Thursday, April 18, 2013


Greetings All:

Like all of you, I am sick about what happened Monday in Boston.  It was a damn shame.  An act of cowardice with a side order of bullsh#$ justification.   I do not care about your list of grievances about our government.  You killed innocent people,  including a child.  You, sir/madam, have forsaken both human decency and political dialogue.  You are a coward.  And, oh my the way, if anyone helped you, I add them to this list.

I do not want to give time or energy to the villains.  I want to honor the heroes.  Those who gave aid, those who at personal peril grabbed backpacks that might easily been a bomb to save their fellow citizens.  The Soldier who after ruck marching 26.2 miles rushed to the aid of the injured even as their blisters broke through their boots. 

I am a New York Yankees fan.  I do not cheer for the Boston Red Socks.  If you are a friend of mine on Facebook you may recall how I called out Tom Brady for not putting his hand over his heart during the Star Spangled Banner in a playoff game.  With those disclaimers offers, I say this:

Boston:  We are your citizens.

Though we may cheer for other teams, vote for other candidates, we are your citizens.  Boston, the source of liberty, the place where the shot heard round the world was fired, where Paul Revere road, where liberty in America can proudly trace her roots  lies, will rise again.  I heard our President say that Boston will run again.  I believe him.  I believe him because it is Boston.   It is the home of liberty.  And that being the case, as Americans, it is our home as well.

Be well my friends,

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Decade-Old T-Shirt

Greetings All:

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present...the decade-old t-shirt.  Well, it's not exactly 10 years old.  I got it during the summer of 2003 from a friend of mine.  Somehow, it made it from New Jersey to Arizona and now back to Iowa.  It's got a few holes, the color is faded and some stains.  It is beyond the stage of wearing in public, even the gym.  It is strictly regulated for the gym, inside the house and yard work.  It is like a felon on work-release.

I was thinking about why I have this particular shirt.   Why it was a priority, sub-conscious or otherwise, to keep it?  It may be as simple as it made it into the right bow/bag/crate to get moved.  Who knows, I might have even worn it during one or more moves.

I think the simple answer is- I like it.  I am a big Jimmy Buffett fan and the fact that I am a lawyer and it says, "ParrotHead Bar Exam."  As I recall, the term "Parrothead" has been around for a while.  Rumor has it that Mr. Buffett himself coined the phrase looking out on a sea of fans (lubricated in some fashion, at least some of them) dressed in the regalia that one wears to a Buffett concert.  I recall, but alas cannot find, the quote from Esquire magazine where it was written (if memory serves me) that, "[p]arrotheads are Deadheads with MBAs,..." or words to that effect.  Here's some more about Parrotheads if you're curious:

I love Buffett and that is a blog post in itself.  However, for this post, let's get back to t-shirts: 

I am a t-shirt guy.  I wear one just about every day and just like them.  Even when I had to wear a suit in the summer, I'd wear a t-shirt with my dress shirt.  If I have my choice, I'd just as soon wear a t-shirt if the weather is nice.  Although I am pretty sure there are no shirts that have survived college or law school, I have a tendency to hold onto them for a while.  I suppose that is a form or hoarding.  Then again, I respectfully and firmly offer in my defense that the shirt mentioned above (and marked as Defense Exhibit A for purposes of identification, :)) I do wear this shirt.

In fact, I was listening to Unstuff Your Life by Andrew J. Mellon.  In chapter six, he goes into detail about how to conduct a clothes purge.  His methods on organizing could be viewed from somewhere between tough love and downright brutal, depending on your perspective.  I have not listened to his whole book, but he has some good ideas.  I take comfort in the fact that notwithstanding this shirt is old and has some holes, I wear it.  It survives the purge, even avoids getting put into the sentimental box.  For more about Andrew's book, please check out the link below.  It is also available on, where I obtained it.

So why the affection for t-shirts in our world?  I suppose there is the purely functional aspect of them.  They are comfortable, easy to care for, cheep and versatile.  I believe all these reasons to be true.  However, I would also suggest there is another reason why t-shirts are so popular.  It is a way to express individual thoughts, opinions, loyalties and affections.  Give a grandparent a t-shirt with their grandkids on it and they will wear the thing out.  Just ask my Dad. :).

I have probably a dozen University of Iowa t-shirts.  One that I closely ration the wear of is my 2006 Big Ten Basketball Championship t-shirt.  After all, we're not Indiana and win it all the time.  Speaking of championship shirts, ever wonder what happens to the losing team's shirts?  After all, there has to be two "Champion" t-shirts to pass out on the field or court?  Where do these go?  They cannot just be given to Goodwill.  I found a link below that shows these shirts of the losers do find good homes in third world nations.   I wonder if any American tourists ever do a double-take seeing them in circulation.

I heard an urban legend that during the Battle of Mogadishu, as highlighted in the Black Hawk Down book and movie and the book is a compelling read by author Mark Bowden, that a Somali engaged U.S. forces wearing a Buffalo Bills Superbowl Champions t-shirt while wildly firing an AK-47.  If true, that takes surreal to a whole new level.

I do recognize the reality that my beloved Buffett t-shirt is soon to be beyond wear.  Likely it will perform one more service, on a hot day when there is grass to be cut.  It will be retired.  Perhaps it will become a rag but more than likely, simply throw away.  It had a good run but the time has come.  Mellon talks about there being no shame in throwing out clothes that have worn out. 

I found this quote from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations that sums this up, at least for me:

“All things fade and quickly turn to myth.”

If you have a favorite t-shirt you are still holding onto for whatever reason, feel free to comment on it.  I'd like to read about it.  Wishing everyone a great upcoming week, spring and summer. 

Best rgs,

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Book Worth Reading

Product Details 

Greetings All:

It is April and with it come certain rites of Spring.  The NIT tournament ended with a disappointing loss for my Hawkeyes, yet it was a good run.  In that "other" tournament you may have heard of, Louisville awaits the winner of the Michigan Syracuse game.  Thursday starts The Masters golf tournament, the first of the Majors.  As my neighbor Mike said earlier today, "That sure smells like a spring rain."  He was right, it did.

Of course, April is tax time and for those of you still waiting to file, you've got a week from Monday.  For those who are self-employed in some capacity, there may be the dreaded brown envelopes stuffed with receipts of sizes, shapes and amounts.  I lived that world once and cannot say I am disappointed to not have that concern.  Then again, it is the self-employed and the commissioned-compensated that make up a huge part of our economy.  I wanted to pay tribute to them and in the process recommend a great book I recently listened to.  More on the book and its author in a moment.

Here are a few facts to keep in mind:  There are 9.9 million self-employed people in our economy, as of September, 2012, according to the Office of Advocacy in the U.S. Small Business Administration, as cited in the American Express Open Forum.  

Now when we look at sales persons, the number is almost 14 million.  (13,835,090).  This comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2012.

The reason I included small business owners is that for the most part, their income comes from their ability to sell either a good or a service.  They likely do not have a salary, they "eat what they kill."  In other words, there is no salary, just a percentage of what comes in the door, thru the till and after bills and taxes, the rest is the salesman or small business owner. 

There are many people who earn their living from sales.  I would also strongly suggest that even if your income is from a salary, there are aspects of "selling" involved with what you do.  Perhaps more than you may realize.

It is for these reasons that I would like to invite you to check out Mr. Bryan Flanagan's book, So, You're New to Sales.   It is available in both audio and print.  I received my copy via and preferred to listen to it.  (As I have mentioned before, when you run as slow as me, you don't need music so I listened to most of it on the treadmill.)

So about the book, why should you listen to it?  If you are one of the almost 24 million people who "eat what you kill" the book will be both immediately valuable and practical.  Bryan began his career with IBM and jokes about still having wing-tip shoes.  He then moved onto the Ziglar Company.  For those of you who do not sell, the stories about Zig Ziglar are amusing and moving.  I believe that I came across the book looking for Ziglar material and Mr. Z does give an introduction.  However, this is Bryan's work and in the audio portion, you get to hear him read his own work.  This, in my opinion, adds to the audio presentation.

The book's message, in my opinion, is this:  Selling is an honorable profession, treat it as one.  Yes, it is hard.  Then again, if it was easy, everyone would do it.  One of the lines I love from the book is, "Timid salespeople have skinny kids."  It is funny and yet sadly, there is truth to it.  After all, if you eat what you kill, if you live (and your family) off of what you sell, then a lack of sales equals a lack of money.  Bryan has a blog post that goes into more detail about this comment:

He discusses the importance of planning out a sales call and doing little things that add up to overall success.  Arrive early, dress appropriately, make appropriate eye contact, don't be a "professional visitor," remember to listen more than you talk and so forth.  As I listened to his book, I thought of former Secretary of State Colin Powell's list of suggestions including, "Check small things," and "Get mad, then get over it."  (For a list of all of these suggestions, please see below:)

For the sales person, here is where the real money maker is (again, in my opinion)- The "POGO" approach.  POGO is a way to address a sales call in a systematic way.  POGO as you may have guessed is an acronym, standing for Person, Organization, Goals and Obstacles.  In the book, Bryan shows you how to take a standard approach and make it your own.  He offered these thoughts on POGO:  "Through POGO questions, you start to find out the potential client’s needs, and also start to get a profile.”  (To read more about POGO, please see the link below:)

If POGO is the method, then Bryan closes with the purpose of sales, to believe in what you are selling.  He tells of how belief and faith are critical to success in sales, and in life.  As I type this, thousands of fans are hoping either Michigan or Syracuse wins tonight's game.  Hope is fine, even important.  However, Bryan discusses the importance of believe in what one is selling.  This has a translation to everyone-you should believe in what you are doing.  If not, then seek another way.  As I listened to Bryan's book, I thought of a book I had listened to years ago, The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace Wattles.  It is over a hundred years old (1910) and still has meaning today.  I believe it is chapter 13 that discusses the importance of getting out of the wrong business.  What was true then is true today.

Years ago, I worked for a large financial company, in sales.  Although I firmly believe that my calling was not in that field, I cannot help but wonder what would have happened had I utilized the skills offered in this book?  I know that I had some traits and skills but being honest in the brutally clear light of hindsight, I was not a good sales person.  I do not think it had anything to do with the shine on my shoes or the brand-name of my suit.  I think it was because I did not want to do the things I needed to do to be successful.  Notice I did not say, "could not" do.  I simply elected not to do all the steps needed for success.  This book pulls no punches.  It does not say, "Don't worry, it will be fine."  Nope.  Dr. Bryan's prescription is to keep making sales calls and call him in the morning.  However, I think it is the truth. 

I am glad I listened to So, You're New to Sales, and hope you will enjoy it as well.  If you do not want to buy it, then I am confident you can find a copy at your local library.  It is worth both the time and the money.  If you do check it out, please let me know what you think.

Here are a couple of links to Bryan's website, the book and the Ziglar sites.  This probably goes without saying, but I am not plugging this book for any payment or expectation of compensation.  I picked this book to write about because it positively impacted me.

What are you reading or listening to?  Please let me know.  Worthwhile books are good to experience and better to share.

As I close, I think it is only appropriate to do so with a quote from Mr. Ziglar himself from his 1984 book, Closing the Sale:

"You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough people get what they want."

I agree.  Wishing everyone a great coming week and month. 

Best regards,


This post is being updated on April 7, 2013 at 1:52 p.m. to reflect the following:  I obtained permission from Mr. Flanagan to use the cover art of his book.  I neglected to mention this when I published this post last evening.  My apologies to this oversight.  Now, please, go read/listen to this great book!