids need help on the field, off the field and in the classroom. Maybe you can do that.” Benton Harbor high school had gone through 25 straight losing seasons and had lost its last 19 games in a row. In spite of all this, Coach Uzelac accepted the challenge and asked for the job. So far this year, the team has posted a 6-3 regular season record and won its first state playoff game ever. According to an article written by Rosemary Parker which was posted recently on mlive.com, Coach Uzelac’s impact isn’t going to stop there. When the season is over he is setting up a tutoring program for players who need it and he “…plans to start lining up field trips to meet with college coaches, to open players' eyes to the possibilities that are available to them.” 

Reaching Retirement Age doesn't mean you have to step aside -

Carl IcohnOur culture tries to convince us that once we reach retirement age, we are no longer capable of accomplishing anything that’s worthwhile. Rather, our role then is to back off, enjoy the good life and let the members of the younger generation have all the fun. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. For example, Colonel Sanders started his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise when he was 69 and drawing social security. Furthermore, he remained actively involved with the company until he was 90. At age 85, Warren Buffet is still a very active CEO at Berkshire Hathaway. And, Carl Icahn is still wheeling and dealing with the best of them at age 79. My point is that reaching retirement age is no reason to feel that you have to step aside and yet the younger folks have all the fun. There is still plenty of fun to be had by retirement aged people as well.

A Lesson in Building Relationships from a Football Coach -

Coach RiveraIn the National Football League, the players typically hang out in the locker room and the head coach hangs out in his office. This sends a very clear message that the head coach is the boss and the players are the subordinates. As a result, relationships between players and their head coach are typically not very open or honest. Ron Rivera, head coach of the Carolina Panthers decided to change all that after receiving some advice from fighter pilots. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal written by Kevin Clark, the pilots told him, that to promote honest relationships with his players, he needed to” remove rank” when addressing them. As a result, Coach Rivera now hangs out in the locker room as an equal rather than a boss. As Coach Rivera put it, “Unless you are exposed to them there, when they let their hair down, you won’t get to know them….” The players absolutely love the arrangement and have responded by winning the first six games of the season. 

FINALLY going to launch this coming Thursday - Ross ReckMy latest book, 100% Employee Engagement—Guaranteed, is FINALLY going to launch this coming Thursday and I'd really appreciate your being part of it by helping me get the word out.

One Airline that still cares about its Customers -

Boeing 737Southwest Airlines is the only airline that allows you to check two bags free, doesn’t charge you a fee to change a reservation and gives you full credit toward future flights when you have to cancel a flight that you’ve already paid for. According to a recent article written by Dawn Gilbertson which appeared in The Arizona Republic, “…a customer in a Southwest focus group told a story about paying $500 in fees on a low-fare airline on a short hop between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Fees were charged for baggage, seat assignments and a reservation change.” The response to the incident from Kevin Krone, Southwest’s Chief Marketing Officer was, “There’s no reason to ruin a family vacation because of that.” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly added, “At times, what our competitors are doing borders on the ridiculous.”  Bottom line: Southwest still cares about its customers which is why it is always at or near the top when it comes to customer service and customer satisfaction.

Excellent Advice on how to Live Life to the Fullest -

Feel GoodA relative of mine posted the following advice on Facebook recently. I found it too good not to share with you. “Go ahead and eat the chocolate cake. Walk in the rain and splash in the puddles. Ride with the windows down. Dance. Sing. Talk to strangers. Smile at everyone. Hug someone. Go barefoot. Take naps. Try new things. Spend time with kids. Laugh every chance you get. Help others. LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST. NO REGRETS. LIFE IS WAY TOO SHORT.” I think this pretty much says it all. These are the kinds of things I plan to do more of. Thank you Marylou.

When you Travel, it Pays to be Kind -

TravelAn article by Christopher Elliott titled, “Good behavior is your most valuable travel asset,” appeared in a recent issue of USA Today. The gist of the article was that polite travelers who demonstrate kind behavior to travel employees are treated better while those who demonstrate rude behavior are treated worse and, in some cases, much worse. The article listed three things you can do while traveling to avoid being tagged as rude: 1) Be extra nice to travel employees. Travel employees appreciate nice travelers and will go the extra mile to help them. 2) Remember to smile. This is a sign that you care and the employees will care back. 3) Show respect. Rude travelers demand respect and it backfires on them. These are very easy things to do, they make you and those around you feel better, and travel employees will go out of their way to take care of you.


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