Old Farmer’s Advice

Old Farmer’s Advice:

My brother Terry shared this with me and it’s worth adding a few photos and captions. We moved away from our grandparent’s farms when I was 6 months old and all through high school we would pay a few visits a year to spend time with Norman and Eloise’s parents. Life on a farm was quite the experience in our childhood. We’d help out on occasion when we weren’t terrorizing the animas or breaking things.  Needles to say, we were able to experience how Norm and Eloise were raised. From milking cows to plowing fields to scouring the chicken coupe to bailing hay to hoeing fields to riding alongside in the combine and sitting a top the hay wagon, it was quite the eye opener. Up every day at 5 AM, 24/7/365.  Not like these days for most right?

  • Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
  • Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
  • Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

    Kreuz farm

    The Jacob and Melvina Kreuz farm 1969 arial view

  • A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.
  • Meanness don’t just happen overnight.
  • Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
  • Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
  • It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
  • You cannot unsay a cruel word.
  • Every path has a few puddles.
  • When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
    Okuley Farm
    The Lester and Mildred Okuley farm 1965
  • The best sermons are lived, not preached.
  • Most of the stuff people worry about, ain’t never gonna happen anyway.
  • Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  • Live a good and honorable life, then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
  • Don’t interfere with something’ that ain’t bothering you none.
  • Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
  • Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
  • The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every morning’.
  • Good judgment comes from experience and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
  • Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
  • If you get to thinking’ you’re a person of some influence, try ordering’ somebody else’s dog around.
  • Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and enjoy the ride.
  • Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just shoot you!


Norm Tractor.jpg

My dad on our farm tractor getting ready to groom the beach in Angola 2008


I read some Confucius today, the Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. One of his many quote “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” I’ve read it many times and worth sharing today.

I enjoyed a magic moment today as we were settling up Elise’s tuition bill today. I asked her what she was going to do after graduation and she said “I’m going to work dad. What’s your thought on what I should do?”

So I told her here is my take on work miss Elise.

“Elise. For most of my adult life I’ve been involved in finding people jobs. I was always fortunate to have a job I enjoyed.  I only had three after college, all with a good mentor along the journey. I often equated work comparable to my other passions.

My family, my friends, my work, my community, and my love golf. They all are so enjoyable to me, even though my golf handicap slipped to double digits last year. These passions all have a lot of moving parts. It is what makes them so much fun. Enjoyment in life, in work, as in golf, comes from constant learning and improvement. From the tools, to equipment, to technology, to to gaining knowledge, to being smart, to making good decisions, to to teaching, to knowing how to dress, and tip, and behave, and being courteous, and competitive, and fun to be with. It’s all one cocktail.

So for me Elise, to render some sage advice. Make a wise and informed choice. Love what you do, who you do it it with, how you do it, and tell people why you love what you do. Choose the right work and you’ll have the same fortune.

Work 2.jpg

Standards and Ethics

I was reading an article in the New Yorker the other day about the Google lawsuit against Uber, and it got me thinking about the start of my journey 25 years ago when I departed Robert Half to launch Advantage Professionals.   As I was reading the article, I was reminiscing about my ignorance and hubris at that point in my life. I was a young professional with a beautiful wife and two remarkable little kids. And although I had a good job, I always wanted to do something on my own.

The two biggest assets I had at the time were the client relationships I was building and what I had already learned about the staffing business [which, in retrospect, was not as much as I thought at the time].  One of the impediments to leaving and starting out my own, however, was the one-year non-compete I had signed in good faith. I solicited opinions from three different lawyers [two telling me it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, and the other one telling me if he worked for the plaintiff, he’d have me sitting on the beach for a year].

In parallel at the time, my prospective business partner [who became my best friend while building a variety of businesses together for the past 25 years], told me “Sit it out, it’s the right thing to do.  We can do other things for a year and then we’ll launch your new staffing business without any issue.” My new lawyer at the time, Frank Gaglione, told me “He’s right. Don’t take anything when you leave, not even a paper clip.”  I quit, we honored my non-compete, unearthed 66 other opportunities, and followed the Root Philosophy. So much has come from that year. While others would see it as business purgatory, I saw it as a unique opportunity – and I enjoyed a year of exploring other things and strategizing about my future.  Frank

For a couple of years before I finally departed, my pocket book was telling me to ignore my non-compete contract and just get after it.  Fortunately, I listened to Tony, Frank, and my mom – and here I sit, 25 years later – comfortable and proud with how we have built our businesses.  As I approach 60, I know I’m rolling along on the back nine, but I’ve always loved the back nine because that’s where everything happens.

But, back to that article. Google versus Uber

What I didn’t know back then was that non-compete contracts were more enforceable on the east coast than they were on the west coast.  That traces back to 1957, when Silicon Valley was created by a young group of engineers – and they were instrumental in creating a more fluid and less-restrictive environment.  The difference between William Shockley’s employees in 1957 and me in 1993 was that I lived by the decision making based on standards and ethics. To this day, we use that as our foundation as we continue to grow our businesses.

Sometimes the standards impact the ethics, and, for my sake, while paying heed to the standards, I leaned on the ethical side of the equation.  So, next time you ponder a decision, give proper weight to the standards but make your decision based on your ethics. I know doing that makes my mom proud.


Thoughtfulness and Gift Giving

Last night I picked my mom up for dinner, and on the way out of the house, I walked by the piano that she has always played and I asked her “Hey mom, when did dad buy you that piano?”

Since my dad died of Alzheimer’s Thanksgiving week of 2018, my mom and I have had some wonderful discussions about her life with my dad.  So many things are coming to light that I simply never knew in the 58 years that I knew Norm. Mom has detailed recall of his life on the farm, in the Navy, his career with the Yellow Pages, and the things he did with her and raising us. Fortunately Alzheimer’s hasn’t reared its ugly head with her. There are so many things that have come to light in the last 10 months since he passed. I can’t help but ask my mom countless questions about him about and things I really never knew. My best friend knows how my mind works, and when I see something, it get’s me thinking about something else, I change the subject,  I ask a question, I get an answer, and move on.

Norm and EllieSo I picked mom up for dinner last night and headed over to Dandelions’s, one of my dad’s favorite spots since they opened in 1984.   What’s really transpired, and tweaked my curiosity since he’s been gone, are countless reminders of him that pop into my head, and the countless questions to my mom and detailed answers she has to satisfy my curiosity.  So as mom is telling me about what Lester Holt had to say today, I’m walking by the piano in our house, and cut her off mid stream, and ask her how long we’ve had the piano. Anyone who knows me knows I like to ask questions (thoughtful ones in my opinion), and when I get my answer, I move on.  But not when my mom answers. She’s got my attention and we stick to one subject.  So she proceeds to tell me, in life, if she wanted something bad enough, she would constantly remind my dad, and after enough reminders, he’d usually deliver. Mom played the piano as a kid back on the farm along with her two sisters, and I recall as a child and later on in life, she had quite the gift as a pianist. I’m not sure my dad knew that, but what I do know, is he did many thoughtful things in his life, and one thing I’ve come to learn about him, is how he learned how to get buy, make a buck, enjoy life, and deliver some nice gifts along the way. Needless to say my mom got her piano.

All because of a farm girl playing piano back in the day and the burning desire to do it again.


I was talking with a group of friends about plum bobbing the other day and everyone had their own take on it. I have my own, from a book a friend gave me and from Mike Bender’s golf school.  My dad was one of the better putters I ever knew, and he just went with his gut, his wrists, and his feel.  As for plumming, here’s what it really is:

Plum book.jpg


My love of the game

I love golf.  It started by caddying for my dad at Audobon, and in sixth grade I rode out to South Shore with him to buy his annual set of clubs from Iggy Banko. It was my turn to receive the hand me down set because Tim and Dan just got theirs the year before.  And so my golf career began. From Audubon to Ransom Oaks to playing in high school and college to many competitive events to scrambles to invitations and the latest iteration I’ve come to enjoy is the birdie polski dog meat full handicap skins game.  The handicap levels the field and the competition is as fun as spectating the rest of the group for four hours.




And lastly if I ever get around to writing a book, there will definitely be chapter on golf and all the nuances that go along with it.  Here’s a humorous look at some of the topics and discussions we’ve all been involved in at the 19th hole discussion.

  1. On playing number 11 at Brookfield. How to properly line up your fourth putt and its no gimmie.
  2. How to help your opponent organize and count the clubs in his bag.
  3. How to Hit a Wilson from the rough when you hit a Titleist from the tee.
  4. How to avoid the water when you lie 8 in a bunker.
  5. How to get more distance off the shank.
  6. When to give the Ranger a heads up.
  7. Using your shadow on the greens to maximize earnings.
  8. When to implement handicap management.
  9. How to rationalize a six hour round.
  10. How to find that ball that everyone else saw go in the water.
  11. No one cares that you birdied the 5th.
  12. How to let a foursome play through your twosome.
  13. How to relax when you are hitting three off the tee.
  14. When to suggest major swing corrections to your opponent.
  15. The birdie-to-bogey three putt.
  16. When to re-grip your ball retriever.
  17. How to plant a monster footprint in the way of your opponent’s three footer without him knowing.
  18. How to mark as if you are playing tiddleywink.
  19. How to get free carts from your club pro.
  20. How to give yourself a three footer and say “who’s it hurting”.
  21. How to pocket your opponents ball and still help him look for it.
  22. Taking advice from someone who has no clue how to plumb bob.

Plum jpeg.jpeg




Date:  January 15, 2016

Blog Posting: 11

I read an article the other day about the evolution of the millennial generation and their ability as it relates to working for, working with, and having to work for Post War leaders, Baby Boomers, and Gen-X. It focused on workplace distractions, and it got me thinking about output and how output is what remains relevant in the workplace. Linda Ronstadt was quoted that no one has connected one generation to the next better than the Eagles, better than any Behavioral Scientist can. There is just something about music, and I concur, because all my kids love the Eagles, as do I. The Eagles

“Currently, five generations make up our society.  Each of those five                                         generations has an active role in the marketplace. Depending on the                                     specific workplace, the workforce includes four to five generations.                                       Here are the birth years for each generation:

  1.   iGen, Gen Z or Centennials: Born 1996 and later
  2.   Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995
  3.   Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976
  4.   Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964
  5.   Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and beforeMartini.jpg

Post War Generational Behaviors

Let me begin by making some basic observations.  I grew up watching my father, a real post war stereotype, providing for his family and making many friends over the years.  He’ll be 90 this year, and I find myself talking about my observations as a child and teenager  He made a good living, he was paid on output, he did what he had to do, and then he found time to enjoy life. Distractions are different from generation, and if a three martini lunch wasn’t a distraction back then, I don’t know what was.

As much as  this new generation is welded to their tablets and smartphones, and employers at times ban them from certain workplace environment, every generation has been distracted at work, unless you consider the three-martini-lunch normal?  And even though certain kids are medicated or high these days, very few are getting hammered at lunch like the good old days.

Baby Boom Behaviors

We are a pretty vain generation. Certain Boomers on unearned income borrow money on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like, and then there are those waiting for the trust fund to kick in.

With regard to how we work, one of my favorite sayings my friend shared with me in a sales meeting when he turned in his weekly report was “Don’t confuse activity with results.”  As for me, at age 24, I chose the same profession as my dad and embarked on a sales career.  I only had three jobs, and took pay cuts at every position move with incentives based on output.  I had to turn in a report every week about sales calls, phone calls, prospects, revenue generation, client retention, and community service.

Back in my 20’s and early 30’s, I worked for a public company with many offices.  Each office had a little dink word processor for correspondence and a fax machine, and that was it. I had the opportunity to visit many offices and teach my peers some sales techniques, including a stint in the UK.  I turned down a promotion to move there, and, looking back, I’m glad I did.

We sat in a bullpen and that was tough for some. What were my distractions?  A phone personal call or kicking back to read Sports Illustrated. We didn’t have desktop computers so there were no ergonomics concerns and no carpal tunnel leaves-of-absence.  The only thing you got was a stiff neck from being on the phone too long or a sore hand from too many handshakes.  I showed a friend of mine his old business card.  It didn’t even have a fax number on it.  I used to call his landline, write notes and delivered resumes via a cab driver.

We were taught to do one thing.  Get results.  And always with the understanding not to confuse business standards with ethics.  We all know there are many paths to output, from thank you notes to lunches and dinners to gifts to bribes.

Generation X

Known for work-life balance, less loyal than the boomers, more tech savvy, craves attention and reassurance they are doing a good job, and a bit of a free agent mentality to job hop elsewhere if they’re not feeling valued.



Millennials copy.jpg

Millennials earning their way to a billion dollars



Personally I’m looking forward to the millennials repairing the damage the Boomers have done. How things have changed.  We now put in cell phone lockers when we need all distractions eliminated.  Bring your pet to work, work with your shoes off, sit on the floor, and work from home.  But there is still only one thing that matters.  Output.

“Millennials have become the largest generation in the workforce.  Millennials are also the fastest-growing generation of customers in the marketplace, bringing the greatest lifetime value.  In addition, Millennials exhibit different attitudes toward employment, sales and marketing, which are challenging many conventional strategies and approaches.”  – http://genhq.com/faq-info-about-generations/

A 2014 Harris Interactive survey on behalf of CareerBuilder, a job recruitment website, found that 38 percent of U.S. workers had a younger boss, up from 34 percent in 2012.

If you dig into the numbers, this generation at work is more productive than any generation in the history of man.  Now, technology certainly plays a big part in that progress, but let’s give this generation some kudos for knowing how to get the most out of technology instead of romancing fax machines and the the old days when much fewer women worked

I keep hearing about Workplace 2.0, and that it’s the new norm.  I know what we focus on, and it’s a combination of the new norm, and how to achieve output while allowing or disallowing what’s this norm.  I was trained in a bullpen environment, now known as open-plan environment.  There are still those that need a private office, and I get it, some environments require concentration.  Bring your own device (BYOD), connectivity, and 24/7/365 acceptable hours.  Boomers working for millennial are different than millennial working for Boomers, and some of the post war folks, born before 1945, are still in charge, and quite often rule with an iron fist.  Behavioral scientists are making a fortune training and establishing work environments where these three generations work in sync, and which work practices are the most effective.

Bring your dog.jpg

In closing

There is the current dilemma of long range planning for any business, private or public, and how to motivate the staff, regardless of which generation is steering the ship. A friend of mine helped give some clarity to what’s next:

  1. You can continue to learn as we grow and teach/coerce as we go;
  2. The management of a company can learn as they grow and be a valuable resource for the owners to depend on and enjoy building with;
  3. You can outsource the skill set necessary to take the company to the next level and beyond;
  4. Or cash out; and, finally,
  5. The owner can put the brakes on and let all of the employees enjoy their success for a while, and just sit back and listen to the Eagles.

What’s your choice?

The Courier Express

The Courier Express

Date:  January 15, 2016

Blog Posting: 10

The anniversary of the Buffalo  blizzard of 1977 got me thinking about my day job in grade school and high school. I was 17 years old at the time and I don’t recall if the Courier missed a day. That being said, we never got a day off, and if you were lucky enough to go on vacation with your family, you usually had to beg someone to take the route, and lay out a map by hand, and overpay to take the route for the week. And how about when you got your license and you didn’t have to pull the wagon through the snow. And how about collecting in sub zero temps and the customer saying “You were here last week!! There is no way I owe for two weeks!!!” Your hands were so cold it was hard to make change by the end of collections. And waking up at 5:45 AM to see if they called your name on the radio for a free prize. And having to borrow money from mom to pay your weekly bill if collections fell short, and she gave it to you interest free. And oh, the bonus, the Christmas calendar, and the wad of tips you’d get for being a good business person throughout the year. Anytime I come across job seekers I’ve helped over the years who quit right before bonus my canned response has always been “That’s like giving up the paper route in November.”

To this day I remain an early riser and I attribute it to the Courier.  That paper installed good business values.

Oh those were good times and there should be some type of Courier Club for all of us.

Might be fun.