author, interview

Fmr Southwest Airlines CEO- 10 Tools Every Leader Should Have

0 Comments 09 September 2014

Howard PutnamDuring a chance encounter on an airplane (where else?), former Southwest Airlines CEO Howard Putnam ran into a talented and ambitious but inexperienced leader in need of some guidance.  What 1o tools did Howard Putnam tell this younger leader were needed?

faith, Hope, money, triathlon

5 Ways To Help A Friend In Need

0 Comments 01 September 2014

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 6.52.46 PMHow do you help a friend who has suddenly been hospitalized?  I had a good friend who crashed on her bike yesterday training for Ironman Chattanooga, suffered a severe injury and is now facing a long hospital stay and even longer recuperation.  I’ve had a surprise hospitalization and long recovery myself, so I thought I’d write down some things you can do to help a friend in the same situation.

For an oversimplified version of my story, a fist sized mass on my small intestine, which had grown from a surgery 30 years earlier, decided to explode, because, you know, it felt like it.  I went to the hospital at 3AM, and woke up sometime the next day with tubes in my nose, horrible pain, and had a half foot incision on my stomach.  After 10 days in the hospital on an IV drip, I was released to go home.  It was a high stress time, as we had a newborn, a toddler and had just moved into a new house without having been able to sell our old house (thank you, economy :).  Since they cut clear through the muscles of the abdominal wall, I couldn’t support anything, and wasn’t allowed to hold my little baby for almost two months.  Come to think of it, my intestines exploded almost 7 years ago today, and it took till about Christmas till I was back to normal.

Luckily, we had an incredible group of friends and family looking out for us, and they set a great example for how to help someone like us in need.

1) Pray 

Prayer works.  Jesus is listening, so pray for that person daily or whenever they come to mind.

2) Food
A meal list is a popular thing, but you need to make sure you do it the right way.  Sometimes people feel the size of their dish has to be big to show they care, but seriously, who can eat a gigantic vegetable lasagna in one sitting?  Also, make sure that if you make a meal for someone, it’s in a disposable dish. We ended up having quite a collection of those porcelain casserole dishes with no idea who they belonged to.  Our Sunday school class and neighbors were amazing.  Make sure you leave instruction if necessary. An Indian family across the street made us some authentic Indian food.  When we relayed that we’d mixed the rice-type stuff and the cinnamon golf ball thing together, they were like, “Yeah, you mixed the main course and the dessert together…but that’s totally, uh, fine.”

2.5) Delivery

I like to do gift cards for places that deliver, or are very close to their home or where their spouse works.  That way, they can get what they want, when they want it. If it’s a delivery place, make sure to not just give the gift card (which they can use to pay over the phone), but also include a few bucks for tip for the delivery person, which generally you can’t do with a gift card.
3) Money
Crowdrise and some other places have cool ways to collect funds for people.  Gift cards to places like Target, Wal-Mart, Publix, etc, work well (ask a closer friend who might know where they shop).

Want to always be prepared to help? Start Your Own Emergency Giving Fund!

4) House help
One of our neighbors hired a guy to mow our yard.  I was completely out of it, and it never occurred to me to do it myself.  I remember laundry was the bane of our existence for a while. See if you can help around the house, or better yet, hire a house cleaner for them for a time.  Sometimes people prefer to have a stranger cleaning things up, rather than having a friend see all their mess.  Cleaners can be expensive, so in one instance 10 friends got together and paid for it. Also, don’t forget their spouse.  Often it’s harder on them in some ways that the person with the physical recovery.  My wife was awesome, but I know it really took a toll on her, and it was great when family or friends came and gave her a break.

5) Calendar
Take out your calendar right now, whether its in a planner or on your phone or whatever, and mark it for one month, two months, and/or three months from now.  THAT is when this friend of yours really needs you.  It’s human nature to have a big emotional reaction right when an accident or hospitalization occurs, but your friend is still in need much longer.   Get them another gift card, watch their kids for them, send them a card to encourage them on October 1st, November 1st, and December 1st.

How has someone helped you in a time of need?

ALSO READ: 3 Small Steps To Make 1 Big Difference

 

Hope, jesus

What Would You Do On The Worst Day Of Your Life?

0 Comments 29 August 2014

Screen shot 2014-08-29 at 1.14.25 PM

What would you do on the worst day of your life?

Over the past 15 months, I’ve had some of the worst days of my life- like when I found out my dad passed away suddenly at 60, or when we lost our first-born son-to-be stillborn.  But there was a story I’d learned before those ‘worst days’ that helped me desire to be a strong father and brother and son, even in mourning and heartbreak.  It has also helped me keep my eyes open on those more regular ‘bad’ days for opportunities I might otherwise miss.

I don’t know if you had a cousin who was your best friend growing up, but I’m sure John (who down the road would add “The Baptist”) would fit the bill for Jesus.  Jesus and John were cousins born only six months apart.  Baby John leapt in the womb when his mother came near to Mary, so they were practically best buds before they were born.  John’s parents Zechariah and Elizabeth were church leaders (Luke 1) and an older couple who knew Jesus was going to be special.  You’d have to think they took a strong interest in mentoring the younger Mary and Joseph, which means Jesus and John would have spent even more time together.  I know the Bible takes a serious tone in most places, but if there was ever anyone who gave our Lord and Savior a noogie, it was probably John.

Fast forward 30 years or so.  John’s ministry is in full swing, the opening act to the greatest story ever told.  Jesus calls John “the greatest man ever born of a woman” (Luke 7:28)- that puts him higher than Adam, Moses, Abraham, David, you name it.  As Jesus begins his ministry John is arrested and put in prison.  Then one night King Herod gets drunk at a party, makes a promise to dancer whose mother had a vendetta against John the Baptist, and rather than looking bad to the other people at the party, he gives in and orders John to be beheaded.  

His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother.  John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.”(Matthew 14:11-12)

In verse 13, Jesus responds as you or I might do upon finding out our best friend or a loved one is dead.

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”

He just wanted to be alone.  But the people wouldn’t cooperate.

“Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.”

Seriously, people, can’t you let the man alone?  But curiosity is a strong thing.  I started to write that
the people were curious to see what Batman would do now that Robin was dead, but at the time, John was probably the ‘bigger name’. From their perspective, they may have been curious to know what Robin would do now that Batman was dead.  In the past, when one great person died, the next might still be great, but was still a step down.  Moses to Joshua. Elijah to Elisha (true, Elisha did more miracles than Elijah, but who ended up on the mount with Jesus and Moses?).

And this is where the story begins to change from what you or I might naturally want to do.

“When Jesus landed and saw the large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 11:14)

Despite wanting to be alone, he remembered what he was sent here to do.  Maybe he also had the thought he didn’t want anyone else to die that day, and he was going to heal as many as possible.  

“As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and its already getting late.  Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
 (Matt 11:15)

Now the disciples may have been being practical, or maybe they were just covering for their leader and trying to give him some alone time.  But again, Jesus surprised them, and teod the disciples “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat,” even though they only had 5 loaves of bread and two fish.  In the emotional context, you wonder if he’s saying to his disciples, “Its not about how cruddy I’m feeling or you’re feeling, its about them.  This is what you do.”

You know the rest of the story- Jesus gives thanks for the bread and fish, who hands it to his disciples to give to the people, (I like how Jesus makes them part of the process- not manna from heaven to those in need, but from Jesus, through disciples, to the needy), and miraculously the 5,000 men, plus women and children, are fed.  On the worst day of His life, Jesus performs one of his greatest miracles.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on the mountainside to pray. When evening came, he was alone” (Matthew 11:22-23)

Jesus told the disciples to go on ahead, even though they were probably wondering how Jesus was going to get back to town.  Boats are much faster than walking all the way around the lake.  “But,” they probably thought, “he did just miraculously feed 5,000 people.  Perhaps we’ll give him a pass on this one.”  Jesus finally had his alone time to pray that he’d been craving all day.

In the middle of the night, the disciples, despite many of them being experienced fisherman who’d been in boats their whole lives, were still in their boat “a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.”

Jesus decided it was time for another miracle. He walked out onto the stormy water to the boat.

“When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  “Its a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.” (Matthew 11:26)

Heck, yeah.

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”

You probably know the rest of this story, too.  Peter asks to come out and walk on the water, too, Jesus says yes, and a long as Peter’s eyes are on Jesus, he can do the miraculous.  But once Peter started looking at the wind instead of Jesus, he sank.  Again, you have that connection of Jesus, to disciple, to the miraculous.

On what was likely the worst day of his life, Jesus performed two of his most famous miracles- feeding the five thousand and walking on water. He had compassion on those in need when he saw them. He taught his disciples that they were the conduit of miracles if only they would have faith and keep their eyes on him.

I wouldn’t wish the worst day of your life on anyone.  But you can take heart in knowing that even on the worst day of your life, God is still in control and can still work miracles through us.

(NOTE: This was originally posted on April 12, 2011)

ALSO READ: Remembering My Dad

Remembering Our Baby Jonathan

celebrities, interview, movies, speaker

Blackhawk Down & Sweet Home Alabama- Behind The Scenes with Keni Thomas

0 Comments 26 August 2014

KeniThomasInterviewHow realistic was Blackhawk Down? For that matter, how realistic was Sweet Home Alabama?  What did Speaker, Country Singer, Actor and Army Ranger Keni Thomas get from Reese Witherspoon as a gift?  What did Ridley Scott and his crew do to almost get kicked out of the country by the king of Morocco? These and many more extremely important questions are answered here:

READ: The Surprising Reason Rock Stars Demand M&Ms

Interview with Elizabeth Smart: How Do You Put The Past Behind You?

How Robin Williams Secretly Used His Events To Help The Homeless

 

celebrities

The Surprising Reason Rock Bands Demand M&Ms

2 Comments 21 August 2014

Screen shot 2014-08-20 at 8.33.40 PMWhy do rock stars require green M&Ms in their riders?  It’s actually for a very smart reason.  When I wrote about how Robin Williams’ rider helped the homeless, so many people asked me about the green M&Ms, I thought I’d give you the story here.

I first heard about this non-urban legend right when I started at William Morris Agency (now William Morris Endeavor).  It’s the largest talent agency in the world, over 100 years old, and quite an interesting place for an Indiana farm boy to start working 3 days after graduation.  I remember on one of my first days at work, a guy with a white beard walked past.  I whispered to the woman at the desk next me, “That guy looked just like Kenny Rogers.”  She gave me a funny look and whispered back, “That’s because he is Kenny Rogers.”

One of the first managers I met was a guy named Scott Brickell, who managed Audio Adrenaline at the time and later Mercy Me, among others.  He’s a big dude, probably 6’5.  He leaned way over the ledge near my desk and said, “Hey, kid, you know the story about why green M&M’s are in riders, right?”  I’d booked bands and promoted concerts for four years in college, but I’d never seen that in a rider before. I’d heard it was one of the more famous weird demands that hair metal bands did to be obnoxious, which is what I said to Scott.

“Nope,” he replied. “The bands have nothing to do with it.  Continue Reading

humanitarian, Mental Health, Samaritan Center

The Story Of An Unknown Mental Health Pioneer

2 Comments 16 August 2014

Dr. Burton KintnerHere’s the story of how one small idea from a unknown Indiana doctor ended up impacting hundreds of thousands of people from the United States to Japan. Several decades ago, the stigma around mental health issues was much worse than it is now. Dr. Burton Kintner of Elkhart, Indiana, realized he needed to find a solution, and put his mind to the problem of how to get those suffering from mental illness to get help.

Dr. Kintner had already spent a life time finding solutions to difficult problems. During World War II, he’d been part of a team in New York who made the field manuals for treating wounded soldiers as they battled their way through North Africa, Europe and across the Pacific. Later, as a coroner, he’d seen how bad car accidents were to drivers and passengers. In the 1950s, it was thought to be better to be thrown from a car than trapped inside. Much to the chagrin of his four young daughters who were made fun of by their friends, he took seat belts out of old airplanes, bolted them to the car’s bench seats, and made his family wear them. He even made designs for what he called a ‘safety car’, designed to protect passengers from impact on all sides.

By the late 60s and early 70s, he turned his attention to the question of serving those with non-physical illness. He realized that many of his patients were physically healthy, but still somehow mentally and spiritually hurting. At the time, it was taboo for many to see a psychiatric professional, despite the obvious need for help. But he did realize there was one place where people would willingly go to seek help- the church. For centuries, people had turned to pastors, priests and rabbis to share their problems and issues. Dr. Kintner’s idea was simple- he as medical doctor would give exams to patient clients to rule out any physical ailments, and then they would go talk to and receive help from trained pastors, therapists and counselors. By using a team approach, they were able serve and help people in an entirely new way.

He and a pastor, Rev. R.J. Ross, set up shop in the basement of a Presbyterian church on the edge of the St. Joseph River. Over time, the little non-profit, called The Samaritan Center, grew from one location in northern Indiana to 481 Samaritan Centers in 389 cities in the United States and Japan, headquartered at the Samaritan Institute in Denver, CO. Thousands of incredible people work through these locations for programs including mental health services for adults, adolescents and children, women in need, soldiers with PTSD, and the list goes on.

What makes this even more special for me is that Dr. Kintner was my grandpa. He was a humble man, so I didn’t even learn about this story until I was out of college. One other thing really stood out to me about how he started this. Earlier this week, I wrote “3 Small Steps To Making 1 Big Impact“. One of the keys is knowing yourself. Part of that is not only knowing what you are, but what you’re not. My grandpa could have tried to do this alone, but he realized that even though he had a passion for helping those with mental health issues, he was a medical doctor, not a counselor. Without Rev. Ross and his talents and skills, and the support of The Martin Foundation who funded this early and often, the impact on all those lives may have never happened.  Even after my grandpa’s passing from Parkinson’s Disease, his impact goes on and on.

If you’d like to learn about original The Samaritan Center, find a location near you, or make a donation, please so. Remember, all of us can make a difference!

READ: How Robin Williams Secretly Used His Movies and Events To Help The Homeless

Hope, inspiration, interview, speaker

Elizabeth Smart- How To Move On From Tragedy

0 Comments 15 August 2014

Screen shot 2013-03-18 at 9.27.05 AMElizabeth Smart endured the tragedy being abducted and held captive for several months. Today she’s married and is one of America’s most sought after speakers. In my interview with her, she acknowledges how everyone has had struggles in their past, how to accept it, and how to move on.

Hope, inspiration

3 Small Steps To Make 1 Big Impact

4 Comments 14 August 2014

Screen shot 2014-08-14 at 8.42.53 AMI had no idea the story of how the story of Robin Williams using his rider would strike a chord, especially with how people have said it’s inspiring them to make an impact themselves.  I’ve been working with nonprofits for over 20 years, and I’d hate to miss this opportunity to share with you how you can help others. Taking a cue from the example Robin Williams set in his rider, here are three small steps you can take to make a big impact.

Step 1: Know yourself and your passions. 

You’ll always be most inspired and motivated by what you’re passionate about. Some people are inspired by education, animals, or any number of things.  For Robin Williams, that was helping the homeless. For me, I’m really passionate about helping kids in need internationally.  You’ll have the greatest impact on the world by starting with what you’re most passionate about.  There is something about you that’s unique.

Step 2: Start with what you have, with those around you. 

Are you passionate about education and you live in Omaha?  Start with helping students in Omaha.  Do you have particular skills like IT, accounting, or just listening?  Put those skills to work helping people or organizations in your sphere of influence. For Robin Williams, among other things, he realized he had a voice and a platform.  Publicly, he testified before congress and raised millions of dollars to help the homeless.  On the business side, much less publicly, he knew he’d be on movie sets and would perform at events, and could use his influence there.

Step 3:  Influence Others To Do The Same. 

Teach others how to do what you do.  Multiply yourself.  In the example Robin Williams gave with his rider requirement of hiring the homeless, he multiplied his effect.  I’m sure for many production companies, this was likely the first time they went out and intentionally hired a homeless person for a job.   Once they did, hopefully some of them continued to do so even when they moved on to a non-Robin Williams project.

I’ve followed these steps myself.  For me, I realized that although there are many great causes out there, I was most motivated by helping kids internationally.   I’ve gone along with others to rebuild a home for a widow after Haiti’s earthquake, help feed kids in poverty in the Dominican, and to play games with orphans.  Our family even came together one time to fund the building of an AIDS clinic in Swaziland near South Africa.  But I realized I’m just me, and I really wanted to find a way to multiply the effect, to help others make an even greater impact.  So with some help from some great people, we started NonBoardBoard.org, as a way to increase that impact, to help nonprofit leaders who have huge hearts, but maybe not every business skill.  From a little group in Nashville, these people go out and help kids in over 20 countries around the world. Long after I’m gone, the skills these people have learned and will pass on will continue to help those in need.

Obviously life is filled with tragedy, but it’s also filled with a lot of blessings as well. It’s been years since I first saw that clause in Robin Williams’ rider designed to help the homeless, and it’s always stuck with me as an inspiration to help others myself.

Will you choose to find your passion,  serve those around you, and influence others to do the same?

If you’d like to make a donation to help counselors who walk alongside those in need, visit The Refuge Center.

READ: How Robin Williams Secretly Used His Movies and Events To Help The Homeless

celebrities, humanitarian, speaker

A Little Known Robin Williams Story

61 Comments 12 August 2014

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 8.43.47 AMYears ago I learned a very cool thing about Robin Williams, and I couldn’t watch a movie of his afterward without thinking of it. I never actually booked Robin Williams for an event, but I came close enough that his office sent over his rider.  For those outside of the entertainment industry, a rider lists out an artist’s specific personal and technical needs for hosting them for an event- anything from bottled water and their green room to sound and lighting requirements.  You can learn a lot about a person from their rider.  This is where rocks bands list their requirement for green M&Ms (which is actually a surprisingly smart thing to do). This is also where a famous environmentalist requires a large gas-guzzling private jet to fly to the event city, but then requires an electric or hybrid car to take said environmentalist to the event venue when in view of the public.

When I got Robin Williams’ rider, I was very surprised by what I found.   He actually had a requirement that for every single event or film he did, the company hiring him also had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work. I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way after that.  I’m sure that on his own time and with his own money, he was working with these people in need, but he’d also decided to use his clout as an entertainer to make sure that production companies and event planners also learned the value of giving people a chance to work their way back.  I wonder how many production companies continued the practice into their next non-Robin Williams project, as well as how many people got a chance at a job and the pride of earning an income, even temporarily, from his actions.   He was a great multiplier of his impact.  Let’s hope that impact lives on without him.   Thanks, Robin Williams- not just for laughs, but also for a cool example.

If you’re inspired by the example Robin Williams’ set in his rider, check out 3 Small Steps to Make 1 Big Impact

Also Read The Story of an Unknown Mental Health Pioneer.

If you’d like to donate to help counselors who walk along side those in need, go here.

interview, triathlon

Chrissie Wellington-Life Without Limits

0 Comments 04 August 2014

Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 2.05.22 PMChrissie Wellington is more than just one of the greatest triathletes in history- she’s a humanitarian, traveler, and one of the most thoughtful people you’ll ever hear.  Watch this exclusive interview about her book “Life Without Limits”.  This is actually just Part 1.  The interview I did with Chrissie is the longest I ever recorded- something like an hour- so I’m splitting it up into multiple section.  I now have no doubt in watching her old races that at no point is her mind not going even faster than her jet-propelled bike!

NEXT: Check out why older triathletes are freaks!

Note: Sometimes wires get crossed during requests, and Chrissie had thought this was supposed to be an audio interview.  Being known to be able to handle surprises and obstacles, she went through with her interview sans make-up like the trooper she is.

 

Why older triathletes are freaks!