Seeking Courage

I struggle with what level of disclosure to give in public forums, because vulnerability is a hard.  I don’t care for writing and know a path to getting better at something is to do a lot of it. At least that is the excuse I hide behind when it comes to sharing more freely. A while back during a long period of seeking self awareness it became apparent that I didn’t really believe in myself very much.  Other people believe in me.  I believe I am able to get results, but I haven’t been able to really believe in me.  I was smacked in the face on this topic looking in the mirror and seeing myself over 250 pounds and utterly out of shape and control.

I asked those around me to support me in helping me believe in myself.  I got that support and started to believe it was possible.  I spent almost a year walking every single day.  I had co-workers, clients and family supporting me by walking with me when I didn’t feel up to it.  If you are reading this and you remember walking with me, thank you so much for the support!  I slipped and broke the streak one day.  I panicked.  I gave up.  I took time off from walking, then I started Crossfit with my wife (who had been going for a year already).  Crossfit was miserable.  It was humiliating in every way.  It punished me mentally and left me feeling crippled physically.  I hated it.  I mean, I really hated it.  Every minute of it.  At the same time, I couldn’t stop going because it would prove to me every minute for 60 minutes 1 time a day that I could do it.  Every minute I thought I can’t go another minute, but I could and did.

Our box started a Smolov program that summer.  About half way through nearly everyone quit. Smolov is evil, I don’t blame them.  I kept going.  I kept going everyday.  There were days I struggled to walk.  Why did we buy a two story house again?  There were days I cried.  There were days I called my wife and told her I might have to go to urgent care because my body was revolting against me.  Regardless I showed up and squatted the next day, on schedule, like clock work.  I remember people asking “Are you still doing Smolov?” and then shaking their head.  In under 4 months I put 80 pounds on my squat personal best. Smolov is evil, but gains baby, gains.

Mud Obstacle

Fast forward to, I believe I can do it.  However, there are times I lack the courage.   Okay, most of the time I lack courage.  Like that time my wife suckered me into doing a tough mudder type obstacle course with her.  We come up the a-frame rope climb.  Terrified.  No way.  I don’t do heights.  She told people I was scared and to give me some room.  I about died of embarrassment.  Until all of them started encouraging me and telling me I could do it.  Guess what I made it up and over.

Recently I have been trying to do more work with my hands.  Finding my zen place.  Working on cars.  Building cabinets.  Fixing broken things around the house.  Amazingly, almost every time I go to start something I tell myself “no way I will be able to do this”.  Then I start doing it.  It goes well and I get excited.  Then something goes wrong and I get ready to give in.  The difference now is I believe I can do it.  So I recollect myself, step away rethink the problem and keep trying.

This morning I had my headphones wrapped around my backpack and when I pulled my backpack out of the car the end of the ear bud ripped off.  A decent pair of Beats that I really like.  I was so pissed.  I picked them up and put them in my bag in disgust.  Tonight I started thinking, “I bet I could crack them a part and fix them”.  When I got home I found out how to get them a part.  I decided to bring them to hacknight at Queen Creek Gangplank and see if I could fix them.


I set up a soldering station and tested getting them working.  I was able to.  So then I soldered them.  I broke the solder putting them back together.  Then I couldn’t get them to work again.  I was devastated.  I got up to the throw them in the trash almost in tears.  Then I remembered all the support I have gotten in the past.  I sat back down and kept at it until I was able to get them working again.  I got them reassembled.


As I put the final touches on them my favorite song of peace “Seven Bridges Road” by the Eagles started playing through them.

Maybe this is what courage looks like?  One thing is for sure, the biggest supporter I have is my wife.  I don’t know what I would do without her.

AZTALK : Abolish the Death Penalty


Yes.  While some inmates are likely beyond reform and should never again see the light of day, killing as just punishment for killing isn’t the solution.   Additionally, new techniques and evidence can surface that may change the outcome of previous convictions.  Not allowing those to play out could unduly condemn an innocent life.

AZTALK : ASU Clinton Foundation Event $500,000


The event was probably excellent for the students in attendance.  Certainly the Clinton’s should be compensated for their appearance.  However, $500,000 seems like an awful heavy price tag for a 3 day event affecting a small portion of the student body.  Verdict “buyers remorse”.

AZ Central Story

AZTALK: Educational Infighting Ducey and Douglas



Educational institutions should be spending more time revamping their approach to education and less time playing victim. Ducey is doing exactly what he said he would do if he were elected. Douglas is doing what she said she would do while adding a fair amount of drama. In that sense, I suspect Douglas is pushing more infighting than Ducey. Ultimately, the focus is in the wrong place.

AZTALK : Snowden Hero or Criminal

AZTalk Snowden


Hero: Snowden is a man with conscience.  Someone who exposed an unpopular truth to the American people.  Suffering greatly to do so.  The court system is starting to show why he was right to leak this information.  The NSA’s surveillance operations are starting to show up as unconstitutional.

AZTALK : Baltimore Riots Lead to Soul Searching

aztalk : baltimore


The Nation has to admit that there is something going on that isn’t right.  The number of instances of police work gone wrong is escalating.  It tends to be exceptionally bad in communities where poverty is present.  If something (including the dialog) doesn’t change soon, it will only continue to escalate.

AZTALK : Discourage American Aid Workers from Dangerous Locations

AZTALK : Ebola

AZTALK : Should the U.S. government do more to discourage American aid workers from going to the most dangerous places in the world?

No.  It isn’t the governments place to dictate, incentivize, etc where or who it’s citizens choose to give their time / resources to.  Unless doing so would constitute some treasonous behavior.  Ex: funding weapons for our enemies.  However, the government shouldn’t make exceptions for those that choose to make decisions that put them in danger.  Going to a region and catching a disease (think Ebola) or being taken as a hostage (think Middle East) might put you in a position where the United States government can’t (and shouldn’t) put itself at harm in helping.

3 Rules For Dealing With Trolls

Spotting a Troll Victim

I see it time and again. Someone has their feelings hurt on the internet (or real life). They spend time obsessing or feeling the victim. Often times pleading for sympathy or trying to villianize the offender. While noble, it is not very effective.

An Example

Troll Victim

Let’s take a play out of the play book of a famous wise man, James Dalton. Let’s lay down the rules for dealing with these trolls, so we can stop being the victim. People who want to enjoy life won’t tolerate these trolls.

Sound too good?

Rule 1: Never Under Estimate Your Opponent, Expect the Unexpected.
Your offenders will come in all shapes and sizes. They will say and do things that hurt you in ways you can’t currently comprehend. They will cross the line and take another hundred steps. They will be relentless. They will infuriate you. They will involve people you don’t want involved.

Rule 2: Take It Outside. Never Start Anything Inside. Unless You Absolutely Have To.
Don’t take the bait. Keep your incoherent emotional tranmissions to yourself. If you feel like you are going to explode if you don’t respond, that is a great cue to NOT RESPOND. Keep your cool and move the conversation to a place and time where you won’t damage yourself or the things you care about.

Rule 3: Be Nice.
Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Be Nice.

“If someone gets in your face and calls you a cocksucker, I want you to be nice.”

That might sound impossible to do, but think about it. If someone says something to you that isn’t true; why do you let it bother you? If it is true and it bothers you, maybe you need to change something about you, not be mad at the offender. If you struggle with this ask for help.

Remember your offender is only trying to illicit a response. Don’t give them the satisfaction of providing one.

5 Principles of Life Seen Through an El Pollo Loco Birthday Lunch

A few weeks ago Laurie and I were running errands. We fired up Yelp to find a place to eat. We decided on El Pollo Loco. The menu seemed vastly improved since the last time I had eaten there. This particular location was exceptionally clean not only for an El Pollo Loco, but for fast food in general.

El Pollo Loco

While waiting I signed up for their My Loco Rewards program. Almost immediately I got a coupon for free chips and guacamole. Score! then a few minutes later I got a coupon for a free meal for my birthday that was a few weeks away. Double Score! The best part is it was good for a few days after my birthday, so no pressure to eat there on my birthday.

Fast forward to today. After a stressful morning I left the house without a lunch. Then I remembered I had a free lunch waiting for me. So I headed out to El Pollo Loco (#3578) to claim my birthday present. The encounter left me impressed and thinking about simple principles of life.

The cashier took my order just fine. She attempted several times to enter the coupon, but the machine would not take it. After each attempt she looked back up and gently apologized and let me know it would be just another second.

Take Away 1: Be visible with progress. It goes a long way to helping gain empathy. I wasn’t angry it was taking extra time because I felt her frustration in letting me down.

The cashier excused herself after three attempts to go find help. She scanned the kitchen looking for the right person. I could tell she was sizing up each person she locked eyes on as to whether they could help her. There was a gentleman in the back preparing food, which is a large part of the duties when serving fresh food (see interesting fact below). She approached and asked him for help.

Take Away 2:  Seek effective help. It is important to know when you are in over your head. When you are, don’t fight it, ask for help. Not any help, but the help that will get you the best results.

When Ignacio (yes I remembered the name from the badge) got interrupted he didn’t get frustrated or seem inconvenienced. He came over and showed the young lady how to process the transaction. Explaining to her why it was different than how she thought. Instructing her on all aspects including what to do with the coupon etc after the sale. When done he looked up and said, “Happy Birthday, Enjoy your lunch.” then hurried back to his preparation station.

Take Away 3: Help others when you can. Having an a sincere attitude to make those around you better and help them learn is key to creating great teams. It would have been easy for Ignacio to be frustrated or just process the order and turn around and leave without teaching her a thing.

Take Away 4: Details matter. Take the time to observe the details. This wasn’t any coupon. It was a birthday coupon. MY birthday coupon.  Noticing that allowed Ignacio to give me personal service that made me feel human and appreciated.

The cashier was equal part relieved and excited that it wasn’t so painful. She was able to fall right back into the groove of the transaction and straight into the customer after me.

Take Away 5: Don’t get flustered. By asking for help and collecting yourself you can avoid frustration. Frustration that gets passed on to those around you. Take the time to collect yourself and get back on track.

There is a lot you can learn by observing everyday life. Who thought a forgotten lunch would turn into a reminder of these principles of life? Maybe I am just Loco?

Interesting Fact:  On the back of the cup was the following: Giving Tomatoes the love they deserve.  All 357 of them, to be exact.  That’s how many tomatoes we hand-chop at each El Pollo Loco restaurant every single day.  Because here, we strongly believe in preparing fresh ingredients by hand, and you can taste it in every dish, from our pico de gallo to our guacamole.  What can we say?  Preparation is kind of our thing.  Some say the lengths we go to are crazy.  We say it’s crazy you can taste.