Saturday, January 19, 2008

Testing Yourself

Greetings from Panama. That's right I come to you this week from the great Latin American country with the big ditch cut through it where many of the goods you buy must pass. For Central America this is one prosperous country. You just don't see the poor here like you do in much of Central and South America. The weather is unreal (warm) and the ocean is a great site. I would have put pictures but I have none so I share with you two of my favorite Marco pictures. He won't smile but you can get him to be funny.
Test Yourself
I firmly believe that you should test yourself on a regular basis. Testing yourself gives you an indication of where you are and how good that may be or how far you have to go. The easiest tests for me are athletic and recently I conducted a bike test and a swim test. I'll share the results later. They are posted on the fridge. The bike test was hard and taxing and I feel like I've got a long way to go to get to where I want to be. The swim was surprisingly fast. I am in dreadful swimming shape but somehow I still posted a good time for me. Again, I'll post the test results and keep you posted on the next versions. I still have a run test to do but I'm dreading that one. It's really hard to get faster in running and as I get older I know I'm getting slower. But I don't just test myself in athletics. I test myself on work and family too. The tests aren't as clear cut or can they always be repeated but it still proves a point. For example, I have been testing my Spanish while here. I try to get everyone to speak in Spanish (they are more comfortable that way). My test is to see how many clarifying questions I have. I am improving every day. The interesting thing about the language. I am not afraid to use it with the security guards or the taxi driver but for some reason I always revert to English around the people I know. I think that deserves a test at home. Maybe I'll start with Marco......Just kidding!
My Rant
I have to rant about President Bush. He was pathetic last night. I was embarrassed to be an American last night but also proud at the same time. What makes America great is that we get to renew every 4 years. Good riddense loser! I rant because he was great right after 9/11. He put the country on his back and told us everything would be fine. We would come out of it. I along with most everyone I know believed him. Last night he had the same opportunity. The country is sick and he had the opportunity to put everything on his back and say it's o.k. I'll push for the next year to get us out of this mess. Instead he opened with 20 minutes of putting the mess on everyone else in the room but himself. He took no responsibility and essentially blamed others. And he did it with that stupid little smirk and that I'm a good old boy body language. It's hard to believe that it could get any worse but the country took a step back last night. I watched an interview with Mike Huckabee just before the address and he was more presidential sounding than the President himself. President Bush, you blew it! You could have gone down as one of the great Presidents based on your actions in 2001. Instead you continue to blame everyone else. At the end of the day, in the history books, they won't report on the congress they will report on you. You were given a country in fairly good shape and you will leave it in a mess. When you leave the oval office don't let the door hit you in the rear!
It's a good life.....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Be a Leader!

"If you are too comfortable, too secure, you'll never do anything incredible" - Jimmy Carr

What a great quote, from a comedian no less. This quote is very fitting for a rather challenging work week. It's simply the most important week in the first 3 months of work where the oppotunity to make change is high.

But today I talk about leadership. A couple months ago I posted about treating people like your boss as just another person. And this is true, I firmly believe that if you treat people in position power as people you will get the most out of them. But today I continue this only in reverse. People of high position have to do the same. Especially when it comes to making a presentation about the future to a group of people that will do all they can to make that future happen. The presenter should come to the plate with enthusiasm, great preperation and a plan to inspire. They should regard their audience as the most important people in that moment. They should also know that leadership is not a title, it's something you work on at every opportunity.
Today I was part of a group that listened to a very uninspiring presentation by the managers. They are normally called the leaders but on this day they don't deserve the title. Today they had the great opportunity to motivate and the blew it. There was a large group of people in the room who were there to learn and be inspired. Instead they were treated to a dull unispired 5 hours of jabber.

I offer this to anyone that has to make a presentation to your boss to your peers or to a group that looks up to you, don't "mail it in". Rise above, be uncomfortable and do something increadible.

It's a good life......

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


When we combine moderate talent with extreme work ethic then we will achieve results in most areas. Gordo
Yesterday in a meeting that had importance for the time a phrase was used that set me off. As most of you know that is not a really easy thing to do. The topic of the meeting isn't really important the point was we were solving a problem and we were going to ask a group of people to get out of their comfort zone. The discussion went on for 20 minutes or so and it didn't seem to me like we were really moving forward. I asked "What do they really want to do" The first words of reply are what set me off and what got me up at 3:00am today "They want to do what is EASY" My first reaction was somewhere between disgust and laughter. Somewhere during the conversation I think I said "This is work, it's not supposed to be easy". But after a few hours to think, it goes way deaper than that.
The picture above is from one of my most favorite days of 2007. It was a beautiful day in the best city in the world to live (San Diego) and Marco and I decided to go hiking. We discussed the many different possiblities. Marco chose Mission Trails but in his words, "The trails by your office". As we started the Hike I like most dads was guaging where Marco would possibly break down and say enough. During the first half hour or so, I regulary pointed out where I thought we would go and how long it would take us. Marco in his regular enthusiastic tone "O.K. Dad". As we started up the steep climb of Mount Fortuna, Marco started to feel the hike in his legs. He didn't complain but you could see it in his eyes, he was starting to wear down. 1/2 way up and 2 hours into the hike and I gave him an option "We have 30 minutes to the top or we have 45 minutes back to the car" He weighed the options and said, "This isn't easy Dad but I want to go to the top" So we kept hiking. The picture above is from the top of the mountain. That kid was so proud of getting to the top. He wanted to stay up there and enjoy where he was. On the way down I asked him why he didn't turn around when we had the easy choice of going back. He said "I wanted to see the top".
Marco still talks about that hike. He did something he had never done before and it was hard. He doesn't rememeber the hard part he only remembers the top.
If you look through history and I like to use history of sport, the greatest champions always made what they did look easy. Dave Scott, Mark Allen and Paula Newby Fraser set the bar for the toughest one day endurance event in the world, the Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. Between them they won a whole bunch of times and their win totals may never be matched again. They really made winning look easy. Once they won the first time it was not hard to predict who would win. There is big debate in all sports over talent. These three were talented but at the top of any sport the difference in talent is small. What it really boiled down to for these three was work. They simply combined their great talent with more work than anyone else was willing to endure and they got championships. The thing that looked easy was the race itself. What most didn't see was the hours upon hours of training their body to endure discomfort for a long time. In other words, it wasn't easy.
The best things in life, climbing to the top of a mountain for an 8 year old or winning at the top of your sport, never come easy.
It's a good life....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

European Adventures

This week was an example of what you can do in a week. It started in London with some shopping and a meeting on Monday. Monday night the group I was with flew to Brussels and drove to Antwerp. We had meetings Tuesday morning at one of the best running retailers in the world and then had Tuesday afternoon to spend in Antwerp. The picture of the Cathedral above is Antwerp. What a nice city. It's known for it's high fashion and great food. Every meal we had in the city was served like it came from a master chef. We also bought a great deal of Belgian Chocolate which might just be the best there is.
We were back in Germany Tuesday night for 3 days of crazy work. It's work and it should be crazy right. Saturday Mary, Marco and I drove to Munich for a football (soccer) match. We drove down early and spent the day in the city. Then we made it back to Alliance Stadium for the Game. It was a friendly between FC Bayern Munich and China. The game was one sided. It wasn't really fair, FCBM is in the middle of their season and the China team seemed to just be getting together. FCBM ran circles around the team from China. We saw a 17 year old kid run straight through the China defense for an easy goal. The game finished 7-1. We were home Saturday Night after a fun night drive on the Autobahn. No comment on how fast we were going but I'll just say the Audi holds its own on the no speed limit roads.
This just fuels our spirit to do more short trips. While in Munich we got a clear view of the Alps and today we booked two nights in the German Alps for February. Cross Country Skiing here we come.
It's a good life....

Sunday, January 6, 2008

An International Company

It's been just over 10 months since I started my international work journey. It's been quite a challenge getting used to the size of the company, living in a new country and traveling around the world. As I look back at the last 10 months I can't believe how much we accomplished. None of it has really been seen yet because we work on the future years (next up Fall 2009) but it's clear we are making progress.

I chose to post about work because today I am in London, England. I traveled here and will go to Antwerp, Belgium tomorrow to meet with a few retailers. I think this trip shows just how international the company is. I'm traveling with a product manager from Germany, a designer from Poland and the head of running development who hails from Sweden. It's interesting to be walking around this international city with three people who have grown up in very different cultures. It's super fun to listen to the different point of views. The designer today was having trouble with understanding the English here. His English is great but he works with a couple Americans and a soft talking Aussie. I can understand how the British version is tough.

Tonight the four of us are going out for Thai or Indian food which should be easy to find and then we will try to find a pub that is showing the San Diego Charger Football Game.

It's a good life...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bottle Rockets

Last year Marco and I spent a great weekend building this type of bottle rocket. It's made with vinegar and backing soda and works great. I remember growing up in the great Midwest my buddies would come back from trips to Missouri with loads of fireworks (they were not legal in Illinois). They'd have plenty of bottle rockets for a great 4th of July evening. They would also buy a few M80's. These things were reportedly a 1/4 stick of dynamite. They were expensive and really illegal. My buddies (I watched but quite frankly was too scared to come close to one) would do their best to try to blow up mailboxes. I don't remember one ever coming off the post but there were a few doors blown off and a few holes in the tin boxes. It was fun but we all knew it was really wrong.

Monday was our first New Year's Eve in Germany. We didn't really no what to expect. The day was very uneventful and there didn't seem to be any big parties. We went about our day and evening like it was no other. None of our friends were in town so there was really no celebrating anyway. At midnight all things changed. At first it sounded like your standard fireworks but then huge flashes with loud bangs started. After the first one we heard a big crashing sound in the house. Mary went down and found Scout my running partner sitting deep in the corner behind the couch. She really worked to get there. I came down shortly after and spend a crazy 20 minutes trying to keep Scout calm during what seamed like a fourth of July show in our dining room.

Tuesday morning the dogs and I went for a walk and our street and the corner yard were filled with rocket trash. Not your standard us based bottle rocket but M80 size bottle rockets. The kind that can really do damage if they land on something. That day I went for a long run through a number of villages and the same thing occurred.

It was really interesting in a country that is full of order, where rules are followed and Sunday quiet time is real. Where a neighbor will report you for mowing your lawn and making noise (on Sunday). This 25 minute barrage of celebration could be carried out by anyone on the street. Just another learning point about living in a different country.

It's a good life...