“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Tom Peters “Wow” hollers grandson John (JR to his siblings) as he pulls a strip of paper off of one of his Christmas presents. Even though the contents are not visible, his elevated enthusiasm for the yet to be seen toy is highly contagious to family members engrossed in this scene. Each strip of paper, revealing more and more of the gift, is followed by another “Wow”. Later during the day, in a quieter moment - which is difficult to find on … [Read more...]

Little Sister

“Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.”      Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Seeing the familiar number on my cell phone, I quickly press the button and say, “Hello, Janice.”  She begins, “Hey, Robert.”  (Unfortunately, at this point in my life, I am always a little nervous when answering the phone call from one of my sisters).  I am thinking about the possibility of bad news. It is part of being a certain age. Parents experience this when children call, … [Read more...]

The Most Powerful Words

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Maya Angelou ‘I love you’ are influential words.  Most of us were introduced to this phrase during childhood. When properly applied in life-giving situations, these three little words are a catalyst for exceptional outcomes.  Conversely, when used in selfish or other negative ways, this phrase can be emotionally hurtful and even destructive. ‘Love’ is not a neutral … [Read more...]

Ross Brown’s Note

“The word that is heard perishes, but the letter that is written remains.” Traditional Proverbs A gentleman is walking down the rustic, creaky-sounding pier as I finish the cleanup task on my boat, now in its lift in the designated boat slip for our condo. As he approaches me, he  introduces himself as Ross Brown, who is  renting a condo in Building F,  located on the eastern edge of our community, across the marina water channel from where we now stand. Ross is looking for help in towing … [Read more...]

Keeping it Real

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”    Oscar Wilde The exceptional person in our world says exactly what they are thinking in any given situation. All of us know at least one person who rarely holds back their thoughts. They stand out. Such a ‘stand out’ is my wife Carol, known by our children and me as someone who “speaks her mind.” Some in our extended family would call it frank speech. While there are times I wish Carol would hold back a few words (sometimes a sentence or two), I … [Read more...]


“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care, for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”    The Buddha “Because I said so!” is a familiar statement – a parental proclamation we heard during childhood and probably have asserted to our own children. Representing a tactic to accomplish compliance without further argument, the request often came at the end of a frustrating conversation with a parent. Do you remember? Perhaps, you were one of the few of us who … [Read more...]


"Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated.  It is hard to make something simple.”   Richard Branson Within your organization and family, do you ever want to throw up your hands, exasperated by the complexity of just about everything of importance? Does it seem at times that those surrounding us make things more complicated than necessary?  Perhaps even on purpose? Confucius, the great Chinese teacher and philosopher, commented on such frustrations when he said, “Life … [Read more...]


“Just whistle while you work Put on that grin and start right in to whistle loud and long Just hum a merry tune Just do your best and then take a rest and sing yourself a song When there’s too much to do Don’t let it bother you, forget your troubles Try to be just like a cheerful chick-a-dee And whistle while you work . . .” Source:  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs She is singing along to a song being played as background music at the restaurant in Orange Beach, Alabama where we … [Read more...]


“You cannot change what you refuse to confront.”  (Source unknown) “Rob!” shouts Larry, jolting my mind out of deep thoughts during an ongoing conversation in which I am not engaged.  Unfortunately, the only word I hear is the last one – my name – which my son-in-law has purposely spoken louder to get my attention. (He’s probably a little upset at being seemingly ignored). Has this ever happened to you? Perhaps you have been the person not being heard. If so, you know how Larry … [Read more...]

Bowline Knot

“The experience of being understood, versus interpreted, is so compelling, you can charge admission.”   B. Joseph Pine, II, The Experience Economy Ask any boating enthusiast to list the top marine knots they use and most will include the bowline knot.  Why do boaters like this knot?  As someone who has great passion for boating and fishing, and who often finds a way to be on the water, I can give three reasons: The bowline knot is simple to tie, absolutely will hold under a heavy load, and … [Read more...]