Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Should I Care About What's In It For You?

I had an interesting exchange with a marketing professional who asked my opinion on a sales piece she had been working on for some time.  I guess I totally offended her when I looked up at her after about 15 seconds and said, "Why can't I find 'what's in it for me' anywhere on this first page?"

She retorted, "Why does it always have to be about you?  This is about the company I work for."

"Then you have accomplished your goal perfectly," I said "However, we do not live in an altruistic world.  While you may see all the ‘good’ in asking for more business, the recipient of this may not and usually does not see any value unless you specifically point it out to them.  You must go out of your way to demonstrate the benefits of each and every product.  You must clearly demonstrate a value proposition from the recipient’s perspective.  You have to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and continually ask yourself, ‘What’s in it for me.’ (WIIFM)"

I totally lost her... 

Buyers do not care about the features of a company or their products, what they care about are the benefit they derive as a result of buying a product or service.  Features and benefits are completely different, yet so many marketing professionals struggle to articulate the differences.

In addition to the importance of promoting features over benefits I decided to jot down some other things I've learned over the years about written communications.  These are in no particular order and none are more or less important than any other.  Here we go:

You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of the recipient.  Not only must your communication stand out from the hundreds of messages the recipient is bombarded with every day, you must keep our messages short, simple and specific.  You must be respectful of the recipient’s time.

You should not assume the recipient understands a subtle call to action.  Therefore, you must specifically ‘ask’ the recipient to do something -- immediately.

You should demonstrate urgency in your call to action.  The ‘time to act is now.’  If the recipient does not act right away, the odds of them coming back to it later are slim to none.

You should not use industry jargon.  Sure jargon can be a short hand communication method for those familiar with your industry.  However, recipients clearly do not understand industry jargon.  Therefore jargon must be avoided.

You should assume the recipient knows little or nothing about what you are covering.  Therefore, you must go out of our way to explain complicate terms and conditions in laymen’s terms.

You should take great care to make sure your communications are positive and personable.  Business relies on relationships -- people only buy from people they trust.

You should always also try to instill upon the recipient the value in referring other people to buy from you.  You should ask for referrals wherever possible.

In summary, go out of your way to explain the positive result of products or services rather than barf-up all of the features it may have.  People don't care about how it works, they want to know how they benefit from using it... and that's why I care about 'What's in it for you.'

Monday, September 9, 2013

How "Idiot Work" Makes You Successful

Back to back championships are one of the greatest achievements any team can accomplish. Recently, Southlake, Texas’ Carroll Independent School District did just that when it took home the prestigious UIL ‘Lone Star Cup’ in back to back years.  The UIL Lone Star Cup recognizes the top school in Texas based on their overall team achievements in a variety of sanctioned athletic and academic championships.
Gold Medal Varsity A Teammates
Kyle, Eli, Eric, Coach, Connor

A tremendous part of Southlake - Carroll’s achievement goes to head coach Justin Leonard who led the both the girls and boys nationally ranked cross country teams to back to back state championships.  Talk about bringing home the bacon - that’s four state championships in two years!

Last Saturday Southlake hosted its only home cross country meet of the season.  The meet featured more than 1,750 runners from over 50 Texas school districts, some traveling from as far away as El Paso to try to beat the defending state champions.

If you are not familiar with cross country meets, they are basically 5k courses which are set-up in local parks.  Designing and constructing such a course is is a huge task requiring dozens of volunteers to create a safe and fair course for the runners.  Making a long story short, since this will be the last year my son Kyle will run on the varsity cross country team I wanted to help with the meet.  Little did I know I would be thrust into the position of “Course Captain” when Rick, the father who normally takes care of the course, had the privilege of watching his son run for team USA in an international race in Poland.

This is the first time coach Leonard didn’t have Rick’s help in setting up the course… and this was my first time EVER setting up a course, let alone being held accountable for it.  Rick did his homework prior to leaving and laid everything out for us making our jobs that much easier.

Of all of the things we needed to worry about in setting up the course for the meet, coach insisted on personally seeing to one particular item.  All day he kept focusing on this task like it was the most import aspect of the course preparation.  Finally after four hours of running to pick up the course materials, ATVs, water coolers, etc, coach set out on his task.

For several hours, with minimal interruption, coach focused his undivided attention to the task at hand.  As you would expect from a 4-time state championship coach, he painstakingly make sure no detail was overlooked.  Back and forth, over and over, he analyzed every angle.  He was on a mission - with a purpose - to dispatch his most important task of the day.

Watching coach Leonard on the riding lawn mower cutting the grass on the eve of one of the biggest meets of the season reminded me of a lesson I learned on my grandfather’s farm when I was barely a teenager.  My grandpa was a bona fide NASA rocket scientist during the Mercury and Apollo years.  His engineering designs resulted in accomplishments such as airplane de-icing, the slope of the space shuttle’s wing, and the birth of anti-lock brakes.  His leadership at NASA helped put a man on the moon and get him back safely.

Grandpa talking w/ President Nixon
regarding Apollo 13 (1970)
While staying with my grandpa one summer I noticed him sitting on a bucket on the half-mile long driveway picking out little pieces of broken glass from the gravel.  The glass had been there for years and didn’t pose any real threat to puncturing a tire, so I asked him why he was wasting his time picking up glass.  Surely he had to have better things to do with his time.

Boy was I wrong.  He told me that this was the most important thing he could be doing right now.  He was working on a new design and couldn’t get passed a particular fault in the data.  He told me he needed to turn his brain off and stop thinking in order to clear his head.  He called the task of shutting down his overactive thoughts “idiot work,” because any idiot could do it.  And at that moment, he was feeling like a big idiot because he could not solve his design problem. Grandpa finally had his eureka moment allowing him to go back to the drafting board and finish his design.

After a long, hot day of setting up the cross country course I knew we had to be back to the course before 5am for race day.  So I interrupted coach Leonard from his task and convinced him to get off the lawn mower as he have done all we could do for the day.

Coach explained how much clearer his head was after a few hours on the lawn mower.  For a brief time he didn’t have to answer emails nor did he have to deal with difficult parents or administrators.  Now he could focus on the meet… then his phone rang.  The call had to do with which bus numbers were going to be assigned the next day to transport the kids to the meet… and just like that coach was back to reality.

In case you were curious, both the girls and boys varsity teams took first place at the meet.  So the next time you are at a loss for solutions, think about coach Leonard and break out the lawn mower and go cut some grass.

So what’s your “idiot work?”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why My Love Affair with Android is Over

There is a point in your life where for some unknown reason middle-aged men become open to accept something new and exciting.  Perhaps a mid-life crisis includes a convertible, motorcycle or boat.  However, in my case, it involved a new love affair with arguably the finest smartphone that android has to offer, the HTC One.

The temptation to cheat on my comfortable iOS was overpowering.  After years on the un-innovating iOS platform, surely the grass HAD to be greener when using android. Others were singing her praises.  She was bright, quick and quite pleasing, particularly when she drops down deep into your front pants pocket.

About two weeks ago I could not stop myself and I broke down and started having an affair with the HTC One the day she became available on Verizon’s network.  I’d been watching her for months and could not wait to get my hands on her. 

Oh did she look and feel great in my hands!  I knew she was young and immature compared to my iOS, however, I figured I could get used to her quirks and find the right buttons to push with a little practice and patience.   I took great pleasure in exploring everything about her, but I soon learned she lacked the stamina to keep up.

I figured there had be a way to get her to last as long as I needed.  I tried and tried to find the right combination of pushes and pulls to keep her going, but it was wasted effort as she would collapse way too early to satisfy me.

Last night I came to grips with what I had done and wiped my new fling before apologizing to my ole iOS while reactivating her.  My ole standard was, and will continue to be the best thing in my life.  And to show how much she cares about me, she is getting some new upgrades later this month, which she promises I’ll enjoy.  I can’t wait!

What I learned

The HTC One on android is a stunningly amazing piece of hardware.  The 1080 HD screen is awe-inspiring.  The processor is fast as is the 4g network connection. The battery charges very quickly, which is good because if I kept it I would be topping it off constantly.

Finding your way around the OS was easy and intuitive.  There are plenty of options for customizing your notifications and adjusting basic settings easily.  All my required apps performed well, although they lacked some serious features.

Where I started to have trouble was realizing the HTC One truly does not run stock android.  It actually runs a version of their own software called “Sense” on top of, or in lieu the stock android apps.  The Galaxy S4, also has an overlay called “TouchWiz”.

I believe I would have been much happier with android had I been able to “unlock” the boot loader on the phone and load a stock version of android on it.  In other words, had I been an AT&T customer, I would have opted for the “Google edition” of the device, and not the manufacturers version.  I have the Google Edition of the Nexus 10 tablet and find it to be just fine for my needs.

I am convinced that had I been able to uninstall or disable the bloat-ware loaded by HTC and Verizon I would have been far more satisfied with the device.  However, within 24 hours of making the device available, Verizon made it impossible to “root” the device.  I am appalled that Verizon took the direction it did, especially considering how android has always been known as being “open.” Shame on you Verizon!

Some of the things that make the “Sense” version of the apps inferior include:

Contacts- Adding a contact from the phone or messaging app only adds contacts to the device, not your default contacts location (i.e. Google).  Furthermore, there is no way to simply re-assign a contact from the phone to Google contacts.  Searching online the best workaround was to remember to “manually” add these people to your contacts after copying the phone number from the app.  Totally unacceptable.

Mail- The “sense” mail app is horrible.  There is no way to swipe to delete a message and no way to turn on viewing pictures in emails for a particular sender, let alone for all emails.  You cannot change the “reply to” address when sending messages.  What also drove me crazy is the new message indicator is only for messages I have not seen, it does not reflect the total number of unread messages.  In other words, once I open the mail app, the counter resets…   I tried several 3rd party mail apps, but none were able to open all my accounts (exchange 2012, gmail, yahoo & Hotmail)

Calendar- The calendar app was perhaps the best of the “sense” apps, but still lacking.  For example, there is no was to change the account on an appointment.  So if I want to move an entry from one account to the other it cannot be done.  Also, in exchange, when I accepted a meeting request, the app did not clear the originating email…

Camera- The camera is supposed to be great in low light, however I found it to be lacking.  For example, it would not take a decent picture of a fireworks display.  It was either overexposed or out of focus.  Also, when the camera is enabled the battery drain is intense.  Disabling the GPS helps, but that’s not really a good way to manage a device.  The Zoe feature from “Sense” where it take a 3 second video is a joke. (as it the “Sense” blink feed.

Keyboard- I really liked the “Swiftkey” keyboard app for the device.  It predicted well and allowed for swiping words.  I really liked it, until I found it would not run if I disabled the Amazon app store (Which is a huge battery hog!)  What should the app store have to be enabled in order to use an app?  Can anyone say DUH!

Battery- I could not believe how quickly the battery drained on the device considering it is twice the capacity of the iPhone's battery on paper.  I monitored it very closely via a spreadsheet so I could see which activities had the biggest draw on the battery.  I never thought about my battery drain on the now 2-year-old iPhone.  Very occasionally, perhaps once a month, I’d get a warning I was down to 20% left.   However, on the HTC I was constantly running low.  After about a week I began monitoring the average burn rate per hour on a spreadsheet and found it to be 5.6% per hour, or an average of running less than 18 hours between charges.  That may appear adequate, but on 4 of the days I had the phone it completely drained and shut off.  (I cannot remember the last time my iPhone died)  On the other days I turned off as much of the features as I could getting it down to as low as 3.8% burn one day… but after a day or two I have to re-enable those battery hog features…  The problem is that the last 20% of the battery goes unexpectedly quick, which skews the numbers.  For example, the last 20% of drain took less than 2 hours on more than one occasion…  I am convinced I’m over analyzing the battery life.  I know I was hammering on the device for the time I had it, but its life was unimpressive compared to my old iPhone.  But let’s say the battery was equal to that of my 2-year-old iPhone, what’s going to happen to its capacity 2 years from now when a full charge is 85% of the original life?

In conclusion, as gorgeous as the physical hardware is, it is not enough to overcome the combination of the less than stellar battery life and inferior core apps.  Had Verizon not blocked the ability to root the device I may have come to a different conclusion…

I really wanted to switch to the HTC One on android.  But now I’m even more dedicated to Apple and Mac.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed they don’t make me regret my renewed loyalty by messing up too much with iOS 7 in a few weeks!

Friday, March 1, 2013

15 Minutes of Fame! Lights, Camera, Action!

Have you ever thought about being a celebrity?  A few weeks ago I got to experience a side of being a celebrity which very few people ever get to experience.

Let me explain.  One of my responsibilities during Super Bowl is to make sure the press conference podiums performe flawlessly.  The Half Time Show entertainer has a press conference the Thursday before the Super Bowl.  This year was no exception.  The Half Time Show press conference featured Beyonce. (Beyonce is pictured here from where I stood in the wings during the press conference)

It is customary to give one final podium check about 10 minutes before we go live on the air.  With that, I approached Brian McCarthy, VP of Communications for the NFL, and the press conference Master of Ceremonies.  I asked Brian if it was OK for me to make one last podium check.  He told me in his typical dry and matter of fact tone to proceed.

I radioed the television truck to standby.  Then I slowly walked out to the center of the stage and up to the podium.  As usual, I started to say, "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.  This is the final sound check of the podium microphone..."

... and then it happened!

The lighting designer punched in his opening cue and the lights came on in full force and moved into the position I was standing.  This was followed by an estimated three thousand (yes thousand!) photographers jumping to their feet and taking pictures of me to check their light settings and focus.  Every camera in the room was pointed right at me!

The sounds of the sea of shutters going off was unlike anything I've heard before.  I've followed this same procedure for a half a decade at the Super Bowl and never had so many photographers take pictures like this.

So I continued, "This sound check is for the television trucks and the videographers in the back of the room..."

Thousands of camera shutters continued to whir!

"Please check your sound levels one last time before we get started..."

Thousands of camera shutters continued to whir!

Then I could not help but deviate from my routine.  I went on, "For the still photographers in the room, this will be your last chance to check your lighting and focus..."

OMG! I could not believe it, but the sound of the camera shutters intensified to an obnoxiously loud clicking and whirring!

I could no longer keep a straight face... "I can't say I've ever had so many pictures taken of me at one time! What are the odds someone might actually get a picture of me to turn out."

The more than four thousand media personal room thought I was funny, and they let out a laugh.

I waited for the laughter to settle down then I finished with, "I hope I didn't break your cameras.  Please enjoy the press conference which should start in just a few minutes.  Thank you."

More laughter and a round of applause ensued as I walked off the stage.

Brian met me at the steps.  He looked right at me with a deep stare.  I thought I was in big trouble for breaking from my routine.  In in his mater-of-fact tone, Brian started, "Geez, how am I supposed to follow that!  Then he cracked a big grin and continued, "You got applause for a sound check!  That's just not right!  Nice job!"

For as long as I live I will never forget the sound of all those cameras snapping pictures of me on stage.  It was awesome to experience this first hand.  However, I must say, if that happened everywhere I went, like it does for celebrities, I would not like it any more than they do. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Don't Be a Sore Loser

One of the most sacred things in baseball is the professionally manicured green grass. The groundskeepers take significant pride in their fields. If anyone other than a player or fellow grounds crew member even thinks about stepping on the grass you'll immediately be reprimanded with a, "keep off the grass!" command.

I understand how much work the grounds keepers put in to making the grass so beautiful. However, I don't understand why they have to be such jerks about trying to keep people off the grass, especially when they are allowed to be on it.  

Case in point, this years World Series Games 3 & 4 was held in the America League city of Detroit, Michigan.  Heather Nabozny is the head groundskeeper for Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.  As usual, she gave considerable grief to those of us who came in contact with "her" field.  As you can see in the picture, one of the MLB Network sets was entirely on the grass, which meant we HAD to be on the grass, regardless of the harassment we received from Ms. Nabozny.  I bet I heard them bark at me at least a dozen times!

Being my 5th appearance at a World Series I've come to expect this kind of abuse from the grounds crew.  But, what I never expected was the behavior of the grounds crew when the San Francisco Giants dismissed the Tigers when they swept them in 4 straight games.

As soon as the deciding game was over, the grounds crew made a human line along the first base line in front of the Giant's clubhouse and refused to let anyone pass.  Their attitude was, "You ain't goin' to celebrate on our turf!"  Players, their families and the media were shoed away from the field at every opportunity.  I've never seen such classless behavior from a professional sports organization.

Two years ago the San Francisco Giants became the world champions when they won Game 5 against the Texas Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington.  At no time did the Rangers organization even try to prevent the Giants from celebrating their victory.

What I've taken away from this experience is to avoid being a sore loser.  Grace and dignity should be exercised, even when your team gets spanked at home.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Car Hits Student on Bike, GEICO Denies Claim!

Picture this in your mind… A backpack-clad student is riding his bike to school on a designated “Safe Routes to School” multi-use sidewalk adjacent to school property.  He notices a car pull up to a stop sign, which intersects the multi-use sidewalk.  He sees the driver look right at him, then look to the left toward oncoming traffic.

As the student crosses in front of the car (there was no stop sign on the multi-use sidewalk), it suddenly accelerates and cranks the wheel to the right.  The bicycle's pedal was bent under by the impact with the license plate and the bike was thrown half-way into the first lane of the 7 lane divided road.  The student was thrown onto the hood of the car with such force that he bounced all the way to the windshield then he fell off the car.  The his head hit so hard it split his helmet!

The driver of the car got out to make sure the student was not injured and provides him with his contact information stating repeatedly he'll take care of everything.  As the driver went back to his car to leave the school's parking lot attendant stopped him and asked he stay until the police arrived.  Who knows why the driver was in a hurry to leave.  It’s a good thing the police and EMS arrived within a few minutes.

After a thorough once-over by the paramedics, they were pleased to report that the child is understandably seriously shaken; yet fortunately, no injuries were apparent.  A sigh of relief could be heard from the ever-growing crowd that was gathering.

The driver told the police he saw the bike approaching, yet he never looked back to see where it was before he took off from the stop sign.  He went on to say he wasn’t a bad guy and he never meant for this to happen.  He repeatedly said to the cops he would take care of the damage.  He didn't want to tarnish his good reputation.  He wanted to keep his insurance company out of this.

The student is on the #2 cross-country team in the nation and takes his training seriously.  So as you would imagine, his bicycle was not inexpensive.   The helmet is worth about another $150, as is the speedometer.  With this indication in hand of what it might cost to replace the bike if it could not be fixed, the driver decides to turn the claim into his insurance company, GEICO.

Without getting a statement from the student or reading the police report, GEICO immediately denies the claim.  To add insult to injury, the driver of the car is now demanding the student he hit pay for the damage to the car!

The basis of GEICO's denial and the driver's request for payment is thier interpretation of State law which says the bike should have been riding on the 45mph- 7 lane divided road, and not on the designated multi-purpose sidewalk as allowed by city ordinance.  According, the student was clearly at-fault because he was more than 50% negligent, in their opinion.  Furthermore GEICO, says if you want to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk you must only travel in the same direction as the cars on the road!

The actual quote from the GEICO claims rep was, "The (driver at a stop sign) would have had the right of way because (the bike on the sidewalk) was riding the opposite direction of traffic (on the road).”

The student doesn’t have the resources to pay for both his bike and the damage to the car.

Do you think he should raise money to pay for car and bike, or raise money to fight GEICO in court?

PS. I can never replace my son, and I could not be any happier that he was not seriously injured.  However, who would ever imagine both the driver and GEICO could steep to such a despicable lows.  Who wants to stand up with Kyle and me and fight the driver and GEICO?

P.S.S.  If you believe GEICO was irresponsible in how they handled this claim by not properly investigating it, please send an email to the Texas Department of Insurance at (reference GEICO Claim #0452598921010017)

UPDATE: 9/28 A GEICO claims manager was moved to call me as a result of my complaint with the department of insurance.  He proposed to pay for HALF of the damage after they send an adjuster out to survey the damages... (I so wanted to ask him if that would be for the front half of the broken helmet or the back half!)  Needless to say, I declined his offer.  After which he told me that according to his records the manager is now saying the original adjuster said I was un-responsive and unwilling to provide them a statement and that's why they denied the claim! (if that's the case, then why did they originally say it was because of the direction of travel on the sidewalk?) I asked him to go listen to the recording of our conversation.  He said he can't listen to the recording because GEICO does not record its claims calls.  This is absurd!

UPDATE: 9/29 Great news!  The professional technicians at Performance Bicycle performed a thorough assessment of the damages to the bike.  Using the latest technologies they made multiple measurements and determined the frame was not in perfect alignment, however, it was within acceptable tolerances.  Unless they find hidden damage while making the repairs the cost should be less than $300.

I still can't figure out why GEICO immediately denied the claim rather than investigate it by taking statements, reviewing the police report, and reviewing damage estimates.

I guess it is like the story goes, you get what you pay for!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

HEADLINE: Hikers Survive Mountain Lion Encounter- Die in Fiery Golf Cart Accident

How many times have you read a headline about a hiker getting mauled by a wild animal?  How many stories do you read regarding hikers falling off the side of the trail to their deaths?

How much you want to bet that local journalists surrounding the National Parks and Forrest Systems have function keys programmed with macros assigned to spit out text for the more common ways hikers die on the trails.  The way I figure it, had our party been mauled by the mountain lion we encountered, the reporter in Missoula, Montana would have simply typed, “Four businessmen from around the country died today on the Baker Lake trail when…” (Then he or she would hit the <F12> key to complete the grizzly details of a wild animal mauling.)

That said, I’m confident that no one has ever written about a golf cart careening off the top of a mountain.  There is no function key for that!

Look, I can’t make this stuff up!  Here’s what happened… Four of us (To protect the innocent we’ll call the others Scooter, Woody and Roger) had a free morning during a recent conference in the western mountains of Montana right on the property line of the Bitterroot National Forest.  The place we were staying at had golf carts for the guests to use to get around the grounds and tool around a logging trail bordering the property.

Maintenance topped off the fuel tanks of two golf carts and we set off on what we now call the Baker Lake Expedition.

We didn’t really realize the trailhead for Baker Lake was 12 miles up the side of a mountain via a working logging road.  Two hours after leaving the property, the golf carts made it up the side of the mountain climbing from 4,200’ to nearly 7,000’.

From the trailhead we set out on foot to find Baker Lake.  I had the trail map, my Garmin GPS and carried a pack with sunscreen, Tylenol, Benadryl, cookies, trail mix and several bottles of water just in case.  After about 1.25 miles of strenuous hiking the others were falling back.  So I decided to forge ahead, find the lake, and report back how much farther it was.  Turns out the lake was only another quarter mile up, or 1.5 miles from the trailhead, nearly on the Idaho border 8,000’ above sea level.

Note: First Rule of Hiking… NEVER hike alone.

About fifteen minutes after setting out by myself I came upon the lake.  It was crystal clear and stunning.  I headed to my right where there was a clearing where I could get a better look at the lake and snap a quick picture proving the lake actually existed.

After a minute I broke into the opening.  What do I see a few dozen yards right in front of me?  A freaking monster of a mountain lion staring directly at me.  I approached from upwind, so he knew exactly how close I was.  He turned and slowly started walking toward me to get a better look at his next meal.

Note: First Rule of mountain lion encounters… Remain calm.  Give it room to pass.  If you must, stay and fight.  Hold your ground.

Note: Second Rule of mountain lion encounters… Never, ever, turn your back on a lion.  Know where it is at all times.

Note: Third Rule of mountain lion encounters… Don’t run from a lion.  They will mistake you for prey.

I turned and high-tailed it out of there!  I figured if I could get back to the guys quickly there would be safety in numbers.

Note: Second Rule of hiking… Stay on the trail.

I was in such a hurry I forgot to pay attention to where I was going, all I cared about was I was creating distance between me and the lion.

All of a sudden I stopped dead in my tracks on top of a rock outcropping with only one way in and out.  I looked around… I was cornered and lost.  (…and as scared as I’ve ever been in my life!)

I remembered I had the trail map and GPS- Duh!  I looked around and didn’t see the lion, so I took a few bearings and took off at a very quick pace yelling “lion!” -- in a very high pitched voice -- to warn the others.  On my way back toward the trail I came across Scooter who was off the main trail.  He was lost too!

He’d asked if I saw Woody who went to catch up to me at that lake.  I said no I hadn’t seen him, but I had seen a lion!  Then I asked where Roger was… he was waiting for us about a quarter mile back.  My heart was still racing, and I wasn’t in any mood to go back toward the lion to look for Woody, I wanted as much space between me and the lion… I headed back to where Roger was.

After a few minutes I started to calm down.  I realized I no longer had to out run the lion as long as Woody was between us and the lion!

Note: Third Rule of Hiking… Never leave a man behind.

I got my courage back and Scooter and I set off to find Woody yelling his name every few minutes for over a quarter hour.  We finally sighted him way off the main trail in a swampy area.  I went in after him… looking over my shoulder with every step after noticing all the bear and lion tracks in the mud.

Finally, all 4 of us were back together on the trail and within an hour we were back to the trailhead where Woody and Roger jumped into their golf cart and Scooter and I jumped in ours as we took the lead for the 12 mile trek back.

Picture a working logging road.  It climbs at very steep grades with hair-pin switch backs every so often which changes direction to stay on the face of the mountain.  The single lane road was a slippery combination of dry dirt and gravel with heavy ruts.  There are no guard rails or buffers of any kind.  Basically, the edge of the road plummets 8,000 to the bottom of the cliff!

After a few minutes we came to the first switch back.  These turns were much easier on the way up because of the limited speed we could get out of the golf carts.  Scooter slowed our golf cart to a crawl to negotiate the hairpin turn.  For a split second the cart began to go into a four wheel drift on the road.  The tires bit, we both sighed, and went on.

Behind us Woody approached the turn, took his foot off the gas and pressed on the break.  It didn’t move – the cart was still accelerating from its momentum.  He pressed again – nothing!  Both he and Roger looked down at the break and realized Woody’s camera fell out of the cubby hole it was in and lodged itself behind the brake pedal.  There was no time, the turn was on them.  Woody cranked the wheel hard to the left; the wheels skidded on the dirt and would not bite.  Then the cart rose up on two wheels at the apex of the turn, still being driven by momentum down the steep grade.

Woody leaned out as far as he could.  Roger did everything he could to move his center of gravity toward the driver side.   With tires screeching and gravel flying from the two wheels remaining on the ground, the cart was sliding toward the edge of the cliff.  Then all of a sudden the tires bit into the dirt and snapped the golf cart down the straight away.

No one said a word the rest of the way down the mountain…  We were a bunch of scaredy cats!

To see the actual GPS tracking of our expedition please visit