Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thanksgiving Thread

A Thanksgiving Thread

When I was little, we had a routine – work hard in school, practice and play hard on the basketball court, spend plenty of time with friends and family…but come Sunday morning, it was off to church.

I remember on the ride to church, my Dad would always grab his checkbook and write out a check, to put in the offering plate.  Sometimes, he’d have me fill it in, and then he would sign it.  Every Sunday, he repeated the same exercise – write out the check, put it in the envelope, and drop it in the offering plate.

I feel very blessed to have grown up with two sets of loving grandparents.  I have very fond memories of both grandfathers, in church.  Sometimes I’d sit in the balcony, with my Dad’s Dad…and come offering time, he’d always throw his money in, and then he would be pass the offering plate to everyone in the pews in the balcony.  Some Sundays, I’d sit with my Mom’s Dad, and come offering time, he’d always slip me a five or ten dollar bill with a wink…just so I’d have something to put into the offering plate as it came our way.

As a child, I didn’t really know why we gave, I just trusted that it was the thing to do, and everything would work out just fine…

Fast forward to earlier this year – April, 2013 – at Central Christian Church, in Henderson, NV.  Senior Pastor, Jud Wilhite did a series on living The Blessed Life.  As with most of Jud’s messages, he takes scripture and unpacks the principles, illustrations, and applications for us.  We’re usually left inspired, moved, or simply refreshed about life.  This series was no different.  Jud taught from several scriptures and books of the Bible, which illustrate not only what it means to be blessed, but also just how we can strive to live and experience The Blessed Life.

Of course one of the underlying principles in the series was that it’s more blessed to give than to receive.  Jud reinforced how when we graciously and faithfully give of ourselves – our time, talent, & stuff – we begin to experience the many blessings in store for us.  On the contrary, when we hold on to our ‘stuff’ – our money, our time, and our treasures – we quickly find ourselves alone, seemingly on an island of discontent and frustration.

During this mini-season, I was worried and stressed about various things…nothing out of the ordinary…the usual – finances, career, long distance relationship (and no clue really how or what to do to navigate next steps…). 

Jud challenged us to take a 90-day challenge, and commit to giving an amount we felt appropriate, to God, on a regular basis…not because the church needed or wanted our money, but instead as an act of faith. 

I had always thrown money into the offering plate, but never with a commitment quite like the one I was about to make.  That week in April, I enrolled in Central’s online giving portal, and set up an automatic payment of 10% of my paycheck to go straight from my bank account to Central Christian Church. 

Though I didn’t really understand exactly how the dollars and cents would work out in the end, I felt moved to take that step, in faith…and trust that everything would work out just fine.

...sure I still think about money, my career, and finances, but I don't worry about it all like I used to... 

(And as a side note -- those 'next steps' with the long distance relationship...not only did Jenna move to Vegas, but she also found a job within 9 days of becoming a Nevada resident.  All that worrying, and all we had to do was look up, step out, and trust...everything is working out just fine...)

That 90-Day Challenge turned into a new routine.  Every other Friday, since that weekend in April, I receive the MyGiving confirmation email from Central Christian Church, that my contribution has been received.  I always smile on those Friday mornings, because the irony is that I should be sending a confirmation email to the Man upstairs, thanking Him and letting Him know how much I appreciate ALL of the many blessings in my life…

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for so many things and so many people.  But I guess I’m most thankful for my parents, grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles whose gifts (lots of toys…) over the years were certainly blessings...but the best gift has been teaching me how to live a blessed life.

So here’s a confirmation email, to my parents and family members, letting you know that I love you and appreciate you, and every blessing in my life today, can be traced back to lessons learned growing up in Grayson, KY – working hard in school, practicing and playing hard on the basketball court, spending time with family, and especially…going to First Church of Christ on Sunday mornings…


Happy ThanksGIVING…


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Connect Four

Connect Four
Coming off a recent vacation to Florida, where I spent time having fun with friends and family, my friend Rob MacRae, and I joked... 
We laughed about how nice it would be if we could just figure out a way to play ‘Connect Four’ and/or Shuffleboard for a living; perhaps a “Pro-Circuit” of sortsthat life would be way more fun.

The more I thought about the idea of “connect four”, some OneMoreSteps came to mind, which if/when put into action, we could add a little spice to our lives and maybe even add a little magic to those around us, at work or at home…making life more fun in the process:

Connect with People
A gossip is one who talks to you about others, a bore is one who talks to you about himself, and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.”   -- Lisa Kirk
Ask four questions, to get to know someone new or catch up with an old friend…
Ask four questions of our boss…learn how we can add the most value possible to them, today…
Ask four questions of our significant other, to make sure we’re filling up their ‘love tank’…
Ask four questions of the people on our teams, to make sure they’re ok, still enjoying work, etc.

Connect the Dots
You can't connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.”  -- Steve Jobs
Connect four dots backwards, in our life/career…to better understand how we arrived here, today…
Connect four mini-milestones we’ll need to hit in order to get from here…to where we want to be…
Connect four friends or colleagues together – to make ‘fun connections’ or to build dynamic teams
Connect four childhood lessons learned with the challenges of today, which can also be applied to tomorrow's opportunities…

While we’re connecting…what if we found a way to connect the four most important things, in order of importance – Faith, Family, Friends, and Career
Now that I think about it...if we: 
* Have faith in a higher power
* Love our family unconditionally
* Stay genuinely interested in how we can make a positive difference in our friends’ lives
...While chasing our wildest dreams for our careers
Maybe we can make a pretty good living playing Connect Four.
Have a great day, connecting

Connect Four pics, for the road
Connect Four X 2
Connect Four...with the Big Cheese

Former Roommates...ReConnecting

Connect Four Serenade...
Connect Four...then a couple more
Dub Dub reUnion, Connecting all Four

Connect Four times 2

...and if one can't connect over a game of Checkers

     ...with a total stranger

 the Magic Kingdom

               ...where can ya connect ?


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Love Vegas

Love Vegas

We love Vegas…then we hate Vegas.

The electricity, the excitement, the energy, the entertainment…all of which make up that Las Vegas experience which people come from miles away to see and feel. 

But then…

We hate Vegas.  Our team didn’t win, and we lose money on our bets.  The dealer had 21 after we split 8’s.  The Roulette wheel wasn’t cooperating.  The clubs and bars served too many drinks.  People replace sleep with a steady supplement of drinking, gambling, and sinning.  People then become angry, tired, and overcome with discontent.   

Before we know it, disgruntled people are everywhere, and they totally get us down. 
So whether we’re visiting Vegas, or for those of us that live in Vegas…we can’t help but think about how much better it will be when we get out of Vegas, where people are happier and we can actually enjoy ourselves again.

I lived in Vegas five years ago, and hated it.  I was far away from my closest friends, most loving family members, and everything that was familiar to me – the “South”, Florida, enchanted theme parks, oceans, lakes, and more nice people, per capita (so I thought).   

I spent the better part of a year, working in one of the nicest hotel/casino resorts ever built, Wynn / Encore Las Vegas.  Some of the brightest minds, most creative visionaries, and best operators in my field were in the offices next door, down the hallway, and across the conference room table from me…yet I couldn’t see that.  All I saw was the negative, and what Vegas lacked.

I moved back to Florida, and was quickly reminded that angry people, discontent, and sin are not indigenous to Las Vegas.  I was also reminded that I’m not in charge, and no matter how many books I read and regardless of how much schooling I have – I can’t do this on my own.  Not even close. 
The truth is…I spent a few seasons of my life thinking I could…”do it on my own”.  I thought, “I’ll go get the promotions at work”.  “I’ll go get the degree from business school.”  “I’ll be irresistible because of all my accomplishments.”

False.  False.  False.  And…false.

Three years ago, after spending a few months with no job, nor that “career path” I had dreamed of, ironically the place I did find a job was Las Vegas.  I packed up a U-Haul in Windermere, FL, and trekked back across the country, to Vegas.  The town I thought was NOT for me; the place in which I vowed never to live…ever again…because I hated it…was now home, once again.

When I arrived, I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t do this…again.  No way, can I live here and work here, and put together any kind of life or career.”  “I can’t possibly actually like this.”

Yet in these past three years:
  •  I’ve been inspired by the people around me, more than in any other place I’ve lived or worked.
  • I’ve embraced the opportunity to create and contribute, to ultimately add value to my company
  • I’ve been moved by pastors and worship services at my church (and others), having read more of the Bible than in any other time in my life. 
  • Though I fall short often, in my daily walk, I strive to be more of a Christian now than ever before.   
·      Not only have I found love, I’ve learned more about how to love, than in any other time in my life.

I found all of this…in Las Vegas.  If all this can be found in Las Vegas, it can surely be found in Anywhere, USA.

This post isn’t about me…nor is it about Vegas.  
It’s about LOVE.

My point is this:  

People often say, “I could never live in Vegas…because I’d be afraid it would darken my heart.” 

I just want to share with the OneMoreStepRevolution community that if God can show up, in a big way, on the Las Vegas strip, He can also show up on your doorstep, wherever you live.  He’s with us and He is for us, regardless of our current zip code.  And He loves us, not because of how awesome we can be, but instead, He loves us anyway and in spite of our habits or hang-ups.

You and I can’t possibly do this thing on our own.  We can’t.  But LOVE CAN. 

God’s love can open doors, change people, and fill hearts with even more LOVE.  When we replace the love we have for our own accomplishments and self-image with genuine, compassionate LOVE for others, once darkened hearts quickly become full once again…no matter where we live.
If I can find all of this in Las Vegas, I’m convinced that you and I can find it anywhere. 

“All we need is love…love is all we need.” – John Lennon

Two for the road…

My church, in Las Vegas, Central Christian Church, has recently embarked on a mission to take its ministry and reach to new heights.  Our tag line for our journey is simply, LOVE CAN.   
It’s our thankful response to what God’s love has done for us, and our faithful response for what we believe God’s LOVE CAN do to further our ministry.  On September 29th, we held a church service which we called “Pack the Mack”, at the Thomas & Mack center. 

Over 15,000 people literally packed the Thomas & Mack Center, to worship…smack dab in the middle of Las Vegas.  Proof that if God can show up in this way, in “Sin City”…chances are, He can show up wherever you and I may find ourselves today…and tomorrow. 

Three Years Ago...we tipped the Cross-Country Tram Trip - 2010
Three years ago, I was in between jobs…out of work.  One of my best friends, Matthew Glenn Olsen, opened up his home and invited me to stay with him until I found the next adventure.  He didn’t have to do that…

On this date, in 2010 – Oct. 29th  -- When I was offered a job back in Las Vegas, Matt not only helped me pack up the U-Haul (and clean out his own garage, which was FULL of my stuff), but he also volunteered his time making the cross-country drive with me.   

I’ll never forget those three days, traveling across the United States with Matt.  We laughed…I may have cried…I was a nervous wreck, as usual.  Most importantly, I’ll always remember why he jumped at the chance to help…he did it with LOVE, encouraging me the whole way.

And…we do love Vegas.

Have a great day.



Monday, September 30, 2013


Think about that dream you once dreamed; which days, weeks, months, or years later finally came true.
Consider that person or the people you became so fond of as soon as you met them, whom later became some of your closest friends or maybe even so much more.
Remember the time, effort, and energy you put into training for and/or preparing for that job or career you knew was the right one for you.
Think about the most meaningful relationships in your life today.
All four of these statements have two things in common:
·      It took a conscientious pursuit to achieve them
·      The pursuit, itself, kept you alive, energized, jazzed, and overcome with a sense of purpose, every single day during the pursuit.

OneMoreStep Thought – When life gets tedious, dull or simply no fun…consider your passions in life and pursue even more opportunities to make your passions part of your routine...everyday.
If it’s writing…write.  If it’s acting…act.  If it’s dancing…dance.  If it’s cooking…cook.  If it’s watching TV…DVR it up.
If you’re passionate about love…just love everyone, early and often.  If you’re passionate about sports…play them, watch them, blog about them, or research them. 
Too often we get caught up in “life” and we get lost in the shuffle.  We lose ourselves and forget what or whom it is that makes us happy, and tragically we stop pursuing those things and/or the opportunities to be around those people.  We then wonder why we’re in a funk…why we are so ‘down’…why we don’t have the energy we once had.
Sometimes, the OneMoreStep worth taking is to remember to pursue…and once we’re back in pursuit, that’s when we rediscover a sense of purpose.  That’s when we find our source of joy and inspiration, which not only makes us happier but it also reignites a feeling of happiness in those around us. 
That’s the whole point of the OneMoreStepRevolution by the way, to go OneMoreStep whenever possible, to make a positive difference in people's lives…let’s pursue it.

Two for the road…
One of my best friends, Matthew Glenn Olsen, sent me a text message last week, which was not only thoughtful on his part, but it was also thought provoking for me.   His message was one of encouragement, letting me know that he was happy for all of us – the fellas - because we’re all very happy with our girlfriends and wives. 
Matt reminded me, however, that all too often men stop pursuing the women they love once they become an official couple.  He encouraged me to never stop pursuing my girlfriend whom he knows I love very much, even though she and I have reached that “official couple” status.
So I did…and I will…because it’s in the midst of that pursuit when we find true happiness. 
This past weekend, I took my girlfriend on an old fashioned all-day date, which included a fun lunch, quality shopping time in some of her favorite stores, a Putt Putt Golf experience which she’s been wanting to do for weeks, dinner, and a movie.  Days like this used to happen all the time, earlier in our relationship, when we were both in major pursuit of a relationship with each other…
As we started out on Hole #1, and I saw the smile on her face…I remembered why this whole thing was worth pursuing in the first place.  When she’s happy, that makes me happy…and happiness is found in the pursuit itself!
This was great fun, until she won by 4 strokes...I'm now pursuing a rematch

I saw this quote on the wall in the entrance to Innoventions, an attraction at Disneyland, which also got my wheels turning on the OneMoreStep opportunity to pursue:  

The OneMoreStep 'thoughts' put into words --- It's less about crossing the finish line or reaching the top of the mountain...and it's ALL about pursuing the 'types' of work that "sustain our spirit".  In short, we should do what keeps us feeling ALIVE with a perpetual, renewed sense of PURPOSE every single day.  If we don't have that today, no problem...we can always PURSUE it!

Thanks, Matthew, for the reminder, to never stop pursuing...

Have a great day pursuing the work or the people that make you happy…and as you pursue, I hope you feel reenergized, jazzed, and truly overcome with a renewed sense of purpose.
"The journey is the destination..." -- Dan Eldon


One more...

Speaking of my good buddy, Matt Olsen...and speaking of pursuing.  It's worth noting that Matt, since I met him in June of 1999, has always pursued LIFE.  He works hard, and he certainly makes sure fun is budgeted into his schedule...

This past weekend, Matt being Matt, participated in the BATTLE OF THE PADDLE, stand up paddle board competition in Dana Point, CA.  Just another illustration of how he not only pursues life, but quite literally, "The Salt Life", one of the brands he represents as the Director of Licensing for an apparel company.

What if everyone not only pursued, but truly lived their company's brand...

"It's all's alright...just get'n high...on a Salt Life..." - Chuck Wicks: Salt Life, ROUGH


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"I Think..."

“I Think…”
The two most frequently used words in corporate America and maybe even society as a whole are “I Think…" 

How often do we hear it? Partners, leaders, colleagues, and even customers say it all day long…day in and day out.  
The risk with beginning a sentence with, “I think” is that it assumes the person on the other end of the phone conversation, across the conference room table, across the aisle, in the audience, or in the classroom actually cares to know what we think. It assumes that we're already a respected and/or credible source of knowledge, on any given topic.  
The truth is…they may not even care.  Or even worse…they may not even respect us, let alone what we think.
OneMoreStep Thought for this week – especially for those of us who take pride in leading, whether we ‘have THE title" or not – is to simply change the “I think…” to “what do you think?”  
The word leadership can be defined many different ways, but I like this one (among others):
"Leadership is the activity of influencing people to cooperate towards some goal, which they come to find desirable and which motivates them over the long haul." – Ordway Tead, The Art of Influence
Most people become successful because once upon a time, they were really good at ‘something’.Whether it’s selling, creating art of any kind, speaking, writing, dancing, adding and subtracting…some people are just really good at doing, whatever it is.
For true leaders, however, everything changes.  It’s less about what we do, and it becomes all about what we can inspire others to do.  It’s far less about what we think, and all about inspiring them to share what they think.  
Once we accept that ever-so-dynamic (and at times difficult) challenge of influencing…it’s less and less about us and ALL about them.  The mark of a great leader or coach or teacher or mentor (those who have accepted, with an open mind and heart, this leadership challenge) is no longer what we can do, but instead it’s all about how well can lead others to go do __________ something.
So it stands to reason, that if true leadership really is all about taking a group of people, transforming them into a TEAM, and then ultimately leading them toward a common goal with unified focus…leaders should ask “what do you think…” more than we boldly proclaim, what “I think…
Great leaders facilitate collaborative conversations as opposed to dominating every conversation.   
Successful coaches take suggestions and input from their players and assistant coaches rather than taking the “my way or the highway” approach.   
The most inspiring teachers and professors take pride in being lifelong learners, and they take time to stop and ask students what they think as opposed to always pontificating with sentences that begin with, "I think."
What do you think?
Have a great day.
One for the road…
Thanks to Arthur Keith, a former leader of mine and someone I’m proud to call a friend and colleague, who in the summer of 2007 taught me this very important “I think” vs. “What do you think” lesson.  Arthur was my Leadership Coach, in a Leadership Development Program when I was in graduate school. 
Arthur, I may have thanked you then, for this simple yet profound leadership nugget…but I’m sure I didn’t articulate it well enough.  So…thank you, again, for the very candid feedback and coaching six years ago. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Y Me Path

Y Me Path
Jeepers, here we go again…why does this always fall on my lap?
How come this always happens to me?
Of course, they’re all coming to me for the answers
They always do this to me…

Does this “path” sound familiar? We find ourselves here, at one time or another.
Life and work and, and, and, and _____ become tedious very quickly, all too often.  When it does, we’re quick to blame or judge or point fingers at them.  We then spiral down this unhealthy path, which is everything but productive.
Often it comes down to how we’re thinking about the situation. 
When we find ourselves in a full-on, dead sprint down the “Y Me Path”, what if we change the way we think about “it” (whatever or whomever “it” may be…)
A OneMoreStep sentiment that absolutely, positively changes everything, every single time is simply to ReShuffle “Y Me Path” …rearrange the letters, just as we could “rearrange” our thoughts about certain situations.   
It spells – E-M-P-A-T-H-Y.
What a great and powerful word – EMPATHY. 
It is truly amazing what happens when and if our thoughts of “Me” become thoughts of “We”; better yet, when our “Y Me” feelings turn into compassionate, understanding, kind-hearted, and considerate feelings. 
Just like the Y Me Path magically changes to Empathy when we look at the same seven letters differently, our outlook on an otherwise annoying and demoralizing situation magically changes (for the better…perhaps for good!) when we look at the ‘same’ situations differently -- through an empathetic lens vs. a self-serving one. 
One for the road...
Today I was speaking with some of my colleagues at work.  We were talking about Guest Service, Leadership, and delivering a fantastic experience to our Guests.  My coworker's take was simple, yet a powerful reminder.
My colleague, Kevin Brown, said, “T…all we have to do is get people to have more empathyinstead of the cliché, ‘walk a mile in their shoes’, we should be teaching and coaching for our folks to ‘get inside their (our Guests') heads’; to ultimately feel what they feel.  Then…we’ll finally have compelling reasons to deliver the level of experience our Guests expect.
It’s a pretty simple sentiment that packs a pretty big punch.  All we have to do is change the way we think about things.  A little empathy goes a long, long way in turning bad days into better days, frowns into smiles, and frustrations into feel good, happy moments that mean the most. 
Thanks, Kevin, for the OneMoreStep reminder today. 
Have a great day.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Live like Interns

Live like Interns…

Today several of my colleagues and I spent a few hours with our nine Summer Interns, on the last day of their 10-week internship. 

Each individual gave a presentation on an idea, a project they’ve completed, an initiative they recommend, or a ‘key takeaway’ from their experience.   

Following their presentations, we congratulated them on an internship well done, with a nice reception overlooking the Las Vegas skyline.

Watching and listening to these nine talented, future hospitality leaders speak, and having spent some quality time with many of them this summer, I’ve decided…we should all live like Interns.

Interns are:

·      Inquisitive…and genuinely interested in learning  (they listen really well)
·      Enthusiastic…and full of ideas for the future
·      Fun…and they smile ALL THE TIME
·      Fearless…yet they’re just as friendly as can be
·      Passionate…and inspired by the simplest things, yet they still dream BIG

The older we get, we tend to talk more than we listen. 

With age comes more life experience, which sometimes (as we all know) gives way to ‘life’s disappointments’; and before we know it, our ‘bright ideas’ seem less and less “possible”. 

You and I often find ourselves spiraling into the tedious daily routine that used to be fun, but for whatever reason has lost its luster; and we don’t smile as much.  

Chelsey & Kassie, from Penn State
The more we get “burned” in our relationships professionally and personally, we’re less and less willing to take chances and go for it…and before we know it, we find ourselves shutting down, socially engaging and/or personally connecting with fewer and fewer people at work or in the community.

Those plans we once had and those dreams we used to dream can easily fade away as we slowly come to grips with merely settling for…whatever…just because it’s easier that way.

Well…I’ve decided.  If given a choice, I’d rather live like interns!

·      They listen more than they talk…and...people like them.
·      They dream.  Period.  Nothing is impossible to them, and they’re FIRED UP.
·      They connect and engage…with everyone they meet. 
( And did I mention…people LIKE THEM)
·      They don’t even know how to spell – FEAR

The irony is that today nine college seniors spent a couple hours telling my colleagues and I how much they learned from us…but I could write a book on how much I just learned from them.

In fact…I’m going to start, TODAY, being more like them.  Today, we should all go back to living like interns. 

Have a great day.


Thanks to our new friends: Brianna, Anna, Mikael, Dominique, Ashley, Kassie, Patrik, Christina, and Chelsey, for not only 10 weeks of your service, but also for the inspiration we all need, from time to time, to have fun, learn new things, dream BIG, and smile through it all