The Scoop: Make Someone’s Day

“One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.” – Jim Rohn

It was just a simple night out for dinner with friends.  Lauren and I were meeting them for dinner and drinks at Brio at Newport on the Levee.  It was a weekend so despite the fact that we had reservations, we knew there would be some waiting.  We were just not prepared for how much waiting we would have to do.  As patiently as we could, we waited forty-five minutes after being seated before our order was ever taken.  It took another twenty to thirty minutes for our food to arrive.  No apologies, no check-ins, no acknowledgement.

We had always had good experience at this restaurant.  In fact, that was one of the reasons we chose it.  With each passing minute of being ignored, we were questioning whether we would ever choose to come back.  Finally, after we had used up all of the patience in our storage tanks, we felt the need to say something.  We were not looking for any compensation, but simply an acknowledgement that this is not the customer service that one should encounter, even on a busy weekend evening.

What we received far exceeded expectations.  After being notified of the situation, Mark, the manager, quickly came over so and heard our story.  He listened quite apologetically, and ultimately ended up providing us a meal on the house along with a round of drinks for our trouble.  While this was completely unexpected, this alone was not the act that exceeded expectations.

The following weekend, we decided to try our luck again and enjoy Brio with the same friends.  As soon as we entered, Mark spotted us and had us seated right away.  He immediately came over to us, referred to us by name, and assured us that our experience that night would not be the same as the previous weekend.  Aside from having to pay this time, it was an exceptional evening of food, service, and laughs.  Mark not only saved our business but also created lifelong customers, who will quickly recommend his restaurant as a place to frequent.

We have all heard countless stories in this regard or have even had similar experiences ourselves.  As I reflect on this experience, I find myself asking the question:

How can we create this experience for others in our own lives?

We do not need to work in food service or retail to provide this type of service or make this type of impact on others.  The truth of the matter is that we have the opportunity to engage in these types of interactions on a daily basis.  Oftentimes, we are so caught up in the busyness of the day that we let these moments pass us by or neglect to take the time to do our part.

The actions can be simply.  In fact, they may be in the very things that seem so trivial to us yet are so meaningful to others.  Do we see someone struggling with a few bags that we can stop to help?  Do we see someone looking sad to whom we can offer a smile and hello?  Do we see someone at the coffee counter scouring for a few extra pennies and offer to pay?  Do we see an opportunity to go above and beyond for a co-worker or family member?  Do we see a chance to make a daily experience a memorable one for someone else?

How are we doing in offering service to others?

We should look at ways that we can lose ourselves in other people.  We should seek to provide others with opportunities to have a memorable day.  We should constantly strive to leave a positive impact (no matter who big or small) on those with whom we interact.  Most importantly, we should seek to do this with no ulterior motives or agenda attached.

With that in mind, I challenge you to live out your days with this one goal in mind:

Make someone’s day.

With every exchange, every conversation, every interaction, seek to leave them better off than when you found it.  A smile, a compliment, a kind word, a simple gesture.  It does not have to be much, but do something every day to make someone else’s day better.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

Daily Short-hOPT: Always Something Bigger

One of my buddies is a Michigan State University fan. I’ve recently expressed to him my admiration for one of their basketball players, Adreian Payne. If you haven’t heard yet, Mr. Payne befriended a young girl battling cancer. Their story has been told time and again, and rightfully so. It’s amazing. I was saddened to learn from my friend this morning that this young lady, Lacey, has passed on. 

I sat at my desk this morning choking back tears as I re-read the story of Adreian and Lacey and watched a video of a speech Michigan State’s coach, Tom Izzo, gave about the two. (Watch the video. It’s worth the 7 minutes.) I don’t know Lacey or her family. I don’t know Mr. Payne or Tom Izzo. I can’t imagine what they’re feeling this morning. This story has struck such a nerve with me, as I’m sure it has countless others. Maybe it’s my son that makes this hit home for me. Maybe it’s the fact that a future millionaire, who has had an arduous path of his own, has done such an incredible job of being an ally to a struggling young person that struck such a chord for me. Mostly, though, I think it’s the perspective that this entire scenario provides. There’s always something bigger at work. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in things that, in the big scheme of it all, don’t really matter. We put time and energy into things like sports and entertainment, or we let petty things present obstacles in our lives that are just hindrances and distractions. All the while, there are real people battling real things. There are real people helping these people along their way. We lose sight of tangible things and people that actually matter. 

Adreian and Lacey’s story is one that should be honored, respected, and repeated. Perspective is something that we should all strive to seek and maintain in our daily lives. This isn’t a “somebody’s always got it worse” cop out. This is a call to action. This is an urging to get better and be better. This is a suggestion that we all have our struggles, but true character is shown through how we uplift and care about others. 

Rest in Princess Lacey, and may God bless and keep her family and those close to her. 

Have an awesome Wednesday,
-A. 

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The Scoop: No Flight, Just Fight

I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures…I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.” – Benjamin Barber

I still remember the old conversations with my college buddies. We talked about how great it would be to graduate, start working, and never worry about learning or doing homework ever again. Life would be good.

I still remember the old conversations with my law school buddies. We talked about how great it would be to graduate, pass the bar, start working, and never worry about the Socratic method or briefing a case ever again. Life would be good.

Recently, I had some conversations with friends, family and colleagues about loving being able to learn and discuss new things. I enjoy reading books and articles to uncover new ideas or philosophies. I enjoy hearing people discuss topics to open up new perspectives on my views. With a commitment to learning, life is good.

We live in a world that wants to divide us…winner or loser, left or right, wrong or right, good or bad, smart or dumb, pretty or ugly, weak or strong. People will attempt to pigeonhole us into one of these profiles before they ever get to know us. This divisive culture had worked to ingrain another mindset into is that could prove equally damaging…flight or fight.

Too often, when society negatively pigeonholes an individual, the individual instinctively retreats. He begins to believe he is not good enough, not smart enough, not tough enough, not handsome enough. He starts to give up or quit.

We need to empower learners in this world. We need to convince them that no matter what hand they are dealt, they are capable of overcoming it and making an impact. We also need to encourage those who are intelligent to keep learning and challenging themselves.

The truth of the matter is that we never stop learning. Our education does not end in high school or college or even law school. We will always need continuing education and professional development to sharpen our craft. The world is ever-changing and we must stay educated to keep up.

Our education, however, is not solely tied to schools and books. We must also empower individuals to learn from mistakes, failures and experiences. We must teach and model for them that when our backs are against the wall and we face adversity, we must not give in to our flight instincts. We must learn and grow in those moments. We must fight to be better. Not everything goes the way we want, but we can learn from every circumstance.

By empowering learners, we cultivate leaders. We grow our society to strive constantly to make itself better. In doing so, we all stand to benefit…day by day, one individual at a time.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

Daily Short-hOPT: Opportunity vs. Impossibility

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” – Charles Swindoll

On March 8, 2014, the UCONN men’s basketball team finished out their regular season by getting beat by 33 points. Nearly a month later, they won the NCAA championship. Instead of disaster, UCONN coach Kevin Ollie saw opportunity. 

Speaking on that 33 point loss in an article on bleacherreport.com, Coach Ollie said this: 

“I’m glad that happened, because we went back and I had to evaluate myself as a coach, and I hope every player went to their dorms and looked at themselves in the mirror and evaluated their effort. Down times like that just promote you.”

You read that right: he’s glad he lost by 33 points to wrap up his regular season. In essence, he’s right. That moment had to happen. Ithad to happen because it made them better. Without that drubbing, UCONN may not have been hoisting that National Championship trophy last night. 
It is in times of great adversity that we find out who we are and what we’re really made of. For Kevin Ollie and his Huskies, that meant taking a look within, realizing what needed to change, and then taking the necessary steps to change it. His group of “fighters” parlayed a thrashing into a championship because they chose to see or as an opportunity instead of a figurative death sentence. 

The UCONN men’s basketball team was faced with what appeared to be an impossible situation. They were just beaten soundly by one of the best teams in the country. Their goal was to win a title in a tournament filled with nothing but the best teams in the country. Yet they did it. They took a seemingly impossible situation and chose to view it as an opportunity. That choice made all the difference. 

Have an awesome Tuesday,
-A. 

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Daily Short-hOPT: Caught In A Storm

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” – John F. Kennedy

I have first hand experience that President Kennedy is telling the truth with this one.

When I was in high school, my dad and I began the unenviable task of replacing the roof on our old home. We spent time hand cutting (with a heavy duty pair of metal cutting scissors) the tin roof on the back of our house and replacing it with a new shingled roof. We did the same with the front and top of our home.

Replacing a roof is a lot of work. The most difficult of the tasks being getting the packs of shingles up the ladder and onto the roof, not to mention making sure you mark even chalk lines so that you are able to get your shingles straight when you nail them down.

So, in the midst of a dry spell in the Ohio River Valley that summer, we were working on the roof one late afternoon. Out of nowhere, the clouds turned gray, and the sky opened up pouring down rain.

Being on top of a roof with no shingles on it in the middle of a downpour is not the most enjoyable experience one can have. Without much time to really secure any tarps in place before the rain and the wind howling making it extremely difficult to nail the tarps down, my dad and I did something only logical people would think to do. We spread out the tarps as best we could, and we laid on them in the middle of a torrential downpour to hold them down. (It is only as comical to my dad and me now looking back as it was to my mom and sister as soon as the rain let up and we came back inside.)

The inspirational meaning and lesson behind the words of JFK is that we should not wait until the circumstances are adverse to correct a problem. We should be proactive and not reactive.

We should be searching for ways now to identify potential issues and fix them before they blow up in our face. If we are constantly reacting to problems, we are letting issues dictate our lives as opposed to being out in front of them and maintaining control of our circumstances.

By preparing ahead of time, we can save ourselves a lot of headaches and difficulties. We can position ourselves to better handle when troublesome situations arise. We can feel at ease knowing we have adequately planned for a rainy day.

Take some time today and think about some of those things you have been putting off because they are not really a problem yet. Identify those things you may have said, “I’ll get to it later.” Start to take action on those or get a plan in place with how to handle them now.

You never know when a storm will blow in, and you do not want to be caught having to lay on the tarps in a downpour when it does. Trust me.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

Daily Short-hOPT: No Comparison

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Over the past few years, there has been a growing trend throughout the sports world of comparisons being drawn between teams, eras, or individual players.  I suppose that it has always really existed, but recently, it seems that it becomes a weekly, if not daily, occurrence.  I can recall countless debates and lists that I have had and/or made with my friends stating a case for one group of players over others.  We discuss cases for the Hall of Fame, teams who have the best offense, defense, or pitching rotation, lists for all time teams in MLB history or an individual franchise, or lineup decisions.  Inevitably, the conversation would turn to everyone’s individual opinions about why they like their player over someone else’s with some statistic to help them fit the context of the argument.

Lately, the newest argument that has encapsulated the World Wide Leader has been the discussion of who will be the greatest NBA basketball player of all-time:  Michael Jordan or LeBron James (or, perhaps someone else even)?  If I was legitimately posing this question to the masses (which I am not), you would see such a wide ranging set of responses that would stretch from rational to absurd reasons.

Perhaps, the most frustrating of these “explanations” would be the commenter who simply says, “X person sucks.  Y person is the best!”  No rationale, no justifications, no real added value.

However, my real concern stems from why these comparisons are even necessary.  Why do we have to know if LeBron is better than Kobe or Trout is better than Harper?  What does it matter?  Are we solving anything?  Are we helping anything?  Within these frameworks of comparison, I believe we really lose a genuine appreciation for what these guys do and bring to the table no matter their place in the history of the game.

We start to watch a game and see something pretty incredible occur, yet detractors or fans of another player are quick to point out a flaw or state their case for why their player could do all that and more.  We start looking for reasons to insult and devalue players, instead of just appreciating the work that they do and who they are.

This inner turmoil will manifest itself on a team that is not cohesive and willing to accept roles.  Players will begin to complain that they do not get enough innings, the ball is not in their hands enough, or coaches are not giving them enough opportunities to succeed or be the star.  Players will start to draw comparisons between their teammates and find reasons to bring them down to make them look better because they have a personal agenda.  These players fail to appreciate the team as a whole and the joy that comes from being a great teammate in achieving a unified goal.

This comparison framework is not limited to sports alone by any means.  Society does more than its fair share of comparison in all aspects.  People are always striving to be better than someone else or compare themselves to others in an effort to lift themselves up or pull others down.  In the workplace, people will talk good about themselves or bad about someone else in an effort to make themselves look better for a potential promotion.  People will embellish numbers, manipulate relationships, or root for others to fail to make themselves or a previous colleague look better.  Comparisons generally adopt a “win at all costs” mentality.

What we lose with this mindset is the pure joy and appreciation for a skilled and competitive performance.  We lose the camaraderie and unity that comes for striving together for a common goal whether that be a championship or completion of a project.  We lose the ability to appreciate people for who they are and what they are trying to make of themselves and instead try to see them as what we want them to be for us.  Most importantly, we lose the ability to see ourselves for who we are and appreciate that because we expose every single failure, fault, or blemish as taking away from us and making us less like those to whom we compare ourselves.

My challenge for you today is to stop with the comparisons.  Seek to find a true appreciation for who we are, who we know, and what we witness on a daily basis.

You are a great person.  You have your own individuality and your own purpose in this world.  You are who you are and you do not need to be anyone or anything different to be beautiful, successful, and empowered.  So just take you and become the best version of you that you can possibly be.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

Daily Short-hOPT: I Forgot The Process

“Accountability: actions toward or involving others that reflect the integrity of the person you want to be.” – Unknown

Literally one day after I wrote a post about believing in and trusting the process, I completely lost sight of the process. 

In a game against an opponent that we were better than, we found a way to allow eight runs in one inning. There were multiple errors, both mental and physical. There were a couple walks sprinkled in. There were two or three Texas leaguers that didn’t help matters. In an attempt to light a fire under my team, I pulled them down the left field line after this inning and really gave them the business. I inferred that they were mentally weak and lacked any intestinal fortitude. We went on to win by a large margin, but the win ended up feeling like a loss. 

For a while, I felt justified in my tirade. They were playing like crap. They appeared to be playing scared. They looked robotic. The bench guys weren’t into the game. We were flat, flat, flat. A couple hours after the game, though, I started thinking it over and I realized that everything I said went completely against what I was preaching to them. So, I chose to take accountability for my actions. 

I felt like I needed to address it and make amends. I wrote up a letter which I passed out before our next game that told them the following:

• The process means getting better every day and taking everything one pitch at a time. 
• I had lost sight of the process, and my words could have been chosen much better. 
• I was proud of all of them for the progress they’ve made and continue to make. 
• I love them all and believe in them. 

Part of my own process is learning patience and sticking to the gameplan. This means not jumping the gun and freaking out when the growing pains pop up. It also means that I have to be accountable when I don’t practice what I preach. What I hope I imparted to a group of young men was patience, accountability, and humility. 

As far as our team is concerned, I hope they remember the process. As far as I’m concerned, I will be better today than I was yesterday, which is also part of the process.

Have an awesome Thursday,
-A. 

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