Musical Interlude – the Five Greatest Songs

29 06 2013

In a recent late night conversation with a good friend, the topic of music rose to the surface.  The question:  What is your favorite song?  As a person that believes music motivates and enhances your life, it was interesting to consider.

With this blog, my purpose has always been to discuss sales, marketing, business, and so on.  I have a certain formula and pattern that leads to a consistent message.  Well, this close to Independence Day, I am flipping the free bird to consistency and taking a moment to share the songs that I consider the greatest.  I hope you enjoy.

So Lonely – The Police.

A little bit rock, a little bit reggae, a little bit punk – this song blends my favorite genres of music perfectly.


Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash.

The pain and self-awareness of mistakes made.  The mention of my hometown Reno.  This one gives me chills.


Bring It On Home To Me – Sam Cooke.

The sad longing for love.  The soulful passion of a beautiful voice.  The simple instrumentation.  If I had to listen to one song for the rest of my life, this might be it.


She Said – The Pharcyde.

You might like hip-hop and you might only be exposed to the crap they play on the radio.  This is a passionate, stylish song to keep your head nodding.


You Are The Best Thing – Ray Lamontagne.

A week away from my 10th wedding anniversary, this song makes me think of my wonderful wife.  Infinite in her patience, constantly filling my life with love and acceptance, my world is incomplete without her.  The beauty of the song swells my appreciation for my one true love.


Although these are my Top-5, there is a lot of other music I love.  In this blog, I have written about Snoop, Slash, Beastie Boys, Vokab Kompany, Black Joe Lewis, and others.  I have shared these passions with you.  I encourage you to comment with your favorite song or band.  This blog gets about 3,000 views a month – I’m sure the audience would love to hear your suggestions.

Happy listening!


Adam Yauch – Leaving a Legacy

11 05 2012

Flying down the highway, windows open, stereo on blast, Beastie Boys bumping – my teenage version of freedom.  The joy of good friends, weird adventures, and great music as the soundtrack to our youthful escapades.  If you were not in high school or college in the 80’s or 90’s then the Beastie Boys might not mean much to you, but you had your soundtrack too.  Yours might have been Springsteen or Elvis or the Beatles, but in my generation, we had the King Ad Rock, Mike D, and MCA.  The Beastie Boys meant rebellion, non-conformity, and pure unadulterated fun.

Last week I was saddened at the early passing of Adam (MCA) Yauch.  Always a shame when a life ends too soon, but in a moment of reflection my sadness quickly faded as I thought about that roadtrip, that party, that concert, those times in college – all those formative moments in my life colored by the sounds of Paul Revere, Sabatoge, Sure Shot, and Root Down.  I still know every single word of the album “Licensed to Ill” – a lot of people reading this do too.

So in that moment of sadness I found myself smiling.  I thought of a quote I’ve heard before:  “People will not remember what you said or what you did – they will remember how you make them feel.”  And that’s exactly what happens when you do something great, something risky, something that has a positive effect on other people’s lives.  You make them feel something – and that feeling never fades.

In that moment I began to reflect on my own life.  How will I be remembered?  How will you?  And beyond that, what did Adam Yauch do that was so special that his actions and his life impacted a generation?  What can we learn from MCA?

Speak your mind, don’t speak to everyone.  The music of the Beastie Boys is not for everyone – if it was, then it wouldn’t be genuine.  It had to be gritty, foul, raucous, and rebellious for certain people to relate to it.  If you speak softly to everyone then you speak powerfully to no one.

Find an uphill battle and start climbing.  How many times did the Beastie Boys hear “white guys can’t rap” or “rappers can’t play instruments” or “rap music won’t last”?  If you’ve got fans, you’ve got critics.  In his own words:  “They got a committee to get me off the block ‘cause I say my rhymes loud and I say ’em nonstop.”  In the path to greatness you will be met with naysayers, doubters, and skeptics.  Use it as fuel for your fire to accomplish something difficult.

Be true to yourself.  Early in their career, the Beasties might have been characterized as rude, crass, and juvenile.  In time, they used those rebellious attitudes to make statements for freedom and equality.  In either case, they pissed people off.  You don’t want to hear about kids partying and causing trouble?  Don’t listen.  You don’t want a rockstar to use their platform for pushing their beliefs?  Don’t follow.  It is the “do what I want” approach that turned these boys to men.  Be bold, be authentic, and celebrate it.

Party.  Speaking of celebration, I know we all are focused and driven and relentless and so on, but dammit, every now and then you gotta break the monotony and appreciate the fruits of your labors.  Sometimes you gotta turn it up and party like your parents are out of town to remind yourself why you work so hard.

Collaborate.  Not only were the Beastie Boys a group of guys that came together to make music – they literally finished each other’s sentences.  Their group approach to trading rhymes branded their style, gave them a unique sound, and changed the game.  Want to be successful?  Get some homies to help you achieve your vision.


I watched the Beastie Boys on stage at Lollapalooza when I was in college.  I could not believe the way they moved the crowd.  I had never experienced thousands of people rapping in unison along with the artists on stage.  I had never heard bass that loud.  I remember what I was wearing, I remember what I drank, I remember the vibrations in the ground, I remember the friends who took that crazy journey with me.  And I will always, always remember how I felt.  Shout out to the Beasties for that feeling.  Shout out for the lifelong memories.  Shout out to MCA for the reminder to achieve something great.


Hero Found

7 10 2011

In follow-up to the story I posted about the fire that affected our home in Austin, Texas, I am thrilled to report that I found the man that saved our house – or rather, he found me.  As I was standing in the front yard watering the grass at night, a Lake County Sheriff’s car pulled alongside the curb.  He stopped and rolled down his window.  Concerned that I might be in trouble for the extra watering during drought conditions, I said, “Hey there.  I’m just watering to keep the grass moist – part of it burned during the fire.”

“I know,” he said, “I put it out.”

“You what????” I asked, jaw-dropped.

“I put out the fire in your yard,” he replied calmly.  “I came around the corner in my car and I saw the flames, so I parked, got out, and stomped it out with my feet.”

“Are you serious?!?!” I asked, not believing that I was standing there talking to my family’s hero.

“Yeah,” he replied in a very “no big deal – just part of the job” kind of way.

We talked for a while and I thanked him profusely.  I told him that I had written an article and given his credit to the Fire Department.  He was quick to point out that although he put out the fire in my yard, the Fire Department saved the neighborhood – mentioning how impressed he was by their teamwork and speed.  Nonetheless, I wanted to express my immeasurable gratitude.

“You write a blog?” he asked.  “You should check out my website.”

It turns out that Senior Deputy Sheriff Greg Lawson is also an author.  He wrote a fictional book about zombies and the rights of zombies if they actually existed.  I’m not making this up – take a look:

He didn’t seem to want much praise for his heroic act, so I can at least give his website and his book some free press.  Go check it out – just in time for Halloween!

Thank you Mr. Lawson, not only for putting out the fire, but for providing us with an example of bravery and humility – and for reminding us that for all that is wrong in the world, there are still reasons to be optimistic.

Moment of Silence / Something Happens

12 11 2010

In honor of the brave men and women that protect this country, I am observing a moment of silence.  Although I greatly respect the honorable contribution of those that have given their lives and service to the military, I am not one of them.  I can show appreciation but do not speak from experience.  Therefore, instead of my weekly blog, I would like to share the thoughts of a man that actually served – my mentor, Mr. Dan Collins.

Something Happens

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick

Something important happens when I meet a combat veteran.  Something that’s hard to explain.  There’s a recognition, a respect, a salute and… a sadness that embraces me.  It’s simple, silent and sincere.  It’s a shared appreciation.  It’s different than the love that I have for my child.  It’s different than the respect I have for role models.  It’s different than the salute I give to accomplishments.  It’s different and yet it’s the same.  It’s a strange bond that transcends country, color, race and religion.  It’s older than age and younger than youth. It’s about sacrifice and sincere substance.  It’s grave and it’s gravitas.  It’s hard to explain the warm smile and the chilling sadness that I feel when I think of the value and values of a veteran.  It’s hard to explain but…

Something important happens.

Dan Collins

Read Dan’s Blog here:

Charley Johnson – Paying It Forward

5 11 2010

When you ask most people “What is your goal?” they might say they would like to increase their business, lose some weight, or buy a new car – not Charley Johnson – Charley is going to “change the world.”  When you talk to Charley you realize he is serious, and you realize that he has the passion, drive, and confidence to actually achieve that goal.

In 2006, driving on the freeway, Charley Johnson had a vision, and that vision has turned into a movement.  The idea was inspired by the movie Pay It Forward written by Catherine Ryan Hyde, and the foundation that it spawned.  Millions of people saw that movie and thought, “great idea” but Charley Johnson took action to spread the word – with a simple bracelet.

The “Pay It Forward” mission is this:  You, your company, your community, your family & friends can make the world a better place.  It could be a small act like opening a door, buying a stranger a cup of coffee, or giving your time to a cause.  Donate blood, open a door for someone, work at a soup kitchen, assist your neighbor with their yardwork, give someone your spot in line – there is no wrong way to participate, as long as you are doing something to make another person’s life better.

Charley’s contribution to the cause is a white rubber PAY IT FORWARD bracelet.  You CANNOT buy them – just contact Charley and he will send you a bunch of bracelets for free.  Wear your bracelet to remind yourself to do something nice.  Pass the bracelet on to remind someone else to keep it moving forward.  Thus far, Charley has put over 800,000 bracelets into 58 countries around the world, and he’s only getting started.  The goal is 1 billion (with a “B”) bracelets in circulation – 1 billion reminders to do something nice.  Schools are involving the concept in their programs about citizenship and responsibility.  Communities are using the concept to improve their surroundings and help their neighbors.  Companies are using the concept to increase teamwork and boost employee morale.

Charley & Stacey-Marie Hansen

Speaking to Charley this week was as surprising as it was inspiring.  I tried to get him to talk about himself, take some credit, and soak up a little well-deserved spotlight for making a difference.  You might expect a guy with over 4,000 Facebook friends to self-promote when given the chance.  Not even close.  “This movement is not about me,” he said with a matter-of-fact frankness that is his trademark whether he knows it or not, “this is about creating your own movement.  This gives everyone a chance to participate – the bracelet tells you what to do, but not how to do it.”

The Promotional Products Industry, where Charley earns his living, is throwing it’s weight behind the cause.  Saturday, November 6th, is Promotional Professionals Pay It Forward Day, and we encourage everyone to participate.  Do something nice for someone else.  Follow Charley’s example and make the world a better place.

Great job Charley. I know you don’t want the credit, but you deserve it.

Get Naughty

1 10 2010

So I’m headed to Vegas this weekend.  Just a short while ago that would have meant all kinds of craziness.  When I tell people about my upcoming Vegas trip, they say, “Oooh, what are you going to do???” with that certain hopeful and devilish tone that implies they want to hear about gaming, clubbing, and debauchery.  But alas, the times, they are a-changin.

Instead of cocktails on the plane, it will be DVD’s in the minivan.  Oh yes, on the weekends it’s the minivan for me.  Believe it.  My son is 5, my daughter is 3.  We like three rows of seats so they can sit separately – hence less eye-poking, scratching, and pinching.  They are good kids, but they act like hockey players inside a car.

Instead of a suite at the Hard Rock, we will be shacking up at my brother’s house.  Yes, people actually live in Vegas – and the houses are huge.  When we wake up in the morning we won’t hear slot machines and smell like smoke.  My daughter will wake me singing, “Daaaaaddyyyyy wake uuuuuup” at 6:30 instead of a housekeeper banging on the door at noon.

Instead of lounging (passing out) by the pool, we will swim together in my brother’s back yard.  I will throw my son as high as I can and he will splash grandpa in the face.  There will be no cocktail waitresses bringing us Mai Tai’s in bikinis – unless I do something really nice for my wife and she volunteers (does driving a minivan count as something nice?).

As I slip pleasantly into middle-age, businesses are constantly rebranding themselves as sexy, sleek, and young.  Why?  Well, I suppose minivans are not sexy.

Consider Volvo.  They have established a brand known for safety and sensibility.  And here they are, jumping into the sport-sedan class with all four tires.  We printed these “I Got Naughty In A Volvo” t-shirts to promote the new S60.  They were given to test drivers.  Apparently you can get naughty in a Volvo and you don’t have to wait til your parents are out of town.  Oh yes, the times, they are a-changin.


Have a great weekend everyone.  If it’s still warm in your town, here is a great drink:


1 Can of concentrated frozen lemonade

Pour concentrate into pitcher

Add 3 cans of water

1 can of Vodka

1 full Beer – preferably Amber or Mexican beer

Stir and pour over ice


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