Sunday Blog: Ashes of Adversity

Below is a brief clip from Jesus Calling:

When suffering strikes, remember that I am sovereign and that I can bring good out of everything.  Do not try to run from pain or hide from problems.  Instead accept adversity in My name, offering it up to Me for My purposes.  Thus, suffering gains meaning and draws you closer to me.  Joy emerges from the ashes of adversity through your trust and thankfulness.   

“Consider it pure joy, My brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4

Help me Lord to trust in you always so that joy can emerge from the ashes of adversity.  Amen

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Two Ears and One Mouth

My grandfather always said, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.  Don’t be yapping when you should be tuned in.”

Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.  I often think about my grandfathers quote as I observe people in leadership positions and as I watch people attempt to serve their customers or employees.  Truly listening to someone is not only a great way to serve them, it’s one of the greatest forms of respect.  Not listening on the other hand is not only disrespectful, but it puts you at a major disadvantage when it comes to serving others.  

I challenge you to think about respectfully listening to people.  Always remember, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.  

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The Economics of Quick Straw

Pine Straw and Mulch are known as ground covers, which is the glue that holds any landscape together.  They are the beautification components that cover those bare dirt areas between your lawn, trees, shrubs and other ornamentals.  To be an educated consumer, it is imperative that you understand square footage so that you can accurately determine how much material you need and how much you should pay.  Below is the link to a quick educational video that demonstrates a comparison of mulch, baled pine straw and our new Quick Straw product.  I hope you enjoy!

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Sunday Blog: The Ultimate Freedom


“No servant is greater than his master.  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”  John 15:20

It is estimated by the World Christian Encyclopedia that more than 45 million men and women were put to death for their faith in Jesus Christ during the 20th century.  In recent years the estimate has averaged between 160,000 and 171,000 per year.  That’s more than 400 Christians per day.  

While we are deciding what to wear today, up to 400 Christians around the world may pay the ultimate price for their faith.  

Of all the things for us to be thankful for, thank you Lord that we can worship you freely.  My prayer is that you will bless our nation and always protect our right to worship you.  Amen

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Ready for Q4

Yesterday we had our Q4 meeting where everyone came together to celebrate what we accomplished last quarter and then worked together to plan the quarter to come.  Here are a few unique pieces of this quarters plan that I am extremely excited about:

1) Instead of assigned tasks, each individual in the company has identified and set their own goals.  The criteria is to identify the 1-3 most impactful things that they will focus on during Q4 to help us further our mission. 

2) Each goal comes with a few reporting items or “lead indicators” that they will be focused on each day.  Also referred to as “Key Performance Indicators” that will be used to measure their progress.   

3) Everyone will be a part of a daily 15 minute huddle where the group will report their results from the previous day and the designated scribe will update the scoreboard.

I am thankful to serve a team that is dedicated to continuous growth and learning.  A Team that is dedicated to making the most out of the time we have together!  Here’s to another quarter where we leave it all out on the field!

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The Modern Day Saber Toothed Tiger


Dr Michael Gervais is master of mindset.  As a psychologist, he specializes in high performance mindset training, helping some of the most high profile people in the world overcome their biggest challenges and fears.  

Through his work he has discovered that high profile performers are human beings that battle the same fear as the rest of us.  

He has found that approximately 30% of people suffer from anxiety.  They excessively worry about what could go wrong.  

Our brains are conditioned to protect us from danger.  Many years ago this might be protection from a wild animal or another hostile human being.  Today, this fear is rooted in what other people think.   He refers to anxiety about what other people think as the modern day “Saber Toothed Tiger.”  

In order to be a high performer, you’ve got to  overcome the modern day Saber Toothed Tiger.  You have to be mindful to not worry about what could go wrong or what others might think.  You have to be able to tell people, “I love you, but I don’t care what you think.”

Next time you are called to perform, focus on the person you want to be, and overcome the Saber Toothed Tiger. 

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Sunday Post: Light of Life

Here is a brief summary from the devotional book Jesus Calling:

Be willing to follow me wherever I lead. Though you don’t know what lies ahead, I know, and thats enough. To receive all the gifts that I have in store for you, you must walk by faith, and not by sight. 

“When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Help me Lord to always walk by faith, and not by sight. Amen

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Look at You!

Jack Welch is often asked for one piece of advice about leadership.  His answer is simple:

"Before you were a leader, it's all about you.  After you become a leader, it's all about them."

Lou Holtz has a similar philosophy:

"Some guys walk into a room and say 'Look at Me!'  A leader walks in and says 'Look at you!'"

One of the things I always like to tell the leaders in our organization is, "The day that you step into a leadership position, you officially forfeit your right to have a bad day."  Leadership isn't about you, or your bad day.  It's about those that you serve and their day.  

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Break the Rope

A man walked by an elephant trainer and was shocked when he saw no fences or chains to contain the massive animals.  Rather, each one had a very small rope tied around one of its front legs and that was it.  

When he asked the trainer why they don't just break the rope he said, "This is the same rope we use to contain them when they are very young.  At that point it is strong enough to contain them.  As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe that they still can't break it, so they never try."

In the same way, is there something that you don't believe is possible simply because it didn't work before?  Is there something that you think is unattainable because of a previous conditioning?  

Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.   

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Sunday Blog: Peace in His Presence

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Our God is king of king and Lord of Lords, and this invitation never changes.  In a world full of endless responsibilities and obligations, we can always find peace in his presence.  Thank you Lord for this awesome privilege.

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Walking With The Green Industry Giants

This week I was fortunate to attend a UAC (Urban Ag Counsel) event where Spence Rosenfeld was given the "Pioneer Award."  Spence is the entrepreneur and original founder of Arborguard Tree Specialists which was one of the top 10 tree companies in the country before it was recently acquired by Davey Tree.  Spence always put an emphasis on the two V's: Vision and Values.  

Here are the a few of the values that his company shared:

1) Pull together as a team

2) Always do our best ( the only measure of a good job)

3) Respond and follow up quickly

4) Keep our promises

5) Obsess over customer loyalty

6) Have fun (there's a solution somewhere, you gotta find it)

Being at the event was like walking among a room full of giants that single handedly built the Green Industry in Atlanta over the last 30 years.  I want to thank all of the great people that have built this awesome industry and I want you to know that Swift Straw will do our part as the next generation.  

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Habits vs. Goals

It is estimated that 92% of new year’s resolutions fail.  Why would something so important as a resolution, or important goal, have such a high failure rate?  The answer lies in understanding the difference between habits and goals.

Octavia Butler says, “First forget inspiration.  Habit is more dependable.  Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.  Habit is persistence in practice.”

Here are a few examples that illustrate the difference the difference in a goal versus a habit in practice:

  • If you want to learn a new language, a goal would be to decide that you want to be completely fluent in 6 months.  A habit would commit to 30 minutes of practice each day.
  • If you want to read more books, a goal would be to read 50 books by the end of the year.  A habit would be to always carry one with you and read a little every chance you get.
  • If you want to spend more time with you family, a goal would be to spend 7 hours per week with them.  A habit would be to eat dinner with them every night.

Accomplishing goals requires a tremendous amount of will power and inspiration, which many times begins to fade after only a few weeks.  A habit on the other hand is a systematic approach to accomplishment.  Through repetition you can tap into the power of your subconscious brain which will sustain much longer than any amount of inspiration.  Charles Nobel said, “First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”

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Sunday Blog: Against the Current

He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.  -Philippians 1:6

God is looking for those who are willing to go against the popular current and speak the truth even when it is not politically correct.   He is looking for those who believe that what he says is more important than what others say.  Those that believe his will is more important than their own. 

My prayer is that I will be like the apostle Paul, and always choose God, in a world where it's not always the easy choice.   

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Peace of Mind

While at UCLA, John Wooden had one of the best winning records in NCAA history.  He taught his players that success had nothing to do with the score at the end of the game.  His definition of success is:

"Success is peace of mind, which is the direct result of self satisfaction in knowing that you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."

Here are a few ways that this worked in practice.  

1) He encouraged each player to become the best version of themselves.  He praised their effort, not the result. 

2) He acknowledged those players that look to pass before they shoot.  Said another way, he wanted players that were fine with someone else taking the shot if it was better for the team.   

3) He always practiced at a faster pace than the actual game.  

I challenge you to think about where you can apply Coach Wooden's timeless principles to your life.  

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Born with a Silver Spoon

Lou Holtz says he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  Not because they had any money, but because he was taught about personal responsibility.  He was taught that life is about making choices.  He was taught that a commitment to excellence is a choice that he could make.   

Lou took the football program at Notre Dame from the bottom to the top for nine straight years.  His biggest regret is that he thought they could maintain their position once they reached the top.  The second they moved from growth to maintenance, they were on their way out. There's a rule of life that says you're either growing or dying.  A tree, a person, a business, a marriage or a team is either growing or dying.

We all came here with a different set of circumstances,  but each of us can make the choice to make the best of each day and every situation.  We have a choice to pursue excellence in everything we do.  We have a choice to keep pushing, to raise the bar, to keep growing.  The rule of life is that you are either growing or dying, and the choice is yours.

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Sunday Blog: The Simple Life


In Lou Holt's speech titled "Trust, Commitment and Love" he says that life doesn't have to be so complicated.  There are four things that everyone needs or else there will be a huge void:

1) you need something to do

2) you need someone to love

3) you need something to believe in, in my case, that's Jesus Christ

4) you need something to hope for

The unfolding of your words gives light, it imparts understanding to the simple. -Psalm 119:130

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Knowledge "Can Be" Power

Our current education system has focused heavily on imparting knowledge through instruction and the memorization of information. Although this may be important, I believe we are missing out on the other key component of a well-rounded education: personal experience. You can become a walking encyclopedia of knowledge without possessing any power of value. Knowledge only becomes powerful to the extent that it is organized, classified, and put into action. Here are a few thoughts on organizing knowledge into power through a well-rounded education:

1) The word educate has its roots in the Latin word educo, which means to develop from within; to educe, to draw out, to grow through the law of use. A real education is development from within, of the human mind, through unfoldment and use. When it comes to the conventional form of acquiring knowledge, don't just memorize, make sure you understand the lesson so you can use it to develop your mind.  

For example, it doesn't do any good to memorize the series of events that led to the Great Depression. What matters is that you understand them and draw out the principles learned so they can be applied to your own life.  

2) The second form of knowledge can be acquired by your own process of gathering, organizing, and classifying facts through personal experience. I think the emphasis of education should be shifted to focus more on the knowledge gained through personal experience. This is the most powerful form of education because this is the knowledge that you remember. 

For example, I could not tell you a single fact from my last test in college, but I can tell you vividly about things I experienced as a five year old.  

Power comes from maximizing these two forms of knowledge, and then organizing them into action.  A well-rounded education will allow you to accomplish what you want, when you want it.  Henry Ford's schooling only went as far as elementary school, but he was arguably one of the most educated men in the world because he was the most effective at that time in organizing his own knowledge and the knowledge of those around him into world-changing action. 

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9/11 Never Forget

With Hurricane Irma at the top of mind I almost forgot about 9/11 yesterday.  It is so important to be reminded about events like this in history because if we aren't reminded it can be easy to forget.  

History repeats itself because we naturally have short memories.  The longer we get from July 4th, 1776, the easier it is to forget that our ancestors were controlled by a foreign leader.  The longer we get from May 9th, 1865, the easier it is to forget what can  happen when we have a divided nation.   The longer we get from September 11, 2001, the easier it is to forget that there is evil in the world that wants America to fall.  The easier it is to forget that freedom is a privilege that must be fought for and defended in order to keep it.  

May we never again underestimate evil, and may we never forget 9/11 as well as the sacrifice of all those that have come before us.   

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Sunday Blog: Omniscient

It is hard to process all of the devastation being created by the hurricanes that are upon us.  People have lost their lives, homes and all sorts of worldly possessions and belongings.  These are the times that require faith in a God that is omniscient.  He is all-knowing in a way that no one with a worldly perspective could possibly understand.

Fear not, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  ~ Isaiah 41:10

Although it seems impossible to "fear not" in times like this, we must trust that our God allows things to occur for a reason far beyond our ability to comprehend.  This is a time for us to unite together in prayer for all of those who have been affected or will be affected in the coming days.  

Heavenly Father, please protect and be with all of those in their time of need and help us to always trust in you when things happen beyond our understanding.  We love you and we thank you for loving us.  Amen.

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Keep Your Monkeys


"Having a monkey on your back" means you are carrying around a problem or a burden that you don't want.   In management terms, monkeys are referred to as problems that can be passed around the office.

Mark Cuban says, "The people who tend to work for me for a long time, they understand that the greatest value you can offer a boss is to reduce their stress."  He added, "I never want to get rid of them."

Said another way, the greatest value that you can offer a boss is to take care of your own monkeys and don't dump them on his desk and leave.  Here are a few thoughts on how to add value by handling your own monkeys:

1) Cut out the drama.  Some people thrive on drama in the work place but this is the exact kind of person that Mark Cuban doesn't want.  Less drama, less monkeys for everyone to deal with.  

2) Bring solutions, not problems.  Handling your own monkeys doesn't mean that you ignore problems or keep them a secret.  It simply means that you never raise a problem without a proposed solution.

3) Think about and try to appreciate the pressure that your boss or manager is under.  Chances are that they have enough monkeys of their own.  Show your appreciation by removing stress from their plate rather than adding to it.

If you want to maximize the value that you offer, make a habit of reducing the stress that others experience.  Keep your monkeys to yourself.   

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