After 10 years I’ve decided to leave Access Development to pursue a new opportunity. I’m extremely excited to begin this next chapter of my life.
As I looked back on the decade of experiences I’ve had with Access my first thought was “Wow, 10 years is a long time.”
My second thought was “Dang, 10 years goes by fast.”
I’ve learned a lot here. At the beginning of the year I wrote about 5 Things I Learned from my Access co-workers.
Looking back, what I feel more than anything is a sense of gratitude. Grateful for the relationships I’ve developed, friendships I’ve formed, experiences I’ve had that helped me learn and grow both personally and professionally; thankful for the successes and appreciative of the struggles.
I will miss the Access family and wish them all the best.
18 months after starting work at Access Development (I’ve been here 10 years now) I was on a sales team that ran a month long March Madness style contest. Different categories were determined and brackets assigned with eight reps competing in various areas of sales, consulting and productivity. Our team had many talented people making the contest both fun and challenging. In the end I won the contest through hard work and honestly a lot of luck, and partially because I wanted it more. Some reps held back during the month unsure if they wanted to win the grand prize – lunch with Larry.
Who is Larry?
Larry Maxfield is the CEO and Founder of Access Development. (I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this story). In 1984 he almost headed off to study at MIT then decided to start a small company called Access Development in Salt Lake City, Utah. His vision, work and determination have built a strong company now 30 years later.
Back to the story: By nature I’m very competitive – that’s what drove me to win the contest. It wasn’t about the prize. Other reps were hesitant to win the contest because the idea of lunch with the CEO made them nervous.
When the day came for the lunch, Larry pulled up to the building in his FJ Cruiser and I jumped in the passenger seat. As we drove he said “Congratulations on winning. Remind me the details of the contest.” I explained the components and work that went into winning the month long competition. Larry unassumingly replied “Wow, you had to do all that and all you got out of it was lunch with me? That’s not a great prize” he laughed. “Plus, I’d go to lunch with you anytime if you just ask.”
We had a good meal that day while talking about family, hobbies, business and other topics. On the drive back to the office Larry told of an employee who shortly after coming to work at Access came to his office with a list of company problems. Larry said to me about that experience “Every company has lots of problems and challenges, ours is no difference. I know what the problems are. What I need are solutions. Solutions don’t come from me or upper management; solutions come from all the people in the trenches who do the hard work day after day. I welcome feedback, ideas and solutions from all the people who make this company great.”
Larry, the most powerful man in the company, demonstrated true leadership that day. He showed how real leadership and humility go hand-in-hand. He expressed sincere interest in being available to any employee anytime, whether for a casual lunch or to hear ideas on how to improve the company.
Of any contest, award or prize I’ve ever won, lunch with Larry was one of the most valuable!
Be a leader. Be humble. Be Sincere. Be you!
A couple weeks ago I took part in our company’s annual 5K run. It’s the 4th year I’ve participated which is quite impressive considering I don’t like to run – at all! This explains why I was completely content to walk most of the 3.1 miles.
Someone once tried to explain to me how running is a metaphor for life. Something about only really competing against yourself, pushing to continue when you just want to stop, and the sense of accomplishment at the finish line. Not going to lie, the metaphor just didn’t sink in. Life isn’t a well groomed path where the only real obstacles are based on your own physical and mental toughness – at least not my life.
Last Saturday I had the chance to run another 5K with my wife and several friends. This was a different sort of race called The Dirty Dash. Participants can choose the 3.5 or 5.5 mile version (we wimped out and opted for the shorter run). The race began by running (by that I mean stumbling, slipping and sliding) up a muddy embankment with water spraying overhead. There were no smooth paths here; instead we encountered dusty, grimy and swamping trails. Obstacles are placed throughout the race including stacked hay bales to climb over, murky pools where you sink two feet deep into sucking sludge, slimy mud walls often only scalable with the help of someone on top, and a 200 foot waterslide where you get hosed down right before being jettisoned into another hazel colored pond of soot and soil.
It’s physically and mentally exhausting. It’s oddly therapeutic. It’s a blast!
No one gets through the race unscathed, scratches and scrapes are common. To say participants get dirty is an understatement. Mud cakes your shoes and clothes, weighs you down, and saps your energy with every step. It clumps in your hair, smudges your face, and obscures your vision. The occasional water break is a welcomed respite as much to quench your thirst as to be used to clean your face and hands.
Some of the obstacles feel impossible to conquer. You get through by laughing, or crying or grunting. You overcome the challenges with the help of your friends and teammates. Often you get a boost from a total stranger. In return, you turn back and lend a hand to the random guy or girl behind you as they struggle to make the climb.
You don’t always clear a hurdle on the first try, so you step back, take a deep breath and try again. Sometimes when you see an obstacle on the horizon you smile and say “bring it on!” Other times you see an obstacle and exasperatedly exclaim “You’ve got to be kidding me.” You leap over some hurdles with ease as others struggle to do the same. Then you find yourself clawing, fighting and crawling along while other people sail past.
Finishing the race is great, but it’s not really the point. The joy comes in the journey, in the doing, in the accomplishing, in the overcoming. It comes through the experiences and comradery discovered along the way. It seems to me that life feels far less like a marathon sprint and far more like a dirty dash.
Running the Dirty Dash was on my 2014 Bucket List. Good job me!
Staying busy is easy, staying productive is a challenge.
Here are 5 Tips to help you be more Productive Right Now!
- Stop reading articles about productivity and start doing something. Anything! Seriously, stop reading this article and go get something accomplished. Pick one thing you need to get done today and do it. Don’t stop to check email, don’t pay attention to app notifications, LinkedIn request, or Facebook messages, focus on the task at hand and give it 100% of your time and attention for at least 90 minutes. Ready… Go!
- Reread Tip #1 because obviously it didn’t sink in.
- Really, you’re still reading this!?
- I’m completely baffled that you’ve arrived at Tip #4. This shows a total disregard for Tip #1. Yes, this article could have just said “1 Tip to Productivity” but nobody reads an article with just a single tip. Nonetheless, the list really only has 1 tip, 2-5 are meaningless.
- And yet, you read on. My only conclusion is that your productivity is at such a high level that you’ve accomplished all you wanted to today and now are merely reading articles in search of a tidbit of wisdom or perhaps and splash of humor to brighten your day. In that case, hopefully these tips provided a dash of both.
That’s it. There is no more value in continuing to read this article. In fact, I’ve got a massive list of things to accomplish today as I’ve exhausted my knowledge of productivity. Therefore I will stop writing about working and actually get back to work. Oh, that would have been a good Tip #2 “Stop writing about Productivity and Start Doing”. Wish I’d have thought of that ten minutes ago.
The 10th Annual Utah Brazilian Festival is in 2 weeks – come join the fun! #free #utah #food #Brazil http://ow.ly/AD9oU
My heart was racing, every pulse thumping through my entire body. Muscles in my arms, shoulders and legs all sore from the tension. Fingers stiff, white-knuckled from my death grip on the steering wheel. Another turn ahead, I crank the wheel to make the sharp turn, tires screeching, accelerating through the turn to keep ahead of the cars battling me for position. A near collision; brake, down shift, avoid being hit. Then shift again, accelerate, continue soaring down the stretch of asphalt. Head is throbbing, headache increasing with each kilometer of ground I cover. Almost there, the finish is in sight; one last swerve to avoid another car, then hard right and finally… stopped. Whew! I did it. I survived. No, not a Formula-One or Indy race, but an adrenaline fueled drive through the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For someone who grew up driving in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, this type of traffic is unheard of. Yes I’ve driven in large metropolitan cities like L.A. and Atlanta and have experienced grid-lock and traffic jams. However, this is Brazil. The narrow windy cobblestone roads wreak havoc on both car and driver. It’s not stalled traffic; it’s hectic, chaotic movement. Nerve-racking aggressive driving that feels more like a fight for survival than a mere commute. The multitude of three-lane roundabouts becomes five or six mingled lanes based on the time of day and numbers of cars that wedge themselves onto the road. Buses have the right-of-way because they’re bigger and will run you off the road if you don’t yield. Stop signs lining the streets are irrelevant. Red traffic lights are observed and obeyed, well at least until dark, then slow down long enough to flash your brights, honk and accelerate as to not get robbed when stopping, all while hoping you don’t get t-boned from a crossing vehicle. The people of Rio de Janeiro, the Cariocas, have become accustomed to this feverish traffic and slender, congested streets that snake through concrete edifices.
So why subject yourself to this? When driving it’s difficult to see anything but the cars, taxis and buses, and the looming shadows cast by the adjacent buildings. These objects distract your attention and block your view from seeing the beauty of this city and surrounding landscapes. It’s the proverbial problem of not seeing the forest through the trees.
Turning onto Avenida Atlântica the buildings dissipate in the background and spectacular views of the iconic Copacabana Beach are seen. Continuing down this large avenue and eventually turning onto Avenida Vieira Souto the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon come into view. Miles and miles of white sand, palm trees and deep blue waters stretch as far as the eye can see.
As if the majestic beauty of the beaches wasn’t enough the lush green mountainside of Sugarloaf, Pão de Açucar, lines the north-east skyline. While north of the Copacabana boardwalk and neighboring beaches, Corcovado rises over 2,300 feet above sea level. The landmark peaks sits amidst the Tijuca forest, elevating the 125 foot Cristo Redentor, Christ the Redeemer, statue which overlooks Brazil most renowned city.
The life of Rio’s 6.3 Million inhabitants is challenging. The people work hard while facing innumerable economic and political challenges in South America’s largest country.
There is a lesson to be learned from these Cariocas. They understand it’s not about daily grind, the congestion, and the turmoil life throws at you. It’s about the magnificence, the beauty and joy that can be found when you look up and look past what’s right in front of you.
It was cold and damp. No vibrant colors to brighten the rooms just a dull wash of white and gray. It was massive and spacious and utterly empty. No family or friends to be found; located thousands of miles away from any sign of civilization. An eerie complete and utter silence prevailed. Although not a captive, he was absolutely alone in this, his cave of isolation.
But… he called it A Fortress of Solitude! His glorious, magnificent structure. Brilliant. Rejuvenating. Inspiring.
And as young children we wished we could fly, high and far to our own similar fortress.
A powerful example of super strength and power, and perspective.
Almost every human being in the world is acutely aware and keenly focused on the 2014 FIFA World Cup, well everyone outside of the United States. The 31-day, 32 team soccer tournament, this time hosted in Brazil, is the largest sporting event on the planet.
Coming into the competition returning 2010 Champions Spain was ranked #1 in the world. The Spain squad has been on a terror of winning the past several years raking up an impression collection of championships.
An overflowing trophy case, pre-tournament hype and vast amount of talent on the field are great, but it still comes down to wins and losses, and with 2 of 3 matches already in the books, Spain has been eliminated after two straight tournament loses. The first lose was suffered at the hands of the Dutch (5-1) a repeat match of the 2010 championship game. If this wasn’t bad enough, Spain tuned around and was dealt a devastating blow, losing 2-0 to Chile in a David-vs-Goliath type effort.
No one can deny the greatness of the Spanish squad over the past five years, but great lessons can be drawn from their abrupt and fatal demise.
Some pressure is good… some.
Other than possibly the host country Brazil, no one came into the World Cup with as much pressure to win as Spain. Pressure to succeed is good when it fuels passion and creates focused energy. Teams can become galvanized create a strong bond, extreme pressure and scrutiny can quickly cause a team to buckle under the pressure. Spain collapsed.
Hard Work still matters
Chile is not the most talented squad in the World Cup. The Chilean team came into the tournament generously ranked 14th in the world, a far cry from Spain’s #1 ranking. Chile’s 2-0 win over Spain was the result of 90 grueling minutes of hard work. Every Chilean player ran harder, fought more and out worked their Spanish counter parts. What they lacked in skill and talent they made up for in effort.
Sweat the Little Stuff
Soccer is a series of small seemingly insignificant actions that eventually can lead to a big play. A thrown-in, a pass, a deflection, a sprint forward, a quick cut back. Each single movement or act appears trivial. However, the collection of these actions equates to an entire game and when executed expertly creates a fluid, free flowing game – “jogo bonito”. Spain was constantly looking for the big play, but struggled with basic game dynamics; their passes were off, players weren’t getting back defensively, communication amongst players seemed to be nonexistent. A complete game was not able to be accomplished due to the lack of focus on the small stuff.
Fight for the Big Play
No one enjoys watching a zero to zero game. (And in the business world a tie equals a loss). The purpose of the small stuff is to lead up to something huge, an awe inspiring moment. When all the minor components come together you should find yourself in that unique position to make a spectacular big play. Against Spain the Netherlands did so 5 times; Chile did it too, scoring twice. In contrast powerhouse Brazil controlled much of the game against Mexico, but couldn’t finish the big play, ending their match with a 0 – 0 draw. All the hard work and little stuff will only be worth it if you take the risk and make the big play happen. Sure it’s about the journey, but the finish is crucial.
“Great moments are born from great opportunities” – Herb Brooks
That’s Why You Play the Game
Switching sports, what if the Soviet Union had continued their dominance beating the US and winning the 1980 Olympic gold medal for hockey at Lake Placid? What if the New Zealand All Blacks had throttled the South African rugby team again in the 1995 Rugby World Championship match?
No one would have made a movie about that.
The script for life is also being written on a minute by minute, and day by day basis. Life is an adventure, a game waiting to be play and an outcome waiting discovered. Spain’s outcome for the 2014 World Cup was far different than the expected, while Chile’s possibly far better than they could have hoped.
When you live in a state like Utah the arrival for summer is especially exciting since we barely get three good months of warm, sunny weather. The long hours of summer sunlight mean extra time to spend outside with friends and family or even just time for yourself. It’s a great opportunity to reenergize the mind, body and soul. And all while disconnecting from electronics (yup, put the smartphone down for a few hours).
Here’s a few things I’d like to do this summer:
- Get a drink of water right from the hose
- Eat watermelon and spit out the seeds (not easy to find one with seeds anymore)
- Buy fresh corn on the cob from a farmers market or street side vendor
- Go camping (it’s on my 2014 bucketlist)
- Go hiking (also on bucketlist)
- Throw a Frisbee in the park
- Drink a cold root beer from a chilled bottle
- Have a water balloon fight (outside of course)
- Spend a day at a lake or at the beach (try Standup Paddleboarding)
- Go to the drive-in movies
Most of these activities are free or relatively inexpensive to do.
What activities do you look forward to or plan to do this summer?
I can help your company blow away the competition and get more customers. If you want a free sample, email or call me…
I literally laughed out loud when I read it.
If I order a free sample I’m expecting an army tank or rocket launcher to be delivered to the office. “Blow my competition away”, seriously? Maybe they sell super high-powered office fans – at least that would be relevant to their email language.
It’s quite embarrassing to the guy who added his name to email signature.
My takeaways from the email:
- Think before sending emails filled with cartoon language and overinflated promises.
- Never respond to lame emails, it only encourages people further.
A bit of humor and a good laugh was the perfect start to my day, so I thank the email sender for that.
Enjoy the journey!