Sunday, December 25, 2016

Family Christmas Poem 2016

In 1917 my great-great-grandpa A. Z. Matthews started the tradition of writing a Christmas Poem that would be read during the family Christmas Program...(what, does your family just open presents!?) For all of my formative years, we celebrated Christmas this way at my Grandparents, Stanley & LaVaughn Doubt's House in Kirbyville, MO. As we kids grew older and the difficulties that life brings changed the look and shape of our family, somehow we have almost  outgrown the practice. Some years it happens, others not. 
As I look back at the blessing that have been handed down to me, by a wonderful family....I am prompted to pick up the tradition and make it our own, for my kids and grandkids. So to that end, 99 years from the day that it all started, last night at 11:45 I picked up a pencil and started writing. (Click Here to read them all)

The Hillenburg Family Christmas Poem 2016

Its Christmas Day Twenty-Sixteen and the Hillen’s are together which is our routine.

To celebrate the arrival & miraculous birth; of the One who saves us/offers peace on the earth.

This Family Christmas Poem is not a new thing; ninety-nine years its been going, since nineteen-seventeen.

Fond memories I have from years gone by; when the family would read them & the adults would cry.

Telling stories of how we had grown or moved on; this family christmas poem honor’s Stanley and LaVaungn.

So now we get to the festivities at hand, and tell how the Lord’s blessed us with babies so grand.

Last year we received only one week apart; two strapping young boys that immediately stole our heart.

Skyler & Chad had waited so long, ever wanting a child to them to belong.

God sent down from heaven a beautiful son, this year we celebrated Archie turning one.

Barrett & Tara, were working at a San Diego church; when the Lord decided to bless them with more than a perch.

Jerry & Elaine made the long trip to Missouri; but didn’t last long once Harvey was born early.

This year these boys have started to walk, and are mastering sounds and learning to talk.

Both families live across just one street, raising boys into men who impress all they meet.

Chad & Barrett make very incredible dad’s; Archie & Harvey are very, very lucky young lads.

As mom’s go, these two boys couldn’t have any better, Tara & Skyler make homes feel like a comfy ole sweater.

And if thats not enough to make grandparents cry…Barrett & Tara have another that will join us in July.

Ninny and I are so proud we could pop, but I mustn’t go on…I’ll bring this poem to a stop.

Twenty-sixteen offered good times and bad, new jobs, new church’s and new challenges we’ve had.

From spiders to cars to things we don’t understand; to terror and safety and the leadership of this land.

Its not easy being mom’s or dad’s in this world, tons of issues and problems around you  is swirled.

The only advice I can give is not new, but tired and old and tested and true.

Stay together, a unit, thats led by the One, who’s Name we call Jesus, God’s only Son.

This poem’s full circle, I suppose that makes sense…next year we will gather and tell of what’s happened hence.

Merry Christmas to all as a new year unfurls….to 2017 and the birth of some girls. 

Mark Hillenburg, 12-25-2016

Saturday, November 14, 2015

What is Third Wave Coffee?

From Wikipedia:

In March 2008, Pulitzer Prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold of the LA Weekly defined the third wave of coffee by saying:

"The first wave of American coffee culture was probably the 19th-century surge that put Folgers on every table, and the second was the proliferation, starting in the 1960s at Peet's and moving smartly through the Starbucks grande decaf latte, of espresso drinks and regionally labeled coffee. We are now in the third wave of coffee connoisseurship, where beans are sourced from farms instead of countries, roasting is about bringing out rather than incinerating the unique characteristics of each bean, and the flavor is clean and hard and pure."

In Springfield, Missouri Third Wave Coffee is quintessentially TheCoffeeEthic and Brick&Mortar Coffee.

I'm not so comfortable classifying anyone else in that category. I might be leaving someone out...but many good coffee roasters do you need in a town. Two great ones are enough.

If you've never really tried Third Wave Coffee, go treat yourself to a cup of single origin coffee or a Latte that has been cared about and worried over since before it sprouted out of the ground.... and every step from the ground to your cup.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What's a hipster? I think this is pretty close...

Upon the return of my sister (who lives in Rome, Italy) to the states... She asks "So what is a Hipster...?" As we try to define it... I go to the internets... And find this fairly well written definition on Urban Dictionary (Fair Warning: UD can sometimes be NSFW, rude, crass & disgusting... But I thought this was interesting and well written. 
I submit it here for comment or agreement... 

From Urban Dictionary:
Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park, and Mission District neighborhoods of major cosmopolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco respectively. Although "hipsterism" is really a state of mind,it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses. Both hipster men and women sport similar androgynous hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs. Such styles are often associated with the work of creative stylists at urban salons, and are usually too "edgy" for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer. The "effortless cool" urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic. Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities. Consequently many hipsters tend to have jobs in the music, art, and fashion industries. It is a myth that most hipsters are unemployed and live off of their parent's trust funds. 
Hipsters shun mainstream societal conventions that apply to dating preferences and traditional "rules" of physical attraction. It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainsream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty. The concepts of androgyny and feminism have influenced hipster culture, where hipster men are often as thin as the women they date. The muscular and athletic all-American male ideal is not seen as attractive by confident and culturally-empowered hipster women who instead view them as symbols of male oppression, sexism, and misogyny. Likewise, culturally-vapid sorority-type girls with fake blond hair, overly tanned skin, and "Britney Spears tube-tops" are not seen as attractive by cultured hipster males who instead see them as symbols of female insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of cultural intelligence and independent thinking. Hipsters are also very racially open-minded, and the greatest number of interracial couples in any urban environment are typically found within the hipster subculture. 
Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals. For example, the surge of jeans made to look old and worn (i.e. "distressed"), that have become prevalent at stores such as The Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister, were originally paraded by hipsters who shopped in thrift stores years before such clothing items were mass produced and sold to the mainstream consumer. The true irony here is that many of the detractors of hipster culture are in fact unknowingly following a path that hipsters have carved out years before them. This phenomena also applies to music as well, as many bands have become successful and known to mainstream audiences only because hipsters first found and listened to them as early-adopters of new culture. Once certain concepts of fashion and music have reached mainstream audiences, hipsters move on to something new and improved. 
Because of the rise of various online photo-blog and social networking sites, insights into urban hipster culture is reaching sheltered suburban audiences at an exponential rate. Cultural "norms" have been deconstructed by hipster culture as a whole. Hipsterism is often dismissed as just an image thing by some, but the culture as a whole is effecting changes in society, leading to feelings of insecurity and resentment in people who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class. For example, a lot of anti-hipster sentiment evidently comes from culturally-clueless suburban frat boy types who feel that the more sensitive, intelligent, and culturally aware hipster ideal threatens their insecure sense of masculinity. Anti-hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can't keep up with social change and are envious of those who can.

Monday, January 27, 2014

RE-Post: Whats the next step? By Dr. Robert A. Rohm, Ph.D.

Robert A. Rohm, Ph.D. is a popular keynote speaker, author and corporate trainer recognized for his expertise in team building and human behavior. He uses a highly engaging combination of humor and illustrations to educate, motivate and train his audience. Dr. Rohm’s material is proven to increase productivity and reduce conflict. His message applies well for business and personal use. 
As a best selling author, he has written or co-written over twenty books. Over two million have experienced Dr. Rohm in live presentations, and over one thousand people have been through his certification training program at his corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. 
 His seminars are beneficial for corporations, small businesses, schools, churches and government agencies. His time-tested strategies work to improve results, lower stress, minimize employee turnover and dramatically improve communication. 

Tip: "The next step is...?"
Over the years I have tried to grow in the area of personal responsibility. As a child I was not a very responsible person. I believe I was basically lazy. I put things off as long as possible and when I finally did get around to doing something, I would only do it with a "good enough to get by" attitude. I look back at this immature attitude with regret. It was not until I was 18 years old and attended a military college that I began to grow up. Personal responsibility at a young age was not an easy concept for me to grasp. It was a lot easier to blame everyone else than blame myself!

Many countries throughout the world (Israel, South Korea, Singapore) believe that all men and women ages 18 – 21 should serve in the military in some capacity.  I often wonder what our country would be like if we adopted the same philosophy. Perhaps if that were the case it would help a person to grow up in a more responsible manner, love his or her country more, begin to understand authority and learn some self-discipline. Today we live in a society that is full of grown-ups who are still children in their attitudes, but that is a topic for another Tip.  Because of my own military experience, I believe that I understand much more about maturity, self-discipline, respect and personal responsibility. For that I am grateful.

I ask myself,  “Just how does a person really grow up to become productive?”  Why do some people seem to accomplish more of their goals and dreams while others seem to wander aimlessly through life? What is the real difference? Is it just luck or fate? I think not! Therefore the real question is: "What kind of experiences or what mindset will help us to become more efficient in all we do?" I believe I have found the answer.

The next time you begin to think about something you want to see accomplished, ask yourself one simple question, "The next step is...?" If you can answer that question you will be well on your way toward becoming more responsible and completing your goals or dreams. There may be a hundred things that need to be done, but in most cases you can only do one thing at a time; and in many cases each thing needs to be done in some kind of order. Let's face cannot put the roof on a house until you first have some of the walls in place! I find that is where people get lost. They see the “big idea” or the “big picture”,  but they just do not posses the wisdom and maturity it takes to get started then get from one point to another.

It may be that you do not know what the next step actually is and that becomes something to consider. In other words, if you do not know what to do next, then the next step is to find out exactly what that next step is.  One way to discover that is to ask someone who is experienced in that area. 

Recently, I had a real estate issue to arise in which I wanted to make some progress, but I am not a realtor. So, I called a friend of mine who is a real estate broker and he explained, in detail, everything I needed to know.  After our conversation I knew exactly what the next step was that I needed to do. 

Someone once said, "I may not have all the brains in the world, but I do know how to borrow brains from other people." Sometimes asking someone else what the next step is - actually becomes the next step!

Whenever I want to see something accomplished I simply ask myself the same question over and over again, "The next step is...?" In that manner my thought process begins to line up and suddenly, complicated situations begin to be less complicated. Issues that start out as confusing to me suddenly become very clear. I am much more able to reach my goals and dreams using this technique. I even have a 3 x 5 card that sits on my desk that reads: "The next step is...?" When I feel confused or when I feel as though I have lost my focus, asking myself that question soon has me back on track. It also will sometimes cause me to think of related ideas that will be helpful in attaining my goal. In most cases, I have discovered that everything relates to some thing! So, while I am working my way through one process, I may also learn additional, vital information that will help with a future project. In o ther words, everything relates to everything!

When working with other people, I have found that if I politely and appropriately ask them what they think the next step is - they suddenly begin to grow in their own ability to think more clearly as well. We all need a little help and this technique seems to do the trick!

This one concept has helped me complete projects, achieve goals and become a better leader.   If you want to be more productive in your life, start practicing this important Tip. It will not be long before you see things more clearly than you do right now. 

Knowing what the “next step is” helps insure success.  Other people will wonder about your seemingly "magical powers" in getting things accomplished! However, it is not magic at all. It is a mindset that will change everything that you do. If you feel “stuck” in any area of your life start practicing this technique and watch what happens. This is one concept you will want to share with as many people as possible!

Tip: "The next step is...?" 

Have a great week!  God bless you!  

Dr. Robert A. Rohm 
Personality Insights, Inc. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy...

First, I should provide a disclaimer that I pulled together from a series of articles written by Steven B. Levy from his blog Lexician.  This is greatly still his copy-written work…however I have substantially edited it, paraphrased it and condensed it for my purposes. I created it to be delivered as a speech as part of our Toastmasters Club. I include it here…because I fully agree with its sentiment and try to align my leadership style to these principles and I thought it could be of interest to the people who find it here. Thank you Mr. Levy for your original articles.

German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke said... “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

When your plan meets the real world, the real world wins. Nothing goes as planned. Errors pile up. The most brilliant plan falls apart at the seams.

We have all heard…“The best-laid plans o’ mice an’ men, oft go awry. ” I say —not oft... they invariably… always go awry.

Today…we are talking about Planning Problems.

Planning Problem #1: Relying on a Plan Leads to Failure.

Now, I didn’t say “planning leads to failure.” However, the reliance on a plan — especially when the plan is not based in absolute reality…leads to failure.

We have all heard that "Failing to plan is planning to fail"...

But when a plan meets the real world, it’s not the real world that yields; we must adapt whatever we’re doing to the circumstances at hand.

There is another saying...  “The view from behind your desk is blurry at best.” ...or at least I thought that was a saying.... But when I Google’d it... I couldn’t find it at all. So I guess I must have coined that.... but, I did find another phrase from British novelist John le CarrĂ©. “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”

In other words... Being caught up in your plans is like being caught up in data and reports and details. Sometimes you have to get out from behind the desk... Get your boots on the ground...get your hands dirty...  And see what is going on for yourself.
So… if all plans fail, is the time spent making those plans wasted? ... Just because “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”  That doesn’t mean that we should never plan, does it?

One of the greatest planners in history was General Dwight D. Eisenhower who laid out — and got right — the incredibly complex Operation Overlord, better known as the D-Day landings during World War II. Gen. Eisenhower, who was responsible for that amazing operation also, said something very interesting...  “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Planning Problem #2: Lack of planning leads to failure

Most people will state their agreement with this… yet in the press of action, it’s amazing how many will jump right to execution, either skipping planning entirely or paying it lip service. In fact, there is a phrase that encapsulates this problem. “Ready, fire, aim”  ...

Sometimes, you must act before you plan. Sometimes for tactical reasons you just want to “get something in motion.” Or in an emergency, often you must respond immediately. If you’ve planned for that emergency, of course, your response is likely to be easier, but not even the best planning covers every contingency. However, not everything in a project is an emergency… nor should every change of plans feel like a crisis.

An obscure scientist Alfred Korzybski is credited with coining the phrase  “the map is not the terrain.”

Planners apply plans not to the actual environment but to a simplified model, or map, of the environment. Think of planning to go from Springfield to Kansas City, for example. At the highest (most simplified) level, you’d say, “Go North on 13.”

However, 13 doesn’t actually go to Kansas City. So you modify the plan: “Take 13 to Clinton, then Get on 7.” However, you’re still omitting some key elements. So you assume the listener knows how to get to Hwy 13… So you add instructions for getting to Kansas Expressway (Hwy 13), a warning about a ‘diverging diamond intersection’…and your starting to get the picture. Think of all the times you turn the steering wheel during a trip like that. To totally and fully plan, you’d need the plan to be exactly as complex as the event itself; otherwise, you’re abstracting the plan, creating a map or guide. But remember…the map is not the terrain.

Should you for some reason be able to construct a plan of this level of complexity, it still wouldn’t cover von Moltke’s maxim. You’d be out of luck with the first wrong turn. Say… at the Ozark Empire Fair Ground’s direct-express-exit-ramp…for example.

Even if you type it in your GPS... It wants to take you to Joplin first. But... interestingly enough, this is why I love a GPS... recalculating. Even though it routed me to Joplin, when I didn't go that way at a certain point it recalculated the plan, because it knows two critical factors. Where we actually are (boots on the ground) and where I want to end up. Something called "Commanders Intent". We will delve more into that in a moment.

Mistaking the map for the terrain is Planning Problem #3: Oversimplifying Reality Leads to Failure

We will be frozen in place if we attempt to detail the plan to actual reality, because it will take as long to plan as to act out the plan — and possibly longer.

We omit key details when we oversimplify the plan and expect the team to stick to it. We get details wrong because we cannot truly equate map and terrain from a distance.

So what’s the solution?

Go back to the example of driving from Springfield to Kansas City... Lets assume you’re an experienced driver but not really familiar with the trip — in other words, just like any of us approaching a new project.

“Just take 13″ won’t get it done. Neither will 500 pages of detailed instructions noting every curve in the road. In other words, you create a plan-as-an-outline or ‘flexible plan’ with the assumption that the person behind the wheel will modify as needed to adjust to actual conditions.

You can't shoot a rocket to the moon, and stick the landing... But you can shoot a rocket toward the moon... And make a million minor adjustments until you stick the landing.     
  • “The plan must have a concise expression of the purpose of the operation.”     
  • “The plan must be understood two echelons below the issuing commander.”  
  • “The plan must focus subordinates on what has to be accomplished even when the plan and concept of the operations no longer apply.”
In other words we must, trust the person behind the wheel to make the right decisions.

Start with the plan, but don't end with the plan— you must get where your going... you must succeed in the fog of war, in spite of surprises and your own inevitable errors and wrong turns. Results are what matters.

The U.S. military has a concept called “Commander’s Intent.” Any plan needs to be accompanied by the Commander’s Intent, which is summed up by these three points:

Planning Problem #4: Lack of a Clear Commander’s Intent Leads to Failure

Every project needs Commander’s Intent. It need not be formal. It may not even be stated as such. But the team needs to know what it is.

“Why are we doing this project? What is the customer’s goal? What does success look like?”

Not the “how.” Not even the “what.” But the “why.” The goal. The intent. When stuff goes bad — and it will go bad — the team needs to understand the right thing to do in the changed circumstances.

We cannot plan to a sufficient level of detail in a reasonable amount of time. By understanding the end goal. Your team will make-it-up... freelance it. And in a fast-moving business environment like ours, this is essential. Remember results are what matter.

As soon as that specially adapted Black Hawk helicopter crash-landed into the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan... The "Plan" was off... what the members of Seal Team Six later called "playing pickup basketball" (something that anyone that has played neighborhood basketball can identify with.) They had practiced the “Plan” over 100 times, but the “plan” was abandoned in the first critical minutes. They had a clear understanding of the end goal... And with little or no communication amongst themselves... They free-lanced a successful mission. They made-it-up as they went along. In reality it was the most important mission of their lives and because of proper planning... they were successful in the face of adverse conditions and a dynamically changing environment.

A clear vision, backed by a shared understanding of the goal, the Commander’s Intent, is the compass that will guide your team when they discover that the map is not the terrain, that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, and plans themselves are useless.