Uncharted Territory

As I’ve been working through my current “Off-season,” I’ve done some reflecting on my career progression. When looking at my professional stops along the way, they were all unknown and unexpected doors that I chose to walk through despite no real previous connection.

I started out working for a wildlife and fisheries conservancy agency, and to this day I neither hunt nor fish. I also spent some time working for a government housing regulator which was a stretch for the small government conservative I believed myself to be at the time. And my most recent post was at a 150+ year old railroad company, to which I brought zero previous freight or transportation knowledge.

While each of these points along my career path appears unrelated, my mission remained the same: there was a message and an audience, and I needed to connect the two. What helped me be successful was an openness to learn a new environment, an understanding that each came with a new and unique audience, and a confidence that I am an ambassador delivering a helpful and necessary message.Continue reading

It’s Raining Leaves

Because I live in the tropical paradise that is Houston, I spent December 12 fighting mosquitoes and raking leaves. And the task seemed daunting as I looked across my suburban plot covered in the discarded foliage of the HOA-mandated trees that give The Woodlands its name.

Even after placing my fifth bag at the curb, I had a hard time seeing any progress. To add insult to injury, an ever so slight breeze brought a shower of leaves landing on top of their previously fallen brethren.Continue reading

#Remembering41

There have been countless articles, stories, social media posts and more during the last week remembering George Herbert Walker Bush. Being here in Houston, Texas, where he and his wife called home for so many years, the attention is all that much greater.

I had the unique opportunity to watch the specially designed funeral train carry his “mortal vessel” and his loved ones to his final resting place in College Station, Texas. And my social media feeds are currently full of great images of citizens lining the path to catch a final glimpse.

But this is the image I like to think of when I think of George HW Bush. He was President during what I recall as the heyday of Saturday Night Live. And the talented Dana Carvey became well-known for his portrayal of the Commander-in-Chief. And there were many childish pokes at various parts of his demeanor, speech patterns, policies and ideals. But HW “suffered the fools lightly.” He seemed to understand the role of comedy and social commentary in the popular landscape. So much so, that he invited Carvey to stand with him and do his impression at his side.

Looking at this photo, I think “how far away from that understanding and temperament have we moved?” I’d like to think that the numerous thoughts shared during this week will help to remind us to move back in that direction.

(courtesy ABC News)

A Thoughtful Run

“Never are my senses more engaged than when the pain sets in. There is a magic in misery. Just ask any runner.” – Dean Karnazes

Mile 1

  • Why am I doing this?
  • It’s not even light out yet!
  • Bed would be so much better right now
  • I don’t think I even remember how to run this morning
  • I can turn around and just call it a rest day, right? Rest days are healthy too

Mile 2Continue reading

The Pope, the Super Bowl and HGTV

What do the Pope, the Super Bowl and HGTV have in common? The potential for major crises, if you’re the largest public freight rail company in the U.S.

Crisis communication has become an important part of corporate communications and public relations. Our external and internal messaging during a crisis response can be as impactful as the response itself.

It is imperative that we have a plan and that we review it and keep it updated, prepped and rehearsed. I’ve also learned that observing, identifying and addressing potential crises should be the prologue to that plan and can even help prevent the need to implement the plan.

That’s where the Pope, the Super Bowl and HGTV come in:Continue reading

1 in 7.7 Billion

As of November 2018, there are approximately 7.7 billion humans alive on the earth. While you can sort and group them by different general criteria, each one of those 7.7 billion is an individual. And each individual has their own distinct thoughts, feelings and ways to process the world around them, giving them their own opinions. The reality of this perspective has recently led me to a few thoughts:Continue reading

A Plateful of Thanks

I am someone who loves all aspects of food, from preparation to consumption to reminiscing, so Thanksgiving is an easy choice for “favorite holiday.” As a kid, I remember waking to the noise and smell of my mother fixing rutabaga first thing in the morning (even though my grandmother was the only one looking forward to it.) But that was a fair trade, knowing the plethora of other “once-a-year” dishes that we would soon enjoy.
 
But it wasn’t/isn’t just the food for me. That same kid woke up excited because the day meant a chance to see and spend time with grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins (and taste their food). That kid became a teenager that would spend Thanksgiving evening with friends passing from one family’s house to another meeting exotic family members, and having one more piece of pie. And that teenager grew up to have his own family and move away, so Thanksgiving sometimes means loading up to travel back to the old stomping grounds, breathe in the nostalgia and the smell of roasted or grilled or deep-fried turkeys. And when traveling isn’t in the cards, this grown family man relishes in gathering with other families and watching kids play, sharing stories, and loving that odd-ball casserole that shouldn’t taste good but really does.
 
So on this day, I wish you all a plateful of good food and feelings. Remember it is a day to celebrate gratitude. Think it, feel it, express it. Serve yourself and your loved ones heaping helpings of tasty morsels and lifelong memories.
 
And for those checking out my website and reading my words, you are on my list of what I’m thankful for this year.

A 500-Meter Lesson in Perspective

A few years ago, I resolved to get my weight and fitness in order. What started as diet and exercise turned into half marathons and a well-meaning friend talking me into my first triathlon.

Despite the understandable nerves of my first triathlon, I stood at the edge of a lake with some confidence and time goals in mind as I prepared to run into the water with a mass of well-trained athletes. Others warned me of the madness of the swim portion, so I tried to remember some pre-race advice and stay to the outside, watch for kicking legs and remain calm.

I soon appreciated that without discernible landmarks, judging time and distance are very difficult. And the more I swung my arms and kicked my legs, the slower I seemed to be moving. How was I supposed to keep this up? Was the course 500 meters or 500 miles? Was I even pointed in the right direction anymore? Any time goals I’d set for myself were out the window and my only thought was survival. That thought was then replaced by the acceptance that the lifeguards in kayaks were out there for folks like me, and who was I to deny them the opportunity to save the life of a floundering weekend warrior?Continue reading