Take A Stand

Have you been following the story about NFL player Ray Rice and his involvement in domestic violence?

He hit his fiancée, now wife, in an elevator and knocked her out cold. Initially, he got a two game suspension.

That decision was hotly criticized. Eventually, the NFL conceded that the decision wasn’t strong enough. They announced future domestic violence incidents would warrant a six game suspension. A second act would result in lifetime suspension.

Then a video came out of the actual act. It’s stark violence stunned our sensibilities. It wasn’t right. It didn’t seem tolerable. Outrage is being expressed.

In the aftermath of this, I heard some facts:

One in three women have experienced domestic violence.

One in five have been subject to inappropriate sexual advances by dates or family members.

Here’s the most shocking one to me: if a boy observes domestic violence in his home, he’s twice as likely to do it himself as he matures.

I’m one who observed domestic violence as a boy. I’ve helped my son be a man who doesn’t have to default to domestic violence because he didn’t observe it. I have helped my daughters to understand that there’s no place for it because they saw conflict resolved in a caring and mature way.

I suspect amongst our PalletOne team that there are both perpetrators and victims of domestic violence.

We saw it as kids or found ourselves with those who think it’s ok.

It occurs to me that this drama gives us an opportunity. Like the “two game suspension” NFL, many of us have become calloused about domestic violence. It’s bad, but it happens.

But, what if we took a stand? Not in my house. Not my kids. Not again. Let’s change directions.

Lou Holtz’s Formula For Success

I watched David Fehrety interview Hall of Fame football coach Lou Holtz on The Golf Channel’s show “Fehrety”.

If you can find it on the internet or On Demand television I recommend it to leaders to watch. It is full of leadership insights.

Holtz makes 150 motivational talks a year. He is gifted in boiling down leadership concepts into simple words that help you to retain. I got HQ Note material for two weeks listening to him.

He spoke about a recipe for success. According to him, people with a record for success exhibit three character traits.

Trusted. They do what they say they will do.

Committed. They are honor bound to strive to do the best they can do all the time.

Caring. They care about others in a genuine, authentic way.

Holtz says he endeavors to be that person first. Then he tries to surround himself with those people.

He says it’s a formula for success that hasn’t failed him. It rings true with me. How about you?

9/11 Remembrance

Thirteen years ago, I was holed up in an office in Bartow working some final details to achieve our purchase of PalletOne from IFCO Systems.

One plane had hit when I went in the meeting. Two more while I was in it. I raced home to watch history unfold.

I was reminded of many things that day:

Things change in an instant.

Man’s depravity knows no limits.

Extraordinary events provokes the ordinary to become heroes.

Sometimes it takes events like that to organize our priorities.

Unfortunately, our priorities don’t always stay aligned.

In sum, we live in a great country. A country that can be counted upon to respond to heroism when challenged.

God bless America!

The Importance Of A Positive Self Image

One of my friends told me about an exercise.

A woman described herself to a criminal sketch artist. The artist didn’t know it was her. The woman never looked at the drawing.

A friend came in next to describe the woman to the sketch artist. Again, the sketch artist didn’t know the subject. The friend never looked at the picture.

When the sketch of the friend was compared to the sketch created by the woman’s description, the friend’s portrait of the woman is so much more beautiful than the one produced by the subject.

My friend was moved by the exercise. It highlights the tendency of many of us to be super conscious of our shortcomings and imperfections. We let that consciousness cause us to doubt and to fear. It creates a hesitancy to speak, to act and to grow. It creates a life of discontent.

It reminds me of the old story about a Cherokee legend:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

“Lean” Thinkers Are “Lean” Doers

Hopefully, as we talk about where to look for opportunities to “lean” up our company, it generates your awareness of lean opportunities where we work.

But, being “aware” of lean opportunities and taking action to become leaner are two different activities.

To become leaner, we have to act.

What kind of actions?

Speak up. Describe to colleagues the things you see that aren’t lean. See what they think. See if you generate ideas to make it lean.

Experiment. Once you have a few ideas, pick one or two to try out. Conduct the experiment and see what happens. Recognize that each experiment tried helps you to have greater understanding. With that greater understanding, try again.

Assume there are better ideas somewhere. There probably are. None of us is smarter than all of us. Share experiments and what you experienced with others. They may have had experiences that allow you valuable insight.

The more you work to lean things up, the more confidence you develop that thinking about lean and acting upon those thoughts is the way to success. As your confidence grows, you are willing to put in the effort with the knowledge it will bear fruit.

Become a ” lean” thinker. It will lead you to “doing” lean as well.

Rebound From Your Mistakes

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill

I don’t know about you, but from time to time I make a mistake.

I misjudge people. I hire wrong and fire wrong.

I choose bad investments.

I can say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

I make bad judgments.

I’ve learned you can recover from mistakes. To be sure, some mistakes have permanent consequences. But no mistake I’ve ever made kept me from trying to do better as I continued on my path.

Churchill’s quote reminds you to not get stuck when you have a setback. Failure doesn’t have to be permanent. It doesn’t have to be the way you operate.

When you keep walking after the setback , you learn life keeps offering up shots at redemption. So, keep walking.

Self Improvement Brings Ultimate Satifaction

“There’s nothing noble in being superior to other men. True nobility is being superior to your former self.”

-Ernest Hemingway

 I’ve noticed this about people I admire. They usually are working on something.

 It might be developing a new skill.

 It might be achieving a new level of fitness.

 It might be improving their pursuit of faith.

 It might be stepping up the effort on being a better parent or spouse.

 It might be studying a new topic.

 It might be researching a new destination they plan to visit.

 It might be stepping out into a new volunteer effort.

 It might be cooking a new dish.

 It might be improving a process or product at work.

 Sometime we take up things because it will make us look good. We do it, because someone else is doing it.

 But, Hemingway notes that if our goal is to be better than others, satisfaction may be shallow when completed.

 You will be satisfied with your endeavors when you can say to yourself : “I’ve given my best effort. I’ve pressed and stretched. “


Be Constructive In Your Criticism

Keith Olbermann is a television journalist.  He is a brilliant writer and broadcaster who works at ESPN, but you may have seen him on other networks like CNN or MSNBC.

 I heard him interviewed recently.  He was asked about his reputation as “being difficult to work with”.  He responded to the question by acknowledging that in his early days that he was hyper-critical of others, letting them know of his disdain and it frequently made it difficult for him to stay on a team.  But, he said that he was changed.

 The interviewer, Charlie Rose, asked what made the difference.

 Olbermann said that things changed when he got a dog. He recounted that he would take his dog on a walk every day and was impressed with the dog’s joy.  “Every person, every dog and every plastic wrapper on the street offered him a new chance for exploration.  There was nothing he didn’t look forward to.  We walked the same way every day.  Seemed like thousands of times.  The dog was always happy.”

Olbermann said it caused him to think about the way he approached things.   For instance, rather than criticize the lighting in a studio I could start with: “This is a really great studio.  Do you think it would be better if we added a little more light?”

 Criticism is necessary to lean operations.  Candor is important when identifying shortcomings and initiating change efforts.  The question is always whether you leave scars as you criticize or state the opportunities for change. 

 Olbermann’s advice is to act more like a dog. Be joyful as you go.

A Tale of Hope And Effort

A business partner sent me this story today:

 Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl.

One was an optimistic soul.

The other took the gloomy view:

“We’ll drown,” he cried, without more ado;

So, with a last despairing cry

He flung up his legs and said “Good-by.”


Said the other frog with a plucky grin,

“I can’t get out, but I won’t give in;

I’ll just swim around till my strength is spent,

Then I can die with more content.”

Bravely he swam till it would seem

His struggles began to churn the cream.

At last on top of the butter he stopped

And out of the bowl he gladly hopped.


What of the moral?  ‘Tis easily found—

When you can’t get out keep swimming around.

My friend knew it, knew I would as well.  That’s because he’s had the experience of feeling up to his neck and having to paddle like crazy to survive.  He also has seen that not giving up and continuing to paddle will frequently create “butter. ”  The story instructs,  but it also encourages. Hope and effort is a winning combination.

Grateful, Humble: The Pharrell Williams Interview

“My story is the average story. It’s just filled with special people. What am I without them?”

Pharrell Williams

Williams is a singer, writer and producer who had a big year. His song “Happy” was no. 1 in 24 countries.

He attributes his success to be a result of the “alignment of stars”.

That being successful is a result of many factors of which he is “thankful”.

His testimony reminds me how much we depend on each other. We are helped by special people. But better still, we have the opportunity to be the special people who help others.

I recommend you watch this segment on CBS Sunday Morning. Here’s the link:


I hear there are other segments involving Williams. Google him and see what you find.

His interview reminds me to stay humble and to be grateful for the special people who have crossed my path. I’m grateful.




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