Thursday, March 28, 2013

Context Is King

Context is King
We get upset.  We get confused.  We’re often disappointed.  We are frustrated too frequently.
By the same token, we upset people, confuse people, disappoint people, and whether we realize it or not…chances are pretty solid that we also frustrate the people in our lives at work and at home. 
(People that know me will tell you that I've managed to become a professional at all of the above...however, I'm working on it...)
Too often we don’t know where they’re coming from on certain topics.  Maybe they don’t really know where our sudden burst of conviction and passion is coming from on those very same topics.  We AND They…far too often, just don’t know WHY
OneMoreStep Thought: Tell ‘em why!  Give people the why’s.  Give people the context, the reason, the back story, the challenges…give them the CONTEXT of the situation.  The real OneMoreStep lies in not only giving the context, but ASKING FOR the context. 
It’s easy to preach, pontificate, and dictate our thoughts and our convictions.  That’s what everyone usually does; which is what usually turns off the person on the other end of the phone or the person in the other department or the person that has a complete opposite view.  Relationships get nowhere, fast, as a result.
On the other hand, when we pause, take a deep breath, and ask for more context, and ask for the why’s; if and when we not only ask, but listen to them…that’s when we begin to understand.  That’s when they begin to feel more comfortable with us; and it’s that comfort that leads to TRUST, and the trust, is what leads to thriving, productive RELATIONSHIPS.
Now…we’re partnering.  Now…we’re a team.  Now…we’re enjoying the conversation rather than avoiding it.
The challenge is usually rooted in the inability to communicate effectively, and the missing link, more often than not…is CONTEXT.
Context is King.  Provide it and Ask for it.
Have a great day.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Champions are special…
They’re usually “the best’, the “winners”, and deserving of the title.  They’re talented, skillful, and have earned the respect of everyone.
They didn’t get there alone.  More often than not, they had a coach, a mentor, a leader, supporters, advocates…they had champions along the way. 
When you look up the word – champion; (champ · pi · on) – on, the #1 noun definition reads, “WARRRIOR, FIGHTER”.
One of the verb definitions reads – “to act as militant supporter of…”  I like that one too.
Champions are special because of all the championing they had along the way.  How awesome would you be if you had warriors and fighters, actively and aggressively supporting you? 
Better yet, how awesome would you and I be, if WE were the ones…what if we were the coaches, mentors, leaders, supporters, and advocates who made somebody go OneMoreStep, reach for the stars, diligently dream their dreams, realize their full potential, and/or helped them become that person God created them to be?
Champions are special…So wouldn't it be cool to be somebody's champion?
Who are you championing?

Have a great day.


Championing for the road…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY (March 19th) to one of my biggest supporters, one of my coaches (career and otherwise), one of my advocates, and one of my champions…my friend, Sonny Ritacca. 
We met in the summer of 2001 at a get together for returning Walt Disney World College Program Alumni.  We all loved (and still do) Disney and we were sort of champions for the Disney College Program, in our own right back then. 
A few months later, on September 11th, 2001, those planes flew into the World Trade Center, and the world changed.  Our worlds changed.  We needed jobs.  We needed hope.  We needed friends.  We needed champions, in our lives.  We needed each other. 
Sonny was then and continues to be a champion, for me, his friends, his family, and his company.  Since that summer of 2001, every big day on the job, big interview, big test day in grad school, or even just for fun, I’ve received text messages, phone calls, emails, and social media posts, from Sonny, that read, “Play Like a Champion Today”.  Supporting, advocating, encouraging, and championing...
Son, thanks for being you, and thanks for championing me and others, for as long as we’ve known you. 
Happy Birthday, and as you continue to go OneMoreStep after OneMoreStep, for Avis Budget Group, to revolutionize the car rental industry, on behalf of OneMoreStep Nation:

Sunday, March 17, 2013


·         Consist of individuals, but they make a unified impact

·          Give life and meaning to otherwise meaningless situations

·         Support the greater good and a higher purpose, other than ‘self’

·         Ground us in familiarity, common bonds, and a sense of belonging

·         Complement individual strengths with the power of the sum of all the parts

·         Offer comfort, assistance, and encouragement

·         Serve their people well…

Even for those of us that enjoy our “alone time”, and for folks with a high need to ‘handle it’ on their own…the old adage, “there’s strength in numbers” is true.
We can only do so much on our own.  We can only be strong enough, emotionally, for so long.  We’re often smart enough, but only to a certain point.  We enjoy our alone time, but even that gets old, (particularly when we begin to sing to ourselves, talk to ourselves, or…or am I the only one?)
We’re no match for this world, on our own. 
Think about the teams we’ve been a part of, or those we belong to today.  How about our hometowns, where we grew up?  What about our past or current jobs, the department we worked in, for the company or organization or cause. 
It would have been tough to win a basketball game – One vs. Five.  It would have been rough sledding growing up, going to school, walking down Main Street, and trying to figure this whole thing out, at an early age, alone.  That first day of work, in a new job, in a strange company, around new people, tasked with delivering a high performance in areas about which we didn’t know what we didn’t know...facing that alone, with no support, would have been so difficult...
Chances are…we needed someone else.  We needed someone to spend just a little bit of their time…a part of their day, week, or maybe even one time per month was enough?  Not only did we have a need, that person or those people on the team, in the department, or in the company came through for us.  They helped us.  They made us feel like we could do it…we did belong…we all of a sudden had a strong sense of familiarity despite finding ourselves in an unfamiliar place.
It wasn’t the gym we played in, the job we had, or the company’s name on the outside of the building that helped us in those times of need…it was the community of people around us.
OneMoreStep thought: Since communities have and continue to serve us so well, it’s incumbent upon all of us to find ways – on our teams, in our jobs, at our companies, and even in our families – to serve our communities well.
Wherever you are, and whoever is in your life, in your family, in your department, or on your team…go OneMoreStep, on a regular basis…serve them well.  They may be in need…they may need some community in their life, and you could be the one to make the positive impact.
Have a great day.

One for the road…
Recently my grandmother passed away, and I went home to Grayson, KY to be with my family.  It was a sad time for all of us in our family, and in our community.  My grandmother was a teacher for 38 years.  So Facebook comments from past students and people close to our family lit up our news feeds.  Flowers were sent to the funeral home. 
People from not only the Grayson community but also neighboring communities came to visit our family to pay their respects. The East Carter High School Raiders basketball team and coaching staff sent me a gift (though I graduated from high school over 15 years ago).

A group of folks from our church put together a late lunch for our family after the funeral. 
Our entire extended family met at our church, following the funeral, and we were met with a buffet style lunch, complete with multiple entrees, salads, and especially desserts (plural…many desserts).
It was so touching, to see these folks take time out of their day, on a Monday afternoon, to serve others in their community who needed some comfort and assistance.
That type of community service inspires me to serve my communities well, early and often…
Thank you, First Church of Christ community, and thank you, to my friends, former coaches, former and current teammates, and friends of my family, that supported us last week.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Gifts from a Coach

Gifts from a Coach
For: Coach Baker, Coach Easterling, and Coach Calhoun…
My childhood and high school years were largely centered on the game of basketball; watching, playing, coaching, learning, practicing…or dreaming about basketball.  I loved it…still do…and I always looked up to my coaches.
When I was a senior, our head coach, Charles Baker, now retired and in the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame, brought a gift to our house.  It was a beautifully framed still life print, full of authentic memorabilia of Kentucky Life:
a Kentucky Derby Trophy (Proud Carrion's), Derby roses, a mint julep in a traditional silver julep cup; jockey racing silks, cap, whip, saddle and a fox horn to represent horse country, a U.K. basketball and jersey (Ron Mercer's); the first printing of the state song, "My Old Kentucky Home" by Stephen Foster; the state tree and flower; a "hand" of tobacco: a decanter of Bourbon; lumps of coal; a flintlock pistol; arrowheads and a buckskin jacket to represent Daniel Boone, pioneers, and native Kentuckians; and a banjo for our world renown "Bluegrass" music.
Earlier, in my high school days, I had seen this print in his office, and I commented on how cool it was…months later, Coach gave it to me as a graduation gift.
My grandfather went to all of my high school (and Junior High, for that matter) basketball games, sat on the front row, and cheered us on…win or lose, we always knew he was there.  My sophomore year at Florida Southern College, my grandfather, Nick DeSantis (PopPop), went home to Heaven.  I flew home to Kentucky, of course for the funeral, to be with my family. 
In addition to visiting with our family, Coach Baker sent a special gift, addressed to me – it was a white, wooden and ordinary looking clock…but the message Coach sent was extraordinary.  He knew of my close relationship with PopPop, and he knew how tough this life event would be for me.  The card simply read, “It just takes time…” He later explained more to me, in person, how it will get easier...with time...and to hang in there and be strong for my mom, aunt, uncle, and my grandmother. 
When I saw Coach at the funeral home, he came up, gave me a huge hug, and told me all about how PopPop had been a loyal East Carter Raider basketball fan long before I came along.  We shared some laughs with several folks gathered around, told stories of PopPop, and Coach stayed, visiting with my family for hours during that tough time.
Since leaving my hometown to pursue my college education and a career in hospitality, I’ve lived in Lakeland, FL, Orlando, FL, Ithaca, NY, Las Vegas, NV, Miami, FL, Orlando, FL (again), and then Las Vegas, NV (again).  The “Kentucky Legacy” print and the white clock are both proudly displayed in my living room, today, and I’ve kept them on display, with every move I’ve made, for the past 16 years.
I tell this story because it’s a great metaphor for both the opportunity and gift of COACHING.  The clock and the beautiful Kentucky Legacy print were tangible gifts.  Coach Baker, Coach Easterling, and Coach Calhoun, during my high school years, also gave me countless intangible gifts, as they taught, illustrated, encouraged, and pushed me, almost daily; to strive for excellence…they coached.
As March Madness approaches, I can’t help but reflect on the many gifts my coaches have passed along to so many East Carter Raiders and Lady Raiders over the years. 
The gifts of their coaching all those years ago are now relevant in life, and they still guide me today in business:
“Fight through it…”Coach E.
Be around the ball…” – Coach Baker
Play smarter, not harder…” – Coach Calhoun
Don’t get satisfied…stay focused on improving…”Coach E.
Get mentally tough…MTXE…”Coach Baker
Don’t think of yourself as a second class player…you belong here…” – Coach Baker
“Be confident…” – Coach Calhoun
Don’t get ‘flustrated’…slow down” – Coach E-ism
Knuckle down…and get after it” – Coach Baker-ism
Play hard…Have Fun…Listen to your coaches…” – East Carter Raider Basketball’s culture, driven home, every day, by our coaches.
For Leaders, Bosses, Teachers, Professors, Doctors, Lawyers, or actual coaches of teams…we should never underestimate the opportunity we have, to teach and coach.  We just never know how impactful and meaningful our words may be to the people on our teams and in our lives.
Never underestimate the gifts from a coach.  If delivered in the right ways, they last forever.
Have a great day.
One for the road:
Good luck to Coach E., and the Lady Raiders, as they take on the Lewis County Lady Lions in first round action of the 16th Regional Tournament, Saturday at Ellis T. Johnson Arena, in Morehead, KY.
Go Lady Raiders!   

Play hard. Have fun. Listen to your coaches...
#MTXE  (Mental Toughness eXtra Effort)