Sep 202014

I have been very lucky to work with and for many great people, including my current boss. He is as much a friend as a mentor, even though we work mostly remotely.


Occasionally my boss will send me a token gift to let me know he is thinking of me or just that he appreciates me. The gift might be a book or a gift card or sometimes even a funny toy. Nothing extravagant, just something to say thanks.


I have adopted the same practice with my team. My company has a gracious “generosity” budget–a few bucks that I can use to fund a random act of kindness. I exceed that budget every week by bringing my frontline managers coffee, cookies, fun vegan snacks, or sometimes I will just take them to lunch.


This is not part of a company plan or any master-ploy. Maybe it is just “Leadership 101″ stuff, but it really sank in while I was reading a book my boss sent me. It is not something that is even top of mind. I don’t plan or budget it in; I just grab something on my way to work to let someone on my team know, “This is just because you’re awesome.”



Sep 192014

Some people prefer to live in their comfort zone, no matter where they are. When on vacation, they stick to what they know. They shop at Walmart, eat at McDonald’s or Applebee’s, and grab coffee from Starbucks no matter where they go.


I suppose there is nothing wrong with always sticking to what you know you like but, oh man, are they missing out! I might never have found some of the best food I have ever had if I always stuck in my comfort zone. There are local treasures everywhere! When I visit Chicago, I don’t want Mickey D’s; I want Native Foods or The Chicago Diner! Amazing places with food you can’t pronounce but you know will knock your socks off!


When I visit Savannah, I don’t want Starbucks (though I do love Starbucks!). I want The Sentient Bean–I had a Cardamom cookie there that is almost worth driving 18 hours back for! I want Watercress in Denver, and right here in Grand Rapids I don’t want Walmart. I want West Michigan Clothing, The Mad Dogz, Kava House, Stella’s, Salon Re:, Bartertown, Brick Road, Peninsula Trading, Love’s, Mad Cap, Under The Vine, The Mitten, Spoonlickers, and Tacos El Cunado! I want the best of the best–not the standard vanilla I can have anywhere across the nation. Not only are the names more fun but the local people who run those places have a vested interest in the quality and heart that goes into whatever they do.


Wherever you are, go off the beaten path. Find the really good stuff.



Sep 182014

I gave up listening to music for about 6 months. The following 6 months I listened only to instrumental music. It was a fascinating experiment and I was reminded of it today when a friend shared one of their favorite songs.


The music was great but when I heard the lyrics, I immediately remembered what I learned from my experiment. Popular musicians are crazy.


So many of us find comfort, solace, or worldly wisdom from pop songs. The only problem is pop musicians do not live in the same world as most of us. People like Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Prince, or Tim McGraw are so far removed from normal relationships, social and political struggles, or common hardships that they are simply not qualified to have a relevant opinion on these matters. Do you think Prince has ever had any dating/living situation that even remotely resembles any relationship you or I have had? Yet, people flock to these performers in fantasy worlds for guidance. We learn about love from Sting and Van Halen before we ever read a book about it or turn to actual professionals.


If you are getting advice on love, sex, religion, society, or politics from complete nutters like Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Shania Twain, Elton John, Lil’ John, or even John Mayer… just consider the source.


You would be better off taking advice on Quantum Mechanics from your actual car mechanic. I am not a total curmudgeon. I like music. You should enjoy music… I just think you should also remember you are listening to, at best, talented crazy people.