Lessons Learned from A 78 Year-old Salesman

imagesU6VACESUI was in my early twenties when I watched a man who appeared to be in his sixties thank my managing broker (with tears in his eyes) for his kindness in selling his home. The amount of emotion the client was showing was due to recently filing for bankruptcy, his wife leaving him, and now he had just sold his million dollar dream home. And my managing broker not only helped him through the process, but did so without charging him a commission! This was one of many times I witnessed my manager sell property while cutting his commission, and finally I couldn’t take it anymore and blurted out, “Dad, why do you let these people take advantage of you?” Yes, my managing broker at that time was also my father.

My father probably wouldn’t have passed many of the screening exams or personality inventories I’ve taken in an attempt to get a sales jobs. He didn’t fit the “take no prisoners” profile that many companies look for today. Sure, he was persistent, and always went for the close, but he didn’t go for their throat.

He answered my question with a simple, “Son you don’t have to make all of your money in one deal.” Can you imagine saying that during your interview with a sales manager? When dad was selling real estate he truly didn’t see it as a sprint, but as a marathon. He built relationships with his clients, always treated them fairly, and then just sat back and waited for the referrals to roll in. And guess what? It worked!

My father retired with plenty of money in the bank, and even better…he retired with a good name. By being kind, honest, and compassionate in his approach with others he profited greatly. Again, he was persistent, and always went for the close, but he never went for the throat.

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Three Life Lessons from Russell Wilson #SuperBowl

russRussell Wilson is only 26 years-old, but we must all agree he has the leadership abilities of a CEO twice his age. As I’ve watched him here in Seattle over the last couple of years there are honestly times I ask myself, “Is he really that nice of a guy?” I personally know those who would say yes, because he made a positive impact on their life through a visit to their child in the hospital. Yes, he really does make a weekly visit to children in the hospital, and yes he really does care about others. In my opinion he is currently the best “face” of any sport’s franchise. And it’s not only because of what he does on the field, but because of what he does off the field.

So what can we learn from this young man about life…not football, but life? I believe there are many things, but let’s just look at three:

  1. Life isn’t about us
  2. Life is about glorifying others
  3. Life is about getting back up after being knocked down

Russell Wilson realizes he is gifted to help mankind, but that he is not the gift to mankind. He simply understands that we were put on earth to share our gifts with others through encouragement, love, and compassion. And for him that appears to be done through giving his time and possibly a few dollars to local hospitals and charities.

You should know he gives away more than his time and money. He also gives away the glory. Russ realizes that he is only as good as the team around him, and so he quickly redirects the glory thrown his way. Yes, when other heave glory upon him he quickly drops back, and then releases a tight spiral of praise on the receivers, the offensive line, the defensive line, and/or others. No, the game and life is never about him, but about other and well…HIM. Russ has faith in a higher power who he believes helps him overcome any obstacle, and that brings us to number three.

Russ knows we all have a purpose in life, and therefore when you get knocked down it is all just part of the plan. When asked about throwing 4 interceptions, and falling behind early in the game against Green Bay on Sunday, here is what he said to Peter King:

“That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special…I’ve been through a lot in life, and had some ups and downs. It’s what’s led me to this day.”

Trust me when I say that we can all learn a lot from that statement regardless of whether we believe in God or not. The life lesson from Russ is that when we are faced with adversity we can’t give up or shutdown. Life is full of adversity and failures, and in order to succeed we have to learn from them. Russ believes that setbacks are just setups! It is the setbacks in life that set us up for success.

Go Hawks,

Tony Russell

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It Does Take A Village: Raising Teenagers

villageIn 1996 Hillary Clinton wrote a book called, “It Takes A Village”, and she did so to share her vision for the children and families of America. Ms. Clinton believes that we must all join together to help each other raise and support our children.

In 1996 I didn’t have children, which meant that I  knew everything about how to raise them. After all, it isn’t until you have children (especially teenagers) that you realize you don’t have a clue! I am a licensed counselor, and at times my own beautiful children cause me to wonder how I graduated. And they are honestly great kids, but it is still difficult to know how to handle many situations.

My reasoning for blogging today is to simply say that Hillary is right, and if you know me very well…you know that wasn’t easy for me to admit! But as parents we can’t raise our kids alone. We need each other, and when I say need…I mean we need to help each other spy, cheat, and steal. As in dig a little deeper for information, cheat to get it, and not be afraid to take away (steal) privileges.

We can no longer sit back and just hope they “turn out okay”, because we began reasoning with them and showing trust at age 3. We can’t be another generation of naive parents who say, “My kid would never do that.” We need to know where they are, what they are doing, and who they are spending time with outside the home. And that may take some spying, cheating, and stealing, which is all legal in the world of parenting.

When is the last time you went online to see what your kids are posting? I would highly recommend doing some spying in the area of social media, but be prepared…the language, videos, and pics may shock you. And I promise you that you are going to read posts that some of your kid’s friends made and say, “Holy Shit.” And it is then that we must make a decision. Will we keep the information to ourselves, or do we become part of a village that cares and helps each other?

I have a lot more to write on this topic, but I’ll save that for another day. To get back to my original point, I want to reiterate that as parents we need to help each other. If we want to keep our kids safe then we need to begin communicating with each other. If we know our neighbor’s kid is getting into trouble then we need to share that with the parent. And if a neighbor has some information to share with us then we need to listen and not get defensive. Yes, we want to show trust in our children, but first let’s start by teaching them that trust is something we all must earn.

Posted in Parenting, Psychology | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

This One Thing Will Make Others LOVE You!

stoptalking_bucket_32857Many people don’t know this about me, but I was briefly married in my mid twenties. The problems in the marriage revolved around the fact that she was a young adult, and I was a 25 year-old moron with the maturity level of a teenager.

Prior to getting married she said something to me that should have been a red flag for both of us. She said, “You know Tony not everyone wants to talk about you, and hear about you.” If I recall correctly this was said after an evening out with some of her friends. I know it sounds harsh, but it needed to be said because I was what I call a monopolizer. I felt the need to monopolize conversations with stories about, who else, me! However, over the years I have learned that most of the time I just need to shut up.

Jeff Hayden says it best on Inc.com:

“I need to just shut up.” I used to talk a lot. I thought I was insightful and clever and witty and just plain thought I was a hoot. Occasionally, very occasionally, I might even have been. Most of the time I was not. Truly confident people don’t feel the need to talk — at all. I hate when it happens, but I still sometimes realize I’m talking not because the other person is interested in what I have to say but because I’m interested in what I have to say. Never speak just to please yourself; when you do you end up pleasing no one.”

Like Jeff I too have moments where I fall back into my old ways of talking about me, me, and me. It isn’t that I think I’m more important than other people…I just find what I’m thinking about interesting. And if my incredible story is interesting to me then it must be to everyone else right? I’m not sure at what age it hit me, but the answer is a big ole NO, nadda, and negatory! I’m going to be “ex-wife harsh” here, but most people don’t give a damn about what you or I have to say or what’s going on in our life! Oh I know they ask how you are doing, and maybe they care, but they want the Twitter version (140 character or less).

Conversations are like vacation pictures in that everyone thinks they are interesting and others would love to spend hours looking at them. Sure, you didn’t get to feel the sand between your toes, the warm sun on your face, and have a hot young server grab you a cold beverage, but they did! When we have a story to tell we are excited about it, and we think everyone else will be too, but unfortunately that is rarely the case.

The reason that most of us talk about ourselves and tend to monopolize conversations isn’t because we are self-absorbed or egotistical. It is because we are trying to connect with others. We hope they care, and if they are a good friend then they do. However, as the gray began showing up in my hair and beard I realized connections aren’t made through constantly telling our story, but in listening and then asking questions about the stories of others. In other words, as we grow older we realize that others simply need someone to give a damn.


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Is God to Blame?

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Love Ya!


Posted in agnostic, atheism, buddhism, christianity, Grief, Psychology, spirituality, The Next Half Podcast | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Read This if You want More Out of Life

Dalai-Lama-Be-HappyDo you remember being in your early twenties, and someone asking you, “What do you want to do with your life?” It was difficult to answer that question because the possibilities seemed endless!

I was going to write books, run in the Olympics, go on speaking tours, and be the next Dr. Phil. I was also going to run the Boston Marathon, climb Mt. Everest, and become a millionaire. And I truly thought I would get all of that done by the time I was thirty so that I could shower in $100 bills for the rest of my life.

Well, over the weekend I turned 48 years-old, and I haven’t run in the Olympics so let’s assume that one isn’t going to happen. I haven’t written a book or gotten a doctorate degree, and probably won’t make time for it so stick a fork in those.  I can’t afford to take a shower in $100 bills. And I haven’t run the Boston Marathon, gone on a speaking tour, or climbed Mt. Everest either. However, I did run a marathon, I’ve done some public speaking, and my friend Brian Dickinson climbed Mt. Everest…so I’m giving myself partial credit for those.

The great thing about nearing 50 years on this planet is it’s getting easier to answer the question, “What do you want to do with your life?”  Because we begin to realize there are a lot fewer days left in it! However, let’s assume we are all healthy and going to stay that way for another 50 years. Would we want the next half of our life to be like the first?

If you are like me, the first half has been focused on one word, and that is the word “more.” Early in life it’s all about more money, more prestige, more success, and more stuff. And let me ask you another question, “How has that worked out for you?”  Oh I realize you may have a lot of cool stuff, but do you have peace and happiness on most days? Maybe you do and that is awesome…I’d love to hear from you.  However, I honestly believe that it will be difficult to find peace and happiness until we stop focusing on getting more out of life and begin focusing on getting less.

I do believe we should continue to dream, and set goals that stretch us physically and mentally, but the key to finding peace and happiness in The Next Half  of life may be found in simply learning to be content.  Content with what we have accomplished, and where the journey continues to take us. After all, it hasn’t been the accomplishment or the lack thereof that have truly been enjoyable.  It has been the journey. So maybe some of us need to answer the question, “What do you want to do with your life” with…to live it!

Thought for The Day:  Could you get more enjoyment out of life and possibly even live longer by simply trying to get less out of it?

Posted in Goal Setting, Midlife, Psychology | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Big Change Coming in 2015

dream-bigWe’ve all heard the saying by Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  I should probably tattoo that on my forearm so that I don’t forget it! I’m one of those people who tends to do the same thing over and over again and hope for different results.  What about you?

It’s sad that time goes so fast that we waste several years before realizing we are living as if we are insane. It is like getting lost while driving, and you know you are lost, but you don’t stop and ask for directions.  We just go in circles until we are exhausted and stressed out, and then we stop and ask for help.  If we had just done that to start with we would have saved ourselves time and enormous amounts of stress!

When I was approximately 30 years-old I was selling cars, and took a very wise man on a test drive.  He was getting ready to retire from the pharmaceutical industry, and he was going to pay cash for red Toyota Sierra (mini-man).  You are thinking, “Why in the hell would he buy a MINI-VAN aren’t you?  Well, it was because he had a bunch of buddies, and he said he wanted to load them all up to go play golf. As we talked about life he said something to me I have never forgotten.  He said, “You need to pick a path and stay on it.”  I’m not saying that is great advice for everyone, but looking back it was great advice for me.  He was simply telling me I had to quit jumping from one profession to another, or I would never truly smell the roses of success.  He was an older gentlemen who knew time goes by quickly, and one day you will wake up and ask yourself, “Where did the time go and what did I do with it?”

My point today is simple.  I’ve made the mistake of going through life having many dreams, but never focusing on one long enough to make it come true. And with all of that being said I should make one more point.  The first step is having the dream.  The dream that you know you have been equipped to fulfill if given the time to pursue it.  The dream that when pursued will make you want to get out of bed each morning.  The dream that will put you on the path.  The path that will likely keep you from going in circles and insane.

So join me if you will! Let’s choose to quit making one change after another, and make the change we know we need to make for 2015.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of going around in circles.

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How My Wife & I Broke 4 Different Laws on our 15th Wedding Anniversary

Suncadia Resort

Suncadia Resort

Okay, I have to admit that I used the title to get you interested in reading my blog, but I’m fairly certain that my lovely wife and I did break at least 4 laws during our anniversary weekend.  I can’t tell you what they are because, well as I said, we broke them!  I may at least give you a hint if you keep reading, but my point is that I don’t want people to think love and passion fizzles in the forties.  Think about what younger people see on TV.  Every Viagra commercial has a good-looking middle-aged man on them.  I wonder if the younger audience is watching and thinking, “Shit man, my willy is about to die any day now!”  Sure, the willy can wonder & slumber for some, but here is the good news youngins…it isn’t as common as you are lead to believe.  The plumbing rarely starts rusting in the forties!

When I was in my twenties and early thirties I thought that romance and marriage in my forties (almost 50s) would be boring and lame. And what I want you to know is that is entirely up to you.  You can choose whether or not midlife is a time to light the fire or you can begin a downward spiral of sexual and physical boredom.

I want to challenge all of us to begin seeking out ways to enjoy our lives every single day.  And I want to convey that the midlife years can be the best time to begin doing so.  Our twenties and thirties are the years many of us were so busy focused on “climbing the ladder” that we missed the many blessings that surrounded us.  We didn’t fully embrace and enjoy life.

When the forties arrive you begin to realize life is going too fast, and you feel challenged to enjoy being physically active.  You simply realize the days of running, jumping, and well…humping may be gone before you know it!  And so you have a choice to make as to how you will accept that reality.  Some of you may be hitting your forties and saying, “I’m too old to ___________.”  Well I want to challenge you to start saying, “I’m too old not to _______________.”  You still want to know what laws Amy and I broke?  All I will say is that 3 out of the 4 involved indecent exposure.  Go have some fun!

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Help Me with My Holiday Dilemma: Robbing A Bank vs. Becoming A Male Stripper

93806Well the holidays are here and with them brings joy, happiness, and a crap load of STRESS!  So I want to do things differently this year, and keep all the joy and happiness, and ditch the stress.  And to ditch the crap load of stress I’ll need what?  Correct!  A crap load of cash!

Let’s be honest and admit the holidays are very expensive.  So to offset the expense I’ve decided to engage in criminal or immoral behavior this year.  I know it sounds horrible seeing as though part of the holiday includes celebrating baby Jesus, but I can’t take another stressful holiday season.

So my criminal plan may involve a bank robbery.  Now don’t worry, I will be completely unarmed and make that clear as I walk to the counter.  I’m simply going to demand they return all the money they took from me this year.  I want them to return all my ATM fees, overdraft fees, technology fees, under the minimum balance fees, and fees they used to process my fees.  So if you think about it…I’m only robbing them of what they robbed of me.  I’m hoping the judge will see it that way as well, and let me out of jail before the kids open their gifts on Christmas morning.  Now, I do believe in the power of a Plan B so I have another idea.

My plan B is to become a stripper.  And some of you middle aged guys may want to get in on this one, because I’ll need a team.  I’m thinking of putting together a group of guys in their forties and fifties, and we’ll call ourselves the Swinging Richards.  And here is the the genius of Plan B, we will market ourselves to senior living facilities and nursing homes! So if you swing low or hell, if you swing at all, please consider joining me.

Happy Holidays!


p.s. This was sarcasm so please don’t report me to the police who will be busy with real bank robbers

Today’s Holiday Links:

Visit the Official LEGO Online Shop!

Shop Amazon’s Electronics Holiday Gift Guide – High-Tech Presents for Students

Shop Amazon – Thanksgiving Dinner and Desserts – Prepare the Perfect Feast

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Want a GREAT marriage? Then CLICK HERE to Speak Their Language

Amy and I will be celebrating our 15 YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY this week!  And if I could only give you one piece of advice it would be to read “The Five Love Languages.”  Believe it or not, you and your significant other don’t speak the same language.  Yeah, you knew that already, but you should buy the book to learn their language.  But that will only be the first step.  You then must begin to speak it!

Click here to order the book from Amazon:  The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

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