What to do When Bad Things Happen

“Those who overcome great challenges will be changed, and often in unexpected ways. For our struggles enter our lives as unwelcome guests, but they bring valuable gifts. And once the pain subsides, the gifts remain. These gifts are life’s true treasures, bought at a great price, but cannot be acquired in any other way.”   Steve Goodier Below is an excerpt from the fourth chapter of  The BET, which will be published in September 2019. “Have you wondered if positive people ever have negative … [Read more...]


“Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.” George Eliot Stepping forward, I extend my hand in greeting, saying, “My name is Rob Hackbarth, a member of the Midtown Optimist Club.”  Recognizing the name of our club, she cheerfully says, “the luncheon!”  Nodding my head, I warmly reply “Yes.”My wife Carol gives her a hug and seconds later we are walking up the aisle toward the rear of the church.  I whisper to Carol, “She remembered!” Carol insisted that we go to … [Read more...]

Pontoon Trip

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom . . .” Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Pulling away from the Caribe fuel dock, I safely idle our pontoon boat into the channel where other boats are moving in both directions near Perdido Pass, the scenic passageway entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. On the other side of the canal is popular Robinson Island, where a number of families have already gathered in small boats. After a few minutes in the idle only zone, and just past the signs … [Read more...]

Remember Who You Are

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.”  Josh Billings  It is an emotional interview. How could it notbe? Overcome with tears, Clyde stops talking a couple of times. Only five months earlier, he lost his son Paul in a plane crash. In the midst of Clyde’s great sadness, I am privileged to hear his inspiring story . . . unable to listen without being affected. As parents, we understand the yearning to have a positive influence on our children, an effort in which … [Read more...]

Simple Leadership

There is a huge amount of information on leadership. If you decided to make the study of leadership a full-time job for the rest of your life, you would not be able to make a dent in reviewing the available material. The list of books on leadership is long and diverse.  American history is replete with accounts of exemplary leadership from among presidents and members of the Armed Forces. Conventions and seminars abound with workshops and keynotes on this popular topic.  Scores of … [Read more...]

The Dividing Line

The company my wife Carol and I founded almost five decades ago, Hackbarth Delivery Service, was launched from  our small three-bedroom home in an historic neighborhood of Mobile, Alabama. A sun room off to the side of our small kitchen  served two purposes -- half for Carol’s den and the other was my office. A couch  providing seating in the den became the dividing line between my office and Carol’s den. Not enough for either purpose, the division of space became a bone of contention.   The … [Read more...]


“A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.”   Mark Twain If you had 10 words that would accurately  describe you, which 10 adjectives would you use?  What would be the 10 words you would like for others to use in describing you? Finally, do you know what words other people would use in describing you? Fill in the blanks: “I am” (insert the adjective that best describes you) “I am . . . “(using an adjective that others would use in … [Read more...]


“Men are what their mothers made them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson Just recently we celebrated Mother’s Day.  Many of us devotedly honored our mothers – whether still with us or passed on.  Facebook and other popular social media sites were filled with tributes to mothers and grandmothers – perhaps you were among the grateful well-wishers. We were all engaged in honoring mothers near and dear to us. . Can a mother’s  wisdom help  promote success for their children and family members? Yes! … [Read more...]


“Leadership is influence.”    John C. Maxwell, Th.D. “Hey, Dad, do you want to speak to the senior team in our quarterly gathering next week?”  Kelly, our older daughter and CEO of the company (HDS, Inc.) founded by her mother and me, is asking the question. “Sure,” I reply. “What topic do you want me to address?”  “Leadership,” her one-word response. As a professional speaker, it does not take much to persuade me to speak in front of an audience. Add one of my favorite topics and it is a … [Read more...]


“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”                                                                                                                     Ralph Waldo Emerson What do you do every single day? What tasks, throughout your life, seem to command more frequency? If you are like most of the ‘electronic people’ of this modern world, you probably check your email multiple … [Read more...]