My Last Trip to Build a Bear

My Leadership Begins at Home tagline once again came to mind a couple of weekends ago as I attended the college graduation of my daughter Sarah. 

It’s official … there’s a new Mercer Bear in the world. 

I remember our first trip to Build-a-Bear like it was yesterday … only it wasn’t. It was fifteen years ago that we first set foot in a mall (remember those) to pay an insane amount of money to design a teddy bear. A teddy bear that honestly looked like every other teddy bear. 

Baby Bear 1

Looking back, the first bear cost little in comparison to the college bear, and I’m not referring to tuition. I’m talking about a higher price. Truthfully the latest version has cost me my life. Every precious ounce of life. All my prayers, cares, hopes, dreams, and yes, even my money. So many bedtime stories, front porch chats, soccer practices, and tanks of gas have represented the price tag. And if you ask me, worth every second and every penny. 

Baby Bear 2For leaders the temptation is to focus on the nine to five, those hours that represent work. The idea of Leadership Begins at Home is more about what happens from five to nine … kids aren’t the only ones who need to be doing homework.

As a father, I can tell you there are few things that compare to the joy of watching your kids grow up, knowing you have attempted to be fully present. 

Along the way I learned you can read all the Dr. Seuss bedtime stories in the world, attend every game, even show up for an occasional tea party, and still miss the moments.

Let me warn you … technology will tempt you. Your schedule will seduce you. Leadership will lure you. And if you’re not extra careful graduation will represent regret.

Thankfully, my daddy regrets are few, but I do wish I had respected the time more and been even more locked in. It was hard to appreciate just how fast it would pass. 

In a few weeks most kids will go back to school, but one of mine won’t. No, our time for back to school shoes and backpacks has passed. 

I’m glad my wife and I took the time to build a bear. This one very real. Costly, but now priceless. 

Way to go kid. You were worth it!

Leadership Begins at Home,


Feel free to leave Sarah a word of wisdom in the comment section below …

I want to thank each of you who faithfully read and pass along my content to your friends and co-workers. Over the next few weeks I will be taking an extended blog break to spend extra time doing Homework. I hope you will too!

My next post will be Monday, July 20th. 

Do You Have Substance AND Style?

I am challenged by the words of Thomas Jefferson …

Many leaders do just the opposite. When it comes to relevance, it appears easier to stand pat and play it safe. They stay stuck in the same old ruts and refuse to be open to new ideas.

Principles, on the other hand, are often compromised if it means increasing profits or capturing a greater market share. Integrity slowly erodes, and over time, a leader can loose his way.

So how’s your “style?” Are you connected to the culture?

What about your “principles?” Are they for sale, or are you willing to bend?

Make it your aim this week to be relevant without being fake. But if you have to choose, choose substance (principles) over style.

It is possible to go with the flow and be rock solid at the same time. It is called influence and integrity.

I pray you will pursue both!

Leadership Begins at Home,


What do you think of Jefferson’s quote?

Comment Below …

Have You Paid the Rent Today?

Last week I saw a tweet attributed to Duke basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski that challenged me to stay focused.

So the question is, have you paid the rent today?

As a leader, I’m guessing you have achieved a measure of success. The temptation is to be satisfied and take for granted you will always be successful. Don’t assume yesterday’s work will get you where you want to go. No, yesterday’s work got you here. If you intend to increase your impact and remain successful the rent is due.

Laziness will drain your dreams. Procrastination is your enemy. Half-hearted will land you with the masses.

Make the decision all successful people make. Pull out the ‘discipline checkbook’ and pay the rent. Show up early and prepared. Work hard. Define what you want to accomplish. Create clarity with your team. Challenge mediocrity. Pursue excellence, and continually raise the bar.

Why? Because success is never owned. It’s rented, and the rent is due every day – I’m guessing you don’t want to be evicted.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What are some ways successful people “pay the rent?”

Comment Below …

Learning from Millennials

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to speak to a group of millennials.


Not much excites me more than being around the next generation, especially next generation leaders. The event reminded me of several keys to bridging the generation gap and even a few things that will make me a better leader.

Millennials come in all shapes and sizes. They dress differently, talk differently, and even act differently. However that doesn’t make them different. It just makes them young.

My favorite millennial traits are all ones I aspire to. If you are a leader who desires to sustain impact, I suggest you remember what it was like to be young and embrace some of your old ways of thinking. Consider these three …

1. Millennials are full of energy. They love to have fun and be around others who are having fun. The best leaders are the same way. They don’t take themselves too seriously and are able to enjoy the leadership journey.

2. Millennials long for connection. They love to “hang out.” Often coming from dysfunctional environments, they find support and encouragement anywhere it is available. My questions is, “What family or leadership team is not dysfunctional.” We are all messed up at some level. But great leaders are able to overcome their weaknesses by surrounding themselves with great people. They find encouragement from multiple sources.

3. Millennials want to change the world. They are often connected to a cause, movement, or purpose that is bigger than themselves. They believe the goal is to change the world. The truth is, they are having amazing impact. A lack of resources, opportunity, education, or skill doesn’t seem like an obstacle to millennials. They believe in the power of “one life at a time.” This philosophy is the key to their influence. Likewise, big-time leaders recognize they are in the people business and focus on the person in front of them.

If you want to be great today, learn from the millennials. Bring energy, make connections, and focus on the needs of people. It will make you a better leader.

Leadership Begins at Home, 


What other things can we learn from the next-generation?

Comment Below …