Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tired of Changing Plans?

Sometimes we intentionally change our plans, other times circumstances cause the change.  I had Monday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon carefully planned to accommodate a board meeting, birthday celebration, dental appointment, 2nd board meeting, travel to Austin, Austin event, travel to Houston and Houston event.

I walked to my car with just enough time to make it to the first of these 8 commitments. That quickly changed as I noticed that my right rear tire was flat. With this unexpected change of plans I emailed the CEO and Board Chair just before calling roadside assistance.  Ben arrived within 30 minutes and mounted the spare in a flash.  Minutes later, we heard a loud, startling bang.  The valve on my spare blew.  He determined that there was a very slow leak in my right rear tire and inflated it to the maximum allowed then remounted it to allow me to safely reach the tire store.  My first board meeting was replaced by three trips to two different tire stores over a punctuated 13-hour period, allowing me to honor all seven additional commitments.

No one other than a tire store or manufacturer likes tire problems.  However, I was most thankful for the timing of my problem.  In any other scenario during this tightly scheduled agenda, my tire problem would have presented itself on a freeway rather than in my parking garage. 

Regardless of how carefully we plan, the way we embrace the unexpected colors our view of the world and others' views of us.  Ranting and raving doesn't get us back on track.  Flexibly executing an alternate plan does.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sweet Deal

I was glad that reservations at the Four Seasons had been made weeks in advance when we received notice that overflow conference attendees would have to find accommodations at nearby hotels.  After cramming in three appointments before leaving Houston at 2:00 on Tuesday, I'd just driven three hours while juggling work related challenges via cell phone. When I arrived to claim my hotel reservation, I had just over an hour to resolve one more work related issue before engaging with the attendees at our event.  All of my carefully orchestrated logistics had worked so far. I was glad to have arrived with ample time to spare and I expected to have a room waiting for me.

The vibrant crowd at the bar was the first indication that all those making reservations had actually arrived.  I congratulated the gracious young woman assisting me on the hotel's stellar occupancy.  When I asked when most guests had arrived she responded, "Sunday".  Because the hotel was fully booked, it took longer than usual to locate a vacant room.  Though the hotel clerk was trying not to reveal concern, I knew something was amiss, but exhibited no angst or frustration.

I patiently waited and when she announced that she was putting me in a room with a lake view, I enthusiastically responded, "That will be lovely."  A few more moments of computer key strokes followed before she broke the delightful news that she was putting me in an executive suite.  I quickly told her how grateful I was for the upgraded accommodation.  She came out from behind the registration desk to present my key, apologize for the wait and provide a brief logistical orientation. 

I suspect that this composed, considerate hotel associate had been dealing with frustrated, demanding guests all day.  When she had the opportunity to reward a guest who pleasantly engaged and patiently waited, she did.  I've already shared the story of her exceptional customer service with a few others.  She brightened my day and reinforced my belief that when we treat others as we believe they want to be treated, the giver and receiver are often rewarded in unexpected ways.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Anything's Possible after Trial by Fire

Carla Powers delivered a remarkable presentation for Sterling Bank's Women's Business Initiative on Wednesday.  Hers is an amazing story of courage, survival, strength, resilience, achievement, motivation and acceptance. She's beautifully captured her story in her book, Matches in the Gas Tank: Trial by Fire in the Armstrong Cult. 

Though Carla would have every reason to remain bitter and angry about being controlled, deprived, isolated and abused by the Armstrong Cult and her alcoholic father, she's embraced this tragic experience as a gift.  Her anger fueled her ambition and success.  She graduated from law school at 22, became a trial lawyer, adjunct law professor and chief counsel at one of the world's largest energy firms.

She colorfully captioned her life in the cult as her cesspool experience.  When you're in a cesspool, you can either drown in the sewer or shovel  and fertilize a garden.  She vividly illustrates that anything’s possible when we’re willing and able to passionately, intelligently pursue a life of acceptance, learning and growth.  The first step is learning to love ourselves.  Only then can we can be open to giving and receiving love. 

By surviving her trial by fire, Carla has created a wildfire of inspiration.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lucky Penny

I was leaving an event with a colleague when I spotted a penny.  As I leaned over to get it, I said the phrase that I've known forever, "Find a penny, pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck".  My contemporary knew that pennies were lucky, but had never heard the saying. 

The found penny to me is illustrative of seizing opportunities at our fingertips.  When we are alert, receptive, expectant and optimistic, we are able to seize the opportunities that others overlook.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Can Do It

When we observe a task that needs to be done, we can proceed or wait for another to step up to the plate. It frustrates me that I am not physically able to accomplish some tasks. Everything else is gender neutral.  Each time I finish a project there's a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and completion.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Our children are incredible blessings.  I feel so very fortunate to have two amazing children.  My frequent prayer is "thank you that my blessings and challenges are mine".

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Three Selling Diamonds

Mark Miller, Principal, Strategies for Success, recently presented “Break the Rules and Close More Sales” for a Sterling Bank meeting. Mark reminded us that listening is one of the most important sales skills. He likened cold calling to trying to find three large diamonds in a 5-gallon bucket of safety glass chips. Finding the diamonds is difficult, but worth it. And he related that the #1 cause of deal death is failure to set an up-front agenda with the prospect.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Mama

In so many ways I am the luckiest person on the planet.  My wonderfully supportive parents have been married for 54 years.  They raised me in a Christian home, inspiring my brothers and me to always do our best, be our best, pursue our passions and treat others as we would like to be treated. 

As I've indicated so many times, Mama, is an incredible spouse, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, role model and advisor.

Mama is the person so many of us aspire to be. 

Happy, Happy Birthday to my role model!

All my love,

Friday, July 23, 2010

What Leaders Do

A leader listens, learns, lights the path, lessens obstacles and leverages resources.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

2 Minutes Flat

A fun-loving, fancy-free man, enjoying fresh air and the freedom  from a conventional commute that a convertible provides, merged into my lane on the Westpark Tollway.  For two minutes, his execution was flawless - an approach to follow.   Though I don't commute with my convertible top down, I momentarily considered a missed opportunity. 

Two minutes later, this frantic, forlorn man was tempting fate as he foolishly stopped his car on the Post Oak ramp to see how fast he could close his roof.

Things always change, but not always this rapidly.  If our view is narrow, we risk assessing the 2-minute convertible appropriate view. When we consider and evaluate more than the apparent visuals at hand, we gain a broader perspective.

Though we value speed, two minutes is not enough time to make an informed decision.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who's the Best?

Numbers tell only one important part of the story.  Those who are the best also exemplify the values and model the behavior expected by the organization.  Ideally, our best colleagues' successes are multiplied by those they have led, assisted, helped, coached and inspired to achieve.  Greatest is mostly quantitative, but ultimately decided by the "rest of the story".   Those who exceed the quantitative metrics, while helping others succeed now and equipping them to succeed in the future, are the stars.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stupid Loves Company

I try so hard to do the right things all the time. Thus, it negatively rocks my world when I do something incredibly stupid. I am my own harshest critic, so I continually replay everything that I know that I could have done better.

My conversation with my Service Advisor at my car dealership began: "I've done the world's stupidest thing". As I revealed that I had inadvertently removed my new state safety inspection sticker rather than my old state license sticker, I felt 100% less stupid when he admitted that he, too (an expert who deals with cars every day) had done the same thing when dealing with a customer's car.

We never want to think, or worse yet, realize that we are incredibly stupid. When others, whom we respect, have made the same error, we might accept the fact that though we wish we'd been more intentional, at least we are not the stupidest person on the planet.

When someone else admits that they've also done what we consider to be incredibly stupid, we are able to accept that we are among well-meaning human company.  Stuff happens.

I'll now be more intentional with annual matters.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I've always been surrounded by accomplished anglers, first Daddy, then Edgar and Gar.  My Dad, husband and son know more about fishing than most people on the planet.  I've sporadically dabbled at angling since early childhood, and still vividly recall my two favorite childhood fishing stories.  The first big fish I remember catching was on the banks of a pond.  My brother Mark and I, unbelievably, hooked the same huge fish.  At ages 7 and 5, appropriately, we both got to claim bragging rights. 

Years later, our family was on a float fishing trip.  I caught fish after fish, gleefully ending the day as the most successful angler. 

Edgar introduced me to saltwater fishing.  Fighting sharks off-shore tested my strength, resolve and endurance.

Saltwater trout fishing in Port Mansfield has expanded my appreciation for the optimism, diligence, preparation, patience and pride that passionate fishermen everywhere exhibit.

I've always loved catching any fish, and it has been fun to improve my casts. Catch and release perfectly suits most of my catches.  It's been rewarding when my catch has become dinner. 

This past weekend, I caught my best ever saltwater trout (pictured above).  It was great fun to catch a big fish.  However, I didn't realize until I visited with serious anglers, that mine was a seriously big fish. 

Personal bests are exciting, fishy and other.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Measuring Success

Most of us know our ideal weight. And we know what it takes to achieve it or maintain it.  There are multiple ways to measure our success including a scale, a mirror and a favorite pair of pants.  The same applies to other personal and business goals.  Once we adopt an ideal outcome, we need to assess what it will take to make it happen, and identify what we will measure to make sure it happens.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Blinkers are important, standard automotive safety equipment. Unfortunately they are optionally used.  In driving, business and life it helps to let those around us know the direction we are headed.  Others can help, collaborate or get out of the way. 

Don't you wish more people used blinkers?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Musical Chairs

I used to think of musical chairs as a children's game.  It also aptly describes planning any business event.  The difference in the scenarios is what happens to the chairs.  In the children's game, chairs are subtracted each time the music stops.  In business, chairs are added and subtracted until the music begins.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Waste is prevalent, but preventable.   Time, effort, money, food, equipment, talent, creativity and opportunity are commonly wasted. With forethought we can maximize use of each of these resources to eliminate unnecessary waste.  Efficient use of available resources positions us for increased success and effectiveness. When we creatively use available resources rather than starting each project with a clean slate we are challenged to think and innovate.  Excess and need are often viewed as opposites.  A different point is that they are simpatico.  Excess is seeking to fill a need and need is attempting find a resource.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Email Can Wait

Generally when I'm away from the office, I consistently and frequently monitor and respond to email.  When I was away for a couple of extra days during the Independence Day holiday, I intentionally disengaged from my cherished Blackberry.  Yes, I checked it, a couple of times per day.  But, it was not my constant companion.  I got to unwind. (Disclaimer: The days surrounding 4th of July are probably the best days to try this experiment.  The number of emails I received was 10% of my normal volume.)

Though I never answer a phone call or respond to an email when I'm in a meeting (inconsiderate and rude), it never occurred to me that answering emails when I'm on vacation is the equivalent (inconsiderate and rude) behavior to my family.  Vacations are times that we have allocated to focus on people and things we love.  In essence, they are extended meetings of a personal nature. 

Regardless of how electronically connected we become, we must occasionally electronically disconnect in order to fully personally connect.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We Must Get Together

We all need things to positively anticipate, particularly when life is full, hectic and unpredictable.  Making ongoing time together with family and friends is one of the best ways to maintain constancy, focus and relieve stress. Life can feel like a treadmill when we allow the "musts" and "shoulds" to dominate our schedules.  Positive, uplifting "musts" and "shoulds" to add to our schedules include time with those we love, those who love us, those who make us laugh, those who acknowledge our best, those who will objectively and compassionately tell us when we aren't the fairest of all, those we can teach and those who can teach us.

There are several special groups of friends and individuals with whom I've more positively connected during the past several years by scheduling our next outing as we conclude the one we are enjoying.  Since I spent far too many years with nebulous (and unrealized) plans to connect with friends I cherish, I've decided to be more strategic about my opportunities.  Life is far better with more friends consistently involved.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I am:


How should we ABC you?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tiny Matters

Tiny, like most other descriptors is relative. Tiny, for anyone dealing with miniaturization, nanotechnology, microbiology or any other precise science or technology, is only as importantly small as the last discovery . 

But tiny also matters in normal life. Anyone who has loved a newborn baby, realizes the perfection of each tiny feature. 

Fractions of an inch make a difference between well-groomed and shaggy for buzz cuts, bangs and fingernails.

An athlete who is tenths of a second faster will claim Gold.

And anyone who has suffered a paper cut or ant bite knows that a tiny incident causes irritation far out of proportion to its size. 

Just as is the case with the major impact of any of these tiny things, tiny sustained improvements make an enormous difference.  Faith, health, endurance, love, patience, savings, skill, strength, understanding and wisdom can or grow or wither with every tiny opportunity to act or react. 

Everyone pays attention to the big things.  Those who also pay attention to tiny things achieve positive differentiation that far exceeds the initial input, action or restraint.

Not only is everything connected; every tiny thing also matters. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010


High, positive expectations coupled with appropriate skills, effort and environment can yield phenomenal results in any endeavor.

Friday, July 9, 2010


One of my favorite quotes has always been, "Luck favors the prepared mind". I appreciated the quote long before I knew to credit it to Louis Pasteur.  How fortunate we are that Pasteur applied his remarkable ability to develop pasteurization of milk and the first rabies vaccine.  Regardless of our skills, passions and abilities, our chances of success improve greatly when we are mentally prepared to address a challenge.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Odometer Oddities

Mama and I have very different driving patterns. She lives in a small Arkansas town and I’m in Houston, the nation’s 4th largest city. We both purchased new vehicles in different years. I average 8,000 miles per year and she drives even fewer annual miles. As we were driving to visit my nephew’s new home, Edgar mentioned Mama’s odometer reading. Though I rarely pay attention to mine, I’d just had my car serviced the day before we headed to Arkansas, and said, “That’s about the mileage I have, too”. On the way to work this morning, I remembered to check my odometer and asked Mama for her current mileage. Our odometer readings differ by only 38 miles.  Unbelievable!

As is indicated by my blog title, I believe that everything's connected, but never factored odometer readings into the equation.  If this is any indication that I'm becoming my mother, contrary to the usual humor associated with the comment, I'm an extremely lucky individual. 

Today's odometer oddities remind me that our connectedness takes many forms.  When we look for similarities we find them.  And we find differences when we expect them.   I choose to think that Mama's and my 38 mile difference is another indication that we are inextricably, positively connected.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Snail Mail

My friend's young daughter is enjoying two weeks at Camp Ozark.  A request from her mother to take a moment and send a note or postcard vividly reminded me how special it is to receive mail at camp.  When our technology leashes are cut, snail mail takes on a new importance for the sender and receiver.  It's always fun to receive an unexpected letter or gift.  What is less obvious are the benefits we reap as a sender. The act of physically preparing 7 days of small offerings, then remembering to send one each day except Sunday and the 4th of July required patience and discipline and provided a fond reminder of the recipient each day. By not being able to simply drop them all in the post office box as soon as they were ready, I was reminded that contrary to my normal approach, fast and efficient is not always best.  And when we do something thoughtful for someone else, it's often we who are the biggest beneficiary.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Games of Life

My family has been playing card games all my life.  We began with Go Fish and War and progressed to  Rook, Hearts and Spades.  When Edgar joined the family, he became part of the ongoing friendly, spirited competitions.  Mama and Edgar perpetually challenge Daddy and me to claim bragging rights for any particular visit.  Selective perception and a bit of psyche colors the reality of winner's records.  It's been fun to have Julia and Gar sub for any given player to keep the team competition alive, but inclusive. 

Just as Edgar and I have forged additional long-standing competitions with friends, it's been fun to see Julia and Gar enthusiastically engage and challenge their friends.

These card games provide fun, laughter, challenge and bragging rights.  Everyone starts the game anticipating victory.  Because it's prime time together, everyone wins the card games of life.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Scars & Stripes

My childhood was inundated with countless wonderful events and memories with Mama, Daddy, my brothers (Mark and Steve) and many multi-generational grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  "Stripes" definitely prevail with countless positive experiences and memories.  We didn't realize when we were growing up that others didn't have such a robust posse of relatives.  Though my childhood was blessed predominately with positives, a fading scar brought reality and remembrance to my idyllic childhood.

 My cousins and I were playing chase at my grandparent's remote farm.  I vividly remember lots of running and laughs before I slipped on the gravel and badly cut my knee. Though my Mother immediately (realistically) wanted to take me back to civilization to get stitches, I insisted that I'd be okay.   I was playing with the big cousins (including Reggie), and didn't want to acknowledge my vulnerability.  The (unnecessary) scar I've had for so very many years is finally fading.  Had I headed Mama's advice to abandon our adventure and get the required stitches, I wouldn't have retained the daily reminder of Reggie's life, impact and heroic death. 

I don't remember when my accident occurred, but vividly recall when we received the tragic news that my  much older cousin who I'd been playing with that day was killed in Viet Nam.  Reggie was only the second young person I knew who met an untimely death.  Sometimes scars connect us to events that wouldn't otherwise be vivid; remind us to cherish simple pleasures; and allow us to gratefully acknowledge all who have helped us become the person we were intended to be.

Scars and stripes make the stars bright each night.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Miles Away and Ever Present

Edgar, Gar and I just made the 550 mile trek to Arkansas for another delightful visit with my parents.  We've made the trip ever so many times.  This time Julia's summer internship in NYC precluded her inclusion in our annual summer excursion.  While on the road, we called to see what she was doing and let her know how much she was missed.  Last night, as I set the table for dinner, I instinctively filled six glasses.  As Mama reminded me that there were only five of us, we called to let her know dinner was ready.  Though she's not enjoying all the love, laughter, sights, sounds and tastes, precious Julia is very much a part of our latest adventure.  She's miles away, but ever present.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tastes of Summer

There are so many things to love about summer - more relaxed time with the kids, swimming every day, vacations and food.  The tastes of summer in Arkansas are spectacular - Cave City watermelons, Anna's cucumbers, Daddy's corn, Aunt Irene's okra, and vine-ripened tomatoes and squash from many green thumbs throughout Batesville. 

When asked why the tomatoes in Arkansas are so much better than those we buy in Houston, I answered that the Arkansas produce is infused with love.  Whatever the special bounty, the growers are anxious to share with others who they know will delight in the flavors.  

Though it would be remarkable to capture and enjoy the tastes of summer throughout the year, we might take them for granted if they weren't seasonally available, joyfully anticipated and immediately enjoyed. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Snowflakes in July

It is the norm to want to group individuals and things by their common characteristics. Snowflakes, fingerprints and individual personalities are unique and special.   They defy neat groupings.  We cherish their individuality.

When we resort to least common denominator to try to put everything and everyone in a neat category, we risk missing the important differentiation.  By trying to ascertain what is uniquely interesting we create memorable, beneficial distinctions. 
I'm going to be looking for snowflake characteristics in those with whom I interact this July.