Day 518 – Thankful for the Time Capsule That is Gavin’s Room

Day 518 – Thankful for the Time Capsule That is Gavin’s Room

We’ve got Gavin in the middle of a deep clean of his bedroom.  I’ve known he was a packrat, but I had no idea just how big of a packrat he really is.  He’s on Day 3 of the room cleaning extravaganza and I’m pretty sure that there’s another week or two in his future.

In helping him dig his way out this evening I helped him go through the books on his shelf.  While going through all the dusty books I found a few that brought back some pretty awesome memories!


Not Counting Monsters is one that I still remember reading with my mom when I was a little kid.  Both of the Dinosaur books got plenty of reads back in the day.  The Dinosaur Encyclopedia is probably the book I’ve read most in my life.  At one point I almost had it memorized!  Comets, Stars and Planets had tons of great pictures that fueled my dreams of being an astronaut.

In going through these books I had the chance to dive back into time and re-fresh some pretty sweet childhood memories.  Gavin may be done with them but I’m pretty sure I’ve got a home for them 🙂  When I’ve somehow managed to hold onto a book for over 35 years I’m pretty sure I can hold onto it a little longer… and smile from ear to ear every single time I happen across it.



Day 517 – Thankful for Wonderful Advice from Father Mark

If you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll probably recognize the name of Father Mark.  He was the priest who has had one of the most significant impacts in my spirituality and I am so thankful to have gotten to know him.  Occasionally when he had a particularly wonderful homily I’d email him and ask for a copy.  The last homily Father Mark gave at our church is something that I hold dearly in my heart as it’s a wonderful roadmap to living life the right way.


He wrote it in the format of a Top 10 list of things to remember and there were two points from that last homily that kept ringing in my head today during a few different conversations.

#3: The central stage direction of the gospel is downward mobility … making yourself smaller, making a gift of yourself. In the end your life is not about you.

One of my mentors pointed out how impressed he was with a specific task that I was very much pumped up about and took action on with a high sense of urgency.  As he made sure I had taken notice of just how quickly I had acted and why he suggested I consider taking some time to contemplate why I had gone after this project with this level of intensity.  My answer was simple, it wasn’t about me.  After I snapped off my answer I paused and smiled.

When I think about some of the things I’ve taken on that have brought me the most joy the majority seem to have something in common…  they were focused on helping other people.  This seems to fit pretty well with what I’m starting to see as the legacy I am meant to leave:  to live a joyful life and share that joy with others.

Sharing joy with others is an incredible feeling and a wonderful motivator.  As many of our speakers discussed this past week, it’s easier to do the difficult things, challenge ourselves, and accomplish the impossible when the end game is helping others have joy.

The interesting thing though is that there’s the other half of that coin…  to live a joyful life.  Doesn’t that contradict the focus on others?  Cue the second point of Father Mark’s last homily that was in my head today…

#2: If you would be a river, you must be a reservoir. Don’t even try the downward mobility thing I just mentioned until you have learned how to let God fill you up.

If we want to help others be joyful we have to first push ourselves to live a joyful life.  My attempts at bringing others happiness will fall flat if I haven’t figured out how to do that for myself first.  Taking time to re-charge the emotional batteries is a necessity.  For me it’s moments like Saturday when I put in my headphones and walk alone to take time to think.  It’s in the moments when I’m blogging each day to remember to be grateful for all the blessings I have in my life.

Today there were several times in which I was able to help other people out specifically because I’d taken the time to re-charge my batteries.  In some cases I was able to help show them how flat my forehead was from repeatedly banging it against the wall.

Throughout the day I’ve been smiling as both of these thoughts have been pinging back in forth in my brain.  When I stop and think about it, it’s wonderful catch-22.  I am happiest when I am doing something for others, and I am able to do more for others when I bring myself happiness.  It seems like a beautiful upward spiral, doesn’t it?  Be joyful, share that joy with others, be more joyful, share even more joy with others, and so on and so on…  I am starting to see it as a bit of a challenge, how high can this elevator go?

Father Mark’s last homily was almost five years ago, but it still enters my thought process often.  I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have gotten to know him and for his wonderful advice.


Day 516 – Thankful for Being Home with My Family

Short and sweet tonight gang, there’s not a lot of explanation needed. In the past two and a half weeks this was one of only four nights I’ve been at home… and it feels AMAZING!!!

Dominic and I had time to chill and play games while Becky was running a few errands and Gavin was at a friend’s house. We took the time to go for a walk with the girls. Then while Dominic was doing some Boy Scout activities Gavin and I had time together helping to coax him into cleaning his room. Becky cooked up a great family dinner and we had time together around the kitchen table. Now we’re chilling as a family and watching the Lego Ninjago movie. I had some excellent snuggle time with LuLu on the couch.

Tonight’s been a wonderful reminder that sometimes the same old same old feels pretty awesome. I love my family and my home (defined as wherever I am with my family). I’m so thankful for this time at home with them, life is pretty sweet right about now!


Day 515 – Thankful for Celebrating with My Express Family

Today has been AWESOME!!!  There were so many amazing moments that my mind is racing as I try to remember each moment.  It’s getting late and I have an early Uber to catch so I’ll try to focus on the highlights.

Last night we had a fundraising event for Children’s Miracle Network and today we were able to hear the total raised.  As an Express family we raised over $225,000!!!  How awesome is that???  I am so thankful for the incredible generosity of Express.


During one of the awards sessions today we had what I feel is the epitome of our awards – the Employee of the Year. This is offered up to the best associate placed of over 500,000 people over the previous year.  The top 4 candidates were all invited to the event and each was announced with a speech of all of the things they’ve done to help other associates as they were working so hard for us.  They then walked on stage to the thunderous applause of over 1,000 Express family members who were all giving a standing ovation.  Many were overcome with emotions and it was a truly beautiful moment.  A single winner was crowned and received a check for $5,000.

Later in the evening an anonymous donor matched the $5,000 award for ALL of the other candidates!!!  How fantastic is that?  Later in the event someone else donated another $500 to each of them!  It was AWESOME!!!


To cap off the evening there were more awards given and it was so cool to celebrate the successes of each other and to give many big hugs.  As we celebrated we all dared to dream bigger.  Many conversations were had focusing on new ideas, next steps, and how to add to all of the incredible successes from last year.


Last, it was a day filled with time with many of my Express family.  From the early morning to the late hours of tonight almost all of my time was spent with them and I’m thankful for every minute of it.  I’m so thankful to have each and every one of them in my life.

Thank you to everyone who had an awesome impact on me today, I appreciate each of you!


Day 514 – Thankful for Gavin’s Awesome Imagination, Express Leadership Academy Graduation and Incredible Inspiration From Another Excellent Speaker

Day 514 – Thankful for Gavin’s Awesome Imagination, Express Leadership Academy Graduation and Incredible Inspiration From Another Excellent Speaker

Days like today are my favorite days.  When I sit down to blog my brain is so full of ideas that I kind of freeze up and can’t quite figure out what to write.  I have too many things that I am thankful for and I try to narrow it down to just one thing.  When this happens I usually try to think of which might be most impactful, which may be most important, or which one I haven’t written about in some way before.  Sometimes I weigh them all out and I’m left with more than one thing.  I pause, smile, and thank God for how blessed my life is!  Today, try as I might, there were three things I’m so thankful for that it was only right to talk about all three.

I’m also very thankful for Gavin’s always supportive art teacher!!!


Last night Becky took Gavin to his art show (you probably saw her post yesterday, but I’m so thankful for it that I’m bringing it up again!).  Gavin had a recent painting / drawing selected for this art show and then it was selected to be presented in the Wisconsin State Capitol in a few weeks!  When I talked with him about it last night he was so pumped up about the whole thing that I could hear his smile through the phone.

When we listened to Jim Collins yesterday he talked about trying to find “what we are encoded to do.”  In the case of Gavin I’m pretty positive it will involve his imagination.  His art skills themselves aren’t necessarily the best ever, but his imagination more than compensates.  Seriously, who thinks of kiwis with jetpacks fighting robots who are trying to attack the giant kiwi???  This kid’s imagination is wild and I can’t wait to see where it takes him in life.  I’ve blogged about it in a couple of ways in the past, but he seems to keep impressing me!  ( Day 129 – Thankful for Gavin’s Creativity –  and  –  Day 244 – Thankful for Gavin’s Ability to See the World Differently )

This morning we celebrated our Express Leadership Academy Class’ graduation.  As we had the opportunity to bond during breakfast I was reminded of why I so love this fantastic group of people.  I consider every single one of them a friend and would help them at the drop of hat or have a beer with them, just the way I know they would do for me.  Over the past two years we’ve bonded, grown together, and built strong positive relationships.  Today’s graduation was one of the times in my life when I’ve remembered to think past the finish line, to enjoy the journey as opposed to the destination.  When I started ELA my thought was to complete it, my thoughts now are on how to keep our relationships strong.  I’ll miss our monthly calls, but I look forward to our ongoing conversations and meetings in the future.


Last, but certainly not least, I had the incredible privilege of seeing Inky Johnson live.  If you haven’t heard his story do yourself a favor and check out his website here.  To say he was inspiring would be the understatement of the year.  Inky challenged us to have an incredible impact on others and to appreciate all that we have in life – the successes and challenges.  He reminded us that when God moves He moves through people, we should help Him by helping others.  Without getting into too much let’s just say that I know more than one person who was already inspired to do just that.  Inky left us all in awe and helped us remember to look at the world from the right perspective, and for that I’m incredibly grateful!

Today has been incredible!  Those three are just three of MANY moments that I am thankful for.  I had an excellent conversation with a mentor, heard a couple of inspiring stories from other professionals, spent time with my team, was inspired by someone else to write a couple of thank you cards, received a wonderful email that will help me finish up my book, and so many other moments.  So much inspiration, so much joy, and so much love.  Thank you to everyone who played a role in my day!


Day 513 – Thankful for an Incredible and Dream Completing First Day of ILC

Day 513 – Thankful for an Incredible and Dream Completing First Day of ILC

Today isn’t even close to over and it’s been AWESOME!!!

The morning started out with our Prayer Breakfast, the annual opening to our International Leadership Conference. This event is always one of my favorites and this year’s was great. Between three franchisees sharing their stories, a fantastic singing of Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art by Wintley Phipps, and an inspiring speaker (Bob Goff) it was a very uplifting start to the day. The message that it all kept coming back to was making ourselves available to others.

Throughout the day I had many opportunities to catch up with many of my Express friends and family and I was so fortunate to have so many wonderful connections with them. One of the meetings was particularly heartwarming as a friend shared the story of his connection with his mother after she passed away. We all shared many smiles and stories and it felt so awesome to spend time connecting with everyone again.

Number 17 on my dream list was to “Meet Jim Collins.” His business books have helped shape many ways in which I look at business and I admire how he blends stories with data to show what makes the most successful businesses better than the rest. My dream was to meet him and tell him thank you for the positive impact he’s had on me.

As luck would have it I ran into him in the hallway and was able to meet him today! There was no hiding my excitement as I met him, I was pretty much babbling like a true fanboy. It was embarrassing and I’d really like a do-over, but mission accomplished, Dream #17 is complete!

When he presented later in the afternoon I had a couple of fiends who took great care of me and both helped me to get seats front and center for his presentation. One helped me be the first person in the room and the other gave up a reserved spot so I could be literally front row and in the center. It was awesome!!!

Now we’re off to Universal Studios for a night of good food and some rides. How incredible of a kickoff to ILC is this?

Today’s been a nonstop ride of awesomeness and I’m thankful for every minute of it.


Day 512 – Thankful for Catching Up with My Express Leadership Academy Friends

Today was a pretty spectacular day overall.  There was an airboat ride, many alligators, seeing a heron spear a large bass, a lot of time with teammates, and a FaceTime session with Becky & Gavin (Dominic was in church)/

To wrap up the evening we had a meeting and reception for Express Leadership Academy.  The event was a great time to hear from both of our founders as well as learn about an upcoming ELA event.

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The highlight of the night for me was being able to spend time with several of my ELA buddies catching up on what they were up to.  In some cases they’d opened new offices, in others they set the pace for all of us in 2017.  Spending time with them over a cold beer was a great time and was motivating for me to keep pushing to grow more.

Just over two years ago we didn’t really know each other, but now we’ve become friends and it was awesome catching up with them.  To each and every one of my ELA friends I was able to talk with tonight – thank you for making it a great night!


Day 511 – Thankful for Making Progress on My Book While Flying

Today was a great reminder for me to let go of the wheel and let the travel gods do what they will.  As Becky was driving me to the airport my phone buzzed with an alert from Delta telling me my flight was cancelled.  The person at the service desk was surprised to see me smiling, she was expecting I was going to be upset.  As I told her, I had taken a deep breath and knew that I had no say in the matter so I might as well choose a smile and figure out a way to get to Orlando.  She helped out a ton and pretty soon I was on the road to Minneapolis.  As luck would have it I made it just on time, my flight started boarding less than five minutes after I got to the gate!  Thank goodness I made it!

While I was flying I had promised myself that I would work on my book.  I wanted to watch a movie, play a game, or just take a nap, but instead I busted out my iPad and keyboard and went to town.


There were distractions galore including turbulence and the family sitting all around me (dad and son on my left, mom and the three youngest on my right, grandma and grandpa in front of me, aunt, uncle, and niece in front and to the right – I’d offered to move but they were set where they were).  Every disruption caused me to pause and second guess switching to something else, but every time I stuck with the book.  It took a few seconds to gather my thoughts and jump back in, but it felt great!

Before I knew it my three hour flight was almost complete I had finished about a chapter and a half – much more than I’d expected to cover today.  After Sunday I should be no more than a chapter away from wrapping up the rough draft, not too shabby!

It was a very productive flight and I’m thankful to have stuck with writing on my flight today, it felt wonderful to make progress!


Day 510 – Thankful for Moments of Brotherhood that Bring Back Memories

Tonight we had some strips of bacon to go along with our roasted red pepper soup and chili & biscuits (I know, a bit of a mishmash, but actually quite deliciously perfect!).  As we metered out how much bacon the boys could have I couldn’t help but smile when my calculations led me to tell the boys they could each have two and one half strips of bacon.  My grinner got wide with anticipation of the upcoming conversation…

Immediately Dominic called for Gavin to come in to cut the one strip in half so Dominic could then choose the one half that was exactly one half of a milligram larger than the other.  Gavin was too slow and Dominic was too hungry so Dominic finally relented and made “the cut.”

Gavin immediately proclaimed that he was choosing the larger half.  Dominic laughed and told him that was actually the smaller half because Dominic’s half was wider.  Gavin made a comment about his piece being thicker.  Then there was a second measurement which resulted in each boy still having the larger half…  though they each seemed to be a little nervous that they got the smaller half.


Watching this all play out I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and think of all the times my brother and I had played this scenario out in our childhood (and sometimes in our adulthood!).  Whether it was a strip of bacon, a rice crispy bar, a slice of pizza, a glass of soda, or a bowl of cereal everything was measured under the tightest scrutiny that would have made a nano particle physicist proud.  We used every possible form of measurement to make sure we were able to get the largest piece.  At some points we resorted to unusual cutting patterns to try to trick the other.  It was an exercise in futility, but it was also awesome and a perfect example of what it meant to be brothers.

As my boys went through the same ritual I smiled from ear to ear thinking about all the ways that this will escalate over the years and all the laughs they will have over those memories as they get older and are able to watch their kids do the same.  Tonight I’m thankful for experiencing one of those moments of brotherhood with my boys, it was awesome for all three of us!


Day 509 – Thankful for a Great Family Movie, Wonder

As we all snuggled in for a family movie night to wrap up a busy weekend we fired up Wonder and it got me right in the feels.  At various times almost everyone in the house teared up, some more than others.


The thing I really liked the most was how the movie didn’t do just the normal “here’s life from the perspective of the main character” rather it looked at the world through the eyes of many of the people involved.  Telling the entire story like this really helped me see the world briefly through each person’s eyes.  In some cases I caught myself feeling like I wasn’t the only one who felt a certain way, while in other cases I realized things I need to work on and remember.  So often I don’t take the time I should to pause and consider what the world looks like from someone else’s perspective, but this movie put that front and center.

It was made all the more special by watching it with my family.  To be able to have time together seeing the same story was great and I’m sure there will be several times this movie gets referenced…  Auggie: “Why are we whispering?”  Dad: “Because I’m afraid of Mom!”  😉  I’m thankful to have watched this movie together, it was a pretty awesome way to wrap up a crazy busy weekend.