We’re gonna break our backs.

In this trying season, I wonder if Americans would be willing to break their backs and lay in bed paralyzed for life to avoid COVID-19. I have to wonder this because we are doing it economically now.

Last night I went out to dinner at a local restaurant that was forced to operate far below capacity. Luckily it was an uncharacteristically warm night, and so outdoor dining was an option. This man employees over 300 people but due to restrictions that staff is down to slightly over 100. He’s already closed a few of his restaurants and wondered aloud what he would do to make it through the coming winter.

Just a few moments ago, I was told that another local gym is closing here in town, and according to my sources, 40% of gyms have closed down permanently across the nation, with more to surely follow suit.

I have another friend who’s in the entertainment business that has lost 8 million dollars already. He, too, is close to being at the breaking point.

Small business is the very backbone of our economy, employing over 50% of our workforce. Even a company that is just treading water and barely profitable for the owner contributes mightily to their community, both locally and nationally. They pay taxes for themselves and their employees. They pay other small businesses who act as vendors for goods and services they need. All of those business employees go out into their respective communities to interject money locally while getting taxed on the goods and services they purchase.

There is no help coming from the government that continues to make irrational decisions, unbacked by science, all while touting our safety. Yet, major conglomerates are left free to operate at full capacity just so long as you maintain social distancing and face mask. When was the last time you saw an employee clean the fruit that someone picked up or wiped down the freezer door after every pull?

You haven’t.

America, land that I love, land that I have fought for, bleed for, and love. Land of opportunity when not shackled by fear. I need you to wake up. There is only so much blood we can get from a stone. You can only pivot so many times and stay on course to success. At some point, if we don’t address this fear, the real boogeyman is going to jump on the closet. The other foot is going to drop, and our downtowns are going to become ghost towns. The middle class will evaporate faster than it already is, and your only resource to save you is going to be a government that has already failed you.

America, wake up, or you are going to kill yourself with this “cure.”

What the winner of the next election says about us.

Today is the day that we decide on the path of America for another four years. People on both sides are positive their guy is going to win by a landslide. No one will know until the final votes are tallied, but when the winner is declared, we will have a detailed picture (esp if the winner does so by a large margin) about which messaging struck the heart of America.

Before we delve into what each scenario means, let me first identify the heart of America. The average American isn’t reflected in the loud voices of extreme left or right. They are the folks who get up, go to work, and are just trying to navigate life. All they want is to provide for their family, give their kids a better life, and take a vacation every year. The average American is tone-deaf to politics because both sides have been singing off-key for years now. 

Now, on to the winners. 

If Biden wins:

If Biden were to win, it would prove that America’s heart believes the following things, in order of importance. 

  1. That Trump is racist. 
  2. Trump severely botched the handling of COVID.
  3. Trump is more corrupt than Biden. 

I list the last one, last, because, at this point, I’ve yet to hear anyone close to me say either guy is a “good guy”. Issue 3 is simply the icing on the cake. 

If Trump wins: (again in order of importance)

  1. People are tired of being bullied. 
  2. No one wants to get shut down again. 
  3. Biden is more corrupt than Trump. 

The first point is where I believe the election hinges. 

I think that rioting and divisiveness have the potential to hold the most significant sway over the election, with the fear of getting shut down, again, running a close second. My reasoning for this? 

At our core, Americans hate to be told what to do. It is part of our culture, literally built-in from the founding of our nation. 

Getting accosted at dinner with family and friends (esp when you had been locked down for months prior) doesn’t sit with us well. When cities are burned and looted (again in light of the hit we all took from COVID), it galvanizes the fight or flight mode in all of us. It leads to circling the wagons to protect the center. This is part of our DNA, as we are herd creatures. 

So as odd as it sounds, for Biden to win means that the majority of people believe Trump is, in fact, racist. However, if Trump wins, it doesn’t prove that America is racist. It demonstrates that folks are tired of being shoved around. 

The voice in the arena.

We often talk about the haters and our critics, but why do we care what they say?
It’s because they are echoing the words of our harshest critic– Ourselves.
We are afraid to take risks because we are worried about being exposed as the frauds our inner voice says that we are. That someone will find out that we don’t have all the answers that we aren’t perfect, and any success we found was a fluke.
The word will get out that we don’t know what we are doing.
No matter what you accomplish in the public eye, behind the scenes, imposter syndrome is a genuine thing.
So, the nagging voice continues to tell you that you aren’t ready for that next big risk. After all, you’ve “made it,” so why risk failure now?
Your comfortable, wasn’t that what you’ve been striving to achieve for so long?
The problem is that the world believes there are three options, get better, get worse, or stay the same. In reality, there are only two, get better, or get worst.
Comfort kills.
Growth doesn’t come when all we do is what we are good at or rest on past accomplishments. It occurs when we step outside of our comfort zone. It happens when we expose ourselves to the potential for failure, and fail we shall if the task we seek to do is a major one.
No one hit’s home runs every at-bat.
But we are petrified of striking out, hitting a pop fly, or bunting. The crowd came for the home run, and we don’t want to let em down. So, instead, we choose not to step up to the plate.
That voice, powered by fear, has killed more dreams than any other obstacle on Earth.
It’s what forces us to justify quitting. It’s what forces us to settle. It’s what feeds the most insidious thing of all—negative self-talk.
I know about this all too well. For every win I got, I walked into each room petrified that folks would find me out.
No matter what award, top 40 under 40, top 50 CEO, small business of the year, etc., I was always worried folks would ask me a question I didn’t know the answer too, and I’d look foolish.
I remember making the finals for Men’s Health, and despite numerous times telling me that the contest wasn’t just about looks, I couldn’t shut the up about it.
I know they liked me. The used my quote in a toast at dinner. They put another of my quotes on the magazine cover, and to this day, I can’t help but wonder did I lose that win because I failed to display the confidence that they were looking for to run with it. Were they worried that I wouldn’t have the confidence to go on stage and represent their brand?
You see, the most prominent critic you have is often in the arena with you. You’re battling your opponent and yourself. That’s why you must learn how to change the conversation. Here are some typical examples of negative self-talk.

I am just destined to be fat. I am not a reader. I don’t know how to love.
But what if we changed the conversation?
How do we do that? We look at the facts.
Are you destined to be fat? No, you are not morbidly obese. There is no such thing as big-boned. You have simply eaten poorly and failed to move for an extended time.
Both of which you have 100% control over.
I am not a reader. You are not illiterate. You have put little to no time into practicing it.You have plenty of time to do it; you just need to prioritize it. You can become a much better reader.
You’re don’t know how to love. You can listen to your partner.You can accept that you’re responsible for your happiness, not them. You can do more than is required.You can make time for each other. You can put the phone down. You can accept their love. You can finally admit you are worthy of being loved.
I know this because, for years, I fell victim to my negative talk. No one will ever love me. I am stupid. I don’t know how to sell. I am ugly. I am fat.
And every time I walked into a room, I told myself I didn’t belong. It made life miserable, and what’s worse, it has caused me not to take risks, try new things, and ultimately it stole some sweetness from my wins.
But changing the conversation changed my life. Realizing that I may not be a rocket scientist, but I am a genius in my own right. Yes, others can do things that I cannot, but many wish they could do what I’ve done.
Now, no matter what, I step up to the plate and swing with all I’ve got. While not every at-bat connects, when I hit one out the park, I can round the bases with a smile on my face, finally knowing I belong. If you follow my advice so you can do the same. #Justherambingsofanolinfantryman

Happy Birthday

You are somehow already five years old.
Where did the time go?
Sometimes I look over at you and see the grown women you will become standing in front of me, and it takes my breath away.

I know, far too soon for your daddy’s liking, you will become that woman.
There will be the last time you ask to hold my hand in the street.
There will come a day when you won’t ask me to watch a superhero movie.
At some point, you won’t ask me to pick you up.
One night you’re not going to want to sleep on the floor in our room no more.

While I would never try to keep you from growing my beautiful little girl, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dread those days.

You know, before you, death never really scared me all that much. I always thought if I were dead on gone, I wouldn’t be missed much, and to be frank, I wouldn’t miss much myself.

But, you changed all that. Leaving you alone in this world before I’ve ushered you into adulthood scares me immensely. The idea of missing every little step you’d take and all the milestones you’re going to reach crushes me. You, all by your perfect little self, changed the world for me.

You make me want to be a good man.
You make me want to provide for you and your sister.
You make me want to honor your mother.
Because of you, I want more than anything to be worthy of the title, “Daddy.”

So, as we complete this fourth trip around the sun, please know how much I love you. I will protect you with my dying breath. I will come to get you, from anywhere, at any time, no matter how far or how late. I will always make you the best sandwich and seal it in love with a daddy squish.

You are the apple of my eye.
You are my pride and joy.
You are #Riverlynnemybestfriend.

Happy birthday baby girl.
Love Daddy.

Pandmic, Epidemic

Let’s talk about some facts, please.

I am willing to concede that COVID is a serious issue.
I am willing to do so because, based on the facts, it is.

So, if I am willing to go off facts, can the rest of you start?

In America, almost all of the top comorbidities for COVID are byproducts of obesity, but no one wants to talk about that.

In New York for example, “The median age of the patients was 63 years and 39% were female, investigators reported. The most common observed comorbidities were hypertension (56%), obesity (41%), and diabetes (33%).”

When I see folks sharing pictures of “healthy people” getting COVID, who was clearly obese, we are not living in the real world.

This has shit to do with who’s “beautiful” or a person’s worth. Your health and your worth are not tied together. You can be an amazing person and be unhealthy. It happens all the time.

You can also be an amazing athlete and be obese, one could argue that there are even sports in which it is required, but that DOES NOT make it healthy.

The health risk associated with obesity is long and extensively researched. It is not healthy to be obese, end of the story, period.

It also isn’t coincidental that many of the top 10 killers in America also stem from obesity.

I have zero issues fighting a pandemic in the world, but I think it’s far beyond the time that we should stop bullshitting in an effort to make everyone feel good and confront the elephant in the room–obesity.

It’s been an epidemic long before COVID, and given our refusal to admit it, it’s gonna be one long after COVID is gone.


Sucess isn’t perfect

If you spend any time around successful people, you are bound to hear them speak about the importance of consistency. It is almost a universally understood truth that to make it big, you have to show up and put in work every day. That leads us to beg the question, if everyone knows this, why doesn’t everyone do it?

The answer is simple; people believe that they have to be perfect every time.

That’s what throws everyone off their game. It’s why they don’t show up day two, three, or three hundred. Because that one day they weren’t perfect, they quit.

To me, it is the craziest phenomenon. I’ve watched people who were much more talented than me fold under the pressure they put on themselves to be perfect.

Missed one workout?
Fine, I quit.

Ate one donut?
Fine, I quit.

Didn’t fill out my journal last night?
Fine, I quit.

Didn’t make that sale yesterday?
Fine, I quit.

What is mindboggling to me about this is that we inherently know that we aren’t perfect, nor is it even attainable. Yet, we do not afford ourselves the grace to have a setback. We know when we set our goals that we are trying to accomplish something major, so why not expect a few pitfalls along the way?

When it is all said and done, it’s the people who anticipate that there will be shortcomings, mistakes, and failures that have the propensity to find themselves on the other side of failure– not perfect–but successful.

Because I love America.

Today, just a few days before we celebrate our nation’s independence, I felt compelled to write an open letter to our country, because I love America.

You see because I love America when I look around what I see pains me. I see my fellow countrymen at each other’s throats.
I see many rightfully upset with our past transgressions but with no pride in our heroics.
I see the home of the brave giving way to fear-mongering and sheltering in place.
I see calls for police reform transitioning to demands for dismantling.
I see righteous demand for acknowledgment of Juneteenth morph into a shocking attack on the Fourth of July.
I see the long-overdue demands of equal pay for equal work, becoming a movement to remove masculinity from men.

You see, because I love America, I hold her to a high, nigh impossible standard.
Those ideals are a heavy load, under which she has stumbled and fallen short more than a time or two. Like the young children we raise, I refuse to ignore how far she has come despite her mistakes.

In just 243 years, we have gone from a nation founded by slave owners to a country that has been lead by an African American.
While we have so much farther to go, only a fool would ignore, and fail to take pride in, just how far we have come.

Because I love America, I will stand by your side and do my part to hold her to the ideals on which she was founded.
Because I love America, I will take to task anyone who seeks to deny any man, woman, or child their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Because I love America, I will fight for you, both here and abroad, and because I love her so, I will take pride in all the good she has brought to this world.

So, you see, because I love America I will celebrate the Fourth of July, and I encourage you to join me.

Jesus, Black or White.

Just recently, Shaun King stated that “White Jesus” is a form of White supremacy and must be torn down. While I agree with him that Jesus was, of course, not White, I vehemently disagree with his notion that we should tear down Statues or artwork depicting him as such. Let me explain why this is a problem.

When it comes to removing Confederate flags, statues, or anything from the ilk from government buildings that dog hunts, and for multiple reasons. They were traitors to the sovereign government. I am not going to waste my time arguing about what the Civil War was fought over. Still, we can all agree that slavery was, at the very least, a significant factor (it was the factor, sorry I couldn’t help myself), and the flag has been adopted by terrorist groups such as the Aryan Nation and the KKK. It has no place on buildings that taxpayers pay for outside of National battlefields and museums.

White Jesus on private property is an entirely different matter altogether. You see, you don’t have that right to tear that down. You don’t have the right to tear down a confederate flag on someone’s private property, either. That’s called freedom. Freedom has absolutely nothing to do with what you like.

If an artist wants to depict Jesus as white, pink, or polka-dot, that is their right. If a church wishes to have a White virgin, Mary, that is their right. The same is true if they want to cast Jesus as Middle Eastern. That is freedom.

I will support any movement that fights for equality. I will not help anyone who calls for the attack on the personal liberties of any man, woman, or child. I am a stickler like that.

It’s just like I explain to veterans. I don’t like to see the flag I fought for burned, but we all fought for their right to burn it. Freedom is hard.
Jesus may have indeed not been White, but it’s not up to you who gets to paint him as such.


When do we win?

Let me lead with this for those who don’t know me. I support the Black Lives Matters movement. I support police reform. I support attacking the roots of systematic racism. In short, I support the mission. There’s only one issue I have with it. No one has told me how we win.

There’s an old saying, “When you don’t know where you’re going, every road leads you there.” My fear for this movement is that it is going to get derailed going after everything at once. Do I believe that Confederate statues should be on government buildings? No. But, I do find myself asking, is that the first fight we should pick? Is tearing down or defacing a statue going to do anything to help those in need, or is it just going to make the angry feel righteous?

I am asking this sincerely.

The term allyship has become trendy lately, and I believe that the vast majority of my demographic (White American males) wish to be one. Still, one of the hardest things to do is understand what needs to be done when you aren’t even sure of what you’re trying to accomplish.

This is how you make a change in your life, your company, and your world. You make S.M.A.R.T goals. For that unfamiliar with the term, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. I believe that as a White person, it’s not my place to say what they should be. I do think, however, as a troop in the line, it is fair for me to ask for direction.

So far, as far as I can see (and I’ve gone looking), I haven’t found someone leading the charge that has laid that out. In my humble opinion, that is all this missing right now—someone to channel this energy into a concerted effort to accomplish a specific outcome. I am ready to follow. Who’s ready to lead?


Are you thinking of walking out on your kids?

As crazy as it may sound coming from me, someone who adores his children, I get it. As much as I could never do it, especially after it was done to me, I logically understand why some men do.

You’re scared.

Scared of what it will cost you.

Scared that you don’t know what to do or how to be one.

Scared that staying might be worse for them than leaving.

Scared that you and the mom aren’t the right fit. Scared you are not a good role model.

Scared that you are a loser and it might be contagious.

Scared of the weight of that responsibility.

At the end of the day, you’re just a scared kid. You played a man’s game and now you’re left holding the dice and she’s holding two pink lines. It’s fight or flight time and right now flying seems like the best option on Earth.

Before you spread your wings I just want you to know none of us are prepared for it, not really. None of us know all the answers. They don’t come with an instruction manual. We will never have enough money saved. It will never be the “right time.”

It’ll simply be time.

At that moment you have to make the most monumental decision of your life. To stay or to go.

What I can promise is this. If you go you will irrevocably scar at least two lives, yours and theirs.

For them, you will teach them far too soon that people are going to let them down. You will create a vast void in them, one they will have a hard time articulating, that makes them feel inferior. Worst of all you will crush the thing most important to herd creatures. You will make them feel unloved and unwanted. I can tell you from personal experience it will take them a lifetime to get over that, and it can only happen then if they are lucky enough to find a new family.

For you, whether you know it or not, it will steal from you the greatest accomplishment you could ever achieve. The unconditional love of someone who looks up to and depends on you.

To earn the title, “daddy.”

Like I said above, I get it. You’re a scared kid.
But, please listen to me.

A man can never be brave until he’s faced fear. A father can never be a daddy unless he decides to stay.

Be brave.
Be a daddy.