Saturday, February 23, 2008

Watch your heart - and the press.

Presidential candidate John McCain drew some flack this week from The New York Times for a presumed impropriety with a female lobbyist. I don’t know anything about John McCain’s personal life, but I do know that a person has to very careful with how things might look to others.

Thirty years ago my wife and I agreed that we would never be alone with a person of the opposite sex. This has been a good rule if at times a little difficult to maintain. This means that when meeting with friends, clients, or associates there may need to be three people there. If meeting with a female salesperson or associate, I always ask somebody else to come along, or else we meet in a very public place, such as a coffeehouse.

When my wife was on staff with a church, she never had one-on-one meetings except with other women. I have female friends, but I always make sure that either their husbands, my wife, or a third party is present when we talk.

I believe this plan came originally from Billy Graham. Billy and his wife have the same rule and it has served them well for decades.

This rule has served us well as well. Not only does this system prevent any appearance of impropriety, it also goes a long way in keeping our lives pure.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Big Ears

My definition of a good musician is one that can play a wide variety of styles and genres. A person who likes a wide range of music we say has “big ears.” As musicians the best thing we can do is listen to all kinds of music.

My heroes are the people who can play in a blues band on Friday, sing a contemporary song at a wedding Saturday afternoon, play in a country band on Saturday night, and lead worship on Sunday morning.

The worst thing we can do is be publicly critical or condescending of a style of music that is not our favorite. I remember when the jazz musician, Stan Kenton, criticized country music. His stature as a musician dropped many points in many people’s eyes. I’ve heard country musicians make fun of hip-hop and vice versa. Please resist this temptation. It only makes you look uninformed or worse.

I was thinking of this while watching a little bit of the Grammy’s the other night. There were 110 Grammy’s given. Only a handful were presented on air, but the Grammy for best polka album or the best traditional folk album is just as important Song of the Year. And I didn’t hear anybody making fun of another genre. We are all in this together.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Louise and I were out of town for a few days. When we returned, I noticed a bar stool sitting in the back room. I was told that there were some screws loose. I quickly grabbed a screwdriver, tightened the screws and returned the stool to the counter.

It wasn’t until several minutes later that I realized that there is not one of our fifteen employees who are not capable of turning a screwdriver. When I related this incident to other small business owners, they all agreed that this is a common problem among entrepreneurs. We are so use to quickly solving problems that we have inadvertently trained our people to wait for us to solve their problems, no matter how small.

I realized that by not allowing, in fact insisting, that problems be solved by those present, I have made much more work for myself and stunted the growth of the business. This is probably why most start-ups need a new person to take the business to the next level. The entrepreneur is just not willing or able to hand over responsibility to others.

I would like to think that I have learned my lesson, but the truth is doing things myself is part of my make-up. “Empowering” others does not come easy.

There seem to be two types of people. Corporate types who can easily say, “That’s not MY job.” And entrepreneurs types who think everything is their job. It is hard to find a middle ground.