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Nitty Gritty Dirt Man to be the 25th member of Royals Hall of Fame

I saw a heartwarming story on the news this week about a well-deserved honor that I want to share. George Toma will be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame as the 25th member on Aug. 31.

Never heard of George, a.k.a. the “Nitty Gritty Dirt Man”? That’s because he was the groundskeeper. But no ordinary groundskeeper…he worked for the Royals for a large part of his life. In 1957 he accepted the job of head groundskeeper for the Kansas City Athletics, over an offer to work for the Denver Bears, and never left. Team names changed, but George’s job didn’t. George also worked for the Chiefs, providing grounds keeping for them and the Royals until his retirement in 1997. Now that’s loyalty!

What’s also amazing is his humble and grateful attitude. “You can’t talk, you get tears in your eyes. It’s unexpected,” Toma said. “I never thought I’d be in the NFL Hall of Fame or the Groundkeepers Hall of Fame or the Royals Hall of Fame because I’m just a nitty, gritty dirt man, the lowest in the organization.”

For me, the best part of this story is not what he did, but how he did it. Sure he was ‘just a groundskeeper’, but it’s a very important job and he took it seriously, with safety always in mind. “You have to give the players a good playing field. My theory is the cheapest insurance for an athlete is a good, safe playing field from preschool to the Major Leagues, to the professional baseball.”

He also believed in what he did as a benefit to the viewers, “You have to give the people in the stands and the people on TV a field of beauty.” (Quotes taken from story by Dick Kaegel and Vinnie Duber /MLB.com, link below.)

The Good News for today is that hard work, loyalty and dedication pay off.  The other Good News is that every job, no matter how humble, can be great…it all depends on how you look at it. Congrats to George and thanks to all those who work hard to make our stadiums and Kansas City beautiful.

Thanks to sources:
Dick Kaegel and Vinnie Duber /MLB.com
Jill Seib/ Kansas City Royals

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True stories to renew your faith in humanity

I encountered two separate references on the same day to this inspiring photo collection of heartwarming stories, which convinced me to make it the content for today’s entry. If you need a smile or inspiration to be a better person, visit the link to these 21 stories about human kindness around the world that include:

  • Amazing animal rescues (dogs, kittens, and … sheep)
  • Businesses offering free meals and dry cleaning for the homeless and unemployed
  • Gestures of peace and conflict resolution (on issues of faith, sexual orientation, and politics)
  • Competing athletes helping each other
  • Odd but sweet friendships
  • Paying it forward (and backward)
  • …and much more.

21 Stories That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity (by BuzzFeed)

The Good News for today is that there are many people in this world who make sacrifices to help others. And we have opportunities to do the same every day.

Special thanks to BuzzFeed via Pinterest, and Fox 4 News (Morning Show) for introducing me to these stories.

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A Tribute to Ray Bradbury

Last week we lost an American icon and treasure. While this is a sad event, I am dedicating this post to celebrating science fiction writer Ray Bradbury’s life and the gifts he gave us.

On my 12th birthday I received a book of Bradbury’s 100 best short stories, and spent the next month consuming it as if it was candy. I went on to read every book and collection, from Long After Midnight to The Illustrated Man. And of course, Fahrenheit 451. Each story was an inspiration, blooming with color, and brimming with adventure. The Veldt left me cringing, and The Blue Bottle transported me to the dry, red soil of Mars.

Many of his stories came to life on television. I’ll never forget watching The Martian Chronicles with my Dad, and Something Wicked This Way Comes with my friends.

What I loved most was his ability to envision a futuristic world that had realistic people in it. He took the mundane and transplanted it into a what-if world. He made magic out of the ordinary, and put people in situations that made them extraordinary. What would you do if you were the only person left on a barren planet? What choices would you make if you had the ability to make magic but at a price?

I also loved Bradbury because of his character. He was a humble man, who appreciated his gift and his life.

“In my later years I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back.” he wrote in a book of essays published in 2005. “Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I’ve worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.”

While the world will miss him, he led a long and fruitful life of 91 years. The Good News for today is that we can read Ray Bradbury’s stories again and again with pleasure. I know I will. And perhaps we’ll make our way to Mars some day…at least we can dream of it.

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Did you know that Kansas City is a hotspot for entrepreneurs?

I recently had the privilege (and pleasure) of being a volunteer judge for the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Venture Creation Challenge (VCC).  This annual competition is for business students to learn and exercise real-life business skills by proposing start-up ideas to panels of judges (think Shark Tank) . These are real proposals…not just homework assignments (though the projects are part of the curriculum).

The exciting part is that there were some REALLY good ideas. These ranged from innovative health products (an Easy Strep test in lollipop form for children), to epicurean ketchup.

Out of 150 entries, 65 student venture groups were chosen to take part in the challenge. I was pleased to see students of all ages and backgrounds, representing numerous UMKC programs.  These included traditional business students, MBA candidates (including from the Executive MBA program), and some from the Entrepreneurship Scholars Program (e-Scholars).

For each group, a representative provided a 60-second elevator speech. Then judges were invited to visit booths where business plans, marketing materials and prototypes were put on display. Judges awarded ‘dollars’ as points to determine finalists. Those finalists were given 40 minutes to make a full pitch to panels of judges. From there, 15 venture groups were given various awards.

I was one of nearly 100 judges from all over Kansas City, including business owners, alumni, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs. I’m proud to be an alum of the Executive MBA program and to see what a great event the school puts on. I actually took part in the VCC as an EMBA student in 2009 and learned some important lessons. Since then, it is obvious the VCC has blossomed.

“Each year this event grows in size and participation, and the ventures launched by our students reach higher levels of success,” notes Michael Song, Institute executive director.

I’m also proud to be a Kansas Citian. Kansas City is an incubator for entrepreneurism.  We are home to native entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman. His legacy through the Kauffman Foundation perpetuates the spirit of entrepreneurism not only in Kansas City but throughout the world.

The Foundation offers programs and support for entrepreneurs everywhere, and their approach is the epitome of innovation. I love their Sketchbook series in ‘Fast Draw’ fashion that illustrates their programs.

The Good News for today is that we all have the seeds of great ideas in us. And there are many resources to help those with the entrepreneurial spirit succeed. This is so important for our economy and future.

What great ideas do you have? What would you do if you received venture backing? Go ahead, dream big!

For further reading:

Note: Special thanks to Regnier Family Foundations/Bank of Blue Valley for sponsoring this event.

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UMB Bank is giving away money (to charity that is)

When we talk about banks we don’t usually think of them giving away money. But that’s just what UMB is doing right now. UMB’s “Check-in or Tweet for Charity” campaign is an innovative way they are supporting the community.

UMB is using Foursquare check-ins at UMB banking centers and hash tagged tweets from UMB Twitter followers to help raise funds for their non-profit partners. By checking in at a UMB banking center, or tweeting #UMBgives, they are donating 50 cents to the designated charity (one check-in or tweet per day). You don’t even have to be a customer to participate.

You can check in on Foursquare at UMB banking centers or tweet to benefit three not-for-profit organizations: Big Brothers Big SistersJunior Achievement of Middle America and American Heart Association. Throughout 2012 they will give up to $3,000 for each beneficiary.

I’m proud to say I’m a UMB customer and that they’re doing something so altruistic (not to mention digital…you know I love that!).

The good news for today is:
Here is an easy and FREE way for you to support three important organizations. You know I’m tweeting and checking-in and I hope you’ll join me.

Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/UMBBank, or @UMBBank on Twitter.

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It’s a beautiful day…being here, now

Today’s message is very simple…it really is a beautiful day. It’s Easter and happens to also be my mother’s birthday (happy birthday Mom!).

I’ve recently been reading about mindfulness and being present. We can’t fix the past, we can’t predict the future, but we can appreciate the moment we have, right here, right now.

An enlightening article The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment,” tells us that we can reap many benefits from living mindfully. (Psychology Today, Jay Dixit).

“Mindfulness reduces stress, boosts immune functioning, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, and helps patients cope with cancer. By alleviating stress, spending a few minutes a day actively focusing on living in the moment reduces the risk of heart disease. Mindfulness may even slow the progression of HIV.

Mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses. Anchoring awareness in the here and now reduces the kinds of impulsivity and reactivity that underlie depression, binge eating, and attention problems. Mindful people can hear negative feedback without feeling threatened. They fight less with their romantic partners and are more accommodating and less defensive. As a result, mindful couples have more satisfying relationships.”

It’s a perfect 65 degrees out, the sun is shining, and the promise of renewal that spring holds abounds. And I intend to enjoy every moment of it.

The good news for today is that it’s a beautiful day. So go enjoy and celebrate!

Related links:
Psychology Today, 5 Steps to Being Present
It’s a beautiful day (U2 song with lyrics on YouTube)

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School bus driver saves children

Everyday heroes part I

I saw an inspiring story on the news this week about a school bus driver in Indiana who  saved 11 children from a tornado.

Angel Perry stayed calm under immense pressure and didn’t panic though destruction was literally minutes away. She even counted the children as they ran into the school for safety, seconds before the 18-ton bus was picked up and thrown into a nearby building. Seeing the wreckage  shows what the fate of those children would have been, if she hadn’t acted quickly and courageously.

This reminds me of the incident a few years ago when pilot Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger landed a plane in the Hudson River after it struck a flock of Canada geese. Because of his quick action, all 155 passengers and crew survived.

These are just two examples of normal, everyday people who acted heroically. I know there are many more.

The good news for today is that the world is full of heroes like Angel and Sully. Do you know any heroes? Are you one? Please share your story.

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