Ride For The Brand

A few weeks ago I asked you all to send me in your favorite quotes and the response was overwhelming. While I’m deciding how I am going to use all this great material, I thought I would share one quote that really stood out to me, because:

  • I had never heard it before  
  • I didn’t know what it meant and  
  • When I found out what it meant, I really liked it.

Sam Bertelsen, sent me the quote, who had it passed on to him by his Dad. Sam describes the company that he works for as … a small, fly-by-night company, called FedEx.  Sam is a real character, who lives in Montana and is fan of cowboy traditions and that is where the quote he sent me came from. The quote was, “Ride for the Brand.” It is an expression of loyalty to a cowboy’s employer or the particular outfit he rode for. I was now very intrigued about the expression, so I did some more research.

Most cattle on a cattle ranch are given a brand, a unique mark burned into the tough hide on the backside of the cow; it means that cow belongs to that ranch. But the expression, Ride for the Brand,” was more than just a mark that determined ownership of a cow. It became a symbol for those who lived and worked for the ranch and was a visual representation of the values and principles that ranch stood for. Cowboys were expected to dedicate themselves to the boss and the group of cowboys who worked for the ranch. The cowboys would defend the ranch at all costs, as if it were their own. I was really liking what my research was turning up, so I kept digging.

I then came across … Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West – by James P. Owens. Mr. Owens listed these points to follow:

  1. Live each day with courage
  2. Take pride in your work
  3. Always finish what you start 
  4. Do what has to be done 
  5. Be tough, but fair. 
  6. When you make a promise, keep it.
  7. Ride for your brand 
  8. Talk less and say more 
  9. Remember some things aren’t for sale 
  10. Know where to draw the line

Mr. Owens even notedRide for your Brand”, in his list. The reason why I share the quote with you is I think it is as fitting today as it was in the old west. Loyalty to your company should be a given. The company you are working for deserves your best, all the time. Sam said his father also told him  … to work every day hard and ask yourself would your company hire you again tomorrow based on your performance today?  I suggest you use that quote to measure your performance every day!

If you want to advance your career with your company, then Ride for YOUR Brand.”  People will sense the pride you have for your company and the appreciation you have for working there. Remember, the cowboys would defend the ranch at all costs, as if it were their own. If I was your boss and knew that was the way you felt about our company, wild horses couldn’t pull you away from me. I would do everything I could to keep you. But, for you bosses out there, you need to understand that employee loyalty comes from employer loyalty. If your employees are delivering for you, you need to always have their back, be in their corner and singing their praises.

Being Loyal Gains Loyalty

Ride For YOUR Brand

Don’t Confuse Them

Your boss uses the following words in a meeting: sanction and temper. Did you raise your hand and ask, “Excuse me, but I am confused about your sanction comment; does that mean you approve of it or we are to boycott it? And then you told us to temper our comments, so do you want us to soften them or strengthen them?” Or, did you think to yourself:

  • No way am I going to risk advancing my career by questioning my boss.
  • I am going to let someone else fall on the sword and ask the questions.
  • Hey, I’ll find out later what my boss really meant.
  • Not a chance in the world will I ever point out to my boss they just used a two words that have totally opposite meanings.

How employees handle this dilemma is a very telling sign as to the leadership qualities of their boss. I believe if no one says a word, then we are dealing with a difficult person to work for; a boss who might be best described as a mean, belittling, oppressive, and over-bearing person. If that is the case, a roomful of employees just walked out of the meeting having no idea which definitions they should use.

What if you are a global company, with multiple languages being used to communicate. The “context” of what was said (or written) can easily get lost in translation. The next thing you know you have employees moving in opposite directions all thinking they are doing the right thing, which is a true formula for disaster.

Our English language is riddled with puzzling words that are potential traps for confusion that can lead to problems. The examples I used in the first paragraph, sanction and temper, are called “Contronyms”, which are words that have contradictory meanings. Another area of confusion can stem from the use of “Homophones”. A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, and may differ in spelling. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of “rise”), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot. Other examples are … break / brake … blew / blue … by / bye / buy …fair / fare … hear / here … witch / which … and … would / wood. In fact, the list of homophones is quite extensive. So, for you scholars out there, I have a short quiz for you; all the answers are homophones so let’s see which ones you can answer.

Example:   If four couples went to a restaurant, how many people dined?  

Answer :   eight ate.

  • 1. What would we do if we found bad plants spoiling our lawn?
  • 2. What would you say in the evening to a soldier in shining armor?
  • 3. What are groups of sailors on an ocean pleasure trip?
  • 4. What is a group of musicians that isn’t allowed to play?
  • 5. If they are not here, where are they?
  • 6. What is the name for a weird street of shops that sell incredible things?
  • 7. What do you call a bucket that has seen a ghost?
  • 8. If a devil is completely sinful, what is an angel? 

Can’t you sea that the answers to these questions are as plane as the knows on yore face.

In a world of global communication, when a click sends a message for all the world to see,

may I suggest you choose your words wisely, or what a fool you could appear to be.

 Leaders who confuse people, aren’t Leaders for long.


Homophone Answers

“That’s Not My Job”

I find many people fail to advance within a company because they don’t take responsibility for the overall success of the company.  It is as if they perform their job with blinders on; ignoring anything that is going on around them. They have decided that they are ONLY responsible for their job, function, task, assignment, or duty and nothing else. Now, I am not suggesting that you should mettle in other people’s jobs. But, when you see a problem or mistake getting ready to happen that could be avoided if you just took a moment to bring it to their attention, I think you should speak up; especially if it is going to cost the company money or the loss of a customer.

Years ago I came across a wonderful explanation of what I am suggesting. I think when you read it you will better understand the point I am trying to make.    (the author is unknown)

This is a story about four people named,

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done,

and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did.

Somebody got angry about that,

because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought Anybody could do it,

but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody

when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

I know successful companies are looking for people who are willing to take the initiative; people willing to do something even if they haven’t been asked to do it. If you want to advance in your company, I suggest that when you see a problem, take the initiative to fix it without waiting for a directive to come down from your boss. You can focus on just your job or you can also be concerned about helping to make your company be successful. Personally, if I was putting together a team of people for a major project, I want people who are both FOCUSED and CONCERNED.

It is as simple as oiling a door that has squeaky hinges. Every time Somebody opens that door it makes an annoying, squeaky noise that bothers Everybody in the room. Anybody could have taken the initiative to oil the hinges, but Nobody did. Everybody thought Somebody would eventually oil the hinges … but you guessed it … Nobody did it. If you were working for me and I found that your “REAL” attitude was … that is not my job, I wasn’t hired to do that, or that is beneath my job title … you soon wouldn’t be working for me. Start being the Somebody who does what Anybody could have done, but Nobody took the initiative to do. Because if you do, Everybody is going to want you on their team.

What Do Initiative and Success Have In Common ?

Everything !

Adjust vs. Change

Unexpected things happen all the time which we have to deal with, whether we want to or not. We can adjust to the circumstances or resist them. I find the people who adjust are a great deal more successful than the ones who don’t. It is one thing to be stubborn to your convictions, it is entirely different thing to be unaccepting to the new circumstances that have just occurred. Instead of looking at things under the painful guise of “Having to Change,” I think it is more effective to say, “It’s time to adjust.”

I would say it is definitely time to adjust when your company decides to let you go. Oh, they can say it in so many different ways; they can tell you they are retrenching, downsizing, rightsizing, re-purposing or re-aligning staff. I had one client call it a “RIF.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with the acronym “RIF” … it stands for “Reduction in Force.” I guess you might say that is a nice way to tell people, if there is such a way, they have been laid off. But in your eyes, you see it as being canned, kicked to the curb, booted out, terminated, shown the door, sacked, discharged, axed, let go, dumped, ditched, dismissed, pink-slipped, issued your walking papers … or in the simplest of terms … FIRED. I heard one person say they had been issued their “DCM” notice, which stands for “Don’t Come Monday.”

Whatever a company wants to call being “laid-off,” the reality is you now have to ADJUST to this new situation. I really prefer using the word ADJUST rather than CHANGE, because it seems easier, in context, to do.

The weather changes and you ADJUST what you are wearing.

The economy changes and you ADJUST your spending habits.

Traffic is bad and you ADJUST your route.

Sales are down so you must ADJUST advertising or prospecting activity.

Production is down so you must investigate the cause and ADJUST.

Your health changes and you ADJUST your exercise and eating habits.

Your boss changes and you ADJUST to their style of management.

You have a newborn baby and you ADJUST your sleeping habits.

You get married and you ADJUST from an “I “ to a “We” way of thinking.

In business you have to ADJUST to competition, technology, economic issues, healthcare issues, rising expenses, changes in media advertising, changing demographics of customers, and availability of workforce … to name just a few. So, instead of using that painful word “CHANGE,” may I suggest you start looking at approaching things with an ADJUSTMENT mentality.

People have a real tendency to resist change, but they do seem more accepting of ADJUSTING to the circumstances. Sometimes it is just the perspective of how we are going to address a situation/problem that will help people buy into doing what is necessary to fix it. Most of the time you don’t have to change everything to fix a problem; you just need to make some ADJUSTMENTS. Would you rather someone say to you, “You have to CHANGE what you did.” … or … “With a few minor adjustments, what you did is going to work great.”?

Our world is constantly changing … so your life is in a constant state of adjustment. Always remember, there are things you can’t change so you must ADJUST or you will not succeed.

Successful people know that

if they aren’t reaching their goals

it is time to ADJUST their actions.


The Amazing Power of Four Words

Some say the four most powerful words in coaching are, “I believe in you.” I think we need to expand that to teaching, mentoring, management, leadership, parenting, and relationships. What a wonderful thing to tell somebody, “I believe in you.” Think of how it made you feel when it was last said to you. Oh, there’s the problem … are you having trouble remembering when someone last said it to you. That is truly a shame, because the words are SO POWERFUL and have a way to motivate, inspire, and encourage us all. But the flip side of this is, when was the last time you told somebody those words? Are you having trouble remembering when? That is a shame as well.

In our personal lives, so many times we take for granted the ones we love the most and give them the fewest compliments. Oh sure, they know we love them, they know we think they are really talented, they know we appreciate the little and big things they do for us, they know we feel we can always count on them … sure … they know. Right? A compliment not given is no compliment at all. Inspiring words not shared are not inspiring at all. Don’t assume people know how they are doing, when your mouth never utters a word.

In our business lives, we also take people for granted. The U.S. Department of Labor found that 46% of the people who quit their jobs, did so, because they didn’t feel appreciated. WOW! We spent the money to find them and train them, but we can’t utter a few words every so often to let them know they are doing a good job. The words are free … they cost you nothing … but not saying them can end up costing you a lot.

I have had bad teachers and good teachers, bad coaches and good coaches and bad bosses along with some good bosses. I can’t ever remember any bad teacher, coach or boss being a positive person. NOT ONE. But, I can remember the good teachers, coaches and bosses who all had a positive side to them. I wanted to do more for them and not let them down. I would never want to disappointment them because THEY BELIEVED IN ME and told me so.

What a wonderful thing it would be to have someone say … “Because of you, I succeeded.” “Because of you, I didn’t give up!” We all need affirmation; some of us need it more than others. If you want people to produce more, raise their level of competence, perform at a higher level, and deliver more than expected, then let the following four word phrases become part of your everyday life. Great teachers, managers, coaches, and bosses all know they should …

Show them the way                 Help them keep trying             Make them feel special

Help them learn more             Show faith in them                    Prepare them to win

Inspire them to succeed         Be a confidence builder           Be there for them

You will be amazed what a positive effect the phrases “I believe in you!” or “You can do this!” can have on people. If you don’t believe me, just give it a try. It sure can’t hurt to try and it costs you nothing to do it … but it could be costing a lot … to stay silent.



Character is Displayed at the Bottom of the Basket

Character, or should I say – lack thereof – is being revealed to us daily. From the house painter who said they would prime before they painted (and they didn’t), to the mechanic who replaces your carburetor when only the fuel line was clogged. Their character has just been revealed; they chose to cheat you.

It’s just a simple purchase … a basket of peaches at the local farmers market. The peaches on the top, and even in the middle are all beautiful … but the farmer’s character is revealed with the fruit they placed on the bottom of the basket. The fruit on the bottom should be just as good as the fruit on top, but a farmer of weak character will put the bruised (damaged) fruit on the bottom. A butcher can put the best looking side of the steak face up, so you see it through the clear plastic, but when you get home, you find the underneath side full of gristle and fat; again, a weak character is revealed.

Clothes style change, fads change, hair styles change, popular music choices change, technology changes, car models change, expectations, salaries and opinions all change … but good character should never change. Actions indicate CHARACTER … not words. Here is a short poem I wrote about the importance I place on character.

Fame is fleeting, popularity, notoriety and wealth can leave you too.

Even your good health can slip away and there’s nothing you can do.

There are those who will sing your praises for what you did today.

Then curse your actions tomorrow … and there’s nothing you can say.

So heed my words carefully, they are simple but oh so true.

You reveal your character daily in everything you do.

Guard your thoughts, words and actions, for they shout loudly who you are.

Your actions reveal your character and will be seen both near and far.

And when you leave this earth, there is but one thing that will endure.

Your character will be the mark you leave  –  on this you can be sure.


Good character isn’t hard to identify … it is simply doing the right thing even when it may be the hardest thing to do. Good, sound, strong, morale character is a choice … you can choose to have it or not. That painter, mechanic, farmer and butcher all made a choice and their choice instantly revealed their character. It would also give me a good reason to NEVER want to do business with them again. Fool me once, shame on you – Fool me twice, shame on me.

I want to do business with people who are trustworthy, reliable, responsible, and considerate … those actions will establish a fine reputation. Isn’t it amazing what just one bad peach tells about a person.

Your Choices Define Your Character

So Choose Wisely

Shed Those Funky Feelings

Lack of confidence affects job interviews, promotions, athletic /musical/ theatrical performances, negotiations, romance, and leadership … to name just a few. Now, let’s take it a step further. Let’s add someone trying to tear you down by telling you that 1) you’re the problem 2) you are really lousy at this, or 3) you will never amount to anything.  

I have a dear friend of mine who is going through a rough time in their life, which has caused them to doubt themselves. When you think about all the things that life can throw at you, that are totally unexpected, we “ALL” can have some good reasons to doubt ourselves.  A company being downsized and having to let go 500 people can cause each one of those people to doubt their ability. Did they get let go because of their lack of talent, knowledge, skill, or attitude?

The next thing you know you are in a FUNK, unhappy, maybe even considering yourself to be a little depressed; well, welcome to the human race. You sure aren’t alone. I truly believe that everyone, and I do mean everyone, at some point in their life, doubted their abilities, value, talent, skill, or self-worth. Recording star and multiple Grammy winner, Taylor Swift, (who made $50m last year) said, My confidence is easy to shake. I am very well aware of all of my flaws. I am aware of all the insecurities that I have.”  So, how in the world can you get to feeling better about yourself?  Even though it may seem that other people and circumstances are to blame for your self-doubt, that really is not so. You are the person truly responsible for your own mental state.

That last statement is easy to say, but hard to handle. Telling someone to “Snap out of it”, “Get over it,” and “Let it go,” doesn’t usually get great results. So, the most important thing to understand is “YOU” hold the keys to opening the doors to your confidence. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Before you give value to anything bad being said about you, first give some thought to who is saying it and for what reason. People who are biased, prejudiced, egotistical, uncaring, jealous, bitter, nasty, envious, impartial, and/or opinionated could have a real tendency to want to tear other people down, just to make themselves feel better. They could feel threatened by your talent and want to hold you back to help their own career. Would you give value or worry about what a person said if you knew they were a stupid, shallow, conceited jerk? SO, don’t give ANY VALUE to what others say … except from friends who are offering constructive, helpful suggestions.

Never let REJECTION kill your confidence. Many great people have been insulted with dreadful rejections. The great writer, Rudyard Kipling, in one rejection letter, was told he doesn’t know how to use the English language. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. A so-called expert once said of the NFL Hall-of-Fame football coach, Vince Lombardi: “He possesses minimal football knowledge and lacks motivation.” If these great people had believed what others were saying about them … they would have never been successful.

Don’t let anyone ever bring you down, make you think bad of yourself, tell you what you can and can’t do, hold you back, destroy your self-respect,  take your smile,  decide your self-worth … and never accept as fact that you aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, creative enough, good enough, talented enough, or committed enough to succeed. Move past their opinions and never look back; rearview mirrors are for cars … not life.



If you don’t believe in yourself …

why should anyone else believe in you?


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