360 degrees in 365 days

Last week I turned 55. One year ago to the day today, I was facing a really ugly tumor. Let’s just say this last year is amazing grace. I just got back from backpacking in the mountains of Colorado with some inspiring friends. To have the strength to do this is indeed a miracle.

A few things I am thankful for today:

  • I am alive
  • I am strong.
  • I am healthy.
  • I have a beautiful wife that loves me, in spite of me.
  • I have two beautiful daughters that are amazing.
  • I still have my Dad and he’s happy.
  • I have a group of friends and colleagues that are lovers of life and God.
  • I live in a beautiful place with the love of my life.

Yea, we had some tough times. Times when I wondered why God was punishing me. But I survived with the support of a lot of people, and those times only served to strengthen who I will be when God is done with me.

I now know those times are just chapters in a really cool novel with MANY chapters.

I can’t wait for the next chapter.

“Fearing Not” – Easier said than done!

COVID 19 is in Dallas, Tarrant and Denton Counties, Texas. Schools are closed, grocery stores are out of meat, and toilet paper, restaurants are closed, Starbucks only allows drive-throughs and people are sick and dying. Businesses are going to close, jobs lost, the market is in freefall. This is the real deal.

In an attempt to stay normal, I took a run this morning down by the lake near our house. I saw ALOT of birds that didn’t seem worried and they seemed well-fed and healthy. One of them, a cardinal seemed to be following me, playfully. She reminded me of my favorite verse. I think now more than ever, we need to not be afraid.

Luke 12-22

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the birds: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

If I learned anything this last year, it’s learning to realize that we’re not in control. Life is a gift, we are only here today because He decided we would be.

Stay strong my friends. Together, we will be fine. It may suck for a while, but the earth WILL continue to rotate.

Harvesting Crops During Cancer

Last year, I pretty much took six months “off” to get well. And guess what, my business actually “grew” during this time. I have been somewhat baffled by this phenomenon, as I have been pre-programmed to think that effort=results. Well, it turns out I was only partly right.

Over the years I seem to have developed a balance of seeding for the next season and harvesting from the previous season. I didn’t plan this, it just happened. Sometimes you spend more on seeds, sometimes you spend more time harvesting, but at the end of the day, you MUST do both. Constantly. Consistently.

When drought comes (and it will), you have last year’s harvest to sustain you. When good times come, save up for the next drought.

Relationships, competencies, processes take time to develop and perfect.

I see too many entrepreneurs starting businesses, refusing to plant seeds for the next season and being frustrated when the seeds planted in the ground don’t immediately bear fruit.

Building a business takes time. Don’t short cut it. Otherwise, you end up with short cut crops.

Hickory Creek Renovation – Part 1

In July 2019 we bought a really amazing property in Hickory Creek, Texas. Now Hickory Creek is part of the Dallas Metro area and consists of the northwestern shores of Lake Lewisville, one of the larger lakes in the region. In fact, it’s known a bit as a “party lake”, but frankly, it’s HUGE. At almost 30,000 acres.

Because of the “Party” reputation, we had always opted for a quieter lake nearby, Lake Grapevine, which was closer to house and had good trails for hiking, biking and we stored out boat there for a number of years.

We’d been looking for a “Lake Home” for almost 15 years, with the same agent, who was really patient with us, but we could never really get past giving up the convenience of our home and location so it never went anywhere.

Until this spring.

So, really with no prompting, our agent, Rene Graver, who specializes in “Lake Properties”, said she had felt a good potential fit for one particular property that had “quite a history”. Being a bit busy, I forwarded the note to Mary who promptly sent me this picture with “check out these views”…

OK this place looks pretty cool, but it was way beyond anything I had considered feasible price wise. But, “just for fun”, we went to take a look.

Wow, this place is amazing….it has water on 3 sides, like a private peninsula. It’s been on the market many times and for a long time and I can see why. It’s got three buildings, two of which are sort of apartments, there’s an interesting collection of other buildings, including a well house, a pool house and a “tiki hut” which houses a hot tub. The deck itself is probably 3000 square feet just off the back of the house.

While the property was amazing, the buildings themselves were built in the 60s and have been renovated at least 2-3 times over the years. The most recent one was clearly expensive. A trex deck, beautiful tree lights, a pavestone walkway, etc. But I think it was 20+ years ago…like 1998, or 1999.

So we took a guess at the value of the property after renovation, less some of the cost to bring it “current” and made an offer, which was quickly accepted.

Turns out I am somewhat “related” to the previous owner, it’s a small world. He knew my aunt, uncle and cousins all from up the road. And turns out Hickory Creek is true “small town”, right in the middle of the city. This dude knows EVERYONE. I feel like we are in a time warp or something. Flower Mound, literally 5 miles up the road feels like an urban city in California these days and here’s a city so close by that literally operates like a small town in Texas from the 1970s. We’re now actually friends with the previous owners and now have connected with the owners prior to that….the world is VERY small.

So we buy the place, hire a contractor (a GREAT ONE), and set about getting ready to “renovate” again and bring the place current. We think the renovations are going to make the home truly livable and increase the value appropriately, but there’s ALOT of work to do.


So there’s ALOT of stuff on these grounds, almost two acres. The statues of alligators, singing frogs, chimineas, a tree house, a broken dock, a paddle boat, grills, a pool table, a deck box, more statues, little wire animals, etc. It’s fascinating!

I decide this is a great time to buy a Machete and start to clear the area…great fun that was! But, I have to remind myself that during the middle of all this, I was diagnosed with a rare (but curable) cancer…READ ABOUT THAT HERE so I decide to take it easier than normal.

What’s clear to us is this place has been the dream for multiple families and we feel the need to honor the history in whatever we choose to do. So, while it may be profitable to pull the whole place down and build condominiums, we just can’t do it. The place has too much history, and love.

So, for now the renovation has started. It’s taken much longer than we expected just to get going and it seems everywhere we turn, there’s more money to spend, more problems to sort etc. But we’re LOVING THIS, as long as the process doesn’t murder us or our bank account first.

More later.

For now, we’ll drink more wine.

Screw You Cancer. I’m winning with ALOT of help.

So today marks 15/30 treatments. We took our caregivers cupcakes. Not sure why but that made me feel better. I also started feeling some side effects. Mainly the driest nose on the planet. Everything seemed to make me sneeze and it’s so dry it just hurts.

Still I have it really easy.

Today also marks the day a good friend of ours had surgery to remove a portion of her tongue. Poor thing has it way tougher than me. We are praying hard for her tonight. She’s got a long road ahead.

All I can say is this disease sucks. It’s way too commonplace now. It seems that everyone is impacted at some point in their lives. It’s also super sneaky and so many different varieties I don’t know how these doctors keep up. I’m so thankful for the technologies we have and the power we have to fight this shit. This radiation machine is amazing.

All I really know is that I’m winning and there’s no way I could ever beat this alone.

Say a prayer tonight for everyone who is suffering with this awful disease.

And say a prayer for the amazing doctors, nurses and technicians that make the healing possible.

Curacao? Caracas? Close, right? Ummmmmm. No.

Howdy from Curacao. I’m on a week long cruise on Royal Caribbean’s adventure of the seas which is fantastic. We love cruising as a couple and family. A giant floating hotel taking us different places in style for affordable prices. It’s awesome. The cruise lines really do an amazing job.

What NOT so fantastic are the stupid passengers on board. Mostly fellow Americans.

Hey honey I’m calling you from Caracas Venezuela. Oh wait, no that’s Curacao. Close enough.

Yes that’s a real conversation overhead from a fellow passenger. And to make it worse the poor little family that owned the storefront where we were in tried to correct him politely said “no we are not in Venezuela and not with Chavez”. The passenger shrugged and said “close enough”.

Guys. Really. Please stop.

We are the richest nation in earth and simultaneously the fattest, most ignorant and obnoxious people on the planet. There’s a reason why a lot of people don’t like us. It’s simple. We deserve i

This isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact years ago, my wife and I took a budget tour of Europe in 1993 after I finished grad school. We were on a bus for two weeks with some pig farmers from Arkansas that were probably some of the nicest people around, but the probably some of the most ignorant we’ve ever seen.

In England: “Do they drive on the wrong side of the road everywhere in this country or just here?”

In Amsterdam’s red light district: “I guess those girls feel safe behind those windows”

In Switzerland: “cheese, I like cheese”

And the list could go on and on ….

If we as Americans think we can police the world with our values then we need to up our game! I’m pretty sure a lot of people on the planet don’t want to be like us, at least some of us on cruise ships.

Customer Service in the age of AI – interacting with American Airlines bots and real people

I fly American Airlines way more than I would care to admit. Over the span of 30 years living in Dallas the reality is that AA is the only real airline we can use. The good news is we live about 15 minutes from one of the largest international airports in the world. We can be anywhere in the USA within a few hours or Europe by the next morning. Asia is merely 13 hours away and if you are up to a 16 hour flight you can be in Qatar, Hong Kong, or Sydney. Needless to say we love living here. Dallas is a great city for business and a wonderful hub for an international lifestyle.

I have tons of patience and respect for the airlines, especially AA. Over the years they’ve done an amazingly good job of shuttling us and our teams around the world with few incidents. And when those happen they are usually resolved quickly and efficiently.

What I have started to notice though is a slow shift over the last ten years from discretion based decisions by capable employees to more process and rules driven. This is understandable. When you are operating thousands of flights a day with hundreds of thousands of passengers in the air, processes are really the only way to manage them.

So it went yesterday. I woke up like a normal day and wanted to check in for our flights tomorrow to San Juan that I had purchased back in May for a southern Caribbean cruise. Or so I thought.

Turns out I had no tickets. I had simply held the original reservation and not purchased them. Ugh.

To make things worse it was my kids tickets. Doh! No problem will just buy some and get hosed on outrageous pricing. Nope. All sold out. Oversold. I’m screwed. Huge winter blast is in the northeast and the normally friendly agents on the executive platinum desk were an hour and a half wait. Crap.

I’ll save you the gory details of this story. What I will say is the first two interactions I had with AA executive platinum customer support were definitely rules driven. No you can’t do this you can’t do that. No help really. What we ended up doing was making the mess bigger and more expensive.

Fast forward to yesterday evening. Apparently problems from the storms had calmed down and I got a very helpful, knowledgeable and capable person who spent the next hour with me sorting things out. Wow what a difference. She actually took a moment to stop and think about me and not the rules and as a result found a decent solution for my self inflicted dilemma.

So all is well we are good to go and my tweet to AA thanking them was promptly responded to – by a bot I am fairly sure. But hey sometimes even a bot says the right thing.

What this highlights to me is the importance of keeping the human factor alive as we make the bold move to process driven, decision making Ai robots. True the efficiencies can be enormous. But people when given tools and good education can outperform Ai robots every time. At least for now.

As AI impacts our interactions with companies more and more I think we will see this issue more and more. As much as I love technology and business efficiencies that go with it we can’t forget that there’s a real human still involved. You.

By the way, thanks Julia!

A Big Bend in Texas