What Matters Most?

On an average day I balance the flow of customer engagements, dozens of emails and multiple telephone calls, all while traveling or while working from home. On most days I find that I am able to achieve my daily “TO DO’s” and still balance quality time with family. Many days are spent juggling that delicate balance, taking a work call while my child sits quietly in the back seat or worse yet, taking a work call during family dinner time.

However, if being honest and despite your best efforts, how many of those days does the family end up on the bottom end the “TO DO” prioritization? In my case I must admit that this happens more often than I like. Until recently I have been the expert of planning my day down to 15 minute increments and operating my daily calendar with surgical precision.

My wake up call happened in the most sudden and unexpected moment. The day leading up to this moment had been filled with a lunch meeting in Atlanta, followed up by an afternoon of calls and as always, I had calls stacked up with such precision… ” ok, wrap up call with the client at 2:50pm, pick up my son at 2:55pm, and open the conference bridge at 2:58pm for a 3pm conference start time.” Sound familiar?

Being in “work mode” I didn’t notice the dark clouds and as I pulled into the circular drive at my son’s elementary school, I also failed to notice that many of the 45 cars ahead of me in line were empty. I was busy wrapping up my conference call and had barely taken notice of the world around me. As the tornado alarms began to blow it occurred to me that now would be a good time to end my call, walk into the school and check to ensure all was well. As I approached the front door of the school I was escorted to the 5th grade wing. As I opened the double doors into the inner hallway to the 5th grade wing, what I observed instantly took my breath and brought tears to my eyes.

Crouched on the floor were dozens of children, many of whom were whimpering, surrounded by brave adults who were doing their best to calm those children in their care. The mood was somber and at that moment all I knew is that I needed to find my son. The next 90 minutes were the longest minutes of my life… No longer was I concerned about work, quota, reports or next week’s meeting… All that mattered were those people I found myself sharing the hallway with.

Fortunately that day ended well and the storm passed without a tornado touching down. But the memory of that day has helped me to reset my priorities and ensure that my day starts and ends with my children as the top priority. As I affectionately say, “work happens”, but “family matters”.

May your priorities always be balanced and may your most important “TO DO’s” include those who are most important to you.


Scouting Memories…. Scouting Matters

The Boy Scouts of America spent 2012 celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Arthur Rose Eldred being the first young man to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.  In 2012 BSA celebrates a total of 57,976 scouts achieving their Eagle Scout Award.  As an Eagle Scout, I am proud to be associated with such an esteemed group of people who also achieved such a rank and thankful for all of those who were instrumental in my scouting experience. 

My mother raised 3 sons and all 3 sons earned the rank of Eagle… thank you Mom for your dedication to help us along the path.  I am thankful for the Scoutmasters who led the troops for which I belonged.  Cliff Barton was Scoutmaster for Redwood Area Council Troop 59 in Eureka, CA and Cliff Steele was Scoutmaster for Mt Lassen Area Council Troop 58 in Chico, CA.  Both of these men had a deep love for Scouting and sacrificed so much of their time in support of the troop, the scouts and helping us to live the values taught to us through the BSA program. 

My favorite childhood memories include Scouting.  I was privileged to attend Scout Camp at Ruth Lake, CA  in the Summer, National Scout Jamboree at Fort AP Hill, Virginia, World Scout Jamboree in Calgary, Canada, and a host of camping & hiking events around Northern California.  All of these memories are possible due to the support of my parents and the leadership and sacrifice of the adult leaders.

I wish to congratulate the 57, 976 young men who achieved the high rank of Eagle Scout.   I also challenge each of you to continue with Scouting and give back to those still on the trail.   Serve as a Junior Assistant Scout Master, join the National Eagle Scout Association and plan to continue on as an adult leader.   Your example and your dedication to advancing Scouting will serve to help so many aspire to achieve this rank you now celebrate. 


Scouting values: ‘Antiques Roadshow’ to feature BSA memorabilia

Bryan on Scouting

Antiques-Roadshow-logo(Updated Jan. 8, 2013)

The 10-time Emmy nominated Antiques Roadshow, “part adventure, part history lesson, part treasure hunt,” kicked off its 17th season with an episode featuring a little something for Scouting collectors.

The show’s premiere took us to Corpus Christi, Tex., and included a very-brief appraisal of Boy Scout posters.

Admittedly, when I first heard the show would feature BSA memorabilia, I had hoped the BSA segment would be longer. As it is, you can watch the 60-second appraisal of some BSA posters right here.

You Tell Me

What’s your most-prized piece of BSA memorabilia? And if you had to guess, what would you set as its dollar value? Leave your comment below.

Note from Bryan (Jan. 8, 2013): In an earlier version of this post, I oversold the BSA segment’s length and its depth. I was basing that on the information PBS sent to the…

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Volunteerism… its about giving back.

My earliest memory as a volunteer was when I was 8 years old living in Eureka, California.  Our church had a firework stand at the Payless Shopping Center and I was given an opportunity to serve as a cashier.  I remember how good it felt to count change and to work alongside so many adults raising money for the church youth activities.  Over the years, I have volunteered in one capacity or another whether selling Scout O Rama tickets for BSA, walking in the March of Dimes Walk for Humanity, or the many service projects our church youth organization held.  

Volunteerism has been a passion that has followed into my adult life and I find great personal satisfaction by taking time to give back.  As society recognizes the week of April 15th as National Volunteer Week, I have again paused to reflect on the number of projects and organizations I have supported in the past and currently support today.  One thing I know for sure is that there is no shortage of worthy programs to support.  Whether programs geared to help our youth, seniors, disabled veterans, or homeless, the list is quite extensive and the need is great.   Anyone can serve. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “Everyone can be great because anyone can serve.  You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”  Spending time serving others has a dual benefit.  First, you give your time freely to an organization that can use your talents.  The second benefit, which you will have to experience to believe is the feeling of humble gratitude you feel inside when you serve others.

Last weekend a dear friend was invited to attend a Spring Hog Hunt organized by the Halo Wounded Warrior Program in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area.  She had never attended such an event, but once there jumped right in as a volunteer helping wherever she could.  First task was helping to serve these wounded heroes lunch.  Next she worked at the firing range running errands back and forth helping any way they needed.  During the course of the day, my friend was introduced to so many attendees and their stories and their no quit attitudes profoundly changed her.  She found these wounded warriors, our heroes, to be full of optimism and positive energy and she further told me that regardless of what was happening in her life that she had absolutely nothing to complain about.  Her life was touched by the example of these wounded warrior heroes.

As National Volunteer Week winds to a close, I ask the following question.  How do you give back and who do you volunteer your time to? 

May you find joy in providing volunteer service to others.

When Good Things Happen for Good People…

Last week I was at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas attending the Reservation Economic Summit 2012 Conference.  The event was well organized and a busy week filled with the appropriate amount of content, exhibitors and business to business networking. 

During the closing session of the conference I witnessed the most important lesson of the week.  The conference organizers raffled Applie iPads to 20 lucky attendees and it was during this moment that I was again reminded that good things can and will happen for good people.  I was sitting at a table near the front and sharing that table was a young couple from New York.  As a number was called, the young man jumped with excitement holding his winning ticket and as he made his way to the stage to receive his new iPad2, his wife was openly crying.  My friend asked the young wife why she was crying and her answer touched my heart.   Through the tears she explained, “Our child is 3 years old and deaf.  His therapist uses an iPad to help communicate and teach our son.  Last month we went shopping for an iPad and sadly we just couldn’t afford it.  We didn’t know how we would be able to ever afford an iPad… this will allow us to do so much with and for our son.  This is truly an answer to our prayers.”

As much as I would have enjoyed being an iPad winner, the winning moment for me was to see the simple thankfulness from this young couple.  Everyone seated at that table was visibly moved by the tender moment that we were allowed to witness.  I finished my seven days in Las Vegas and as I reflect back on that moment, I cannot help but to find joy knowing that something special happened for special people. 


Do You have an “Identity” Crisis?

It was once said… “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Do you know what it is that you stand for? Are you on a path to best achieve your dreams or are you like many others who live life always wondering “what if?”

Stedman Graham, during an interview in December 2009 stated, “True leadership is about developing an identity for yourself, knowing who you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there, then developing a process for continuous improvement.” “However, 95% of people never learn this, casually falling in line as followers with a deeply hidden desire to create relevance and take ownership of their lives.”

As I look around and see all the employees, workers, or subordinates who are struggling to hold onto their jobs, I cannot help but to agree with Mr. Graham that far too many of us spend our lives working to sustain a standard of living, not achieving to create relevance and take ownership of our own lives. I remember the feeling when I was working for a Fortune 500 company and received word that I was part of a “corporate downsizing”. The feeling of loss, the lack of control over my financial life, and the sense of rejection was a feeling that I have never forgotten. Have you ever experienced that stark sense of fear associated with losing a job? Were you like me and vowed to never be placed in a position like that again?

I cannot begin to number the amount of ideas I have had over the years but failed to get past the idea stage. Possibly I lacked the vision to formulate a proper plan of action, maybe my ideas didn’t have merit, but in the end I find that I feel better when I dream. Especially with the uncertainty of being an employee, I have found it important to always keep the entrepreneur dream alive and look for an opportunity that would afford me financial flexibility, security, and a sense of relevant purpose.

I have been counseling a friend through career choices and self assessment, reviewing where they are and what goals they wish to set for themselves. Although they have a career that provides a standard of living, they feel as though they have no quality of life. We have spent the last few weeks outlining the list of things that they would like to do that would help to provide that relevance they seek. The next step will be to identify that one dream, that one desire that stands out above all others, and help to create a plan to help them turn that dream into actual reality.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask… act! Action will delineate and define you.” I truly hope that each of us will not only dare to dream, but also to act and help create a life of relevance and joy.

“It’s What You Do That Matters”…

Success or failure, advancement or setback, security or fear, fulfillment or deep void, are all a result of decisions we make, the course of action we set for ourselves, the path we ultimately choose to take.

As I get older, and hopefully a bit wiser, I better understand that where I am right now in my life is largely due to decisions that I made five, ten or even twenty years ago.   I further understand that most setbacks and failures in my life were self-imposed and with few exceptions were a result based on a decision made some time earlier in my life.  And for those successes I have enjoyed, the same rule applies giving myself at least partial credit for good choices made at some earlier point in life.  So, as I consider that fact, I have to ask myself this, “Why do some people always find themselves unhappy, unfulfilled or always struggling to get ahead?” 

On June 26,  2011 I was attending an event in Savannah, Georgia.  The keynote speaker was a man who I knew little about, yet he made a statement that helped to provide clarity to the question I had been seeking my answer for.   Andy Andrews, an author, speaker and trusted advisor, offered the following comment, “It’s not what you say… it’s what you do that matters.” 

With a desire to fully embrace those simple words, I stepped up my reading about personal improvement, leadership and studied success stories of individuals who had accomplished remarkable things.  During my reading, there was always one personal trait that was constant.  Every person who is successful (and might I say define success however you desire) was a “doer”.  That’s right, it’s what you do that matters. 

I have worked to put that principle of being a “doer” into action with my life and have shared this principle with a few friends and share it now with you.  Ask yourself this… are you happy with your career choice?  Do you complain about all of the problems at work or complain about your personal situation?   Have you simply carried these feelings of uneasiness or unhappiness inside you or have you made a change?   If you dislike your employer, have you searched for a new job?  If your relationship with someone important to you is not going well, do you sit there and silently complain or are you seeking to make that relationship better?  Remember, it’s what you do that matters.

Whether in business or your personal life, remember that where you are today is based on decisions made some time earlier in your life.   Where you will be in five years is based on decisions you make today.  Become a leader of your own life, your own destiny and don’t be afraid to make a positive change.  It’s not what you say, but what you do that matters.