Monday, April 27, 2009

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Book Review

I just finished a wonderful book called The Noticer by Andy Andrews. The Noticer is a remarkable, magnetic story, told as a narrative by the author mostly in the first person. The author pulls you into the book which reads like a series of short stories about an older man named Jones and his interactions with the people in and around Andy's hometown of Orange Beach, Alabama. Jones (not "Mr.", just Jones) notices things. He pops up from time to time to help people get perspective. He gives the characters perspective, but he will also give the reader perspective if you'll let him.

The author is referred to in some places and reviews as 'like Og Mandino' which is reasonably accurate. I haven't read Mandino in 20 years, but I remember his books. This book is encouraging and fun to read. I intend to read it again for fun since it's not too long either (another Mandino similarity).

Throughout the book, you will learn about Jones' escapades and interactions in the lives of several different, very interesting people. The characters are believable and described without boring detail. The reader learns about the characters as they interact rather than through lengthy introductions.

Like I mentioned earlier, The Noticer will change you if you let it. I can see how some people might make light of the style of the book or it's writing. But there are compelling truth's in the book that everyone can use to be a better person. Jones has a very thoughtful interaction with Henry Warren, an overworked, unethical, succeed-at-any-cost, type A personality. Henry gets two chapters, making him a major character. In the second chapter, Jones explains to Henry that a mistake can be "covered" by a simple apology, but if we chose to mistreat people, and some for many years, that wasn't a mistake; that was a choice. For choices, apologies won't get the job done. Forgiveness is required and that takes time. I was convicted by the people I've apologized to when my actions offended them.

A chapter earlier (Chapter 7), when Jones is first giving the Jones says:
Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention... Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.

The depth of the argument coming from this older man in the book will catch you in your personal rationalization; that is unless you're in denial or you never have this problem. It's even more challenging when I think that I "intend" so much and "act" so little. (Sheesh!)

Finally, at the end of the book there are questions for use by a small group or for personal thought and consideration as you read the book. Since the ideas Jones introduces in each chapter are thought-provoking, the questions help formulate the thoughts. When I re-read the book, I'll be going over the questions in more detail.

I recommend this book. I'll be getting others by the author and giving this as gifts to some friends. The Noticer will give you perspective. Take advantage of the gift and use the perspective to change your life.

Friday, April 24, 2009

CEO Pay Is NOT The Issue

It sure seems like a crime to pay millions to the CEO of a company that is losing millions. It sure seems like a crime to use government loans and subsidy money to keep a company afloat that squandered millions or more overpaying executives. It seems even more corrupt to pay people extra millions to get them to stick around and fix companies broken by these very people.

But the people who robbed these companies are not the problem. We (Joe Stockholder's) are the problem. We just wanted our stock price to increase. We thought if we rewarded them for increasing our stock price, the stock market would reward us. We offered them millions to increase our wealth. We expected our reward in our paychecks, and our 401k's and our retirement funds. We expected them to keep the stock price going up and up. We didn't expect it to end or we wouldn't have lost so much money when the bubble burst.

My own greed (and yours too, if you're honest) is the issue. As stockholders, we rewarded the wrong behavior out of our own greed. When a company is valued by the stock price, leaders are tempted to pursue short-term gains in stock price at the expense of long-term profitability and contribution. They weren't planning on sticking around either. Our greed has made us short-sighted. Don't tell me you never considered getting yours and getting out. As a popular song once said, "Go on, take the money and run."

If I ever get any money to invest in the market again, it will be in dividend paying companies. After the market run-up of the 1990's and the first decade of this century, I'm convinced that we can't build a system that can sustain those types of gains. I will value companies that make a positive difference, provide a true benefit to their customers and share real, cold, hard, profits with their employees and shareholders.

My only fear is, when the market takes off again, will I be able to hold my ground?

Photo by AMagill

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tribes - Group Blog Project

Over at ChurchCrunch, they're conducting a group blog project where bloggers contribute a post a day (except Sunday) regarding a few pages of the book. The schedule is at the bottom of the post. As of this writing, 5 posts have been completed. Please check them out. I'll be posting on May 4, so please also check back then and comment here or on the other blogs about the post.

The section of the book I'll be covering relates to pages 91-95. In that section Seth makes some of his trademark unabashed observations about how "leaders" aren't "everyone" and a pretty scathing critique of the music industry. Please check out the posts and comment freely.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jessica Henry - My Hero and a Woman of Action

Many of my favorite qualities, the things I appreciate most in people can be found in my daughter, Jessica Henry. More than anything, she loves people and is quick to act to help people. She's very much a barbarian as defined by Erwin McManus in The Barbarian Way. Like a barbarian (and her dad), sometimes she doesn't fit well. Barbarians don't fit well when there's not a battle to be fought. Barbarians need a cause. We're clumsy in a civilized culture. In the absence of a battle, barbarians seem out of place.

Jessica loves a battle; she's all in for a good cause. She's always looking for a way to make a difference or a way to change things. She has several friends that talk about change, but few actually take any real action. Jessica is always trying something, tweaking something, looking for ways to improve on something. Sometimes all of that critical focus makes you negative, but Jessica has a great heart, a cheerful disposition and a brilliant, electric contagious smile.

But if you ask for her help, be prepared to get to work. Don't ask her to help you think about something. Action is her middle name. If you want her to help, you better have a plan, or she'll throw a plan in for free. She won't let you fail, unless you fail to act. She also gets hurt, many times by showing up for a fight only to find out it was really a dance, or a spitting contest. Sometimes she gets hurt because people really don't want the type of barbarian she can be. She can't help it, but neither can they. So sometimes she doesn't fit and it hurts.

But she fits with me. She's my hero! She is a brave and special barbarian, one of a kind.

I am proud of you and I love you very much. I thank God for letting you be my daughter.

Love, Dad.

Michael Henry Jr. - Man of Courage

There's a man I appreciate for his courage and good spirit. He is quick to laugh yet when he faces a difficult situation, he never complains or seems to regret his place. He just makes a difference. That man is my son, Michael Henry Jr.

Mike (his mother would prefer that I call him Michael) wanted to be a Marine, but, because of scoliosis, he had to endure difficult back surgery and lose his dream of serving his country as a Marine. Regardless, he is still one of the few. His life is one of sacrifice for his family and he serves them and his company and his friends well.

He has a wife Ashley and a son Colton who he loves very much. He has made a lot of sacrifices for them and Ashley has also sacrificed much for him. He's a fortunate man in that regard. They are growing together as husband and wife and as parents. I'm proud to know them, much less to have had the opportunity to be Michael's dad.

Mike, you are a brave man. You face circumstances that are more extreme than I could have faced and you saddle up anyway, as John Wayne put it. You are courageous to your core. You may be scared, but you never show it. You do what's right every day without complaining and without bitterness or anger, two of my deepest problems. You take your life in stride, invest it in your son and wife and you make a difference. You are a world changer. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You may not make a lot of money, or earn a PhD. You may never be self employed, make millions, retire early. But you are changing the world and I love you. I'm proud of you and what you are doing will be celebrated for eternity. Keep up the good work.

Love Dad.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lead Change Group

People often complain about the status quo, but few do anything about it. It takes some energy to fight the inertia of what is in order to make something better or new. I know. Sometimes I feel like I lead that tribe.

Anyway, in an effort to help people do something about change, I created a group on LinkedIn called the Lead Change Group. You can check us out at If you're a member of LinkedIn, please join the group and help us all complain less and do more.

Thanks, Mike...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Anything With Nothing

We the willing
Led by the [un]knowing
Are doing the impossible
For the ungrateful.
We have done so much
With so little
For so long
We are now qualified to do
Anything With Nothing

Back in the dark ages, my fraternity pledge class had to memorize this creed. I have remembered it a long time, mostly because it's easy to remember, but also because it represents my feelings in a lot of situations. I put the word unknowing in braces because the fraternity brothers insisted that we use the word knowing. On the inside, we all knew what it was supposed to be.

It does seem like our current times call for us to do so much more with so much less, that we will soon get to the point of the creed. Don't you feel that way?

How are you going to do more with less? That's the big question of our times. The thought that's on my mind today is that I can definitely compliment more, express gratitude more, appreciate my friends and family more. That doesn't cost me much, and it's so needed.

I can also pray more. Not for stuff for me, but for friends, family, our community and our country. I purpose today to do more with less in these areas.

What about you? How can you do more with less? I really would like your feedback on the subject. Any suggestions and comments from you will be very welcome. As we do more with less willingly, we begin to change our world and reverse this funk our nation is in.

Will you join me?