Good Mood Food

When my wife and I moved to Knoxville nearly four (4) years ago, I fell back in love with Arby’s. I know this sounds cheesy, and typically I don’t stand up for fast food chains, but come on, it’s Arby’s!

Growing up we didn’t have much money, and going out to eat at Arby’s was a nice treat. There was an Arby’s right by the mall we would visit and, as an eight year old, I thought it was awesome.

As I got older, my fondness for Arby’s faded away. But then Jenn and I moved to Knoxville.

During our first year in Knoxville, we lived downtown and Arby’s was walking distance from our apartment. In fact, it was right in between where we lived and where I worked. Slowly my love for Arby’s returned.

Though Jenn and I no longer live downtown, and I no longer work at the same place, I still visit Arby’s. Luckily, there is an Arby’s right down the street from my office and every once in a while, I will treat myself to lunch there.

After experiencing a bad dinner experience at a, high-end restaurant, I figured a lunch at Arby’s would hit the spot. While eating there today, I thought of the two reasons why Arby’s stands out over the other traditional fast food stops.

  • Different Menu: For starters, there are no hamburgers; instead they offer roast beef. The roast beef is sliced and cooked on site, which is nice change to frozen patties being reheated. They have seasonal sandwiches, like the Pecan Chicken Salad, that you would never see at a fast food burger joint. Plus, who can resist their horsey sauce?
  • Customer Service: The Arby’s I now visit (6903 Kingston Pike) is always clean and everybody always says hello. The cashier makes sure to call everyone by name, every time. Even the guys who clean the lobby have a smile on their face. Everyone truly wants to be there and they truly care about the customers who come in the building.

A restaurant can spend an astronomical amount of money on marketing to get people into your restaurant. A business can hire actors and famous musicians to be in their television advertisements. These tactics can get new people in the door, but ultimately it’s the food and service people receive inside the building that keeps them coming back and builds brand loyalty.

Hey, if it’s good enough for Puddy…


Boring Banking?

Earlier this month, Elizabeth Warren, a democratic candidate in Massachusetts’ Senate race, decided to take publicly take a stand against Wall Street and Banks.  This is just one of many interviews she conducted on national television.

Should Wall Street be held accountable?  Yes.  Should banks be held accountable?  Yes.  Should every industry in the United States be held accountable?  Yes.

I understand Ms. Warren’s point that there should be a separation between investment firms and traditional banks, but was it necessary to call my industry boring?


I have been in the traditional, community banking industry for over eight (8) years and I can say that it is not the most exciting career, but it certainly is not boring.  We have touched people’s lives and helped business in the communities we serve.  I could bore you with several examples, but I’ll stick with two.

  • Financial Education and Literacy: In 2008, the community bank I worked for was honored with a State award for the impact we made on teaching children about financial responsibility.  In total, nineteen (19) offices in eight (8) counties participated in two nationwide initiatives: Teach Children to Save and Get Smart About Credit.  Teach Children to Save is a program for elementary students and teaches the fundamentals of saving money; while Get Smart About Credit educates teenagers about credit and lending.  Trust me, in order to reach out to children, one cannot be boring.
  • Growing Small Businesses: Last year, my bank made the largest Small Business Administration (SBA) loan in Tennessee state history.  Though this is only one loan, this is an example of commitment that all successful community banks have when it comes to finding a way to lend to small businesses.  While politician where squabbling and pointing fingers at each other, we (community banks) offered help to local business owners when it came to keeping their business afloat.

For Ms. Warren and those that support her, I’m not trying to pick a fight.  In fact, I’m sure that Ms. Warren will most likely never come across this post.  But if she does, I would like to recommend that she choose her words wisely the next time she speaks.  I’m sure she meant well and I’m sure she is a good person, but in the world of politics, it can be easy to use strong, divisive language.

Though it is tempting to ask politicians and those running for political office to “be more boring” it would be hypocritical of me.  Rather, I prefer to ask politicians, and those running for political office, to live up to the standard of serving the people.  Our economy is growing and now is the time for politicians to get to work and stop pointing fingers…which is a lot easier said than done.

Avengers Assemble: Business Leadership Edition

If S.H.I.E.L.D. was a corporation, then the Avengers would be the coolest executive team of all time.  Here is a fun, little comparison based off the characters in the movie.

  • Nick Fury: Chairman and CEO.  Fury had the vision to put this team together and is the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.  In the movie, it even appears that he answers to a Board of Directors-ish shadow government group.
  • Captain America: Chief Operating Officer and President.  He’s the leader on the battlefield, which is a parallel to how a COO runs the day-to-day operations.
  • The Hulk: Chief Financial Officer.  The Hulk is a big green character.  CFOs are in charge of the “green” at a company.  Plus, if someone goes over their budget, they are most likely to see their CFO get angry and “Hulk up.”
  • Iron Man: Chief Marketing Director.  He has flash, always has a comment to make, and is a PR superhero.
  • Black Widow: Chief Human Resources Officer.  In Iron Man 2, she shadows Tony Stark and gives somewhat of an employee performance evaluation for Nick Fury.  In The Avengers, she goes out and recruits Dr. Banner/The Hulk to join the team.
  • Thor: Chief Information Technology Officer.  He combines science and magic to kick butt.  If you have ever seen a seasoned Chief I.T. person, you would think they are performing a magic act to find the files you thought you had accidentally deleted.
  • Hawkeye: Chief Security Officer.  In the beginning of the movie, Hawkeye is keeping an close eye on Dr. Erik Selvig’s research team, and acting like a CSO.  Granted, he may not have done a great job at being a CSO at the beginning of the movie, he definitely makes up for it in the end.

I was never a follower of comic book series, so please don’t hold it against me if I’m off base from the original Marvel comics.  I’m just happy David Hasselhoff didn’t reprise his role as Nick Fury.

Are You a Dictator?

Do you have a dictator in your life?  Unfortunately, many of us have someone in our life who is a dictator and, typically, people tend to experience a dictator at work.

Sadly, managers can mistake a dictatorship mentality as a way of leadership.  If a manager does choose the path of a dictator, they may see results in their production numbers, and produce short-term success, but is it worth it?

  • Dictators are demanding:  Though this is also true of great leaders, dictators continuously demand and do not take the time to give true praise and coaching to their team members.  Over time, this causes great people to leave a workplace and will only demoralize those who choose to stay in the toxic environment.
  • Dictators are deaf: Because dictators are selfish instead of selfless, they are deaf to anything they are against.  They choose not to listen to coaching and do not listen to their staff when they come with true concerns.  It is only under extreme circumstances, like a divorce or being fired from a job, that dictators MIGHT listen to someone.
  • Dictators bully people:  It can be as simple as yelling at people and as mean as telling offensive jokes about the people around them, but dictators are definitely bullies.  Dictators see yelling as communicating and find their jokes extremely funny.  The truth is dictators bully others because they are insecure and suffer from low self-confidence.

Sometimes we are forced to work with a dictator.  You may have someone at work that is not your manager, but you are assigned to work with them on a project.  You cannot effectively complete the project by being a dictator back to a dictator.  Just remember the two old clichés: two wrongs don’t make a right and you cannot fight fire with fire.  The best you can do is stay positive and keep the lines of communication open.  This is easier said than done, but it does pay off in the long run.

Fortunately, I can say that I do not report to a dictator in my current position.  Both the CEO and President may not always agree with me, but they do listen to my ideas and push me to be a better person.  The same goes with my life at home.  My wife is by no means a dictator and she is very supportive.  I am truly blessed and hope those that read this are as well.

Have you experienced a dictator in your life?  How have you handled it?

Praise Verses Criticize

Early in my career, I was given some solid advice

Praise publicly, criticize privately

I remember two of my early mentors, Dick Prince and Routon Mathis, discussing this topic in a meeting.  Of course this is an old notion, but at the time I had no idea.  They definitely dropped some knowledge on me.

This simple two-fold advice is something that I have done my best to do in life.  Not only in business, but in all aspects of life.  So it drives me crazy when I see someone publicly criticize someone in a group of people.  Unfortunately I saw this happen late last week.

I witnessed someone being cut down by a superior in public.  Although I didn’t disagree with the comments being made, I did have a problem with how it was delivered.  The superior did this in front of a mixed audience and was trying to make an example out of this person.  It wasn’t as bad as Kevin Spacey in Horrible Bosses, but it was pretty close.

The experience made me think about those who have truly motivated me in my life.  My old youth pastors, managers, and executives.  They all had a common thread: Praise publicly, criticize privately.  Each of them knew that was a key component in communication and motivation.  They were able to coach me up and make me a better person.  I’m forever in their debt for that.

I then thought about the person who always made a point to make a public scene anytime I made a mistake.  She always made sure to have an audience around when it was time to “teach me a lesson.”  This particular person was able to motivate me…motivate me to get away from them.

If you criticize someone in front of a group, you are only humiliating them.  Yes, they may change their behavior, but they are doing it out of fear and intimidation.  If you do it privately, you have an opportunity to create personal dialogue which can lead to a great coaching opportunity and give someone the opportunity to grow and learn.

If you praise someone in a one-on-one setting you are only boosting their ego.  Don’t get me wrong, giving any praise is better than none at all.  If you do it publicly, you not only boost someone’s self-confidence, you also remind others of what you perceive to be a quality and set a standard of behavior.

If you take anything away from this, remember:

  • The next time you want to give stern advice to someone, pull them aside privately.
  • The next time you want to pat someone on the back for a good job, do it in front of a crowd.

Relay for Life 2012

Last Friday, Campbell County held it’s annual Relay for Life Event at LaFollette Middle School.  During the event, my company did a “Carnival Theme” that included a dunking booth.  Though some of my co-workers had participated in this event in the past, it was the first time my company was involved with this event.  We were able to raise a lot of money by holding a silent auction, selling snacks and, of course, having a dunking booth.

Click here for some photos from the event.

Below are three videos, one of Lynn Prater and two of me getting “dunked”.

To learn more about Relay for Life, visit their website at

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