Don’t accept rejection, my grandaddy didn’t

Don’t accept rejection, my grandaddy didn’t

My granddaddy grew up in the country working the family farm. He was an average student, an athlete and a young man determined to be the best he could be. To that end, he applied to go to college at Berry College and was summarily rejected. Here is how my grandfather describes it in his self-published autobiography:

That fall I knew I needed to attend college and one of my third cousins Milton Chambers and his sister Euna were already at Berry College. I wrote to Berry and asked if I could be accepted in September. Dr. S.H. Cook, the college Dean, wrote back and said they did not have room for me. I packed my old suitcase, told my family goodbye and walked over to the Roopville Highway and hitchhiked to Rome Georgia. I boarded the bus out to Berry College, walked in Dr. Cook’s office, gave him the postcard back and told him I needed to go to school. He assigned me to room with my friend Milton Chambers and that was the beginning of my new life.

It would have been easy for my grandfather to accept that rejection letter. If he had, he would not have met my grandmother, and I would not exist.

There is a lot of rejection to go around, but we don’t always have to accept it. Sometimes we need to push back, even when it seems hopeless. I’m glad grandaddy didn’t accept rejection.

3 Item Challenge – Day 10

3 Item Challenge – Day 10

So far the 3 item challenge has been embarrassingly easy. I have been working through my closet and giving away clothes that should have left my life long ago. For instance, yesterday I started looking at the dress pants in my closet. I have held onto these pants for ten years thinking that I may wear them one day, or that they may actually come back into style. But, my life as part of a creative agency doesn’t lend itself to a need for dress slacks, so they had to go. 

The thing that is surprising about doing the 3 item challenge is that I find my desire to get rid of three items daily easily greater than my desire for stuff, which has kept this junk in my possession for so long. I love a challenge and a commitment I can be accountable for. This challenge has been just what I needed to get myself moving in the direction of simplicity and I love it.

I look forward to the next 10 days. I’m sure my decisions will get tougher, but I’m also sure I won’t miss the items that I never use anyway!

A review of the books I read (listened to) first quarter of 2017

A review of the books I read (listened to) first quarter of 2017

12-week-year

The 12 Week Year

My Rating:

This was an ok book that really just reminded me of the importance of breaking down a plan into small, manageable parts and then executing on that plan. I think you this is something you struggle with, this book may be great for you to check out. The whole, “get a year’s worth of stuff done in 12 weeks” is a little over hyped, but all in all, this wasn’t a bad productivity book.


great game of businessThe Great Game of Business

My Rating:

This book was good and written by authors that really know business. I really liked what they had to say about transparency and how they treat their employees. As Sideways8 grows I might revisit this book and implement more of what it advocates, but the first time through was encouraging and worth the read.


moneyballMoneyball

My Rating:

I know, I’m behind on reading this book and could have just watched the movie, but I loved it all the same. I’m not a huge baseball fan but didn’t need to be to enjoy this book. It was really well written and encouraged me to think way outside the box. I love how this book details a completely different way of thinking about baseball and how successful it was. It encouraged me to look at everything with a new lens.


born a crime

Born a Crime

My Rating:

I think everyone should read this book. Trevor Noah is a fantastic story teller and weaves a fascinating story about his life that is both entertaining and moving. This book helped me to view race and racism in a different light and helped me to better understand the point of view of others. The best quote in this book is fantastic:

I had a natural talent for selling to people, but without knowledge and resources where was that going to get me? People always lecture the poor, “Take responsibility for yourself, make something of yourself.” But with what raw materials are the poor to make something of themselves? People love to say, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “…and it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.


5 dysfunctionsThe Five Dysfunctions of a Team

My Rating:

If you lead a team, read this book. It is entertaining, interesting and very informative. It is a business fable, so the book is told as a story that is engaging and helps you to see the inside of a dysfunctional team. It reminded me of the importance of candor and trust within a team.


3 big questionsThe Three Big Questions for the Frantic Family

My Rating:

Sometimes we don’t think about our families strategically and under manage them, taking them for granted. For example, I spend a ton of time strategically thinking about how to grow Sideways8, but comparatively little time thinking about how we raise our children or manage our family. This is convicting. This book addresses three questions families should ask in order to think more strategically about how they are living and growing together.


ideal team playerThe Ideal Team Player

My Rating:

If you ever have to hire people and want to bring in team players, read this book. This is a business fable that walks through what to look for in a team player. It was incredibly helpful to me as I thought about our next hire and will guide our team as we continue to hire.


getting nakedGetting Naked

My Rating:

Another business fable by Patrick Lencioni (I’ve been on a kick lately). It’s all about the need for authenticity and transparency. It is similar to some of his other stuff, so might not have been a necessary read, but I did enjoy it.


everything storeThe Everything Store

My Rating:

This book is about the rise of Amazon.com and it was fascinating. It tells all about the life of Jeff Bezos and how he started Amazon. It gives insight into Amazon’s culture as a company (where I would never want to work) and into how passionate they are about getting the lowest possible prices for customers. Jeff’s passion and brilliance in creating and growing Amazon is admirable and I learned a lot from his example. If you like tech startups or entrepreneurship, this is a great book read.


shoe dowShoe Dog

My Rating:

This book and “Born a Crime” are the best books I read this quarter. This book is the history of Nike from very humble beginnings as Blue Ribbon Shoes to almost going out of business numerous times, to world domination. I really enjoyed the style of the book and it was really encouraging to see how much of a struggle it was for Nike to become Nike. If you love business, or sports, or Nike, read this book.


magnolia storyThe Magnolia Story

My Rating:

At the behest of my wife, I begrudgingly picked up this book… and loved it. This is the story of Chip and Joanna Gains from the show Fixer Upper. A few things stood out to me in this book. The first was how much Chip embraces life and lives it to the fullest, and how he takes huge risks, like selling the house he and Joanna are living in without talking to her about it first! Another thing that stood out was that they are TV stars that don’t own a TV, and they are supremely down to earth. If you like their show, this is a great read.


creativity incCreativity Inc.

My Rating:

This book is the story of Pixar and how it came to be the powerhouse that it is today. If you run any company that is creative, this is a good book to read. From the great stories about movies I love to the detailed analysis of the growth (and potential collapse) of the business, this was a good book. As a side note at the end, it also had a detailed and thoughtful analysis of Steve Jobs that was contrary (in a good way) to much of what has been written about him.


The 3 Item Challenge – Introduction

The 3 Item Challenge – Introduction

Lately, I have been troubled by the quantity of items I own. My closet is overflowing with clothes I don’t wear. My bedside table drawer is filled with junk that is useless. My office drawers are filled with things I “might use” one day, but know I never will.

I have been thinking a lot about how to slim down and simplify. I like the idea of minimalism and want to lean more in that direction. So, I have come up with what I’m calling “The 3 Item Challenge.”

The 3 Item Challenge Rules:

  1. Get rid of (or donate) at least 3 items per day
  2. Do it for a minimum of 30 days

I think I will have to do this for 60 – 90 days to get the level of minimalism that I want, but I’m starting with a commitment to 30 days right now, then I will reassess from there. I started yesterday, so I will blog about my progress on day 10, 20 and 30.

 

Weird traditions create great culture (a family story)

Weird traditions create great culture (a family story)

Last year on vacation at Gulf Shores I stood on the balcony and noticed a cool pier down the beach. So, for one of our family activities, I suggested that we walk to it. My wife and I set out with our five kids in tow and headed to the pier. After about an hour of walking, we still weren’t at the pier, and I began to realize my mistake. Apparently when standing on a 13th-floor balcony looking down a clear beach the pier looks close, but in reality, that pier wasn’t close at all. But, when this epiphany struck it was too late, and we needed to push on to make it to the pier.

When we finally got there another realization dawned on me. There we were with five kids, on a walk that took much longer than expected, and it was now nearing lunch time! Not only were the kids tired from a long walk, but now they were hungry too. The pier did not have a lunch venue, but it did have a little concession stand, and that concession stand did have candy bars! You can guess what I did next. Yep, we ate candy bars for lunch, full-size ones! The kids loved it. After sugar overload, we walked back to the condo. I think the walk was about 5 miles in all, and their little legs were tired, but their hearts were happy.

We came back to the beach this year. Can you guess what tradition the kids were talking about on the way down? Sure enough, we headed out yesterday morning to the pier, battling a cold wind that blew sand to sting our legs. We made it there, got our candy bars and headed back. And, the kids loved it!

I tell this story to point out one thing. In building a family culture or company culture, it is important to have weird traditions with unexpected fun. These are the traditions that people will talk about and remember. These are the traditions that bind us together. These are the traditions we anticipate and tell other people about.

Here are a few photos from our adventure:

Why I blog

Why I blog

I blog for my kids. I want them to know what I’m about, what I think and how I live. I want my kids and their kids to be able to read my blog after I’m gone and feel as if they know me, connect with me. I want to influence who they are and who they become. I want to guide their path, helping them to avoid my mistakes and take leaps of faith.

I also hope that my writing helps others in some of the ways I hope it helps my kids. Even with that hope, if I focus on writing for my kids rather than others, it makes me real, authentic and vulnerable. Writing for them pushes me to produce work that is more me and less fluff. It forces me to become the best version of who I am, the best version of who I want to become, and to write toward that.