Life Doesn't Fit in a Box

tiny intro - Alright - this one is for my friend Mo, and it is also according to the math in the sidebar the 100th post on The Life of Jimmer. My friend Cammie got more than 100 comments on her 100th post. I don't see that happening here. Perhaps you'd like to prove me wrong. (Wouldn't be the first time.)

I've been working on a project at work that has been kind of an "on the fly, seat of our pants type of operation." It had to be that way. We saw a need. It had to be filled. The moment had to be seized and such. The iron was hot. (Insert your cliche here.)

In other words, we didn't go through all the normal planning and testing and piloting and on and on and on that is so much a part of "the process."

I'm okay with that. This one didn't fit in a box. It had to be malleable. We needed to be able to adjust on the fly.

You know - a lot like life.

Many folks are finding out this year that even the best laid plans are subject to failure. Jobs are being lost. Debts are being incurred. Mortgages are being foreclosed and on and on...

And a lot of people feel like failures for no justifiable reason other than circumstance. A friend who is being "laid-off" said to me just a couple weeks ago that he was becoming very depressed over the whole situation, primarily because he was not going to be the main provider for his family for the first time in 20 years.

What do you say to that? He hadn't done anything wrong. He went to work everyday, paid his bills on time, was a good husband and father -- all the right things, all the "supposed to" things, and yet here he was planning for a future he knows nothing about, trying to remake himself at the age of 38.

I've spent a lot of the last year kicking myself for not having done some things, not making changes, not planning better, not being better with money, (Oy vey money), not being a better Daddy and on and on.

I've taken a lot of inventory as I turned 40, but not because of the number so much as because I realized that a great deal of my life had become so focused, too focused on the negative.

I feel like I've made a lot of progress and turned a lot of things around. But up until a couple of months ago there were still some things I couldn't let go of.

One April evening out of nowhere it hit me. Just like that project doesn't fit in a box, neither does life. There are just too many variables, too many unknowns, too many adjustments to be made, and too many answers we just don't see.

We can play by all the rules and "they" can change them in a second.

It was like a cloud lifted as I sat in my office and decided that I needed to live life forward instead of spending so much time looking back.

We don't have any control over the past. It's done. It's gone. It's over. If we made mistakes we can only learn from them and hope to do better next time. If we make a bad decision we can't be afraid to make a decision the next time for fear we might be wrong again. The fear of the unknown, paralysis by analysis as they say.

I know that some of this is "so obvious." What can I say? Sometimes I'm not the sharpest tack on the bulletin board.

As I talked to my friend that day and wondered what to say, I decided that the best thing I could do for him was to be a good listener, a shoulder to lean on, a sounding board for ideas. I decided that the best thing I could say to him was the same thing I had said to myself just a few weeks before.

Sometimes the answer is you just have to be nice and give yourself a break.

Grouchy? Moody? Worried? Nervous?

All of the above?

At the conference I attended last week the organizer said something along the lines of 363 1/2 days out of the year he hates the event, but for the 1 1/2 days it's happening he loves it.

Though my timeline of angst is quite a bit shorter, I knew where he was coming from.

Every day I am grateful for Golf for Joy, The MJB Foundation, and everyone we get to share it with. Still there is one week that gets under my skin.

This week...

...and again I am a nervous wreck.

Are our deadlines being met? Will we have enough golfers signed up? Will those golfers all get registered and paid in time?

How do the foursomes look? What kind of speech am I gonna give?

Next week, all I'll have to worry about will be the weather. (Praying for sunshine.)

This week I'm just plain worried.

This year our new board has done a terrific job of taking the pressure off, each contributing in their own way, accomplishing task after task on time, ahead of schedule, and within budget. Netter has been wonderful about remembering all of the little details. K & D have done an outstanding job of doing whatever we need them to, when we need them to.

I know it's all silliness. Everything always works out. Everything is always fine. The speech gets written. The golfers have a good time. Money is raised for a good cause. Everyone has a great time.

But sometimes I just can't help it. You know?

I know that at some point this Saturday (probably after the mail comes), I'll be fine.

In the interim?

I need to find that smile.

If you think of something - make me laugh!


It's Not About the Games. It's About the People

Tough Saturday for this Detroit sports fan.

The Red Wings lost the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh last night.

The city of Detroit has decided to tear down the rest of Tiger Stadium because no funds could be raised to save it.


Some athletes who make more money than I will ever dream of lost a trophy. An old stadium, in a city I don't even live in, that hasn't been used with any regularity in 10 years is being torn down.

And I'm having a tough day...?

Does that sound funny to anybody besides me? Why do I care? Why is my gut being torn apart? Why did I cry like an 8 year old little boy last night? What did I really lose? Why do I have so much invested in games?

In reality, I don't.

I love the old ball park because I remember all the good times I had there as a boy. I remember spending time with my Dad. Running around getting player autographs, and a special moment with Ernie Harwell legendary Tiger broadcaster as he walked from the field where he had been talking to the players and coaches to a little boy who couldn't have been more thrilled to meet him and have him sign my program. I remember feeling so much happiness when my hero, Lance Parrish hit a home run when we had driven all the way from Lima, Ohio to watch a game. I remember that I brought my best friend to that game. I remember taking my wife and daughters to games there including the third to the last game of the season in 1999 when the stadium closed.

You'll notice that's the only time I mentioned the stadium in that entire paragraph.

Similarly, while you'll hear me talk about the Wings and how they played I am more likely to talk about the games I attended in Detroit as a child, stories about my Dad and I watching the Wings win the Cup in 1997, and the games I've attended in Columbus as an adult, very often with my family.

I have friends across the United States and in the Virgin Islands (Right Ang?) who I have never met in person. We get together and chat in our online lounge during almost every game - kinda like an online living room.

I have a friend at the library that I talk to about hockey all the time. I have teammates who are very much like my family who I wouldn't know but for hockey.

Not a puck or a stick or a goalie mask mention in any of the above.

I might be upset that the Red Wings lost, and I might mourn the demolition of an historic landmark, but I assure you my friends I'm maintaining perspective.

While the game brings us together, the relationships are what really matter.

You see my true investment is in people.

Things are Changing 'Round These Parts

Attended the Ohio Growth Summit Yesterday, and in the process of meeting some fascinating folks, and being awed by their knowledge and passion I decided that it was time for a little overhaul, a fresh start.

I'll be talking about it more in the coming weeks, but wanted to begin by giving the blog what I hope is a cleaner look, and making it more functional for my readers in the process.

Let me know what you think?


Twitter - Ur Doin' it wrong, or am I

I've been in a bit of a running feud with someone on Twitter lately that finally, hopefully came to a conclusion last night. I'm not gonna name names or anything, but I thought I'd share the story today and hopefully get some feedback from some of the folks in my "social media community," i.e. you.

When I first used Twitter I'm not sure I knew exactly what it was. What I did know was that it was helping to create or maybe even re-create a community. This is a community in which I've become quite active. It's a community I like to protect.

This is how my Twitter feud, (Twued?) started.

I noted one day that one of the folks I was following, (because he had followed me, but that's another discussion entirely) was posting the same information over and over and over. "Read my blog post here. Read my blog post there. Read my blog posts everywhere. Hey, you didn't read my blog posts yet. Read my blog post here. Read my blog post there. Read my blog posts everywhere..." ad-infinitum.

I also noted that he had almost no @replies in his tweet stream. I tried to interact with him. He answered me hours later, (I am not exaggerating) despite the fact that he continued to promote his blog posts.

I call folks like him, broadcasters.

While I think it's cool when folks share their blog posts on Twitter and I do it myself. I don't like to feel like their content is being shoved down my throat like a commercial, and when I interact with them, and know that they are still on as it were I don't like to feel like I'm in line for help with tech support.

If someone wants to share something and posts it a few times in a day to make sure all of their followers see it, that's one thing. To post it hourly or more - to me is just overkill.

The whole idea of social media is right there in the title - social.

So I sent this gentleman a direct message. I thought I was very polite.

"No offense, if I unfollow, but you tweet the same things over & over & you're not very interactive.Just have different purposes here I guess"

He replied, (almost two hours later) with back to back messages -

" offense Jim........i have a global audience so i try 2 accomodate all time zones......i will reduce my tweets ............and hopefully i won't have ppl asking where my content is............i will try : )"

I thought that sounded kinda egotistical, but hey we all have egos so I thought, "Well that's cool. I'll give it a chance."

I even replied to one of his tweets about his blog post on how to fix the shanks, (golf term). I paraphrased a line from the movie Tin Cup which I'm fairly certain most golfers have seen. Apparently, though he blogged about golf regularly he had not.

I didn't understand that, but I didn't hold it against him.

His tweet stream was lively with @replies for about a day. He cut his broadcasting to about half for about the same amount of time. That didn't last long though and after awhile he was right back to it.

A few days later I decided his content was clogging up my tweet stream enough so I sent him a message and unfollowed him. I'm not the social media police, and I realize that we all come to these tools with different purposes so I tried again, to remain polite.

"Thanks for trying. I'm going to leave it at that. Different purposes here. Take care."

Shortly thereafter, he unfollowed me. End of story right? Eh, not so fast.

Two days ago, he started following me again. This started this exchange.

Me: Following you just long enough to figure out why you are following me again. Some kind of "autofollow" tool?

Him: ..........yea i think so............but am not sure : )

Me: You're not sure if you use an autofollow tool? Really?

Him: ......Jim.....i've got a lot going on....if ur not interested in my tweets......just's just that simple : )

Me: I think people like you destroy social media. Nothing more than broadcasters, a detriment to the community & you know jack about golf.

When I had posted that reply I unfollowed him, and blocked him. How can you be so detached from these tools that you aren't even sure how you are connecting?

Within the hour he was following me again. No, I am not kidding. At this point - I was definitely finished with him, didn't want to engage in any further debate. I had expressed my opinion. He had shown his indifference. Whatever he was back for couldn't have been good.

In my regular tweet stream I said this:

@Him Not sure what your agenda is, but I'd really rather you stopped following me. Sooner rather than later would be nice. Thanks.

I have to say I'm coming away from this whole experience with some disappointment. I have discussed this with other Twitter users who I think "get it."

Twitter and all of these social media tools are used, and can be effective in a number of ways, but one thing I think we might all agree on is that social is the key word here. It's about building the community. It's about building relationships.

I was discussing this with RickWDavies on Twitter last week and he gave a fair assessment when he said

"I can send news, chat, make friends or even make sales with my social media accounts. I especially enjoy the chat (like ours)."

I thought that was pretty good, but my friend SethSimonds said something even better today.

"To me, a "follow" on twitter is an agreement to walk down the same street and genuinely smile when you look my way."

I've always liked Seth's take on Twitter. He puts so much emphasis on relationships in fact that he once unfollowed 45,000 folks so that he could reassess and make his follows count for something.

I couldn't agree more.

What do you think?

Getting to the Goat

One of the things I most enjoy is finding the ways and words to explain to folks how to find and use the (primarily) technological tools they want to use.

The process goes something like this:

- I identify the proper tool for the job.
- I learn how to use said tool with as much expertise as possible.
- I find the ways and words as mentioned above.
- I am declared sheer genius. (Just kidding)

During the past year or so I have been "learning" about Social Media and using all of the tools I could find. Along the way I've discovered I have a bit of a knack with this medium, and I had hoped I would get a chance to share that knowledge with folks who wanted to learn how to use those tools.

Thanks to my friend Cat, the opportunity came sooner rather than later and I gave my first social media presentation this past Thursday for the Greater Linden Development Corporation's business network.

I've got one word to say -


I have loads of experience speaking in front of people, but for some reason despite several attempts to convince myself otherwise, I was a nervous wreck.

Naturally, as it turned out I had nothing to worry about and the talk went fairly smoothly.

I did learn a few things that I will apply to my next talk should I be fortunate enough to have that opportunity. (I'd really like to make this almost a full time gig. I had that much fun.)

I thought I might share what I learned in my post today.

Here we go...

1. Know the size of your audience.

Fielding questions from 8 audience member is quite a bit different than fielding questions from 80. Eight questioners are much more focused in their efforts and yes, I did feel more pressured. Though I think I was able to field all of their questions accurately.

2. Ask you audience if they can all see.

I had tested my projector and clicker to be sure that they worked with my laptop and such, but had not tested ways to make the image larger or smaller beyond focusing the projector. Eventually I was able to move the projector far enough back from the screen wall to be acceptable, but an extension cord that I didn't have would have been so helpful in this situation.

3. Ask your audience if they are currently using any of the technology you are covering.

This way you won't be caught off guard when one of them says. "If I might interject..."

4. Don't mention a topic early in your talk that you plan on talking about later. (especially when your audience is relatively small and more focused in their efforts.)

Early in my talk I referenced Twitter which I had planned on covering in more detail later. However, one audience member who had obviously heard about Twitter immediately began quizzing me about what it is and how it is used and how could he use it and any number of other very valid questions that I had hoped to cover later in my talk. Ultimately, I punted - did a quick mental rearrangement and (hopefully) answered the gentleman's questions as they were asked.

5. Have examples or screen shots of everything - don't assume even, (what you might consider) the simplest knowledge.

Trying to explain to my audience how they would add Twitter or Facebook to their website or blog I said, "It's very easy you just click a button that says, 'Add this to your website or blog,' copy the text that results, then go to your website or blog's editing space and paste that text where you need it. It's really simple and usually very intuitive."

Um, it's intuitive for you Jimmer you geek, but not everybody knows that text is html code and not everybody edits their own web space.


Okay so lessons learned I hope I am lucky enough to give this talk or maybe another sometime soon. I want to give a shout out and thank you to my wife Netter who helped quite a bit with the design of my slide show, K & D who watched the slide show and said all the appropriate things to give me confidence, ("It's great Daddy!"), Gerald and the library's Organizational Development department who loaned me a projector and clicker and plenty of moral support, and my friend Gregor who helped me wind down and debrief after my talk, and all my friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter who helped to ease my nerves leading up to my talk.

I appreciate all of you.

If you have time, take a peek at the slide show in the post that precedes this one, and thanks a lot for reading.

Huh? What's that?

You watched the slide show already? You want to know about the goat you say?

The picture of the goat and all the pictures in the presentation are from our Vacation at Beechwood Acres last August.

The goats were penned at the front of the campground very near the camp store / check-in area. Because they weren't just puppies or kittens, (which are cute at first, but people often get bored with after awhile) folks would come to the goat pen every day to see what the goats were up to.

Campers, would gather together and chit-chat. You know, "Hi, how are you? Where are you from etc...?" Very often folks would find some common ground, some connection and get together later for dinner, or to meet at the pool, something like that. When we went two years ago we met a very nice family from Pittsburgh who we swam with at the pool for the majority of the week.

While they were looking at the goats and were so near the store campers would also very often spend some money they may not have otherwise spent.

A souvenir for K & D, extra beverages, some ice, and firewood were items included among our purchases, all because of the goats.

Bringing people together, building relationships, and ultimately benefiting business.

I guess for campgrounds my talk would be retitled "Goats for Your Business."