Embrace Rejection

2014 was a great year for me and PC Pitstop. Profits flew as we established that we had the best security software in the marketplace. At the end of that year, full of confidence from our market validation, I thought wouldn’t it be great if we were in Best Buy? I had some contacts that got me in contact with the exact right person at Best Buy. I was stoked and I made what I thought to be a killer presentation. I sent it on, and then a week later we had the teleconference where I would walk them through why we were a great fit.

When I got on the teleconference, I was almost antsy to start, but the head guy didn’t want to hear it. He told me that he had already looked at the presentation, therefore there was no need for me to review it. He then took control of the meeting and asked a few questions, and then explained that Best Buy already had a strategy and their partners were set. Worse yet, he almost seemed to take pleasure in popping my bubble. Best Buy had rejected me.

It was a horrible feeling I definitely was sad. It didn’t seem fair that I never had the chance to present the PowerPoint presentation. But then I figured something out. This horrible feeling that I was experiencing was so bad that I realized that many people spend their entire lives trying to avoid this feeling.

I realized that my whole life I have been rejected. But for some reason, I have been able to get back up so that I can be rejected time again, until that magic moment when you are not. And then it makes it all worthwhile. The problem is that most people never get that far. Sure, there are probably some successful people that have not faced rejection. My belief is that the path to success is full of rejection. To the extent that one can embrace rejection, ultimately you will be successful. It is the people that avoid rejection at all costs that will never reach their full potential.

What The Media Omits

I remember in 2012, I tried to read everything online I could, so I could know every small and isolated details between the candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I watched the debates. This year, I am taking the entirely opposite approach. I am shunning all media, and I avoid trying to read anything about the current crop of candidates. But it is unavoidable. No matter who you are, you are ensconced in the circus that we call the presidential elections.

As I considered this, I realized that none of the candidates (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders) are talking about the issues that I care about the most. Here are the issues that I think are important.

1. Balanced Budget.

It does not take a rocket scientist to know this, but the federal government does not. When the federal government runs deficits so large and for such a long period of time. It hurts the country, it hurts our future, and it hurts our young people. Yet no candidate even mentions this. Of course, just like anything else, balancing a budget requires making choices. Some of them are difficult. It is clear that no one in charge is capable of making even the simplest of choices in an effort to balance the budget.

2. Money.

I think all of America has figured out is that we no longer have a democracy. It is an oligarchy that is run by money. It is nauseating to think that perhaps the greatest democracy in the history of the world has lost its way to the seduction of money. We all know it, yet the media makes no mention of this issues, nor do the candidates during this election cycle. We need to get money out of the running the government and the elections. We all know it. Special interests (banks, health insurance, pharmaceutical, the military industrial complex and on and on) contribute to candidates, and then expect favors for their donations. Yet no candidate nor the media talks about it.

3. Term Limits.

The president only can be in office for a maximum of 8 years. A governor of any state is 8 years. But a US Congressman or US Senator can be in their position for as long as they can win elections (see section on Money above). Public approval of Congress is nearing single digits. The Constitution was created for the government to be one of public service. It was not meant to be a long term vocation where one can become a millionaire. Yet no candidate nor the media talks about it.

I could go on. But I came to a realization. There is another party in America. The problem is that the media gives no press whatsoever to the Libertarian Party. If the media only mentioned them once a day, it would sink the moneyed interests running both the Republican and Democratic Party. The Libertarian Party is about freedom. The Libertarian Party is the only party that wants a balanced budget, to remove money from the election process and demands term limits for our career politicians.

The thing one has to ask is Why? Why won’t the media at least mention the other party? They are programming the entire nation to think that we have 5 candidates from two parties. I can only speculate, but this is NOT how our country should work. After thinking through all the evidence, I am going to vote Libertarian because honestly, I can’t stand any of the candidates from the Republican or Democratic Party.

Be Free.

My Last Conversation with Mike Hammond

About two weeks before Hammer passed away, Ted asked me to give him a ring, I gladly accepted. Over the years, Hammer and I have kept in touch, but it had been about a year since we last spoke.

We talked for 99 minutes, which I would describe as a normal conversation between him and I. During that time, we laughed, cried and reminisced.

Laughing

Hammer had an incredible sense of humor, with a unique talent to make a large group of people pay attention and laugh. His sense of humor was gruff, intelligent and usually insightful. I would put Hammer’s wit similar to Larry the Cable Guy. I love this Robin Hood photo of me, Hammer and Tommy because I have a huge grin on my face. I am sure Hammer had just pulled off another one liner.

Crying

Hammer shared with me the details of his wife’s passing. It had happened very suddenly. They learned of her illness in March and she was gone in June. Hammer was hurting and he let it all out. I had known Hammer for over 25 years, but I had never seen him like this. I knew that my friend was hurting, and so we cried together.

Reminiscing

Hammer’s accomplishments at Gateway were numerous and profound. The sum of them all is a testament to his hard work and insane intelligence. His one accomplishment that he was the most proud was driving the company’s cash balance over one billion dollars. I asked him how he did it, and he slowly and humbly told me what he did. To be honest, I did not understand a lot of it, but I do know it took a special person to make it happen.

Shortly after we both became Senior Vice Presidents, he made it his personal goal to drive the company’s cash over ten figures. No one told Hammer to do this, he just took it upon himself. Think about how much understanding of the company’s financial status and operations to make such an ambitious target. Over the next four months, Hammer worked tirelessly on this goal. He traveled the globe to realign our supply chain to make the company as efficient as possible. The buzz word at the time was “just in time inventory”, and Hammer made it all happen single-handedly. To be clear, there were no drawn out meetings, no Powerpoint presentations, just one guy “hammering” his vision home. I remember the cold January day in South Dakota, when Dave McKittrick shared with the management team the Q4 97 financial results. Hammer and I shared a long hard hug.

Conclusion

At the end of our conversation, Hammer said, “I love you, Robby.” He frequently ended our conversations this way, and to be honest, I did not always reciprocate. I am so glad that this last time, I did. And I really meant it.

More importantly, he said, “Robby, we accomplished great things together.” I am very proud of this last comment. The most important word in that comment is “together”. Hammer made me a better business man and person and I like to think I did the same for him.

I love you Hammer.

A Good Night’s Sleep

The common wisdom is diet and exercise is the key to a long and healthy life. I think this is not entirely correct. The key is exercise and sleep. After getting a good night’s sleep, everything seems to work better. You are rested, you have more energy, and you are thinking clearer. The length and quality of your sleep plays a significant role in your productivity and quality of life. Little is known about sleep, but sleep allows the body to heal, and removes or diminishes many of the pains of life. It is actually stronger than any man made drug Americans like to take.

They say that as one ages, we sleep less. At 56 years, I am experiencing the opposite. When I was younger, I slept about 7 hours a night, and now I frequently log about 8 hours of sound sleep. I love it.

Here are some of the things that I do to make sure that I get as much good sleep as possible.

Exercise

Modern life and productivity does not include much exercise or calories burned. Whenever I have the opportunity to burn calories, I do. On top of that, I run 5 miles at least 3 times a week. I believe it is a cycle of burning calories and then resting that creates a good rhythm for sleep.

Alcohol

Sometimes alcohol makes you sleep well but other times not. It certainly does not promote regular peaceful sleep. It is rare that I drink alcohol and when I do I make sure that i don’t have anything important the next day, because I want to make sure that I feel my best every day. Not because I am hung over, but I think that the alcohol affects my sleep.

Pills

One thing that I have learned in life is that there are not short cuts. And that includes your sleep. So many people think that they can take pills for sleep. In fact, I fell into that same trap because of all the international travel when I was younger. But I now know that sleeping pills do not promote healthy sleep. Perhaps more importantly, they can be down right dangerous and fatal.

Food

Here is one last tip. I have learned that if you go to bed hungry, you can sleep much longer and with higher quality. In fact, whenever I fast, I sleep amazingly well. It is counter intuitive. You think that you can’t possibly sleep well while feeling pangs of hunger but believe me, it is great.

Conclusion

An old friend of mine, Jim Taylor, once told me that your intelligence changes every day. One must be aware of when your intelligence varies, and only make important decisions when you are feeling smart. I believe that the variation in intelligence is a function of the amount and quality of sleep you get.