Be Part of the Solution

October 13, 2014 — 3 Comments


In response to the commentary found on an Editorial published today on the I share these thoughts.  The Internet is powerful.  I believe we must use it for good.  In our country, we can speak freely. Yet, it seems more people choose to speak freely negatively than to create positive change.  This message is my small effort to keep fighting the good fight.

Ron Alexander, thank you for your commitment to our community.  I don’t know who you are (you seem to hide your true identity, probably because you have very good reason), but I know that you are very passionate about what happens in our community.

You and I have something in common.  I too am a passionate person.  The difference between us is that I use my passion to try to make a positive difference in our community; therefore, I am willing to listen to people like Tom Phillips.  Tom is not a native to Polk County – and I know that it’s not easy to be an outsider in this community, but that hasn’t stopped him.  He came to Polk County less than 5 years ago, with one purpose: to improve the mass transit system in Polk County and if you spent some time researching all that he has done, you’d discover that he has done some amazing work since he arrived.  We are fortunate to have him in our community.

Imagine being Tom. A smart guy with a lot of passion, energy and desire to make things around him better.  To apply the knowledge and experiences that he has had, he came to Polk County because we needed someone to help change the status of our Mass Transit – maybe this isn’t something you or I need to take advantage of, but then again, not everything is about you and I.  It’s about the big picture.  It’s about the entire picture – not just the view of one or two.

After reading your comments, I believe that this isn’t about taxes for you. This is about revenge.  From the hundreds of comments I have read that you have written, it’s obvious that you feel like you’ve been given the shaft – you don’t look at things objectively, you don’t see both sides of an argument, you don’t weigh out the debate and consider anything other than how you can stick it to the man – to give yourself some personal satisfaction… you use your words to lash out at people who work to bring value to our community, and I think that’s the wrong approach…. I also think you are damaging the future of our community in many ways.

What you don’t realize is that your insightful comments may be doing more harm than good.  Today, social media is the public forum that used to exist offline.  Instead of attending a commission meeting, or town hall meeting, people can share their opinions in a safe environment, in the comfort of their own homes without consideration for those they are attacking.

I am sure you are aware of this, and it is probably your intent, but I want to explain the possible side effects of your incessant bashing of our “corrupt leaders” as you so frequently call them. Have you considered the future leaders of our great community?  What they think when they read these comments from a bitter, angry avatar?  You indicate you are an elderly gentleman… maybe you don’t care about the future of our community… and if that is the case, you are not only bitter and angry, you’re selfish.  Whatever you do, from wherever you are, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  I encourage you to become part of the solution, because we need more people like Tom to continue to choose to be leaders in our community.

Tom didn’t need me to come to his aid… But I truly felt it was time I shared my thoughts, for whatever they are worth.


July 22, 2014 — 4 Comments

There’s always hype when there’s something good.  But gratitude is more than hype. It’s a reflection. And we can never show enough gratitude to those who make a difference in our lives.  To show appreciation for those who help us “BE.” When we look back and see how much we have accomplished we must celebrate.  But once we have patted ourselves on the back, we must also acknowledge the people who have helped us achieve that success.  Today, I am filled with immense gratitude and the list is long, however, I need to say thank you in a very big way…

If you have ever sent me an encouraging word – via Facebook, text message or email,
If you have ever attended an event that I organized,
If you have ever shared something I have written,
If you have ever given me a hug,
If you have ever told me the truth about something that involved me, or something I was involved in,
If you have ever smiled across the room,
If you have ever sent me a card, or a newspaper clipping,
If you have ever thanked me for a referral, or for making a connection that helped you in some way,
If you have ever just listened to me, let me cry or allowed me to share my doubts, fears or insecurities,
If you have ever forgiven me for anything,
If you have ever complimented me, encouraged me or just shared kind words in my regard…


Thank you


You are the wind in my sails, you give me strength to keep going, doing, believing that there is greatness in the world.  You help me overcome the negativity, the cynics, the haters. You have been part of this journey and I would not be here if it weren’t for you.




You can be Better

July 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

You Can be BetterI really don’t care whether you believe me or not – you can be better than you are today. You can be more valuable, more consistent, more loyal, more kind, more considerate. It’s not what you say to others or behind someone’s back that determines how remarkable you are. It’s in your own beliefs that awesome lives.

If you are satisfied with yourself – that’s fantastic. Celebrate your success… then go figure out how you can be better and give a little bit more of yourself to someone who can benefit from your knowledge, experience and awesomeness. That’s what Awesome looks like. That’s the difference maker. ‪#‎EXCELSIOR‬ ‪#‎LeadwithLove‬

My personal mission: To inspire the citizens of Polk County to Awaken the Leader Within themselves and share their greatness with our community. Awaken the Leader Within

I am on a mission.  When I speak to friends, business owners, teachers and leaders in our community, I am always amazed at the quality of people I encounter. The conversations and ideas we share make it clear to me that we have everything we need right here in our community.  All we need is a way to tap into this unattended well and begin fortifying our local army by creating a reason for them to connect.  The silos in which we currently exist have slowly deteriorated our sense of community and wrecked our morale and willingness to work together to create a productive environment that serves a greater purpose.

“A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.”

By providing resources, tools, and conversations that focus on discovering collaborative solutions, we can create an environment in which “Sleeping” Leaders (those who have not yet identified in themselves the leader within) can grow, learn and share – encouraging them to look within and find and share their greatness with the world.  This will not be an easy endeavor.  We will be required to make sacrifices, compromise our desires for the greater good, and be willing to fail along the way.  And the biggest difficulty will be fear.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins by taking the first step.”

When I embarked on my own journey (Lakeland Business Leaders) several years ago, I began my “journey of a thousand miles,” as Lao Tzu says, by “taking the first step.”  I took positive, intentional actions for the greater good of the community.  I believed if others shared my vision, together, we would be able to make a difference in our community.  I took many steps, consistently moving toward a simple goal: Bring out the best in the people around me, so that they can do the same for those around them.  Every day, I celebrated the small, but wonderful things within my community – the people, the events and the businesses.

The things I did were not special or even unique:  I checked in at local restaurants using social media, and told my friends how much I loved the food there.  I shared events for people who were trying to get their messages out to more people, answering questions and sharing my knowledge with the community I was building.  There was nothing special about these things.  But each little action I took, followed by more, consistent actions, created something wonderful:  a chain reaction.  I discovered that people did believe what I believed.  I wasn’t doing these things to get anything in return. But the connections I have made, the relationships I have built have been the most incredible reward I have ever known.

When you discover people who believe what you believe, it’s an amazingly satisfying feeling!

It was a little over a year ago that my friend Abby, (who came into my life as a result of some of the actions I mentioned above) shared a song with me.  It wasn’t a new song, but I had never heard it.  If You’re Out There, by John Legend is a song that calls out to whoever is listening, suggesting that we can change the world.

"If you hear this message, wherever you stand.
I'm calling every woman, calling every man.
We're the generation, we can't afford to wait,
The future started yesterday and we're already late."

When I heard those first words, I was inspired.  I knew the words were directed at me.  But halfway through the song, I began to cry.  I remember exactly where I was – driving – when I started sobbing.  At the point in the song when the lyrics said:

"I searched for a leader, but the leader was me."

I realized this was exactly right.  As a result of the actions I had been taking, I had become a leader.  People were following me.  They believed what I believe.  But these words struck me at that moment because, in spite of the successes we’d had, the people we were helping, the energy that was catching on, I was terrified.  I am not talking about a little bit of doubt, I am talking about white-knuckles-stop-the-ride-I-gotta-get-off-NOW-terror.

Who? Me? A LEADER? What in the world did I know about being a leader? More to the point, who was I to believe I had any right to be a leader?  I wasn’t equipped with the background, resources, confidence, education or experience that would qualify ME to be a leader.  I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!  I was working without a business plan, there was no guidebook, no adviser, no one to say, “Yes, that is the right thing to do.” Or, “No, let’s not try that, it won’t work.”  I was working on the only thing I did have, the one thing I was completely confident of, and about which I had no doubts: My Passion.

Follow your passion? Yes! It’s there for a reason.

Admittedly, that’s not always they best way to move forward, but it was literally all I had.  My passion and my partner and best friend, Craig. Craig believed in me, but he didn’t always understand what I was doing, or WHY.  There was one day about a year and a half ago, that we were discussing my efforts and I was feeling very frustrated. I was emotionally charged and he was questioning whether any of this still made any sense.  He didn’t like the toll it was taking on me personally, and he asked me if I was ready to quit. I thought about that question for a few minutes.  I considered what that would mean.  I imagined how nice it would be to have the pressure taken off my shoulders; to not have to worry so much about so many different things.  And yet, there was this voice in my head.  I told Craig, “I can’t explain it, and I have no idea where this is going to go, if it’s ever going to become something valuable to us or not, but I feel “compelled.”  There’s a force bigger than me, calling me, and I have to believe it’s calling me for a reason.  Please don’t ask me to explain it, but I feel like this is what I have to do.  I have to keep doing what I am doing.  I am here for a reason.”

Today, I believe I have discovered why I exist.

As humans, we all want to make a difference.  Yet, for whatever reason, we fail to see ourselves as someone who can make a difference.  Is it society?  Our upbringing? I don’t know, but I want others to find within themselves the sleeping leader.  It’s time to wake them up from their slumber and start challenging the status quo.  We need more leaders in this world.  Maybe the difference we make will not end war, or starvation.  Maybe the difference we make will not mean much on the global radar, but the difference we make can be the difference one or two people need to make it to tomorrow. The chain reaction starts by helping those around us, making a little difference, helping others make a little difference, and on and on.  It’s not a new idea.  Nothing brilliant about the concept of starting where we are to inspire the sleeping leaders in our community.  But I believe I exist to inspire everyone I meet to awaken the leader within themselves, to become the leaders we need in the world – leaders worth following.

Calling all Leaders and Sleeping Leaders

Join me on May 9th, 2014 as we bring Leadercast to Lakeland.  If you trust me, if you’ve received any inspiration from me in the past 3 years, if you are someone who believes what I believe, you’ll be there.  It’s an entire day of inspiring leadership experts sharing their messages, and experiences to inspire our current leaders and to help awaken all the “sleeping” leaders in our community.  If you’ve ever thought to yourself that you might be a leader, but you didn’t have the background to actually do anything about it, here’s your chance.  If you’ve never even considered the possibility that you might be a leader, I guarantee you’ll find some powerful messages that just might be loud enough to awaken the leader within you.  The details of the event are here:

howardwiggsbutton2I am voting for Howard Wiggs for Mayor of Lakeland and Here is Why.

(For me, it’s not about popularity… it’s about mindset)

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I am someone who tries NOT to take sides.  I am someone who looks for ways for everyone to win.  But we all know that’s not possible in an election. And it’s important to me that I share my story because I think it’s one that many people can relate to.  I believe, because of my experience as an unknown – trying to find my place in Lakeland, that’s it is important that other unknown, but talented, passionate people with great ideas and a willingness to contribute to the community in whatever way they can – find a more open, welcoming business environment than the one I experienced in 2009 when I started my local business.

As an outsider, it took a lot of work – no one should have to work as hard just to have a voice in the community.

When you have ideas, where do you go?  Who will listen?  The result of an open, welcoming leadership team is an open, welcoming community.  As it is, if you ask anyone who has opened a business in Lakeland on their own, without having the right connections, they will tell you about their uphill battle.  Invariably, there are always situations that might make things difficult for some business owners as they are trying to open their doors in a new location. However, when you hear the same frustrated story over and over again, it’s time to start connecting the dots, and acknowledge there is a problem.  Everyone, regardless of whether or not they have the right last name, or connections who will make the necessary introductions, deserves the same, fair treatment as everyone else.  If it’s who you know that makes it possible to get a business opened, eventually, we won’t have anyone willing to take on that burden.  This is something that starts in City Hall.  We need leaders who embrace open government, and support and encourage a culture of openness and transparency. Period.  Currently, that doesn’t exist.

I believe that Howard Wiggs represents the right mindset that we need to move us away from stagnation and accepting things because, “it’s just the way they are.”  I want a city government that listens. A culture that embraces new ideas and looks for ways to make them work, before simply saying that they won’t. An environment that welcomes collaboration by actually embracing the concept and offering opportunities that will encourage new ideas, even from outsiders.  I want to live in a city that other community leaders will look to as an example, and professionals, families, new businesses and young adults will want to call home.

I love Lakeland, because I have worked hard to find all the wonderful, hard-working passionate people who share similar ideas.  But not everyone is going to be willing to work as hard as I have.  We need to make it easier to discover all of the great things there are to love about Lakeland, and I believe Howard Wiggs is the person that will make that possible.

*DISCLAIMER: I have worked closely with Howard Wiggs throughout his campaign and was hired to offer professional services.  This post was not a paid endorsement and only reflects my personal thoughts about my experiences as I worked diligently to build my business in Lakeland, as an outsider, and was not approved or requested by Howard Wiggs or anyone else within the campaign. These experiences and my hope that the business environment will change for others are the reasons I decided to become involved in this campaign.