A Final Salute and Farewell

Seldom in life does one come across such a team of folks who, though very different, are so closely knit together as an effective single source of energy. Today marks the close of a chapter in the lives of 16 folks who will be sorely missed by those left behind.  An encouraging voice to nearly 300,000 associates, 2000 stores, and countless vendors across 54 states and provinces, Building Services call center associates will no longer be answering phones or providing valuable resources for the Building Services Center.


Theirs is a testament to excellence and a commitment to our millions of customers.

One could be so lucky to have served with at least one these heroes; and to have one of these cross you path would be the similar to having found a field of 4-leaved clover and the pot of gold.

Words fail to express the depth of gratitude to have worked and served with this group.

You will be sorely missed.

A Reading for Dad

My dad has over 2000 books right now in his house! He has read all of them and many more than one time. He has books from every genre; some prints from the 1890’s and others published this year. Books on astronomy to books on world zoos; Need a book on Wine, got it; Soviet Government or on the life of Napoleon, got it! What about a book on knots or survival methods of the British SAS; YES!

Hugh Howell III - Ham Radio Operator Meeting

Hugh Howell III – Ham Radio Operator Meeting

His favorites are the Stories of Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson of the English Royal Navy— Naval Warfare on the Open Seas and Races of Sterling Moss.

Though the thought of selling books start to cause hives,  the used book auction he could have would make him tons off of first editions and whole collections, rare authors, classics, etc… I saw him sell 5 books for 5 Ben Franklins once. His collections seem to always be in motion; sellers buying, adding to, letting others borrow… it never really stops.

Today, if you walked in to the Howell House, you would find the Patriarch doing two things:

  1. Reading a book
  2. Watching soccer

Rarely looking up for anything else, and now days, giving both equal measure of time.

I might have heard the saying, “Leaders Read” at the age of eight; if that was really the case, then at age eight, I knew my father knew everything there was to know.

While this comes from the Atlanta History Center, the original of with the Family

Hugh Howell Sr. Atlanta History Center, Original of file (circa 1929)

My dad was born at the close of World War II. He is the grandson of the late Hugh H. Howell Sr. to whom Hugh Howell Road is named. I learned that my dad was an Army-Brat growing up; seems that watching French TV is great…if you know French… thus his love of reading.

He is, without a doubt, a Baby-Boomer. He and his bride are doing well spending the inheritance of his 3 kids, 5 grand kids (as he should be… well… maybe)  by traveling on cruises to the islands and buying expensive Porto and Caribbean Rum. And in a few short hours, Pops will celebrate his 67th birthday.

The well traveled and well read leader of this branch of the Howell Clan will be at home, enjoying a Sunday afternoon, at The Howell House.

We should all so lucky to have a dad who loves to read; whose name is so associated with ‘Books,’ ‘Books,’ and more, ‘BOOKS!’

Yes, Leaders do read… a lot!

…but no, his present is not another book!! (or a 21 year old Scottish beverage) (shhh!)

Question: What leadership attribute are you choosing to leave? 

The Exercise of Thank you

High Quality folks deserve high quality thanks.

Really, it’s that simple. 

It’s also not very important on how you do it… just do it. Have fun with telling someone THANKS! I promise you will get better… but don’t wait to tell your super-stud performer, “Thanks,” only when you think you have perfected its delivery.

The Exercise of Thank you

Telling someone ‘Thank you,’ when you feel awful is H-A-R-D! Got it! You are completely normal. But like anything new, this may hurt a bit. 

Practice this exercise (if you are in a CarPool while reading this, you are excused..for now):

  • Repeat out loud, “Thank You”
  • Recognized you might have actually felt better
  • Repeat it again, but this time, 25, 50 or 100 times
  • Then be bold enough to tell someone who may, or may not, have helped you – your wife, kids, parents…even your boss counts

We get good at what we practice. Read up on Bear Bryant, Vince Dooley, Bill Bowerman, Herb Brooks, Jose Mourinho…  These men got good and then they duplicated themselves.

Parents, you are coaches and your kids will duplicate you…

Team Leaders (boss’), your team will follow you… 

…and you just might feel the weights lift up a bit, and I think we all could benefit from that.

 Question: What would happen if you tried this exercise and it actually worked? How would this impact the way you do life?  Let me know if you do this exersise and the results you find! Comment below! …and THANKS!

Consider the Cost Before, During, and After

In the first century a story is told of a builder who set out to build a tower but was not able to finish it. Folks laughed and we can assume his business suffered thereafter because he failed to consider the cost of building the object he had started.

Some 20 centuries later, the spirit of that builder is still alive and well. We look sexier and talk smoother, but we still do not consider the costs of undertaking tasks. We do not budget the money with any risk in the calculations; we fail to assess the real-world picture, both in terms of money and loss of those things truly important, and fail to review our progress when (if) we finish a task.

Budget, assess, and review; Rinse Repeat

Budgeting the money we make is wise. But is trading five years of time worth $15 a month? What about a $500 bonus that you can collect only after your 65 and every month thereafter for the next 20 years? $120,000 might look good in today’s dollars but you cannot live on $16 a day in 2013… much less in 2033. Thus, the trade off of 5 years away from your family to bank $16 dollars a day is far from completing the tower you set out to build.

It is very important to remember that a financial condition is usually a symptom of an internal belief, issue, or resolve.

It could be argued that had our first century builder had a family, dreams, goals, and wanted to leave a legacy to his kids. (A stretch from the story I know. But hear me out.) Wisdom, masked as prudence, would say the builder should have looked at his priorities, budgeted his own capital, worked with the requestor and his suppliers on an agreed upon timeline for delivery–with potential delays in the equation; then, set out to START the build. Once the tower was completed, the builder then would review the processes and then work would have found him.

Both in business and in life, when we start following sound principles, eventually, faucets of unmerited favor are turned on. They stay on so as long as you continue to follow sound principles. Chances are that you will not recognize it at first; you might even have to change something you are doing; it might take a year to get the pipeline filled; but when it comes… That image you just had, yes, that, but so much more! It may be scary, but so worth it!

Question: What are you willing to pay for the life you hope to live? What would you dare give up in order to gain something you could not lose?

Family: Life & Death and bit in between

This past week I have known one or more friends or blood-family who: married, died, had a baby, lost a job, had surgery; had a bitter-sweet reunion, started a new job, and posted a new blog.  Chances are, so did you.

Chaos does not come close to describe the internal conflict of emotions called ‘Life.’

Some of these folks mentioned above handled (and are still handling) things well… While others not so much… 

How are those champs, who are hanging in there, doing it? They have family around them. 

Some have Blood-Family and others have a different family– There is Aunt Judy, a neighbor; Uncle Billy, the postal clerk and the guy you fish with on Thursday nights… You know these folks. They are just as family as your brother or sister, mom or dad.

Blood family is great; but honestly, those close friends, are many times, far better than family.  

The saying is true that a ‘brother is born for adversity’ but it is still better to have a close neighbor than a family member far away.  

Those learning this lesson, our hearts go out to you… life shared is of greater value. Those who are surrounded, nurture those relationships. 

Risk to be a neighbor; to be called “Uncle,” or “Aunt” to a non-blood related person.  What an AWESOME title!


Numbers matter.

Stats matter.

Measurements matter.

The number of times you put your dream in front of you matters. 

“You will become what you think about.” The Strangest Secret –Nightingale

Napoleon Hill once said that, ‘the details of your plan to reach your goals are not as important as the action you take to get there.’ Let unpack that; You can always change the angle of your attack if you find your original route is not going to work. BUT KEEP YOUR OBJECTIVE; FIND ANOTHER ROUTE to get to your goal. Don’t let one blocked road keep you from the Big-Show. 

Question: If you had to get to the hospital and the main roads were block, for sake of your child, you’d find another way–Your Dream depends on it! Why is your calling, your dream any different? What would happen if you set one dream on a card and focused you attention on that card for 30 days?



You Have Permission to Fire the Man!

You have permission to to start over!

I read a book, albeit years ago, where there was a CEO whose company was in a rut. As in life, as in business, the man in mirror is the problem… he’s also the solution. Being frustrated, he woke up one morning and fired himself. But what he did next was the crux of the passage and critical to us all.

He answered the question, Would I re-hire me as CEO? Why or Why not?

The man, in short, said No. But then he the did three things that will help us be better right where we are:

But first, at your kitchen table, go ahead and fire yourself then get a pencil and piece of paper… and grab a cup of java, it’s still a bit early… we’ll wait…

FirstMake a list of why you just fired yourself. Make this fun but real and honest. Was it a lack of excel knowledge; people knowledge; you need to know more about logistics; maybe you need a better work ethic; or just need to come good on a promise. What ever the reason, write it down.

Second: Take steps to get that desired skill-set you need to off-set the list you just made. Is it a book you can read at the library or someone else in a similar field you can speak with that would help you? It really does not have to be a huge item…but can be. Regardless of what the item is, you must be committed to make the change.

Re-hire yourself, but only if you are committed to changing the man in the mirror first. These other issues, once committed to will work themselves out.

The biggest problem in most jobs, is the man in the mirror… but the biggest solution is the same man…

Question: That which would keep you from re-hiring you is what you need to work on. So, what would stop you from re-hiring yourself? How are you going to fix that?

Alphabet Coffee at 0400: Sometimes Delivery Matters More Than the Substance!

In the beginning there was only man, then woman came along shortly thereafter. Sometime after that, Coffee! Coffee is a wonderful drink. Black or dressed up, coffee has a secure place on this planet. Coffee is almost an irrefutable law.

Coffee builds community and communication; it helps hit deadlines and is involved in the planing of future events. Coffee is a part of ever aspect of human endeavor… or at least has the opportunity to be.

But, it is in the delivery of coffee that makes it great. Starbucks in poly-styrene is not a proper presentation. Just like the deal you have today; the meeting you are working of for next Monday–this particular delivery is more important than the actual substance.

Those deals and promises on the home front are equally vital. Nurture, not a common manly word, is a must. This nurture, is a part of the delivery of your feelings towards your wife and kids.

This was my morning delivery; she does not work during the summer… and it was 0400…


This beats any Just-in-time delivery service. Is it really just coffee?  

No, I did not think so either…

Question: What is your ‘photo-worthy’ delivery? Are you providing to your family and customers, your suppliers, your team, ‘photo-worthy’ deliveries? What do they look like? You are welcome to provide comments in the section below. Thanks!


Are You an “EntreLeader?” If so, I Want to Work For You!

This was not the 4th of July post I was going to write. 
Dave Ramsey has written a book called EntreLeadership. Recently, the audio version was on sale for $5! Hearing only good things about the book, and being frugal, I got the audio version… and glad I did!
After a few drives back and forth to work I finished the reading. WOW! Simply, I cannot put to words the raw emotion I felt having come in contact with the lessons taught. And I’m not going to try to unpack everything in this post either… But rather, challenge you to be the leaders I would want to work for… others would want to work for. I am looking and so are others~
There was a point in this book I found myself asking if this guy (Dave Ramey) was real. His description of his team is not mind-boggling complex, he just simply cares for his people… and then puts actions to his words. But it’s not just Dave. His leaders do it. Their followers do it. While not personally knowing any of his team members, I’d bet their families are affected positively by the action of caring. There is SO much more he has built into his culture.
Dave, his leaders, his teammates mess up. But the point is they learn and grow as a team. There is not a spirit of condemnation for missing a forecast number or having a sick a child on that day of the important meeting. Rather, a spirit of team work and community; of honest communication and letting the right hand know what the left one is doing, is the backbone on which is built an empire of CARE. I’d even guess that if the mail clerk (if there is one) had a flat tire, and while driving in, the VP of Marketing noticed him, He’d stop to help. Further, if a team member lost a love one, the first words out of that leaders mouth would not be, ‘Will they be in on Tuesday?’ Rather, his leader would lead the charge on making sure they had the support network needed to get through the tough time.  One more for good measure; if a team member made or saved the Lampo Group a million dollars by making a connection or catching an error, that person would be rewarded… in MONEY not an off-the-wall comment such as, “well, my stock might go up now.”
Work will always be here…people will not. THIS IS THE CULTURE OF A TEAM and Ramsey did not invent it!
This culture has always been here. Why then are we so afraid to implement the principles? It’s not hard but does take work, and lots of it.  
I am for hire. Yes, really. But, I refuse to be poorly led as well as poorly lead. I will match, then exceed, the temperature in which you lead me. Let me make you money! Let me help you grow your team!
For every one of me there are several others who, too, want to work for an EntreLeader.
Will you lead in such a manner that it will attract others? Synergy. Lead in such a way that you forget yourself and grow your team? Will you pay us what we earn? If you made $10 million last year, would you share a one million with those who helped? Would you care enough to send our wives a card on our anniversary? Kids birthday? Remember us?
If you are an EntreLeader, make yourself known. There are those who desire to help you build your brand!
I have already said this was not the 4th of July post I was going to write. 
However, I felt compelled to share what was on my mind. Below is a  a clif-note version of a letter written to Lampo Group. it is edited…a lot… :
“… I’m near speechless having listed to this book! Amazed, enlightened, encouraged, angered, and frustrated are all inter-twined in the over all assessment of only one listen. […]
Do your folks really ever work? After listening to this book, I cannot help but think what a joy it must be to come in every morning, bust your hump, celebrate victories, laugh and cry with your teammates, care for others, COMMUNICATE, …oh, and then be rewarded monetarily for doing something you love. Who ever heard of such?!?
As an Army Officer, […] returning from Iraq and steeping into a Billion Dollar Corporation based here in Atlanta (and one John Acuff is familiar with) I was amazed at the ‘everyone out for themselves’ environment I currently find myself in.
I am afraid your book however, has wrecked my world. Because I am now accountable for the information…
Question: What would happen if you dared to be the team leader you knew you could be, moreover, should be?  What about parent or friend?  Is it worth the risk?

Not Everyone is Worthy of Your Offering

Have you ever heard it said, “the customer is always right?” While customer service is a must and over whelming customer service wins the sale; the customer is not always right.

That other parent who did not like how you disciplined your child is not always right either.  There are folks who stumble across your products, goods, and services only to trash them. 

So should we bend to those who trash our brand, our books, our blogs? No. Rather, they should just simply leave your platform, your store, or place of business.

I am not talking about the skeptical customer or neighbor might be won over to your product or idea; but the one who will not be; who refuses to be won over and, like a bull in a china shop, trashes everything in their path.

What about family? Uncle Joe, that obscene obtuse character at family gatherings who steels joy and peace from everyone… he should be told he is not welcome any longer.

You will take lots of heat for this. For standing firm and above the crowds of ‘tolerance.’ No one ever called you to be a door mat or a platform for others to stand on and trash the very planks beneath their feet. Get rid of these folks! TODAY!

You will live longer, have more peace, attract most customers, improve your work environment, and in some places, your grass might just be greener.


You have value. Your book has value. Your brand and blog have value. Your kids, have value. Those things are your offerings to this world; and not everyone is worthy to share in them!

Dismiss the critic, the nay-sayer, bringer of death to your organization. Tell them to leave and not to return. This is your offering and not everyone is worthy of it.


Question 1: To the Jew and Christian- in the teachings of Moses, not all offerings were acceptable. Good offerings yielded atonement of sin while bad offerings…well some folks were killed because of them. Why then would you be a nay-sayer to author of the instructions of the sacrifice? 

Question 2: When have you removed a boisterous nay-sayer, a gossip, from your environment, your store… and it improve your life or your business?  Was it worth it? Would you set policy or family rules to prevent it again?