Month: December 2012

Write Your Own Damn Book

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Since writing my NTH post, there have been a number of responses; some of which were expected, and others more surprising.  There have been fleeting moments of regret, but I remain steadfast in my mission.  I met with my editor a couple of weeks ago for the first time.  He interviewed me for a couple of hours, and took several pages of notes.  Although we haven’t defined a core message for the book, we have some concepts to begin with, which I think will shape up nicely and be something worth reading.  What’s particularly interesting is that when I decided to write the memoir, I had no intentions of selling the book, or at least marketing it to sell, but I’ve been very encouraged by my supporters, and now feel a higher sense of accountability to ensure that whatever I write will be interesting and worthy of the couple dozen dollars someone may shell out to get a copy.  Nevertheless, I have my first assignment, which is to identify a core message, and write a 10 page introduction for the book.  The non-conformist in me would argue that it would be possible to have more than one main theme, however, I must defer to the experts I have asked to assist me, and wrestle with my conscious to identify the most urgent and important message I want to communicate, considering this may be my first and last book.  Instead of doing this on my own, I thought it might be interesting to request feedback from my supporters by inquiring what you would be most interested in reading about.  Here are my top three potential core messages for the book.  Have a look, and leave a comment below this post should you feel compelled to do so.

  • Importance of self-worth and self-acceptance – Arguably, my low self esteem has been the primary driver to become an over-achiever in anything and everything I have done.  I’ve never been the smartest, or most talented, but my need for approval manufactured a grit-like quality that allowed me to achieve success in many ways, or alternatively blow mounds of money to gain acceptance and/or approval.  Go big or go home is an understatement when fumbling to find the write words to describe my over-the-top style.  However, once I was able to expose this deficiency, it has allowed me to grow in many ways, and redefine what is most important to me while I’m here on earth, and what I want to leave behind when I leave it.
  • Transparency – For the majority of my life, I’ve always been very forward and direct.  I don’t like small talk, and have never been afraid to speak my mind, however, I didn’t come to know the value of transparency until early adulthood.  When you expose your own fears, weaknesses, and sin, it can create a sense of intimacy only described by experience.  Unfortunately, the flip-side is that transparency can get you cut out of deal, betrayed, judged, and worst of all, killed.  Telling the truth can get you hurt, but living a lie is much worse.
  • Doing the right thing – Anyone who knows me well, knows that doing the right thing is extremely important to me.  At times, I have chosen not to do the right thing, but when possible, I’ve made things right.  A person might think that doing the right thing will result in good things happening, but in my experience, it’s been quite the opposite, especially from an outward perspective.  We have opportunities to do the right thing every day, and more often than not, people choose to do what’s best for them.  Yes, we are selfish creatures, but I plan to spend the rest of my life attempting to prove up that doing the right thing is what matters most.

No matter the core message, my life stories will be interwoven throughout the book, as to draw reflection and perspective to the main theme. I also need to identify who my main audience is.  This is particularly tough for me, because I think my story has potential to appeal to many demographics, and especially young adults, as well as men and women alike.  However, it would be interesting to hear from those that do find what I have to say appealing and why.  Thanks in advance for your help, and for being part of the journey.

The Gift of Giving

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Tomorrow is Christmas.  It’s a day of giving and receiving.  In addition to the presents under the tree, perhaps we could give…

  • The forgiveness we’ve been witholding
  • Another chance to a loved one who deserves it
  • A hot meal to someone who is hungry
  • A random act of kindness to a stranger
  • Our kids some quality time
  • Our family a break
  • Our feelings a vacation
  • Ourselves some quiet time

Take a moment this Christmas to remember what matters most.  Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Daniel, Ashley, Kyson, & Sariah…oh and Sadie (our dog) and Kikki Reece (our new cat)

The Secret Sauce

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Many times over my entreprenuial career I’ve been asked what the secret to success is, and most often my response would be…”you need to work hard, work smart, leverage your time…” or some other lame arse answer.  Although all of that may have something to do with it, for me, I think what has allowed me to be successful is a combination of the following, among other things.

Risk Perception – No one in my family had ever graduated from High School, much less college.  It wasn’t something anyone talked about.  Frankly, had I not played baseball at an above average level, I would have most likely never went to college.  I sold candy out of a backpack in Junior High, cut lawns in High School, and started my first business when I was a sophmore in College.  I never thought that any of this was abnormal.  It wasn’t until several years later as I started to become more worldly did I discover that my course was a bit different than most.  However, it would also be fair to say that my risk perception was primarily due to ignorance rather than fearlessness; at least earlier in my career.  The point is that I never perceived any risk to any of my initial endevours; I didn’t know any better or any different.  Thank God!

Failure – Fear of failure is what prevents most people from taking action.  For me, experiencing failure is what has allowed me to survive and thrive.  Failure is part of learning.  No one has ever been great at anything the first time they’ve tried.  Failing in business can certainly carry a heavy stigma, especially if bankruptcy is involved, however, life goes on.  I don’t like to fail, but having experienced it many times, makes it a bit easier to accept, learn from it, and move on.  I’m grateful for my failed experiences.

Narcissism – Earlier this year I was ordered to be evaluated by a pshycologist.  The results indicated that I am slightly narcissistic.  For someone who has spent a considerable amount of time aspiring to be a servant leader, and who values humility above all other human qualities, this was a bit difficult to learn.  I plan to dive down into this more in another blog, or possibly in the book, but for now let’s just say that I am coming to terms with the fact that there may be some truth to the doctor’s opinion.  I am not admitting nor denying, just keeping an open mind.  There’s no doubt I have always had a lot of confidence, which should never be confused with self worth.  I have an average IQ (115,) but although never tested, I would say that I have an above average EQ and SQ.  Put all this together, and you may have a narcissit, or just a healthy balance of confidence and intellegence.  I’m hoping for the latter.

Timing – I responded to a late night infomercial to become an independent Internet consultant when I was 19 years old.  I managed to spread the $3k sign up fee over 3 credit cards and 90 days later the company was bankrupt.  I had sold only one web site, which the company I was selling for was going to build.  Considering the fact that they were now out of busienss, I had to make other arrangements.  I taught myself HTML and managed to put together a website for my customer on my own.  Three years later, I had 100 employees, and was the president of a company I helped take public and had built thousands of websites.  Timing is everything.

Action – I have an attitude of action and a high sense of urgency.  Paralysis of analysis can be fatal.  The guy that cuts my hair is a brilliant entrepreneur that has never owned a business.  I encourage him all the time to stop talking about it, and do something.  Taking action can be difficult, but you can’t steal second with your foot on first.  Do something.

Long before I knew the value of people, system and processes, sustainable financial models, culture, brand building, etc., I could only do one thing, and that was to take action.  If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, or want to be a world champion bobsledder, you must take action.  No one is going to do it for you, and unfortunately, there is NO SECRET SAUCE.

Nigerian Nightmare

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Last night, I watched a documentary on Enron.  It reminded me how hypnotizing greed can be.  It can make even the most scenical of skeptics surrender to it’s charm, and I am no exception.  Ten years ago, I got caught up in a Nigerian scam.  It involved a bogus multi-million dollar contract from a major oil company, $10,000 in cash concealed in two first class dopp kits, a Nigerian chief, and a Montblanc pen.  The story is quite incredible, and ends with me escaping in the middle of the night from my hotel in Warri to avoid being kidnapped.  Perhaps I’ll spend a couple of hours one day inventorying the events of my Nigerian nightmare, but I mainly wanted to make it known that I’m no stranger to greed.  The deal reeked like a dead fish, and I sank my teeth in.

On more than one occassion, I’ve described greed as the gremlin that crawls up your back, looks you in the eye and tells you that you deserve more.  Like the line in the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, when the young actor asks his nemisis what his number is, and he says “more.”  More is never enough.

I’m no politician, nor am I the next Robin Hood, but I think there may be something magical about repressing greed.  I’ve never experienced or heard of anyone on their death bed wishing they had time to earn more, get more, or spend more.  Sure, I want nice things for my family, and myself, but not at any cost.

So to all the other conservative liberals, and capitalistic democrats out there…give generously, do the right thing, and hang on to your soul; you may need your ticket punched some day.