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Celebrating Flo Davis

August 5, 2012

My Grandma (Nanny) passed away on Monday at the age of 94. We will certainly miss her dearly, but she really lived an amazing life. And this week I found myself feeling very bittersweet about her death.

Nanny was a beautiful lady as you can see in her picture above with my grandfather. They were married 59 years before he passed away in 2005.  Nanny was always so full of joy and happiness. She loved being around people and had one of those cute little laughs that force you to laugh. It was so genuine. In contrast, I make people laugh by laughing at my own jokes before I tell them.

At every occasion Nanny was all about serving people. She loved making homemade meals for all of us. She was Italian and made incredible manicotti from scratch that you did not want to miss. It was the kind of food that you pretty much canceled all other plans to be there for the meal.

When I was young I went to a middle school that was pretty far from my house. I had football practice right near her place after school, so instead of going all the way home, I spent my afternoons with Nanny and Poppy relaxing, doing homework and eating plenty of food. Sometimes I even sat through watching M.A.S.H with them. Haha. I sure will never forgot those afternoons.

Nanny is my father’s mother and she had three other children… Uncle Mark, Aunt Barbie and Aunt Janice. And they are all amazing people with beautiful families.  She was the ultimate connector for all of us and always brought everyone together. The picture below is at her 94th birthday eating pizza and spaghetti.

As I mentioned before I was a little confused this week about how I was feeling about losing Nanny. I was sad at first but also felt so complete about her living so fully for 94 years. She was eating pizza and dancing two weeks before she passed away.  I just think that is so incredible. I have watched so many loved ones spend years in the hospital living through some very difficult illnesses. Nanny took a turn for the worse on a Friday when she was not responding and then died on a Monday morning. And that weekend she again brought everyone together to say goodbye. Sometimes I wonder if she had it all planned.

Florence “Nanny” Davis was so full of compassion, and I learned so much by watching her be the person she was.  She really brought out the best in all of us and especially my younger brother Hunter these past few years. Hunter used to go eat dinner with her twice a week, and I know this meant the world to both of them. My Mom and Dad have always been extraordinary caretakers of people, and I have been so proud of Hunter for following their example.

Nanny always made the most of every situation. She moved around to several assisted living facilities after my grandfather passed away and always became the staff’s favorite lady. Three nurses even came to her funeral yesterday. They took such special care of her, because she cared about them. And when you came to see her she was always so excited and full of joy. I always left my grandmother feeling energized. And I want her to know that she really left our family, our community and our world a better place than when she found it.

And if you weren’t quite sure if she personified living life to the fullest, take a look at the picture below at 94 yrs of age. Hey, Nanny I hope I can be like you one day too. We will miss you.

Family, Leadership

What is your Lollipop Moment?

May 20, 2012

One of my all time favorite TED videos is Drew Dudley’s speech on “Everyday Leadership.” The title doesn’t really tell the full story about the video, and you may be wondering about the meaning of a lollipop moment…


Sometimes we think it takes an important title or some huge world changing act to be a leader. However, I believe real leadership is understanding how we can impact every person we meet moment by moment. And how we can be an example for others in our everyday lives. Drew tells the story of a young girl who was on her first day of college but was certain she wasn’t right for school and ready to leave. She was in line for college registration when she ran into Drew. He made her laugh just by having some fun and then made a young man give her a lollipop for a cause he was supporting. This was a tipping point in the girl’s life as she decided to stick with college after this small interaction. She had been waiting for a “sign” that morning to stay or leave and this put her over the edge. Four years later when she heard Drew was graduating, she told him how important that moment was to her life. And it inspired Drew so much that he travels around telling this story about his “lollipop moment.” Or a special moment you created and may not have any idea about. But when someone tells you about that moment… it means the world. I wonder what would happen if we started sharing these stories more with others.

I recently decided to tell my first boss out of college about when he created a lollipop moment for me. When I worked for Dan, the commercial real estate market was booming and many of his bank clients would do almost anything to stay ahead of the competition. At one point, one bank started asking him to do things that would have been unethical. However, Dan stood his ground and turned away this type of business. It was a very hard decision, because he lost a significant amount of work from this client.

I told Dan that I learned that no matter what happens, it is so important to stick to your values and take the ethical route in all facets of life. The best part about Dan’s story is when the market recovered these past few years, Dan’s law practice was one of the first to start booming again. What an impactful lesson for me at such a young age. You will always win in the long run by staying ethical and acting with integrity. And when I told Dan, he didn’t even realize the impact it had on me. But it meant a lot to him when I shared this story. Sometimes we forget that people are always watching our actions. Thank you Dan for being such an amazing mentor to me.

I also showed this video to our Myers Park High School Leadership Academy students that I work with at the Center for Intentional Leadership. They shared some amazing stories about people who have created lollipop moments for them. Sometimes it was just how a teacher reacted to a test score with words of encouragement and empowerment. Or the lessons learned by watching an older brother always hold true to the honor code at his college.

The students even committed to expressing gratitude to three people in their lives that have created lollipop moments for them. They also committed to creating three lollipop moments for others. We talked about how it could just be connecting with a cashier at the grocery store or making a meal for a family member who has had a long week. Or encouraging someone with a difficult task ahead of them that they will do great! Maybe it is picking up a coffee for the person in line behind you just for the fun of it. Or by acting with integrity and being an example for someone. These students sure created a lollipop moment for me just by making these commitments in their lives. I just love working with them.

So Mr. Dudley, thank you for giving me and many others such an amazing perspective with this video. You created a lollipop moment for our world by being yourself and sharing your story with us.

So my challenge today is who in your life has created a lollipop moment for you? And could you take the time to tell them in person the next time you see them. And how about committing to creating one lollipop moment for someone else this week? Tell me about them in the comments section! This may create a ripple effect of “everyday leadership”, and it could just change someone’s life in the process. That sure makes one plus one more than two for me. Have a great week.

Dogs, Family

An update from Brooks

April 1, 2012

Well back by popular demand is another post from my Labrador, Brooks. A lot of people were a little concerned for him when I downsized from 1700 to 700 sq ft. How would he handle it and is he doing ok? Amazingly enough, he was able to type another post below.  Enjoy.

 Hey guys, its me Brooks again. Finally, I get a chance to write another post. Thanks to everyone for wishing me luck in the new apartment. Losing a big yard sure is never easy and nice to know I have so many fans out there. At least Jon sure thinks I do.

The move has been a lot of fun. It was definitely very new at first being in a smaller space. However, I can always see where Jon is now, and he can’t really hide from me which I love. Sometimes I thought he was trying to sneak out if he went to another part of the house. I was also sure he had a secret trap door in the bathroom, so I knocked (scratched with my paw) whenever he went in there.

So I really think life is getting better all the way around. Sure I miss the big yard, but now Jon takes me for walks at morning and at night. Jon didn’t walk me that much when we were in the house since I always had the yard. We now walk to get groceries and even go in a really fun coffee shop called FABO Cafe. They always give me treats in there which I love. That’s me below with my British friend Winston.

Sometimes people leave crumbs from their muffins on the coffee shop floor which is completely awesome. I am like a little labrador vacuum. My situ (grandma) sometimes calls me Hoover. Hey, don’t leave food on the ground unless you want it gone! Brooks will clean it up!

When Jon leaves in the morning, I still have a really FULL schedule for most of the day. My napping keeps me pretty slammed.

 I hang out most of the day in the sun room. I love all the light and watching all the people go by. I bark at some people but only to tell them I would love to play frisbee if they are free. I hang in Jon’s recliner and listen to classical music on 89.9. I am a Renaissance dog just like Jon is a Renaissance man. Bach for Brooks! That just made Jon laugh.

 We have even taken some really fun trips lately. I got to ride all 10 hours with Jon to Florida to see Situ, Jitu, Uncle Hunter and my brothers Marko and Champ. I think riding in a car is so amazing. And for 10 hours? It was heaven. I even got to swim in the ocean while I was home. As you can see below, I could do that all day!

So life has been really good lately. I am getting more exercise even though we moved to a smaller space. And Jon sure seems happier. I know he loves this blog and connecting with all of you about it. So come on by our new place or join us for a walk. And it never hurts to bring me a treat!

Lots of Licks, 


Family, Leadership, Running, Uncategorized

Could downsizing create more happiness?

March 11, 2012

So I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how I recently moved and promised to follow-up on why.  For six years, I lived in a house I loved in the Sedgefield area of Charlotte.  I had renovated several parts of the house and even rebuilt the deck with several close friends. I was definitely “least valuable player” in that process and mainly bought food and put in the occasional screw.  Ha.  And it was great having a big fenced in yard to let out Brooks all the time.

However, a 1700 sq ft. house for one person can sometimes be a lot of work, and I spent a lot of time and money maintaining it all. This was around the time I started to think about how I could create more time to write and grow the message of my blog. I also wanted to pursue more educational seminars, volunteer more, and spend more time with family and friends. These are things that brought meaning to my life, so I wanted to create more space for them. I also needed to save some money and have more financial flexibility to do these things.

But could I really leave my house? I am a 30 year old man…I have to be in a house to show I am safe and secure, right? Well not for me, and it all hit me one day back in December thanks to a great friend (love ya Betsy!). I was moved by a comment when told me “she may have to make some sacrifices to do more of what she loved.”

So I made the critical decision that I want to build my life around what is meaningful to me. I realized that my house didn’t define me, but the type of person and life I lead will show who I am. So with more time and money, I could write more, see friends and family more, be outside more and mainly feel like this big weight was lifted off my shoulders. I already have two trips planned to FL to see my little brother. More on why that is really important right now in a future post.

So I put the house up for rent. I was lucky to rent it to a great family very quickly. I put a ton of furniture up on Craig’s List and had a massive garage sale. It is amazing the amount of stuff you accumulate over the years. It was invigorating to get rid of so many things that I never use. As Graham Hill says, less stuff equals more happiness.  I love his TED Video about this concept. I think I had 35 coffee cups and used about 5 of them. Some of the 15 table runners also got the boot too. My mother did help with some of that collection.  Sorry mom…you know I love you!

Then I moved into a 700 sq ft. one bedroom studio. I still have plenty of space to entertain since my kitchen and family room are all one big room. The new place only has things I love. So yes, lots of spices, olive oil and pictures of Brooks. Ha. As you can I see I enjoy laughing at all my jokes :).

I love my new location, and I am walking distance to some great restaurants, shops and bars. Since I don’t have a yard, Brooks gets at least two walks a day. Part of the deal was that I did have to promise him more walks! I find myself running more just to get him exercise.

So he made out better, and I am getting outside more. I am sure I will want to get back to a house one day once I have a family, but I am not there yet.

And how I am feeling? Well I am just generally happier all the way around. Life seems easier, and I feel more relaxed and energized.

So is there anything in your life weighing you down in a similar fashion? It may not be a house, but it could be other things that hold you back from having the time to do what is important to you. As my good friends at the Center for Intentional Leadership helped me see, there is quite a difference between a To-Do List and a To-Live List. What is on your To-Live list and how could you create more space for those things? It sure has made me healthier, happier and better for others.  That is my little one plus one is more than two meaning of the week.  Have a good one!

Culture, Family

Taking Stock with My Blog

January 17, 2012

Well it has been several months now that I started the blog.  A few people asked recently how it was all going, so I thought I would take time to reflect. In short, I am loving it.  The information I have been writing about is very meaningful to me, so it is therapeutic to share my thoughts with the world.

A man named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about a similar concept around what he calls being in state of “flow.” It is when we are doing something challenging that isn’t too hard but isn’t too easy. It makes us really happy, and it can feel like time stands still. So when I am writing I feel like I am in this state of flow. I am so present in the work and feel refreshed after I take time to write. It is a great feeling and the other day a friend said, “what did you do this morning…you sure are in a great mood.” I told her I had been working on the blog!

It certainly hasn’t all been perfect, and I have definitely learned the hard way about trying different blog design options. One Sunday I deleted my entire template and had to spend days getting things back up.  Luckily it was early on and I learned a lot in the process. Another reminder for me to keep things simple!

I also missed my post last week and sometimes Brooks thinks I am pretty boring with all this “staring at the computer screen.” What could be more important than frisbee? Ha.

Below are a few other fun developments I thought I would share:

-I was on a local tv show recently about setting goals put on by A Healthier Charlotte.  Here is the link. I know, I need to smile more 🙂

-I was on a second show for A Healthier Charlotte talking about how money impacts our happiness.  I will post it sometime in the next few weeks.

-I helped co-host a Twitter party for the launch of a website called Gym Pact. It is an amazing company that incentivizes people to get to the gym. Check out their site!

So I just wanted to thank all of you for keeping me committed to my writing. It means the world to me to share this journey with others, and I am so grateful for the support from so many friends and family.

And don’t forget to keep me honest if you don’t see me posting once a week or sharing authentically with my writing. I enjoy getting comments and feedback. And since I try to leave you with a challenge sometimes, what kind of work puts you in a state of flow and how could you do more of it? Have a great week!




Culture, Family, Leadership, Volunteering

The Ripple Effect of Compassion

November 21, 2011

Have you ever had a moment when your connection to a total stranger made a meaningful impact and you didn’t even realize it was happening? One of my favorite examples comes from a story I heard from Tim Sanders this past summer. Tim is an amazing speaker, and he spoke about how a sales conference at Timberland gave rise to one of the most incredible acts of compassion and courage.

In December 2006, Timberland had 200 sales reps down in New Orleans for their annual sales conference. One afternoon they broke away from the conference to help rebuild a local restaurant. Meeting organizers also took the sales reps to see the ninth ward to feel and experience the worst of the devastation. Soon after arriving to the ninth ward by bus, one sales rep noticed a local volunteer trying to get a community center back up and running. He approached the man about why it was still closed. The volunteer told the sales rep that they couldn’t get people to help cleanup because no one had shoes. The ground was covered with debris, nails and screws and even this man’s shoes were so beat up that they exposed his toes. This is the moment where one man’s act of kindness changed a company, changed a community and maybe changed the world that day.

The sales rep was so moved by the volunteer’s struggles that he bent down, unlaced his shoes and gave them to the man. He walked barefoot back over the glass and debris and got back on the bus. His coworker looked at him and said, “where are your shoes?” The sales rep responded while pointing at the volunteer, “that man there told me they needed shoes, so I gave him mine.” So the coworker got up off the bus, took off his shoes and also gave them to the local volunteer. Several others overheard the conversation and within a few minutes, all 200 sales reps got off the bus and gave their shoes to the man. The volunteer was completely overwhelmed and couldn’t say thank you enough.


A senior manager sent the above picture back to a coworker at the hotel.  Soon the picture and story spread around to the hotel staff and many of the guests at the hotel. The bus with the 200 sales reps arrived back at the hotel to people clapping, crying and asking what they could do to help. The local hotel staff had been devastated by the hurricane, and this story helped lift up their spirits. Other Timberland employees also heard about the story, and it inspired them to get involved with the effort to rebuild New Orleans. How about those sales reps? Do you think they will ever forget the experience they had together that day? As Tim says in his book Saving the World at Work, “in the Timberland culture this is called a ripple: a single act that creates a chain reaction for good.” And it all started with one man giving another man his shoes.

What I took from this story is that connection, compassion and giving back can make an impact in ways we never thought possible. On a smaller scale, I felt something similar one day at Levine Children’s Hospital. I volunteer for a group called the Starlight Society that coordinates entertainment events for the kids. We help the children have some fun away from their rooms and get their mind off being in a hospital. It is really special feeling when you get a child to smile or laugh just by helping them make lion’s heads out of paper plates, poster board guitars, or dolphin sticker laden beach buckets at our Beach Bash. And yes, temporary tattoos are still their favorite!

However, I didn’t realize the impact we had on the parents of the children. One parent pulled me aside one day and spoke with real emotion about how we helped make life normal for their family. By coming out to help these kids, we were actually helping the parents too. And for some reason, this meant the world to me. I gained a real sense of purpose from connecting with these families. It also showed me that the benefits of giving back can be endless. I stumbled upon my own little ripple effect, and it made feel like a more complete person.

Over time, I started to bring friends and co-workers to the events to share in this experience. And we always left a little closer from it. Kids really are special people, even if they beat me in a doctor relay race! Now I am not sure who gets more out of these events…the families…or me.

So have you had a similar moment where an act of your compassion created your own little ripple effect? You may not even have realized it happened at the time so give it some thought. If you haven’t, I am sure there are plenty of ways to get involved in your community. Connection and compassion work in so many extraordinary ways, and that makes one plus one more than two for me!

Dogs, Exercise, Family, Leadership, Running

A Guest Post from a Dog?

November 7, 2011

So I thought I would change things up a bit and invite my Labrador, Brooks, to write the first guest post. Yes, I am way over the top about my dog. However, Brooks has been a huge part of my life over the last 4.5 years.  He keeps me balanced and brings endless laughter, love and joy to my life. And all he wants in return is to be around me. Can you imagine jumping up and down to see someone every time they leave for two minutes? I really believe he makes me a better person. So without further ado, lets turn it over to Brooks.

brooks on floor with pic frame

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Culture, Family, Leadership, Volunteering

Happiness Delivered

October 30, 2011

Ever heard of Zappos? Just an online shoe company right? As Lee Corso would say, “not so fast my friend.” In 2009, I read “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose, ” and it changed my life. The book is written by their CEO, Tony Hsieh, who stumbled upon an incredible 1 + 1 > 2 vision while building an online shoe company. So what was in this book that had such an impact on me?



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Exercise, Family, Leadership, Running

Healthy Lifestyle Inspiration

October 23, 2011

Have you ever had that moment where you stumble onto a perspective that makes everything feel right?  Something that all of a sudden makes somewhat difficult tasks seem easy?  My grandfather helped me find this perspective when I started to make some sustainable changes to my eating and exercise habits.  We called him “Poppy,” and he was a passionate man full of energy and life.  He was a picture of health well into his 80s (see below). He and my grandmother cooked almost all of their own meals, and they taught us a lot about great healthy snacks like peanut butter on apples along the way!

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