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...]

I Cannot Hear You

“Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.” Henri J. M. Nouween “Ear fungus,” he says. Just the sound of these two words, when put together, is unpleasant. This is the physician’s diagnosis after examining my ears for less than 30 seconds.  My ‘every-seven-year cerumen impaction issue (earwax)’ is more serious this time. Now two weeks later, the condition has resolved, and I … [Read more...]

The List

“Trust should be the basis for all our moral training.” Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Most of us are familiar with the Scouts. Lord Robert Baden-Powell of Great Britain founded The Boy Scouts Association in 1908 and was the first Chief Scout. Just about everyone in the United States can quote the Motto and Oath of the Boy Scouts of America: “Be Prepared.” If you or someone in your family has been a member of the Scouts, you may be intimately aware of the Scout Law: A Scout … [Read more...]


“Example is leadership.” Albert Schweitzer, M.D., Ph.D., Nobel Laureate We are attending the memorial service for our nephew, Zachary Stevens, who is only 25 years old at the time of his tragic death, due to an automobile accident. .  His father, David, is my wife’s brother. Zack leaves other cherished immediate family members including his mother Cindy and sister Savannah. The service is being held at the church he attended in his youth. Zack’s former pastor remembers him as a leader- one … [Read more...]

The Voice

“If we always helped one another, no one would need luck.”   Sophocles (996-906BC) The gallbladder surgery is over and Lucille, my mom, is now settled in her hospital room. After talking for a few minutes, it is apparent she wants to rest. My dad, Carol, my wife, and I go to the cafeteria for coffee and a snack. After a few minutes, Carol returns to check on Mom – an ultimately fateful decision. Dad and I stay behind, continuing our conversation. About 20 minutes later, after a short … [Read more...]

The Bombardier

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Albert Schweitzer, M.D., Ph.D. The explosive sound of sharp shrapnel piercing the thick metal signifies that his plane has been hit – struck multiple times. Damage is substantial. A certain crash is impending. As a bombardier, he automatically performs the first task that he was taught in training: immediately … [Read more...]