Monday, August 29, 2011

Kitchen Table

Kitchen Table
the very table from my childhood is in my apartment in Las Vegas

One of my best friends and country music artist, Chuck Wicks, wrote a song recently entitled “Kitchen Table”.  Like most of Chuck’s songs, it has a catchy tune, a great hook, and passionate lyrics.   

This song struck a chord with me (pun intended), and it reminds me of how I grew up with a loving family in eastern Kentucky.  Suppertime was family time…TV off…napkins on laps…and a time to practice your manners over some good old fashioned, quality time at the kitchen table.

My mom and dad both worked hard so that my sister and I could have life experiences, material things, and most importantly a solid foundation of moral values.  The life experiences – vacations, travel, and basketball camps were great.  The material things – basketball goal and pool in the backyard, clothes, and a new car when I turned sixteen were also very nice…but some of the most valuable life lessons and cherished memories of my childhood and adolescent years come from sitting around the kitchen table.

OneMoreStep thought for this week – Don’t underestimate the importance and the impact of making time for family, friends, and loved ones around the kitchen table

The meaningful time spent with those you love, the conversations that strengthen relationships, and the lessons learned in the process are all a collective OneMoreStep that our parents, our children, our friends, and the objects of our affection will cherish long after the vacations are over and long after the material possessions have gone out of style.

We all have agendas.  We all have timelines and deadlines.  We all have those things hanging over our head that consume our every thought.  Sometimes it’s hard to make time for our family…our friends…our loved ones. 

However, we should ask ourselves - if we check that email in an hour instead of right now…or if we finish up that project in the morning rather than tonight…or if we spend the extra money to fly home for an additional visit with the family instead of buying that new tv…so that we can enjoy quality time and meaningful conversation with the people that mean the most to us - Will we make an impact?  Will work be ok without us for a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days?  I think so…  Will our family, our friends who may need a shoulder to cry on, or our loving significant others enjoy our company way more than our company will ever value our overachieving efforts at work?  Absolutely…

Five years from now…ten years from now…and twenty years from now…which will be more meaningful and fulfilling? – The fact that we really crushed it in our careers OR the lasting memories we will have made with the people we love – our closest friends, our family, and the loves of our lives? 

Wherever yours may be and whomever you may have sitting around it…don’t underestimate the valuable lessons, quality conversations, and the loving relationships that can be formed at that kitchen table

Two for the road…

THANKS Mom & Dad…

If your parents always figured out a way to gather the family around the kitchen table, and if you’re taking a look back and realizing how much that meant to you and/or how much you cherish both the memories and the lessons learned around that kitchen table…go OneMoreStep and tell them how much it meant to you then and how much it means to you now.

To my Mom & Dad – thanks for always making time for quality conversations around the kitchen table growing up.  Dad would work late into the evenings at his office, but first he would always make time for dinner around the kitchen table.  Mom would be up at dawn, get us ready for school, go teach school, make sure we were picked up and dropped off at the appropriate practice or sporting event…and then not only make sure food was prepared, but she also taught us many lessons around that kitchen table.

Chuck Wicks – “Kitchen Table”

“It’s a long road, if ya don’t know where you’re going…it’s a hard ride, if ya ain’t got family…take the good advice…and the sweet tea from your mama…and the stories that will make ya…and the prayers that will save ya…sit’n ‘round the kitchen table…” – Chuck Wicks

Thanks, Charles, for another beautiful song, with moving lyrics to those of us that learned so much sit’n around that kitchen table.   I love ya, fella…and couldn’t be prouder of you.  See you soon.

Enjoy – “Kitchen Table” by one of the best guys you'll ever meet, my buddy Mr. Charles Elliott Wicks…

Friday, August 26, 2011

FRED Friday...Meet "V", the DAY CHANGER

FRED Friday…Meet “V”, the Day Changer
Meet "V", the Day Changer

Earlier this week, bright and early Tuesday morning, I was walking to my office…feeling a bit tired, frustrated with a few things, and really quite anxious about several items on my To Do list.  I’ll admit…I was kind of dragging. 

My colleague, Tom, and I were walking together through the backstage area where our banquet set-up team preps, stages, and organizes coffee breaks, roll-in lunches, etc for our meetings clients and Guests.   

We were both nervous about rolling out a new initiative on the casino floor this week…we wanted everything to go well for our team, our executives, and especially our Guests.  We tend to put a good deal of pressure on ourselves…

At that moment, we happened upon “V”, the Day Changer

“V” was backstage preparing for what appeared to be a fairly significant banquet function.  I always see him doing his thing…backstage…on-stage…leading his teammates…and always working with a smile.  Tom and I walked by “V”, and I gave him a quick nod and a, “Morning ‘V’…how are you, sir?”

“V” didn’t skip a beat, never looked up as he went about his work, and he replied, “…Life is beautiful…”

That three-word phrase stopped me in my tracks - Life is beautiful.  It was a Day Changer. 

There I was feeling frustrated, wasting time and energy dwelling on things over which I had absolutely no control, and it undoubtedly showed.  I’m sure my anxiety and frustration would have continued to rub off on everyone in my path that day...but thanks to my friend, “V”, I quickly changed my tune.

In that moment, I remembered that one year ago I was staring unemployment dead in the eye.  I was sending hundreds of emails, applying for hundreds of jobs all over these United States, and getting nowhere…fast.  I would sit and think; dream, and wonder where I would end up or if I would ever find another job.  I didn’t have a clue what life had in store for me next…suffice it to say that God is good; because one year later here I am, blessed with a job again, and at least for the moment life is beautiful.

 “V” reminded me this week that life is beautiful; if we choose for it to be.  We all have a choice.  We can either focus on the negatives, dwelling on things we can’t control…OR we can look for the positives, the good stuff and PMA the days – Positive Mental Attitude. 

I would have continued through this past week with a negative outlook, which is how I started out.  However, my interaction with “V” on Tuesday was a Day Changer.  It changed my whole attitude toward my job, my meetings, my relationships at work, and my phone conversations with my family back home, and it certainly changed my mental approach to life.  “V” reminded me that life absolutely is beautiful, and sometimes the only thing preventing us from realizing its very beauty is our own attitude.   

After my day changing interaction with "V" I changed my approach and outlook on everything.  Since that nice OneMoreStep moment I’ve smiled more often.  I’ve given out more hugs, hi-5’s, & handshakes.  I’ve had more fun.  I’ve laughed more, and I’d be willing to bet that I’ve made other people do the same. 

 Mark Sanborn says in The Fred Factor:

“…I believe that you change the world every day, whether you intend to or not.  Often it only takes a small act to make a big difference…

You also change the world of a coworker, a customer, a vendor, or a cafeteria worker with your smile or frown...

But who’s to say that these little changes don’t have accumulative, profound effect in the lives of others and, ultimately in your own life?”

The OneMoreStep thought I’m trying to highlight on this FredFriday is that we can all be Day Changers.  We should ask ourselves: “Do people feel better or worse after they have an interaction with us?”  “Are others inspired by our words and actions, or do we bring them down?”

Having a Positive Mental Attitude - a Life is Beautiful attitude like “V” can certainly be a Day Changer…it certainly saved me this week.

Thanks “V - Man”…keep being you my friend.  It moves people…it moves me.  I can't wait to be a Day Changer like you today.

Have a great day.


What is FRED Friday?
In my favorite book, The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn tells an inspiring story of how a man named Fred goes OneMoreStep after OneMoreStep in his role as a Postman for the United States Postal Service.  I love this book.  Since my mom sent it to me in 2004, I've purchased the book for friends, coworkers, and girlfriends...I've even purchased and hand delivered copies of the book to several executives at both Wynn Las Vegas and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. 
Fred Friday is a series in which the OneMoreStepRevolution blog will showcase a real life "Fred" on select Fridays.   Reading The Fred Factor definitely leaves us with a desire to to be more Fred-like ourselves, but I also love looking for FredsFreds are everywhere. I love it when I experience a real life Fred.  I'm inspired just as I am every time I re-read the book.  I thought it would be fun to spread the magic of Fred to our OneMoreStepRevolution community.

Related more FREDs...

FRED Friday...Meet Jennifer Le

FRED Brighton experience 

FRED Friday...Meet Holly

FRED Paul from U-Haul 

FRED Friday...Meet Van... 


Friday, August 12, 2011

FRED Friday...Meet Holly

FRED Friday…Meet Holly
Meet Holly...creator of fine Holly Pops, Cake Dots, & MAGIC

Several weeks ago a friend of mine at work sent me a text message, “you have to call me ASAP…I need to tell you something...” 

When I called her she told me that she might have spotted a FRED in our valet booth at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.   

I could almost “hear” her smiling through the phone as she told me about how this dynamic, enthusiastic young talent makes magic for people in her role as a Valet Booth Cashier.  I couldn’t wait to meet her myself.

This week I was walking through the casino, and I noticed a young lady in a valet uniform, almost bouncing as she walked by me, smiling from ear to ear…I knew it…this had to be Holly.  I stopped her and said, “…Is your name Holly, by chance?”  It was…and my friends, a FRED she certainly is…

Meet Holly…

Holly Merren’s job description probably says something to the effect of: Valet Booth Cashier – Responsible for coordinating the parking and retrieval of vehicles.  However, she goes OneMoreStep in many ways for her Guests, coworkers, and community.  She bakes what she calls “Holly Pops” and cake dots for her team in Valet and Bell Services, Hotel Operations, and many more lucky people in her family and community. 
Yes, they're as good as they look

I tried one…or a few…they’re fantastic.  Picture a little tiny piece of cake on a lollipop stick.  They’re little bite-size pieces of complete goodness.  The neat part is that Holly designs them one…by…one…by hand, with various icings, sprinkles, and toppings…each individual Holly Pop is her own unique creation. 

FRED moment…

I asked Holly why she bakes Holly Pops and so many other goodies for the team.  She told me it all started because she had so much free time on her hands, and she just wanted to use her time for something positive…for other people.  Baking came to mind.   

So she taught herself how to bake and create these artistic, unique, and very tasty delights.  She then took it OneMoreStep, and started making them for her coworkers, her friends, and even folks in her community just because she thought, “everybody loves sweets…so it will make them smile and happy, if only for a brief moment…”  That, Holly told me, would make her happy.

“The valet runners LOVE them…they will eat one, go park a car, and come back and grab another one or two…it’s so fun.”Holly Merren…a FRED if I ever met one.

Her favorite part is spending hours decorating and designing the tops of the “Holly Pops” because people have more fun with them that way.   

She decorates and designs them with everything from what she calls “cake flowers”, to fancy “marbelizations”, to mini birthday cakes, to spider web designs, to “Holly Pop” baseballs, to even a cake dot version of bananas foster rum cake…(I am now officially hungry).

Holly has developed such a passion for her newly found artistic ability to delight others with her “Holly Pops” that she has recently started to receive requests and actual orders for special occasions such as birthday parties and weddings.   

She told me that she wants to start her own business and take it even OneMoreStep with a concept she’s calling Positive Chocolates, which will be her “Holly Pops” or Cake Dots with an uplifting quote and/or positive one or two liner tied to them.  Her reason for wanting to do such a thing:  simply to make a positive impact on people and make them smile. 

I don’t know about you, but I call that making magic, and I love it. 

It’s such a beautiful thing having a FRED-Sighting.  FREDs like Holly remind us that it really is more fun and fulfilling to do things for others.  Mark Sanborn says in Chapter 6 of The Fred Factor:

Add “good stuff” – Think of your current position.  Is there anything you could do to your teammates’ or customers’ experience that would make their lives more enjoyable?

For many of us life and work get tedious.  We’re often frustrated with things beyond our control, yet we choose to sit and dwell on them, talk about them, and think about them.  I’m guilty of this one lately.  We should be more like Holly and focus on adding “good stuff” to the people in our lives. It's amazing how every single time we take the focus off of ourselves and focus on doing things for others life becomes more fun...and we become much happier people in the process.

Holly – thanks for the “Holly Pops”, but more importantly thanks for reminding me what it’s all about…creating value for others and making MAGIC for people…early and often.

When you think you’ve done enough…go OneMoreStep.

Have a great day.



What is FRED Friday?
In my favorite book, The Fred Factor, Mark Sanborn tells an inspiring story of how a man named Fred goes OneMoreStep after OneMoreStep in his role as a Postman for the United States Postal Service.  I love this book.  Since my mom sent it to me in 2004, I've purchased the book for friends, coworkers, and girlfriends...I've even purchased and hand delivered copies of the book to several executives at both Wynn Las Vegas and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. 

Mr. Sanborn paints the picture of how Fred makes magic for his community by taking a genuine interest in making a positive difference for others despite being an ordinary man in an ordinary job.  However, Fred's impact and his legacy are nothing short of extraordinary.  I'll let Mark tell you the story below and in the book, but the key take away is this:
If Fred the Postman can put this much creativity and passion into putting mail in a box for a living, how much of an impact can we all make in our roles as Teachers, Students, Managers, Leaders, Directors, Vice Presidents, and Sales People?
Fred Friday is a series in which the OneMoreStepRevolution blog will showcase a real life "Fred" on select Fridays.   Reading The Fred Factor definitely leaves us with a desire to to be more Fred-like ourselves, but I also love looking for FredsFreds are everywhere. I love it when I experience a real life Fred.  I'm inspired just as I am every time I re-read the book.  I thought it would be fun to spread the magic of Fred to our OneMoreStepRevolution community.

Hopefully a few things will happen with the Fred Friday series: 
1) Real Life Freds will be recognized when these stories make it back to them 
2) Companies for which these Freds work will have some positive feedback 
3) People will be inspired to go OneMoreStep just like the real life Freds 

Related more FREDs...

FRED Paul from U-Haul 

FRED Friday...Meet Van... 

FRED Friday...Meet Jennifer Le

FRED Brighton experience 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hugs, Handshakes, & Hi-5's

Hugs, Handshakes, & Hi-5’s

A couple of weeks ago I went home to Grayson, KY to visit my family.  At church our pastor gave the opening announcements and then asked the congregation to engage in hugs, handshakes, & hi-5’s…to meet someone new and/or just say hello to someone before sitting down for the message.  A light bulb went off…what a great OneMoreStep opportunity.

OneMoreStep Thought for this Week: Never underestimate the power of a meaningful hug, a genuine handshake, or an enthusiastic Hi-5…Hugs, Handshakes, & Hi-5’s can be great OneMoreSteps that make a real impact in the lives of others.


Sure in today’s society we must be careful with this one.  We can’t get carried away.  However as long as they’re given at appropriate times, in the appropriate context, to the appropriate people, what an impact a simple hug can make.  It shows people that we care, and in doing so it puts a smile on their face.  At the end of the day, isn’t that reason enough to give someone a hug?  Isn’t that a chance to go OneMoreStep to make an impact? 

A young lady at work has only been on my team for a little over one month.  She worked in Housekeeping before, and came highly recommended by one of my peers in Hotel Operations…plus this individual had reached out to me personally, requesting a transfer to our team.  She was qualified.  I love her personality, so we transferred her to our Identity Membership team.  Last week she celebrated her birthday, and though I have very little vocal talent, I like to sing for fun…so I broke her off a couple bars of “Happy Birthday to you...”  She smiled, laughed, gave me a big old huge hug, and thanked me for hiring her; she told me how happy she was working in our area. 

I had been frustrated with some things earlier that morning…nothing major, just routine, everyday frustrations.  However, that hug reminded me what it’s all about – doing things to make people happy – and I had a little extra bounce in my step for the rest of the week. 


Call me old fashioned, but there is just something about a genuine, firm handshake.  I like it because it’s a versatile OneMoreStep.  A handshake can say “hi nice to meet you”, “hi great to see you again”, “hi thank you so much”, “hi great job with that…”, “hi congratulations on your success”,  or “have a great day, I’ll see you later”.

Think about it…so many times we say these things to others at work, at home, or in our communities; and many times other people say these things to us.  However, nowadays everyone is in a hurry.  We’re all so focused on our next thing, our next meeting, and our next appointment.  Taking an extra three seconds, exerting a fraction more energy to extend our arm for a genuine handshake, parlayed with meaningful eye contact can be a OneMoreStep that makes a difference.  It could be that little something extra or that element of professionalism that sets us apart and truly makes an impact.

In 2003 I was a Front Desk Manager, part of the opening team of Disney’s Pop Century Resort.  During the weeks leading up to opening day, our leadership team facilitated a great deal of training.  One day I was speaking to a group of about 150 Cast Members about Guest Service.  I had prepared for my portion of the training program, and I remember being pretty passionate about the topic. 

After that training session, the General Manager of the property, Dave Vermeulen (now the Vice President, Resort Operations at Hong Kong Disneyland), stopped by, called me over, and said, “hey I listened to your speech to the group…you were very engaging and they were hanging on every word…nice job.”  He then gave me a handshake that I have not and will never forget.  That was eight years ago, and here I am blogging about it today.  So never underestimate the power and impact of a genuine handshake.


This one is fun, and I’ll admit is my favorite.  We can drag ourselves into work each day, put our heads down, do our work, and then go home…OR we can engage people with a genuine “hi”, a smile, and a OneMoreStep – Hi-5! 

If you don’t like to have fun…if you don’t like to smile…if you don’t like to laugh…or better yet, if you don’t like to make other people smile…then by all means, don’t give out Hi-5’s. 

However, if you’re interested in a sure fire way to draw out smiles from folks that are down in the dumps; if you’re interested in adding just the slightest bit of fun to your work or relationships…throw out some Hi-5’s to your friends, coworkers, Guests, customers, and maybe even your boss.  It’s a great way to say hi, thank you, great job, or keep it up…it makes people smile…and it’s just fun.  #hi-5!

My good friend, Sonny Ritacca, always reminds us, “high-fives are free”.  What a great high-fiver Sonny is too.  It’s contagious.  We often open up conversations with total strangers, our servers in restaurants, folks seated next to us at sporting events, and even people at work.  One way or another, it always makes things more fun.
Kelly Slater, Sonny Ritacca, & Me - Huntington Beach, CA

This past weekend Sonny and I were in Huntington Beach, CA during the US Open of Surfing.  While at Dukes - Huntington Beach, surfing great, Kelly Slater, came in the restaurant.  We had such positive karma around us from giving out several hi-5’s to people around us that we eventually found ourselves hanging out with Kelly Slater himself.  

 I congratulated Kelly on his big win at the US Open of Surfing earlier in the day, told him that I lived in the Orlando, FL area for ten years, and we’re proud of him…he is from Cocoa Beach, FL.  He gave me a Hi-5 and had no problem taking a picture with us.  Hi-5’s are fun, and they can be a great OneMoreStep to make somebody’s day a little better, make someone smile, or like in this case…make a memory.

One for the road…

Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations at the Walt Disney World Resort, says in his book, Creating Magic, that we should give people the A.R.E.  Appreciation – Recognition – Encouragement.  A.R.E. is the only resource that doesn’t cost a penny, and the more you give it out, even more goes right back into the tank.  The more we show people that we appreciate them, recognize them for their contributions, and encourage them to keep on keep’n on…the more others will strive to do the same.

Hugs, Handshakes, and Hi-5’s are great ways to deliver the A.R.E – Appreciation – Recognition – Encouragement.  Try it this week...I think I will too...

Have a great day… #hi-5!