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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Social Media Explained

I recently came across a chart which explains the primary ways various social media sites are being used today.  I don’t know who the author was, but it certainly made me chuckle as I read through it.

The basis of the comparison is a simple glazed donut.  It could be anything, but a donut fits well.  Here we go:

Facebook: I love donuts

Google+: I’m a Google developer… who likes donuts…

FourSquare: I’ve checked in @ Joe’s Donuts…

Instagram: Here’s a vintage pic of the donuts I'm about to eat…

Twitter: I’m eating a glazed #donuts right now…

YouTube: Watch me eat my donut…

Pinterest:  Here’s a recipe for my favorite donuts which I just ate…

Pandora: This group of songs about donuts will be folloed by 2 minutes of ads about donuts…

LinkedIn: One of my top professional skills is eating donuts at conferences…

Monday, May 28, 2012

Honor Those Who Served This Memorial Day

I never served in the military, although I tried to enlist at one point in my young and wild life.  It was right after a stint with AC/DC.  I spent a few years working with touring rock bands like them in the eighties.  Let’s just say my enlistment did not work out due to my refusal to follow through with certain testing requirements.

Today I’d pass those tests with flying colors.  I was young and stupid back then… Now I’m no longer young!  In other words, I’m too old to serve in the armed forces.  Yet, that won’t stop me from trying to give back to those who have served…

When I reflect on my incredible life, I cannot help but think that were it not for my freedom, I would have nothing.  If it were not for those brave men and women who have served in the armed forces, none of us would have the freedoms we enjoy today.  To the point, everything I have accomplished or accumulated would not have been possible had it not been for our military.

With that, I owe the deepest gratitude to those who have served in our military.  Please help me honor and remember those heroes this Memorial Day.

Nearly two years ago, I was appointed to the strategic board of directors of a new startup non-profit named Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers, Inc. (DVIC).  The DVIC board is comprised of a wide variety of retired military officers and private sector executives.  One of my fellow DVIC board members exemplifies those we should honor and remember on Memorial Day.

Major General (retired) James L. Dozier was born in Arcadia, Florida and a graduate of West Point Military Academy.  General Dozier served in our military for more than 35 years.  He served with the US Army and NATO with two tours in the Pentagon.  While serving in Vietnam, General Dozier received a Silver Star and Purple Heart for wounds he received during combat.  Later in his military career, General Dozier became the only flag officer of the US Military to be kidnapped by terrorist while his wife was chained up and held at gunpoint.  After a grueling 42 days of captivity where he sustaining permanent hearing loss as a result of being forced to listen to exceedingly loud music for hours on end, General Dozier was rescued by a special operations team.

As I mentioned previously, General Dozier and I serve together on the DVIC Board.  DVIC’s mission is to:

Train, and generate meaningful opportunities for, physically disabled veterans who will excel at proactively cross selling personal lines insurance products on behalf of leading independent insurance agencies. 

DVIC needs to raise enough capital to exceed our go/no-go threshold.  Once we accomplish our financial goal, we will begin to create a high-tech virtual operation for service-disabled veterans who will be well trained in sales or customer service, then either matched with local agencies for job placement, or they may choose to work within our virtual call center environment.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to help us help veterans find private sector employment, we’d love to hear from you.  Of course, donations are greatly appreciated.  For more information, please visit

So before you complain about your “bad day at the office”, take a moment to reflect on what the kind of days the likes of General Dozier and others have had serving our country; and honor and remember those who made it possible for us enjoy our freedom.

Friday, May 18, 2012

7 Keys to Leadership Excellence

If you follow my blog you know that I have the privilege of working in both the corporate world and the professional sports world.  I look for opportunities to try to tie things I learn in one area to another.

Yesterday was a great example of where the two intersected once again when Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic, autographed a copy of his book on leadership for me.

Pat, the author of more than 70 books, spent more than 40 years trying to motivate and lead professional athletes.  He learned that money is rarely ever a motivator.  He suggests there are 7 core principles that when used in their entirety makes a great leader.

He explained these traits as follows:

 1) Vision (a.k.a. goals)
  • keeps you focused (blinders),
  • keeps you fueled(passionate),
  • keeps you focused on finishing (wins vs losses)

Begin withthe end in mind

2) Communicate your vision effectively
  • must be important to you communicate as much as possible
  • communicate in away that people understand (be clear, be concise, and be correct)
  • communicate optimism (you choose to be optimistic)
  • communicate hope
  • communicate motivation and inspiration (figure out each persons motives)
  • communicate publicly

3) people skills (You can't coach them if you don't love them.)
  • be visible and available
  • listen to your people!
  • ask good questions! (what do you think?How would you make the call on this one?)
  • empower people- boost the selfesteem of your people!
  • delegate

... success without successors is not success...

4) character counts in leadership (guard your character)
  • honesty - tell the truth
  • integrity
  • humility

5) competence- be good at what you do!
  • be a good problem solver
  • put effectiveteams together
  • teach what you know - be life long teacher and a life longlearner (continue formal education, hang out with smart people, be a life longreader)

6) boldness - make the decision and move on.

7) a serving heart... It's not about me, it is about theorganization and the people in it.

Check out his book for yourself if you get the chance.  I can assure you it will be a great use of your time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Lead By Example

Josh Hamilton Leads By Example

Last night, two of Major League Baseball’s top sluggers faced off when the American League Champion Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton squared off against Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels.  The League expected this to be a real slugfest, so they chose to cover the game first hand.

Albert Pujols may have hit three home runs in one game one of the last times these two sluggers met during the World Series.  However, last night, Pujols went 0-4.  Since becoming one of the highest paid hitters in all of baseball, Pujols is batting a dismal .192 average with only one home run, which he hit earlier this week.

In contrast, Josh Hamilton went 3-4 with two solo home runs boosting his average to .407.  Unlike Pujols, Hamilton has hit 17 home runs, with a record breaking 4 home runs in one game earlier this week.

How rare is a 4 home run game? Very!  In the past 15 years 61 players hit for the cycle, 32 pitchers threw no hitters, there were 31 four-strikeout innings, 7 perfect games, yet only 4 players have had a 4 home run outings!

What’s interesting, though, is regardless of how well Josh has been hitting, he did something far more impressive last night.  He picked up a squeegee and swept the water out the dugout after a two hour rain delay.  It’s not every day you see a multi-millionaire slugger sweeping the floor.  So I could not resist and had to ask Josh if he thought he was a tad overpaid to be sweeping the floors.  Josh smiled and simply said, “Heck no, besides I have to do this at home, too.” (That's me in the photo right after I asked him...)

The moral of the story is I doubt Pujols would be hitting better if he were humbly sweeping the floors.  However, we are never too much of a super star to do the little things, like sweep the floors, which may lead to great success.

In case you were wondering, the Rangers won 10-3.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

There Is No "I" In Team

Recently (written in June, 2011) the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in the sixth game of a best of seven series to win the NBA Finals and hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time in franchise history.   What made this championship series so intriguing wasn’t the fact that I now live in Dallas and was pulling for the home team.  It wasn’t that I was rooting against LeBron James as a former Clevelander who thought his departure from the city was tastelessly handled.  It wasn’t because I was lucky enough to be on the floor at yet another NBA Finals as consultant to the National Basketball Association.  Nope, it wasn’t any of these reasons.
The reason so many people, along with myself, were fixated by this series was they all wanted to see if Miami could "buy" (rather than build) a championship. Thankfully, the collective sigh of relief came as the Mavs beat up on the Heat in Game 6 — revealing the much anticipated answer. No, you cannot "buy" a championship.

As the underdog, Dallas acted like professionals. Even Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Mavs refrained from his usual pot shot remarks during the entire Playoff run.  Dirk Nowitzki, the star player on the team was sick with a 102 degree temperature in Game 4, but he never complained – he got out there and played his heart out. The team worked together, without fanfare I might add, to beat what many were calling the ultimate dream-team of the chosen-ones.
(Here’s a picture I took of LeBron while holding a piece of
audio equipment during an interview after winning
Game 3…you can see my upside down face at the
top of the photo.)

On the other hand, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James were paid outrageous sums of money to be assembled in an effort to create a super-human team that on paper, simply could not be beat. They celebrated every small victory, every step of the way. They complained to the refs every time they thought they didn't get a certain call. They acted like school children who had never been in a playoff game before. All that and for what? Today, they are celebrating their accomplishment of being second-best.

Don’t get me wrong; Dwayne, Chris, and LeBron are great players.  They will win a championship some day, I am certain of that. However, we all have a reprieve from it happening the first year they were assembled in a "bought and paid for" fashion.  Look at it this way, even though LeBron scored a convened "triple double" (more than 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists) in Game 5, his team still lost. Some say LeBron is one of the best to play the game. However, to help keep it in perspective, LeBron doesn’t have a single championship ring.  Michael Jordan has 6!  

I’ve said it over and over again, I would much rather work with a team of very good players, like the Mavs, rather than a team of super stars, like the Heat.  There may be “I” in the middle of the word win, but “I” does not belong in the word team.  It’s the team as a whole, not the individual, who is responsible for winning.  Otherwise, LeBron would have several championship rings by now.

One last thing to take away from this series is while it is great to celebrate success, true professionals act as if they have been there before. They don’t make a big deal out of anything less than the championship. They don't talk trash. They WIN!

Remember, you can have great success in life if you constantly contribute your best to the team and act like you’ve been there before.

It's the Little Things That Win Championships

Last night (written in October, 2010) the National League Champion San Francisco Giants beat the American League Champion Texas Rangers in a best of seven series to become the 2010 World Series champions.  The best team won, although, living in the Dallas area, I was pulling for the Rangers.

What you may not know about me is I have the privilege of working with the major sports leagues in my spare time (I'll save that story for another blog.)  Last night I had the honor of preparing the Commissioner's Trophy before it was awarded to the World Champion Giants.  During events like this I get an opportunity to talk one on one to the players, coaches and owners of many sports franchises.

Over the past two decades it is funny how similar the message is from these people who reach the pinnacle of their profession.  Many begin by thanking God for giving them the talent to do what they do.  Most go on to say that everything they've done since they were a kid lead them to this.  Then, almost everyone, can't believe how lucky they are to have success.

Are the owners, coaches and players talented, yes.  But aren't all of the owners, coaches and players at the major league level equally as talented, yes.  So what really sets them apart?  Luck?

Let me put it another way, the difference between being in the minor leagues and major leagues is such a small difference.  Think about this, hitting is all about a batting average.  At a .250 batting average you are pretty good, but not a regular major league player.  However at a lifetime .300 average you are likely to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.  What does that really mean?  Well, if at 20 plate appearances you get just one more hit than the next guy, you'll be in the Hall of Fame.  1 in 20.  Think about it.

Don't sit on the bench and watch others contribute.  Just think, if you perform just one more time out of 20, perhaps you could be in the Hall of Fame someday.