Elbert Hubbard’s “Message to Garcia”


I watched this great movie the other day and it got me thinking about the essay I wrote many years ago after I read Hubbard’s short story. Once you watch the video Initiative I hope you have the same humorous correlation it had on me relating to the historical background of Hubbard’s essay. The essay has been reprinted and translated many times, has inspired screen adaptations, and was given to every U.S. Navy enlistee and U.S. Marine in both world wars.

Back in 1996, a friend gave me the book “A Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard which I read on a trip to our office in Charlotte.  Hubbard, an American author who believed in rugged individualism, wrote the inspirational essay in 1899.  I hope this excerpt plants a seed the way it did for me. As for me, Hubbard’s insights gave me clarity in life and my business relating to just knowing how to get something done. Some do and some don’t.

in·i·tia·tive is a noun 1. The power or ability to begin or to follow through energetically with a plan or task; enterprise and determination.  2. A beginning or introductory step; an opening move: took the initiative in trying to solve the problem.  3. Without prompting or direction from others; on one’s own initiative.

       initiative:  The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for but one thing, and that is initiative.  What is initiative?  I’ll tell  you, it is doing the right thing without being told. 

             told once: But next to doing the thing without being told is to do it when you are told once.  But their pay is not always in proportion. 

             told twice: Next there are those who never do a thing until they are told twice; such get no honors and small pay.  

             just lazy: Next, there are those who do the right thing only when necessity kicks them from behind, and these get indifference instead of honors, and a pittance for pay.  This kind  spends most of its time polishing a bench with a hard luck story. 

             ignorance:  Then, still lower down in the scale than this, we have the fellow who will not do the right thing even when someone goes along to show him how and stays to see that he does it:  he is always out of a job, and receives the contempt that he deserves, unless he happens to have a rich Pa, in which case Destiny patiently awaits around the corner with a stuffed club.  

To which class do you belong? Eddie Redmayne just knew “how to get things done.”

To read the essay click here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Message_to_Garcia_(film)



Patience and Pause

I was listening to John Tesh radio and he referenced an MIT study on getting a job offer. We’ll get to that in a second. This post has been in draft form for some time as I’ve been biding my time looking for a few additional nuggets. It’s a juxtaposition of patience and pause.

Patience with material possessions

I was refinishing our kitchen table a few months ago and impatient as I was getting I decided to call a friend. In addition to his day job, he is also a master carpenter and furniture restoration expert.  I had the table sanded and was about to “slap on the stain” in typical barn door fashion. Wait.  I called him.  Fortunately for the fate of our table he said “I’ll be right over.  Don’t do anything until I get there.”  It took an additional investment, environment friendly furniture stripper, a palm sander, and the proper type of stain/seal.  I made my second trip to Valu and got “the right stuff.” Three days later I ended up with a beautiful masterpiece. The value of patience and a little advice from a true craftsman.

Pause when you want to get through something 

Speed to benefit is the new norm in the fast paced business world. We all go through life and not everything needs to be so hurried.  I used to be an awful public speaker.  Well I’ve gotten better because it couldn’t have gotten worse.  I recall a friend telling me, “Just pause when you need to pause.  The words will come and we’re not going anywhere. Patience and pause. I was  doing my dad’s eulogy and a friend told me, “Just pause, we can wait.  The words will be right.

Patience and pause in the business world

Although I was able to keep myself busy, I learned the value of patience and persistence.  It was 1993, the year where I started our partnership and honored a non-compete. One day at a time I learned the value of patience as I clicked the 365 days off the calendar. I wanted to create a great business. I didn’t have a smartphone then and the now common occurrence of switching gears and multitasking didn’t exist then the way things are today.  28 years later we’re still making it better.  


Patience and pause. Put the phone in the glove box and save a life.

Speed things up

Let’s add the OpEd thoughts.  With regard to baseball and golf. They’re running the game as if it was the  pace of a cement mixer. These games have slowed to a crawl with practice swinging, looking at putts from every angle and switching pitchers.  Speed things up here folks. Look at the put for a second the way Hogan did and move things along. That last putt and the next drive is really what happens in the game of life. And Baseball. They switch pitchers more than Lady Gaga switches outfits.

Career advice. Hit the pause button.

Thanks to John Tesh’s tidbit on the MIT study, here’s today’s tip. On negotiating a job offer. What happens to the mind and body when you get a job offer? You want the job and have a feeling the money won’t meet your expectations. What to do in a face to face situation.  Simply pause and make eye contact.  Research proves you might just get more money 10 seconds later with a brief pause. 

Ironically it’s in waiting and having patience when many good things happen. So when making something look nice worth looking at, giving a speech, that next business, the next career move, take your time.  Patience pays. When looking at that putt, move things along, your friends will appreciate it and leave more time for what really matters, the 19th hole. 


I’ve amassed a lifetime of stories. If I ever get around to writing my book, it will surely be full of stories. As I navigate the back nine and the Millennial and Z Gen make their mark, my personal storytelling and random thoughts and conversations with friends has propelled my blog posts. The reader or listener is my messenger. How my blog (my stories) makes the reader feel, and how they respond, becomes the core of my story.

I often find myself inserting a life experience into so many conversations albeit trying not to one-up an ongoing conversation. More often than not I find myself telling story after story. Life’s full of cerebral and visceral thoughts and decisions. My brain activates and crafts my own stories to accentuate the situation at hand regardless of a face to face, ZOOM or a good old fashioned telephone call. I keep the stories off of text messaging. Way too long.

I love stories, whether it’s one of my own, someone else’s, articles about people, or books about people. And then there is reading stories to the kids, or as of recently watching my daughter read a story at school for my grandson’s birthday. Stories stories stories.

I often talk about my love for nonfiction and the many books I’ve read, and on the flip side, I’ve come to love some great stories by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Herman Hesse, Elbert Hubbard, Ayn Rand, Arthur Miller and Mark Twain. And then there is the long list of newsprint and magazine articles Iv’e amassed over the years. One of my favorites was brought to my attention by a friend about “The Devil and Roger Federer” by Janan Ganesh. We’ll get to those favorites later.

And then there are stories about the deceasedI. The life story of Paul Volkcer spurred my blog about him and my life since college. I recently read the obituary of a rather well known political advisor Joe Slade-White. Joe was a friend of another close friend, former Buffalonian Rick Reinhard. Rick often spoke about what a talent Joe was. Recently, Joe Slade-White’s obituary was actually a rather great story about him. The obit mentioned his handbook for success with his clients. I was able to find a copy and saw one of the key attributes of his handbook was the art of storytelling. 

And oh, moms are quite possibly THE best storytellers.

Top Talent and Counter Offers

The COVID pandemic, work remote, and the latest “I quit craze” has employers sharpening their counter offer perks to hold on to top talent. What once used to be taboo in accepting a counter offer is now the new norm as is going back to your old job now known as “a returned employee.”

In addition, add to this as the baby boom generation begins to retire and shrink. The impending crisis of the Boomers departure from the workforce will create an increase in the counter-offer scenario as employers look to be more aggressive in their effort to retain key personnel. Current 2022 labor statistics now show there are more Millennials in the workforce than the Boomer crowd. Throw in current labor stats show there are three million fewer job seekers. Let’s not forget the latest craze of exodus en masse by simply quitting. Even Antonio Brown quit with no notice.

As the first wave of those born in 1946 begins to exit the work force in the greatest exodus ever, Human Resource managers are embarking on a mad dash to hire up. Employers’ current and future agenda will be to shore up work environments and increase stability and employee retention. Regardless of their efforts, candidates will continue to seek out and switch jobs more than ever.  The current shortage of eager applicants won’t last forever.  The counter-offer, therefore, is an increasingly accepted practice as employee retention becomes even more critical during the current candidate shortage.

Several of the biggest hurdles our recruiters deal with on a day-to-day basis as they assess candidates actual intentions are: How serious is the candidate about switching jobs, do they need to switch jobs, will they actually switch jobs if presented with a viable offer, will a change in jobs be accepted at home, who influences their decision making process, do they surround themselves with level-headed advisers, and, most importantly, are they thinking rationally or emotionally? These are all the things to consider because counter-offers can make it a roller coaster ride for everyone involved. On top of all that, some of our best recruits turn down phenomenal offers for the oddest reasons. And then some go who we never thought would.

Some things I encourage candidates to consider, if they do indeed decide to accept a counter-offer, are: they’ll typically be first out once the tide changes, a merger occurs, new management comes in, or a piece of software replaces their skills. It might take two months or two years, but it is inevitable that the same reason why they wanted to leave in the first place rears its ugly head again. I’ve always believed in not accepting a counter-offer and that’s currently out the window.  If you stand for this, you’ll stoop for that. Their boss isn’t going to change. However, what used to be a rare occurrence where a counter-offer works and the person rises in the organization is now common practice. Nevertheless, more often than not, candidates are inevitably back on the search within 6 months. The right perspective is to think rationally. At the end of the day, it typically isn’t about the money. Encourage the candidate to talk to people they respect. They’ll help them to think rationally, because once they’ve crossed the Rubicon and stated their intention to quit; they’ve shattered the confidence of their employer.

Here is what the candidate should consider: Stall tactics should open your eyes. If they didn’t take the time to recognize you in the past, they certainly won’t once the short term fix satisfies your emotions. Why all of the sudden are your frustrations curbed? It’s only a matter of time before the same problems occur. People born round don’t die square. What goes through the company’s mind when you quit? Short term knee jerk reactions typically mask a secretive long term strategy to get rid of you. Ignore the love and pampering. Where was it before? Most importantly, you will forever have removed yourself from the inner circle. Remember, your boss just isn’t going to change; it’s like yelling at a dog for barking. Keep in mind, at the end of the day, it’s not about the extra money or the promises or the sudden attention, you have to trust your instincts and leave for the right reasons, the reasons you had when you decided to leave in the first place. It hurts to leave, but in the long run, your instincts will hold you in good stead. More often than not, the company will replace you when it’s convenient for them, and you’ll be leaving anyway. One way or another, you’re gone.

*Crossing the Rubicon” is a popular idiom meaning to pass a point of no return. It refers to Caesar’s 49 BC crossing of the river, which was considered an act of war.

Paul Volcker was a great man

I started writing this post after I read an article about Paul Volcker’s legacy after his death on 12.8.2019. Volcker entered the world stage when I was in college in 1979. Closing in on hitting the publish button, the COVID pandemic reared its ugly head March of 2020 and updates have become an important part of my historical perspective. 

As for the pandemic, let me begin by saying how grateful I am to all of you who knowingly put yourself in harm’s way, from grocery to sanitation to doctors and nurses and anyone else in between during this COVID pandemic.  It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. The world owes you a debt of gratitude. My 91 year old mother lends some perspective later in this post with war, depression, smallpox and polio vaccines. 

I’d be remiss not to offer condolences to anyone who has lost loved ones during this time, albeit by COVID or any other circumstance where social distancing disallows gatherings for grieving and family time.

COVID Logo.jpeg

March 2020 ~ at the usual quarantined family dinner the other night, my daughter Elise asked me what it was like during the 9.11 crisis compared to COVID-19. We’ll get to that shortly.

Late December 2019 I read an article about Paul Volcker after his death. The article on Volcker was a chronology from 1979 to present and a summation of the five past presidents and economic times.  It got me thinking about writing something based on that article as it relates to my life and most of my Baby Boomer friends or Yuppies as we were known, amidst my own economic turbulent times and current. As I was finishing the last edit, COVID-19 hit. The author’s historical perspective on Volcker got me thinking about how our President is handling things, along with the Fed, the SBA, congress and the senate. And the current SBA loan program including the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), the Main Street Lending program (MMS) and a host of other solutions, all attempt to right the ship. So here is my perspective on the current situation and my thoughts for the last 40 years of my life and ending with other historical crisis situations. I’ve enjoyed countless conversations with my friends inserting their own chronological perspective since Volcker’s entry to the world stage in 1979.

I’ll spare any political observations. It’s not my place nor necessary to comment on how leaders are handling things. This post includes my observations, thoughts and research on past and current statistics such as unemployment, the stock market, the GDP, and inflation. Now we watch the new stat, the death and hospitalization curves and the “when we’ll return to normalcy.” ZOOM meetings, masks and gloves, and social distancing have been the new norm.

The most current, Phase seven ~ the current COVID-19 and Saudi-Russia oil fight. 

Global widespread virus, layoffs and shutdowns have been the new norm.  Donald Trump was our president, Jerome Powell remains Fed Chair and our Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuncin are all-navigating a plethora of government programs, both at the federal and state level. Stock gains in Trump’s reign have been totally wiped out just like the decrease in NASDAQ in 2002. While the immediate effects of our current health and economic situations are impacting our daily lives, we see an even larger impact happening from the enormous stimulus and bailout packages that are going through Federal and State legislatures. The CARES Act, EIDL, and the Main Street lending programs are now enacted and many business owners have received  funding, while others sit and wait on phase two of additional government approved funds.

I expect that certain industries anticipate new solutions that will become even more compelling as people may need to change work and daily life patterns. With the need for governments to spend on COVID-19, the tax dollars for newer disruptive projects are going to be questioned even more so.

For 2019, unemployment was 3.5%, the GDP was 2.3% and inflation was 2.3%. The unemployment rate continues to skyrocket and set daily records and the rate is expected to reach or even exceed 10%.


Before the pandemic hit, as of February 2020, The BLS household survey https://www.bls.gov/cps/ showed that the US unemployment rate fell 0.1 percentage points in February 2020 to 3.5%. The unemployment rate peaked in October 2009 at 10.0% and is now 6.5 percentage points lower. From a post peak low of 3.5% in September 2019, the unemployment rate has now risen by exponential historical highs.

And here is an interesting statistic. As of April 15, 2020 https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/1712761/

Other historical crisis situations

The Vietnam War and the Blizzard of 77

I was too young, other than I kind of knew about Vietnam and the only reason I list the blizzard of 77 is everything was shut down for a week including a driving ban.

1980 ~ U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan reigned from August 1979 to August 1987 Paul Volcker was an American economist and was Chairman of the Federal Reserve.  Alan Greenspan took the reins a month before black Monday. We’ll get to that shortly. Upon Volcker’s reign, it was 1980 for me then while he was in charge. I finished college at the University of Buffalo. Interest rates on mortgages were 13.5%.  In 1981 I debated moving to Texas as things were booming there. We stayed in Buffalo, the interest rate on our first house was at 13.5% and unemployment was at 7.5%. I had three jobs during this phase and we had our first child in 1982. We bought our first house in 1985 and life was good. $33,000 was all we could afford at 13.5% interest rates.

1987 ~ Black Monday Ronald Regan was the President and Alan Greenspan took over as Fed Chair in September. The stock market crashed on October 19, 1987. There was a sudden and drastic unexpected stock market crash that struck the global financial market. The DOW fell 508 points (22.6%).  We got an 8% mortgage on our second home and I felt like we won the lottery.  Unemployment rates were at 5.7%, the GDP was 3.5%, and inflation was 4.4%. George H.W. Bush became president in January of 1989 after Regan’s eight years at the helm.

The real estate downturn in the 1990s ~ George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were presidents in this era and Alan Greenspan was Fed Chair from 1987 to 2007. The introduction of S & L’s and often-inexperienced lenders led to the collapse of the commercial real estate markets in the 1990’s. Empire of America and Goldome were great clients and both bit the dust. Unemployment skyrocketed and layoffs were everywhere. The good news is legislation led to the passage of the Financial Institutions Recovery, Reform and Enhancement Act (FIRREA) of 1989. That legislation, aimed at bailing out the S & L industry, established the Resolution Trust Corp, which provided efficient selling off the bad commercial mortgages from the likes of Empire and Goldome.  That was a huge boom for our temporary staffing division and we flourished with placing the likes of many laid off workers. In 1991, the unemployment rate was at 7.4%, GDP was -.01% and inflation was YOY for December was 3.1%. We were at war, The Bills made it to the Super Bowl and I witnessed Whitney Houston singing the national anthem in Tampa   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lCmBvYMRs and Scott Norwood’s wide right. A few years later life was good and the economy was flourishing. Sir Timothy Berners Lee and his team of scientists brought the World Wide Web to the globe for free and it was a remarkable run until 9/11.

Five Presidents.jpeg

Five of the last six Presidents

9/11 ~ Tuesday September 11, 2001 ~ George W. Bush was the president; Alan Greenspan was still the Fed Chair.  Mortgage rates were 6.82% and unemployment was 4.9%, the GDP was 1.0% and inflation was 1.6%.  George W. threw a fastball at Yankee Stadium shortly after 9/11 on 10.30.01 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjGcCI9ByWw , and America went back to war and stayed at work.

The 2001 dot-com bubble, or the dot-com boom ~ George W Bush was president Alan Greenspan was the Fed Chair. I was engaged in our staffing companies during this period where excessive speculation in Internet related companies sparked a period of massive growth. From 1995 to 2000, the NASDAQ rose 400% only to fall 78% from its peak by October 2002 washing out all its gain by 2002. Mortgage rates were 6.0%, the GDP was 1.7%, unemployment was 5.7%, and inflation was 2.4%. https://www.multpl.com/unemployment/table/by-month

2007-2008 subprime mortgage crisis ~ There were three presidents in this phase, George W. Bush, 2001 to 2009, Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017, and Donald Trump from 2017 to present. There were also three Fed Chairs, Ben Bernacke from 2006 to 2014, Janet Yellen took over as Fed Chair in 2014, nominated by Barack Obama, and in 2018 Jerome Powell nominated by Trump to be Fed Chair and confirmed by the senate on February 5, 2018. Mortgage rates peaked at 5.4% http://mortgage-x.com/general/national_monthly_average.asp?y=2009 and unemployment rates peaked at 10% the GDP was -.01% and inflation was .01%. Many eager job seekers simply gave up looking for employment.  Needless to say, our temp business sustained and it was a rough few years finding people permanent jobs. The subprime mortgage crisis occurred between 2007 and 2010. Home prices declined after the collapse of the housing bubble spearheading mortgage delinquencies, foreclosures and devalued housing prices. Household spending declined and hiring freezes were ablaze. Tom and I took a two-week trip to Hong Kong and China exploring the possibility of an offshore IT programming entity. We all somehow survived the subprime dilemma.

Fed Chairs

Fed Chairs from 1979 to 2018: Janet Yellen, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Paul Volcker

The Great Depression …began in September of 1929 on Black Tuesday worldwide was October 29,1929. My dad was one year old and my mom came two years later. We’ll get to her comments shortly. The depression lasted until the late 1930’s so mom will have a good perspective from her parents’ point of view. Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt were the two Presidents during this era of decline. Both my grandparents were crop farmers and farms and rural communities were especially hard hit with crop prices falling 60%.  The good news for my grandparents is they were primarily self-sufficient as they also raised egg laying chickens, dairy cattle, hogs and a fully efficient greenhouse.  Other than clothing, sugar and gas for the equipment, they fared ok and lived on the land.

Here’s a quote from my mother  “Joe  ………my  Mother told me a lot of other farmers in the area lost their farms………they were fortunate not to.   I asked how everything  was and she said  “not so bad as everyone was in ‘the same boat’, ..no one had any money”.   That sounds like what we’re going through now.     The  loss of lives is a tragedy  here!        Love ya, Mom”

Worldwide GDP fell by an estimated 15% compared to just 1% during the 2008 – 2009 recession. The negative of the Great Depression lasted until the start of WWII. International trade fell by 50% while unemployment peaked at 23%.

Farm House

A hundred + years ago ~ The Spanish Flu

Or also known as the 1918 flu pandemic which wreaked its havoc from January 1918 to December 1920.  It infected 500 million people and estimates were never confirmed and deaths were estimated to be anywhere from 17 to 100 million lives putting its stamp on one of the deadliest pandemics of all time.

Amidst the Spanish Flu, World War 1 ended November 11, 2018 and Woodrow Wilson was our President. Neutral Spain’s King Alfonso XIII contracted the flu and that situation gave rise to the naming of the flu. In April of 1919, our president was stricken with the Spanish Flu while he was embroiled in Post World War 1 negotiations with the French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George.  Wilson’s negotiating ability was hampered by the flu as he lay stricken and quarantined in a hotel room. Wilson eventually recovered from the flu but unfortunately suffered a debilitating stroke six months later. The Versailles Treaty was stamped June 28, 1919 and historians conclude Wilson succumbed to the harsher demands by the French and Britain’s due to his weakened state from the flu.

After many many edits, there is your answer in Elise.

*Occasional updates

May 1, 2020

As reported in the Buffalo News today By Nelson D. Schwartz, Tiffany Hsu and Patricia Cohen


WASHINGTON – “Despite trillions in stimulus spending and a rush to reopen shuttered businesses in some states, the U.S. economy continues to stagger under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, with a further 3.8 million workers filing for unemployment benefits last week.

The figures announced Thursday by the Labor Department bring the number of workers joining the official jobless ranks in the last six weeks to more than 30 million, and underscore just how dire economic conditions remain.

The depth of the chill was evident when the Commerce Department reported that consumer spending in March fell by 7.5% from February’s level, a stunning decline that helps explain why the overall economy is so weak. Consumer activity ordinarily accounts for more than two-thirds of the country’s output.”

Jerome Powell

November 23, 2021 update

So it’s been two years now since I authored this post. Today President Biden tapped Jerome Powell to a new Federal Reserve Term and the secretary of treasury secretary is Janet Yellen who has served previously as the Fed Reserve chief. Inflation has skyrocketed to 6.2%, the highest in 31 years.  Employment remains at 4.2 million below its pre-pandemic peak while labor shortages are throughout the country and wage growth accelerates as employers continue to scramble to fill vacancies. Looks like Gov. Lael Brainard will be vice chairwoman.

November 15, 2022 update

A year later inflation on the rise yet, unemployment down and statistically there are three job openings for every two eager job seekers.Fed raises rates


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 quotes “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” I’ve read it many times and it’s 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 of 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 gaining knowledge, to being smart, to making good decisions, 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 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 on 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 plum bobbing, back to that in a minute. Although a good plumming lesson in Caddyshack have been funny.Caddyshack

 My love of the game

I love golf.  It started by caddying for my dad at Audubon, 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 and onto many competitive events to scrambles to invitations and by far my favorite was the Lockport Invitation where my dad and I sniffed a victory.


Not only did I do it once, but I did it with a group of friends.

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