Category Archives: HUMANITY

HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH

Rachel Adams: How to go from lost to found

Co-host Gareth Young and I were joined by Rachel Adams, a realtor, public speaker, coach, author, and entrepreneur. Learn more about Rachel Adams here.

Key discussion topics from our conversation with Rachel Adams:

Rachel Adams1. We feel compelled to try to lead the Facebook life and find it hard to break out, but it’s important for us to recognize that what we see in social media is not reality and to move away from judging who we are from someone else’s perspectives;

2. It’s one thing to be honest with other people but it’s quite another thing to be honest with yourself;

3. There is a profound difference between putting others’ needs first on the one hand, and on the other hand living a life of service, which needs to include a sense of self-care and boundaries;

4. Being lost is a valuable experience, because from being lost one can become found.

A New Business Mindset, an intrepid.MEDIA production. This episode was originally published here!

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HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE, WELLNESS

The Impact Continues: I was Drugged

The Impact

Last spring, I wrote about being drugged by a restaurant manager while on a business trip to Dallas. Coupled with the sudden and unexpected ending of my marriage, my recovery from that incident has been slow and methodical. I have taken the time I needed to “get well,” if you will. Multiple doctor’s visits, lab tests, dietary and exercise changes, long road trips (road therapy), as well as addressing a new-found mental stress has been imperative to my recovery.

I wish I could say that this was the first time I had been drugged, it was not – but it has become the one that mattered, the one that scared me, the one where I was almost raped. Perhaps it is because I am more aware of the danger, or because of my age, or simply because my three daughters are the ages where this could easily happen to one of them. Or maybe it is because I want my son to be supportive of women’s issues and really understand why women are afraid, concerned, and becoming more vocal.

I Will NOT Forget Being Drugged

I won’t forget. Mostly because I cannot, but also because there is now a calling before me – one I did not want. I really didn’t want it, but I cannot remove the impact, anymore than I can remove the incident. It has taken me a week to even write about the latest. Writing about my life is much like giving birth, for it is painful, it is embarrassing, it is necessary. The birthing is a required step.
So here it is.

The Latest

Last week, I attended a book release party for a local new author: his first book filled with his experiences and the photographs he had taken. A novice author, an amateur photographer putting his experiences of traveling 15,000 miles on 2,500 paddle outs on a Stand-Up Paddleboard. Right up my alley, I have a couple Stand-up Boards and I love the ocean as a swimmer, boogie boarder, diver, snorkeler, observer, and wannabe surfer. I wanted to be a part of this event. I purchased a book and had my book signed by the Author/ Paddle Boarder, Rich German and asked if he’d be a guest on my podcast after the new year. Earlier in the evening, I had watched my drink made, as has become my practice, and proceeded to make some new friends, refreshed current relationships, and ended my evening with an excitement about my expanded local network.

I proceeded to my car, where I sat for a moment and texted a friend. While I sat there, I watched, what appeared to be, two very drunk women try to walk up the inclined street where I was parked; they had just left the same event where I had been. One of them kept falling down. My selfish brain told me to ignore them and drive away – as I had plans for the evening. But my heart (and ultimately my head) would not let me. I got out of my car and walked over to where they were resting on someone else’s vehicle, one of them barely able to hold her head up. I asked if they were alright and if I could give them a ride home. I could not let them get in their own car or an Uber in their condition. I could not drive away because when I had been drugged, a good friend and extended network had taken care of me. I needed to help them – I needed to make sure they were safe.

They were rightfully leery

Who is this stranger wanting to help us? Why do you want to help us? Are you an Uber driver? Is this your job? and…, Are you an angel?

I told them my name several times, as they asked several times, I assured them I only wanted to make sure they made it home, safe and sound. One lived in the city immediately north of Laguna Beach (where we were) and the other lived in the city immediately south – no where near each other, and not close by, at all. Fearing they would pass out, I asked for their addresses first thing. After a very eventful drive, one that included one of them throwing up all over my front seat and the other accusing me of kidnapping several times, I was able to get them both to their front doors. The discovery of a missing wallet just before I dropped the second lady off prompted me to return to the restaurant where the event had been held and search everywhere for the lost wallet – leaving my name and phone number at the front desk; I even searched the street where I had found them, but to no avail.
I worried they would think I had stolen the wallet.

I didn’t care that there was throw up all over my car. I didn’t care that I’d had to talk the woman in the back seat down from her metaphorical ledge. I didn’t care that this had taken 1.5 hours out of my night. I only cared that they had made it home.

I couldn’t stop thinking about them and the next morning, I called the one whose phone number I had. She’d had a rough night, as had her friend and they had come to the conclusion that they had been drugged. They had been drugged. They think they had picked up a drink that had not belonged to them. I told her about my drugging and cautioned her to never turn her back on a drink or consume anything with which that was unfamiliar or a drink she had not seen poured.

Like me – like my incident, they were ladies out for an evening together – out to have fun, at a place they knew.

I sobbed.

I cried that night as I drove away from the restaurant following my search. I cried again when I hung up the phone the next morning. I do not want this to be my calling. But I don’t think I would have been able to sleep that night or lived with myself – period – had I driven away.

Taking Care of Each Other

We must. We need each other. Yes, there is evil out there – but there is more good than evil.

Be the good. 

BUSINESS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

Bill Watkins + Robert Mallon: Take the red pill to have it all

The latest from A New Business Mindset (an intrepid.MEDIA production):

Bill Watkins and Robert Mallon are two best friends who together have over 80 years of professional experience as leaders, managers, entrepreneurs, and coaches. For years, they kept hearing from men struggling to grow their companies and careers without screwing up their lives…so they founded Rusty Lion Academy and developed a proprietary framework called “The Launch Sequence” to help their clients live present and fulfilled while still making the Big Impact they were put on this earth for.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-6-50-59-pm

Key takeaways from the show:

  • The journey and striving to “have it all” is not only okay; it’s what it’s all about!
  • Find someone who inspires you – someone you know personally, or a public figure, or for example a business coach – and follow them; let the inspiration help you grow
  • Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and try something different. Don’t be afraid to go looking for the pot of gold. In fact….take the red pill (as Neo did in the Matrix)

This episode first published on Gareth Young’s “A New Business Mindset” show!

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The Danger of Living Within Our Own Mythos

“A myth, in its original Greek meaning- mythos- is simply that: a story, one which seeks to render life transparent to an intelligible source.” ― Jules Cashford

mythos

My Discovery

When I was a little kid I was a voracious reader with the imagination of a 10-year-old boy that thought magic was real and trolls lived under bridges.  Princesses needed saving and dragons were to be slain.  However, my greatest love was the mythology of the Greeks, Romans, and Vikings.  I remember reading every tome I could find in the library or begging my mother to buy me books that spoke of the mythology within the binders.  I did not understand, at the time, that these stories were to not only entertain people but also to deliver sarcasm and knowledge about life and how to live it.

I happened upon my own mythos just recently on a Sunday morning which literally saved my life and this, my friends, is the story.

PANIC!

At 9AM I awoke with angst, this was going to be the first day of our annual College Hire Interview Event and there was an all-hands-on event to start promptly at 9:45 am.  The recruiters were expected to be in the office by 9AM to prep and get any and all things out of the way and then walk candidates in to begin their interview process and hopefully impress us to start their careers. This was going to be my first time working this event and I was nervous as I don’t live close to the office and traffic in DC can and is a nightmare. I panicked when I looked at the clock. Clearly, there was no way I would make it to the office by 9 as it was 9 already. I scrambled to dress, no shower for me this morning; I sprinted to the door and was off.

Once in the car, I called my boss and co-worker to let them know I was going to try my best to get arrive before the interviews started.  I turned on the radio to listen to my favorite morning drive-time show and floored the pedal, going way too fast on an interstate. The Radio DJ was talking about his costume choice for Halloween, which was Monday, today, but was alluding to the fact that was, in fact, tomorrow.  I thought to myself, did you screw up the loop or something? Today was Halloween, not tomorrow

I focused on the task at hand thinking in my mind the strategy I would employ with parking and arriving to the meeting on time. The Radio DJ, after every song, was babbling on about Halloween, tomorrow. I got off I95 and turned onto the beltway to a surprise.  The road was clear, SCORE! I was, of course, shocked, Monday morning and there was no one on the road? Did Halloween become some kind of National Holiday now? Personally, I was ok with it since my commute was going to be easier than expected but there was a nagging thought in my mind, all be it a small one, that I might be missing something.

Reality

Just before I go to the office, my boss called, and I immediately answered with my heart in my stomach.  He said, “Dumbass, it’s Sunday, enjoy your day off, and I will see you tomorrow.”  He laughed saying, “It’s going to be a long time until you live this one down!” I sat at the red light staring off in the distance, humiliated and realizing I am getting old, how did this happen? Well, at least I have the rest of the day to reflect on this.
However, life was going to take a different direction.

More than I Bargained for

Earlier in the month, I had contracted a skin virus on my right calf leg. Not having a primary Doctor since changing jobs and insurance companies, I just went to the ER to get checked out. They agreed it was a viral infection, gave me a prescription and I was on my way.  Since the hospital was near my office and my leg was, once again, showing signs of the infection, I decided, since I was here, to swing by and get another dose of antidote and hopefully fix my leg permanently.
I was in for a great deal more than I had bargained for.

Reston Hospital is a pretty pleasant place, considering it’s a housing facility for the ill and dying. Plenty of sunshine in the lobby and lots of magazines and helpful, friendly nurses. Just as my previous visit, they checked me in and before I could sit down, they had me in a room taking my clothes off and asking me the same questions I answered before. I tried to explain that I just needed some antibiotics and they could look up my chart. Not to draw this story out, it turned out I had blood clots in my leg and in my lungs. Not good. I was told by everyone I was lucky to have caught this as I was a walking time bomb, and could have died at any moment, as time was not a friend in this instance.

My point to this story you ask?

Simple: my mythos saved my life, this time. I chose to believe that I was firmly correct in my assumption that it was Monday and I would not consider anything else, no matter what the facts presented to me were that morning. I had to be correct, and everyone else had to be incorrect.

After this election, I have struggled to determine the same thing within the United States and the world, in general.

Communication is defunct, we, being bombarded by email, Facebook, Linkedin, Reddit, etc. We are chasing each other around in a virtual fishbowl we cannot seemingly get out of. Why?

Listen, I have lost my shit at times, believe me, many of you have seen it or read it from me. I get it. As I glide towards seeming senility, I want to at least understand the human condition better. Seemingly, there are not two sides to this coin called human life, just the same ugly sides covered with a different coat of paint.

What I have seen in the last week from both sides of this virtual coin is more disturbing than I ever thought. People are unaccepting of reality, and are acting in a way that they despise or were called out for and are emboldened to show their true colors.  People who extoll mercy and acceptance when they don’t get their way turn to violence? Those who were afraid and silent, that were belittled by one group, now rise in anger and benevolence to chastise something we thought long dead? The ignorant and intolerant feeling embolden to act in inhumane ways in order to prove one side or the other correct? Protecting the mythos and it is shamefull.  The profiteers on both sides who are making money by extolling the anger and hate, always keeping us apart.  The mythos that we cannot and seemingly refuse to release is tearing us apart. 

My leg is going to be better, or so they tell me. My silly reaction to the arrogance that my personal mythos that day could have very well saved my life, yet that same mythos-type mentality is tearing our very world apart, and we, like sheeple, are allowing it to happen. That, my friends, scares me more than the loss of my own mortality.

Take the time…

Take the time to listen to all opinions and do so without bashing or rhetoric. Listen, truly listen, and check facts. We need more talking and less yelling, more understanding why someone feels the way they do, then demanding they think like you.

Both sides just need to make better choices.

#truestory

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

Cathy Salit: How you can leverage theatrical performance for success at work

A real pleasure to welcome Cathy Salit to the show today! Cathy is the CEO of Performance of a Lifetime, and the author of Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work.

Discussion guide from my conversation with Cathy Salit:

Cathy Salit1. She dropped out of school. And started “her own school.”

2. Her new book discusses the philosophy, case studies and techniques of Performance of a Lifetime. She shares a little bit about her philosophy and how it works to help business people to excel and succeed.

3. The Becoming Principle.

4. “Who you are, and who you are not yet.”

5. Performative Psychology.

6. Leveraging theatrical performance.

7. The human side of strategy.

8. The Five Fundamentals of Performance.

9. Taking emotional inventory.

Find Cathy Salit’s book here:

About Cathy Salit:

Cathy Salit is an author, performer, executive coach, social entrepreneur and CEO of Performance of a Lifetime, a global consulting firm based in New York City that helps leaders, teams, and organizations grow their business by focusing on the human side of strategy. Cathy and her team of coaches and human development experts use the art of theatrical performance and the science of performative psychology to engage leaders and teams in creating and acting on exciting new possibilities.

Cathy has led the growth of her company to two consecutive years on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List, and her client list includes Twitter, American Express, Nike, Coca-Cola, Rolls Royce, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her work and thought leadership have been featured in Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Inc., Wired, CEO World Magazine, and on podcasts, radio and viral videos all over the world.

Cathy is the author of the new Hachette Books hardcover, Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work, which has been praised by top influencers including Dan Pink, who writes, “This remarkable book will electrify your work and enliven your soul.”

Cathy Salit

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HUMANITY, WELLNESS

Get a Job: The Truth about the Homeless

The Truth about the Homeless

People will sooner aid a sick dog lying on the sidewalk than to try
to find shelter for a sick person. It’s too much to deal with.
–Michael Zaslow

The internet is an excellent tool used by millions to find information, share emails, keep in touch with friends, and share funny photos and memes. I am on the internet, it seems, hours upon hours a day. In fact, I am a serial Facebook, LinkedIn, blog-reading fool. Whenever I am sitting at a bar having conversations and discussions about something, it’s off to Google to prove my point or get info on the subject. It’s just too easy to gather information now, and it is so much faster. This being a political year, it seems that funny photos and sarcastic ones are popping up all over social networks, some funny – some disturbing.

job

I saw the above picture on Facebook a few days ago and then I saw something similar in LA, live. It broke my heart. The photo was meant to be satirical, yet what I saw on that corner was a reality for a human being that I passed by in my Uber to the airport. He had a sign out with the usual verbiage but here is the story. There was no man standing or photoshopped in, this was life. I thought about the pic when I saw him and thought, why couldn’t he find work at a Walmart or a McDonald’s? When I got on the plane, that picture still sat in the back of my head as sat down, in 1st class no less, and I wondered what the Walmart guy would really say to this man instead of trying to go viral on the internet with what would be perceived as a funny photo.

Getting Work for People

Being in the actual practice of getting people work for over 19 years, I would like to set up a dose of a little reality for him. Here are some of my G-rated questions for the Walmart guy:

1) Will you hire him if he doesn’t pass a background check or has committed a felony?

2) Will you provide him clothes to work in and when those get dirty will you help him get them washed or do you think that first paycheck will pay for an apartment, utilities, appliances, and laundry detergent?

3) Will you immediately pay for any healthcare including mental health care he might need? With medications?

4) Will you keep him as an employee if he has an exacerbation of PTSD, anxiety, schizophrenia, or anything else while at work?

5) Will you have someone watch his only earthly possessions while he is working, so no one steals them?

6) Will you provide childcare or transportation or a bed for a good night’s sleep or food to sustain him while he works?

7) Will you even take an application from someone who does not have an address?

Are the answers to my questions are “yes?” If so, I admire your corporation, and I will be more than happy to help drive candidates to your organization. However, we both know that the answer to every one of these queries is “NO!”

Just Get a Freaking Job

The “just get a freaking job” argument is not so easy to quip when you look at the facts. Many of those who are homeless do work or want to work. Many can’t. It is truly not a simple fix. Some homeless hold signs – mostly people don’t talk to them, they turn away, or tell them to get a job. Judging them helps in no way, at all. I am fully aware there are bogus people out there pulling heart strings on sympathies who hold signs and don’t have legitimate needs; I actually don’t advocate for giving cash to those “flying signs” unless they are creative.

Cheeseburgers?

Years ago, while in San Francisco visiting friends we ran across a black man with a sign that read, “please donate to the United Negro Cheeseburger Fund” we laughed hard, and I said if I give you 5 dollars are you going to go the McDonalds behind you and get some .99 cent cheeseburgers? He smiled and said yes, yes I am. I gave him the 5 dollars, and he ran in to get the cheeseburgers, came out and went around the corner. We followed him to see if he was, indeed, going to eat them. He did not, he gave them away to a woman & two kids, and another man grabbed his sign and went back to his post. I looked at my compadres and without a word we crossed the street and gave him all the cash we could.

The Faces of the Homeless

My point is, “just get a damn job” is not simple thing look what stands in front of those who have fallen and cannot get up. Please take some time to understand some of the most devastating underlying issues these people have is the lack of caring we have for them. Human resources used to be a middle man between employees and owners while helping fill vacant seats. Now, they are mostly buried with compliance, benefits, and just making sure they don’t get sued for not taking chances. They are more concerned about the bottom line than most CEOs.

These struggling people have feelings and worth, and they are not all junkies and alcoholics, many are just fighting to survive in a world that looks at them like trash. Some are veterans who fought in wars they did not start. Some are women who ran from abusive marriages, some are those who fell on hard times. Some are teenage throw aways who never even had a shot at life, and the spiraling effect of going down is like falling out of a plane without a working parachute. It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the fact there was nothing and no one there willing to catch you.

Paying it Forward

I hope this is where we can start to fit in. We, as a society, need to start actively start getting deeper in the game, we need to be more than order takers and more about effecting change. Stop giving them a dollar to pay for a coffee but get them somewhere they can get help. We need to start championing people we may not have in the past. I am using the homeless as an analogy just as there are other groups that need help, training, and, just some love. Join me in paying it forward, will you? Remember, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution, where do you want to be in history?

#truestory #life

AUTHORS, BUSINESS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

Dr. Max McKeown: Are you a NOWIST? Or a THENIST?

Joined in studio by behavioural strategist Dr. Max McKeown, author of the new book #NOW: The Surprising Truth About the Power of Now.

Discussion guide from my conversation with Dr. Max McKeown:

Max McKeown1. Why did you decide to write your new book? How did you get interested in the subject of nowists and nowism?

2. What is a Nowist mindset? How can we spot different kinds of Nowist and Thenist?

3. You say that its only worth paying the “right pain for the right gain”, can you explain more?

4. How can we learn to ride stress like a mule? How can we use the energy of life to keep moving forward?

5. What do Nowists need at work? And from their leaders?

6. What’s the link between Nowism, Strategy and Innovation?

7. Psychology of moving forward, and some of the research behind it.

You can find Max McKeown’s book here:

About Max McKeown:

DR. MAX MCKEOWN is the author of #NOW, The Strategy Book, winner of the Commuter Read at the Chartered Management Institute Book of the Year 2013 and Amazon’s Best Business Books of 2012. He is also author of The Innovation Book, Adaptability: The Art of Winning in an Age of Uncertainty, and four other books. He works as a strategic coach with Fortune 100 companies and is also a popular keynote speaker at conferences worldwide. He is a member of the British Psychological Society. He has an MBA and PhD from Warwick Business School.

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, SALES, WELLNESS

Stephan Aarstol: Shifting to a five-hour workday, and changing your life forever!

Joined in the house today by Stephan Aarstol, the CEO of Tower Paddle Boards, and the author of The Five-Hour Workday: Live Differently, Unlock Productivity, and Find Happiness.

Discussion guide from my conversation with Stephan Aarstol:

Stephan Aarstol1. What’s wrong with the current eight-hour work day and 40-hour work week.

2. What prompted him to move his company to a five-hour workday.

3. How a shorter work day makes businesses more profitable and productive and employees happier, healthier and more loyal.

4. Steps to implement a five-hour work-day at your company, and how to test risk free!

5. How winning on ABCs Shark Tank changed his life.

6. The importance of the pursuit of happiness.

Find Stephan Aarstol’s book here:

About Stephan Aarstol:

Stephan Aarstol is the CEO and founder of Tower Paddle Boards, an online, manufacturer-direct brand in the stand up paddle boarding industry. With a three-year growth rate of 1,853 percent, Tower was named the Fastest Growing Company in San Diego by the San Diego Business Journal, and was featured in the Inc.’s 2015 500 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies.

After appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank and securing an investment from Mark Cuban, Aarstol was featured by People Magazine as one of “Shark Tank’s Biggest Winners.” Aarstol’s company quickly became one of Mark Cuban’s best-performing investments from the popular show, and in early 2016, ABC returned to feature Tower Paddle Boards in a nationally televised episode, “Beyond the Tank.”

Tower began as a disruptive, direct-to-consumer stand up paddle board company, and has since evolved into a more holistic beach-lifestyle company. Today, Tower offers a growing array of beach-lifestyle products, sold and shipped directly to consumers at a fraction of traditional retail prices. Tower’s successful brand extensions include a beach-lifestyle magazine, Tower Magazine, a sunglass company at SunglassesByTower.com, and a direct-to-consumer surf- and beach-lifestyle company at TowerMade.com.

Aarstol’s objective is to build Tower into the world’s premiere beach-lifestyle brand, and he currently has plans to extend the Tower brand into many additional business units.

As an entrepreneurial-thought leader and online-marketing expert, Aarstol’s insights have been published in the Washington Post, Inc., Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Mashable, and many other prominent business publications.

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AUTHORS, BUSINESS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP

Col. Lee Ellis: Are you an honorable businessperson?

Joined in studio today by Col. Lee Ellis (USAF Retired), founder and president of Leadership Freedom LLC, and author of Engage With Honor: Building A Culture of Courageous Accountability.

Discussion guide from today’s conversation with Lee Ellis:

Lee Ellis1. Why becoming an honorable leader requires character, courage, and commitment.

2. What business leaders can learn from his experience as a POW, and translate that into industry-oriented success.

3. Leading with honor even in difficult circumstances.

4. The Leadership Behavior DNA Discovery Process, which reveals a leader’s strengths and struggles in order to develop authentic leadership.

5. Engaging with courage, commitment, and caring concern VS. motivation by fear, intimidation, and self-preservation.

6. The most important piece of advice for members of the younger generation who aspire to become strong leaders.

7. The 7 steps to become the best leader that you can be.

Find Lee Ellis’ book here:

About Lee Ellis:

Lee Ellis is Founder and President of Leadership Freedom® LLC and FreedomStar Media®. He is an award-winning author, leadership consultant, and expert presenter in the areas of leadership, teambuilding, and human performance. His past clients include Fortune 500 senior executives and CLevel leaders in telecommunications, healthcare, military, and other business sectors. Some of his media appearances include interviews on networks such as CNN, CBS This Morning, C-SPAN, ABC World News, Fox News Channel, plus hundreds of engagements in various industry sectors throughout the world.

Early in his career, Lee served as an Air Force fighter pilot flying fifty-three combat missions over North Vietnam. In 1967, he was shot down and held as a POW for more than five years in Hanoi and surrounding camps. For his wartime service, he was awarded two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Valor device, the Purple Heart, and POW Medal. Lee resumed his Air Force career, serving in leadership roles of increasing responsibility including command of a flying squadron and leadership development organizations before retiring as a colonel.

Lee has a BA in History and a MS in Counseling and Human Development. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Air War College. He has authored or co-authored four books on leadership and career development. Lee’s latest book entitled Leading with Honor®: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton has received multiple awards since its release including Winner in the 2012 International Book Awards in the Business and Management Category, and selection on the 2013 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Reading List.

Lee and his wife Mary reside in the Atlanta GA area and have four grown children and six grandchildren.

Lee Ellis

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HR, HUMANITY

Better off Dead: My Two Dollars Story

Better Off Dead

My two dollarsOne of John Cusack’s first movies was an odd spinoff of the wildly successful John Hughes films of the 80’s and 90’s called Better off Dead. Throughout the film, there is a running theme of a newspaper boy, yes, for those younger than 40 – we did not exercise child labor laws that strictly back then, chasing after the main character, Cusack for two dollars. You see, on top of delivering the papers to your front door, you had to do collections door-to-door, weekly for the money from the person getting the newspapers. Daily papers were .25c, and the Sunday paper was .50c, equaling two dollars a week. A few weeks ago, this came to mind one evening in a convenience store near my home.

A Wild Week

After what had been a wild week with candidate negotiations, allergies, and lack of sleep based on said allergies, something good finally happened. Sometimes, you just have to look past yourself to realize there is someone out there a little worse off than you. I had to run down to the local 7/11 for milk, as the carton in my fridge had spoiled. I drove down to the corner store, cursing that my craving for mashed potatoes and the need of milk to make the deliciousness that that dish is, forced me out of my home and into my car to procure this magic liquid.

When I arrived at the market, it was unusually busy, people milling around – looking at products deciding what snacks they wanted, etc. Now you see, I am not really a big grocery store guy, I eat out a great deal, so I know convenience stores well and how they operate. You have to move fast, or a line will form and then you are caught standing there pissed off because you just want to go home and eat mashed potatoes, and yet you are standing here, waiting. First world problems, am I right?

Two Dollars

better off deadI hate being right sometimes, and like a perfect storm, a line had formed, yet, not a bad one, there was a single guy and father there with his two young daughters in front of me, so I thought, oh well just a few more minutes. It could be worse with the sea of bachelors that were in the store. The first guy went off without a hitch, paid and off he went. Then, the father walked up with a loaf of bread and cheese. He was rung up quickly, handed the clerk his card, and the transaction was done. Boom, I am on the home stretch now! The youngest child then pulled a candy out of her pocket that she had been holding. The Father looked at her and smiled and said, “Sure, baby girl.” I stood there deflated and angry. I was tired, hungry, and just wanted to get back home to make the potatoes and eat my dinner. The clerk rang up the candy, and it popped up as two dollars on the register, he handed the man the card, again. So yet another transaction I have to sit through, great how much longer do I have to wait!!
Then, it happened, the card was declined, for two dollars.

His body language showed his humiliation that he could not afford two dollars, in front of his children, when he was told there no more funds available on his card which turned out to be an EBT card. Two dollars. For those who don’t live in Virginia, the EBT card is the equivalent of a debit card for food stamps funded by the Common Wealth of Virginia, and he had run out of funds. He scooped up the little one, who was crying that she wanted her candy, and took the other child’s hand, then walked out to his car leaving the candy on the counter in front of us. He said nothing but I caught his eye as he looked down and slowly left the store. The attendant took my milk as I watched the family with the sound of the words of two dollars ringing in my head, and I said, “The candy, I want the candy, too.”

Atonement Gained

The clerk’s expression was one of puzzlement that turned to a look of atonement for not doing what I should have done. I tried swiping my card but was having problems with the machine to complete the transaction quickly enough. Turning to look outside, I saw the Father getting into the passenger seat. Feeling my frustration, the clerk only said to me, “Go, Atonement gained, I suppose.” I nodded to the attendant and ran out of the store leaving both my credit card and wallet on the counter to catch the family before they left. When I got to the car door, his window was down so I handed him the candy and just quietly said, “Sir, you forgot something.” I turned to go back inside, and the father called out to me and mouthed, “Thank you, man.” Two Dollars.

A Very Good Man?

When I went back in, there was a line of people all staring at me, a long line. They were all men of different races, Black, White, Indian, and Asian. Not one person said anything, not one person was upset, in fact, they were all staring at me, some deep in thought, others smiling and nodding. As I reached for my carton of milk, the attendant held on to it for a moment looking me in the eye, smiled, and gave me a short bow and said, “You are a very good man.”

No, I really am not. I stood there in that line cursing the fact that I, a single man, who has enough money to eat out every night if I want, was angry that I had to wait in line. I felt anger toward a Father, caring for his progeny and, more than likely having cheese sandwiches for dinner, couldn’t afford candy, for two dollars. It is moments like this that remind me that we must look around and lift each other up, love each other a little more, and recognize that even though it can be bad at times, there is more than likely someone worse off than you.

Next time, I am going to be a great deal more patient with the world, I think we all should strive for that. I wish it would only cost two dollars to change the perception in the world, which would be amazing.

#truestory #life