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group of tomatoes

One of the bright spots for my wife and me in late March occurred when we realized: we could finally try our hands at a raised garden. After flying almost weekly for years, we now stared into months with no travel on the calendar.

A trip to Austin-iconic Shoal Creek Nursery and we were in business: four large-looking plastic raised gardens, instructions included, along with tomato, bell pepper and cucumber seedlings as well as two packages of green bean seeds.  

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Blue boarding smaller

My wife and I own four Aqua-Tots swim schools in central Texas. While I travel every week on behalf of Neillie Leadership Group clients, I have a rock-star team of leaders managing these four schools and the more than 100 aquatic coaches and team members who serve our families.  Last year, we did more than 120,000 swim lessons at these four year-round, child-friendly indoor swim centers. I love what our swim center teams do!

Recently,

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My wife and I live urban.  Several years ago, we were privileged to downsize and  move into one of the oldest close-in neighborhoods in Austin.  We live in a tiny stone cottage – one of the few stone houses remaining – three miles directly west of Austin’s downtown.  We love how accessible Austin’s downtown has become for us with its restaurants, coffee shops and various goings-ons.  Which leads me to this picture of our more-than-80-year-old house with a disruptive technology in front of it.

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Redford was getting on my nerves. Let me explain.

When we adopted Redford, we lived in a home that had a large porch descending into the backyard. The steps were 12 feet wide and provided not just steps down to the yard, but a place to sit when we had poolside get-togethers in our backyard. My wife and I always liked how wide the steps were – they made a graceful transition from our house to our yard.

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Several years ago my wife and I celebrated a wedding anniversary by taking a 10-day trip to France.  We started with three days in Paris, then spent a week on a small cruise ship on the Seine River.

During the river cruise, we spent several days in the area of Provencal, which is the beautiful wine country of southern France.  One of the side trips we took on this cruise was to a vineyard and wine cellar or “cave” as they call them in France.

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Our 2-year-old daughter was one of the original Aqua-Tots when “Mr. Ron” the lifeguard showed up in our backyard to team swim lessons for her and a number of other children from our church and the neighborhood.

Fast forward 26 years later, and:

  • Our daughter is grown, married and the Regional Marketing Manager for a national chain of upscale burger restaurants. Her territory includes Texas and several western states.

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Andy at the optometrist

Dr. Laura Miller owns Northwest Hills Eye Care in Austin, Texas. She’s been practicing for a number of years and has a very impressive resume. She was the recipient of the “Corning Low Vision Award” when she was a student at the University of Houston as well as the “Young Alumni of the Year” from the Texas Optometric Association. She is currently the past president of the Central Texas Optometric Society. It’s no overstatement to say that Dr.

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Oxygen masks

Leader: who do you serve? Do you take care of yourself first, or do you take care of your people and/or your customers first? If you’re like most of us who aspire to be leaders “rich in character,” I suspect you would answer: “I try to serve others first.”

Drilling down even more deeply, you might prioritize who you serve: employees, then GCs, AE firms or subcontractors, the ultimate client who will use the facility,

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Is there a job that you think is beneath you? Has your education, position, title, or wealth elevated you beyond performing mundane tasks?

My friend Todd Thompson shares this story from his sales career…

My first General Agent was Whitey Thompson (no relation). Whitey was the quintessential old school life insurance man, in the very best sense of the word. Sharply dressed, always smiling, always enthusiastic, and always made you feel important.

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My friend Todd Thompson tells this story…

“My twins Annie and Emma were not quite 4 years old. The three of us were at a Home Depot in Chandler, AZ. We rounded a corner in the back of the store when I look toward the far end of the aisle. Rolling toward us, dressed in boots, jeans, a western shirt and cowboy hat is a paraplegic man in a wheelchair.

Before I can say anything,

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