Tag Archives: Tiger Woods

Holiday Letter for Friends, Family and Faithful

This is the time of the year when we receive those highly anticipated cute, mass-mailed (this year a few were even e-mailed) chatty letters from friends and family. These letters highlight all the wonderful happenings and events they have experienced during the year and for some reason, these friends have an abiding belief that we have a burning desire to know all the details. In that same spirit, I knew you would want to receive my Holiday letter giving you all the details as to how my year went; so here it is: Unfortunately the New Year got off to a rather malodorous start. The onset of the New Year was stained by the attempt of the underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a plane landing in Detroit. While blowing up Detroit might actually be an improvement, I was so unsettled by this terrorist threat that my first New Year resolution was to never again wear underwear on a plane. This actually worked out quite well and it did add to the comfort of flights, but then later in the year one of those darn full-body scanners the TSA had installed in the airports blew a fuse and seemed to indicate I had a weapon of some sort in my pants. With lights flashing and sirens blasting, I had to endure an embarrassing public full-body pat-down by two female TSA agents. During the year Tiger Woods called me a number of times “just wanting to talk” and play a little golf. As much as I wanted to help him, I was concerned that video of us together would go viral on the Web and I did not want to be in the position of seeming to condone having some fun, despite the fact of being married. I still remember the frantic call received late one April night from my friend Tony Hayward who was CEO of BP. He was not very coherent and seemed agitated about something that had happened. He expressed genuine concern that this event – whatever it was – would interfere with his day-to-day life and he was upset that it might cause him to miss a sailing regatta that was scheduled for later in the summer. I told him to calm down and that whatever it was that was troubling him would pass; that he would “get his life back” and soon would have all kinds of time for sailing. Of course, the next morning I discovered what had Tony so disconcerted. After hearing of the oil spill in the Golf I immediately began installing the booms and skimmers in front of my home in Key West. It turns out the spill was welcome news for those of us living in Key West because the wall-to-wall frenetic media coverage of the spill kept all the tourists away; even though the oil never got closer than 800 miles. I was impressed that in May Facebook announced that it had over 500 million members. What bothered me some was that only seven of those members wanted to be friends with me. Also in May I got a new car. I had always coveted a Toyota and was finally able to get one. Unfortunately, I discovered that I was not capable of driving it. The car seemed to have a mind of its own. It always kept speeding up and I couldn’t ever get it to stop. But the good news is that Toyota contacted me and the wanted the car back. I was amazed that all I had to do was sign some type of release and then they gave all my money back, even though the car was heavily damaged from the accidents. I guess it just goes to show what good people those Japanese are. At the very least it showed that they were not still mad at us for dropping a couple of nuclear bombs on them. Someone told me that Toyotas were their revenge for this, but I don’t believe them. I was in New York a few times during the year and it was interesting. One time after paying my respects at Ground Zero I was looking for some place to get lunch and walking a few blocks away I saw this place called “Hank’s Men’s Club – Good sights and eats.” It was right next to an interesting DVD and book store and seemed a popular place since there was a large crowd milling around and walking back and forth along the sidewalk. Turns out they were not there for lunch, but instead were protesting about some Muslims who had the audacity to want to turn a dilapidated old building into a place to pray and practice their religion. They seemed to think that just because President Obama was born in one of their Muslim countries and is a Muslim that gave them the right to have their own church in America. When I found out what these darn Muslims were up to I was flabbergasted and somewhat infuriated, so I joined in with the protest. Sure, I know the constitution gives Americans freedom of religion, but to be honest I thought that only applied to Christians and, because we are friends with Israel, a few Jews. Because of this, one of my resolutions for 2011 will be to write to Congress to see if we can change the constitution so that only those like us can have freedom of religion. I know that I am not alone in this because later in the year when I was down in Florida I happened to meet this really interesting guy named Terry Jones. In fact, he said that he was actually a “devout Christian” and was pastor of a local church he had founded only four years earlier and already had 26 members. Even though he had been free to start his own church, it turns out that he had the same feelings about freedom of religion as those people who were protesting the Muslims in New York. While we were sitting in the bar Pastor Jones told me he was going to teach those heathen, atheistic Muslims a lesson by publicly burning a Koran. (I am not sure, but I think that is like their Bible.) That excited me. I knew we God-fearing Christians would be very upset if those Muslims were to burn the Bible, but these were Muslims and it would be good to teach them a lesson. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to stay and help Pastor Jones, I had to get back to New York for some other meetings. I am not sure exactly what happened with Pastor Jones and his church, but I am sure no Muslims have joined. It was exciting in New York. I don’t want to be a name dropper, but I stayed at the Plaza Hotel and as I was walking down the hall to my room I actually saw Charlie Sheen entering the room next to me. He was with a really sexy looking girl. If fact, she seemed like one of the girls that Tiger had dated. They must have had a party or something that night, because I heard a lot of yelling, screaming and banging on the wall in Charlie’s room. I guess they had a good time. One day, later in the summer I got this strange e-mail with a huge file attached. It was so large that I could not open it so I sent it on to a friend of mine named Julian Assange. Julian had installed my wireless Wi-Fi at my home in Key West, so I knew he was good with computers. I hated to bother Julian, especially because I knew he was over in Europe chasing girls, which he likes to do, but I thought maybe he could open the file. I guess he was unable to open it because I did not hear from him. One downer for the summer was when Sandra Bullock called me in tears. It seems she had discovered that Jesse James had been cheating on her. I wanted to be sympathetic and I didn’t want to say “I told you so,” but I reminded her that I had warned her that anyone who marries a guy named “Jesse James” should not be surprised by what he does. On the brighter side, Randy and Evi Quaid stopped by our house in Minnesota for a nice visit on their way to Canada. They did not stay that long and seemed anxious to get into Canada for their vacation. Have to tell you that for much of the year I felt like Alice in Wonderland. I kept getting all these invitations to Tea Parties. And, when I got there it seemed as though there were Mad Hatters everywhere. But, it was nice to party with people like me. I didn’t see a Muslim, gay person, Latino, African American or Native American at any of the parties. I have to say that I envied the peace of mind these people at the Tea Parties seem to share. For them everything was so simple. There was no need for a lot of discussion, because every issue was either right or wrong; there was no confusion regarding “gray areas.” I found out that you were either “for them or against them” and there was no in-between. It was a comfortable feeling to have everyone agree that there was only one way to do something and if you didn’t agree, you were wrong. This all reminded me of the politics in Germany in the 1930s, but it sure was nice to know that you were right. I also had a great time going to a Halloween party with Christie O’Donnell. She encouraged me to dress as a Warlock, but she went as herself. Of course, we all know this was an election year and I was especially interested. The good news is that I did not have to decide which party to support because I got to vote twice – once in Florida where I voted for Republicans and again in Minnesota where I voted for the Democrat to be governor. It was not so much that I thought Mark Dayton was qualified to be governor of Minnesota, but I did think it showed what a great country we live in. Only in America (and maybe Somalia) can an inbred, deeply depressed alcoholic be elected as head of government. It will be interesting to watch this. (I have heard there are already “over-under” pools on the date of his first breakdown.) The year ended on a great note. I guess President Obama didn’t know what type of gift to get me for Christmas, so he and the Republicans got together and agreed to give me cash. So sweet! Plus, I got this gift certificate from President Obama that says that if I die in the next two years, I will not have to pay any estate taxes. So, I’ve got that going for me. All and all it was a wonderful and interesting year. I hope it was for you as well.

Happy New Year!

The Greatest Threat to Personal and Business Success—is Success

Successful Leaders Fail When They Stop Doing the Things that Made Them Successful in the First Place

In the past few months the media has besieged us with countless stories about the imperfect personal lives of two of the best known sports stars in the country – Tiger Woods and Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Aside from the titillating (no pun intended) aspect of their personal failures, they have something else in common. Once they achieved success, they moved away from their core values.

Tiger Woods has admitted publicly that when reached the status and success he had worked so hard to attain, that he fell into an attitude of perverted entitlement that moved him away from the values that had helped him become successful. While Roethlisberger has not publicly admitted to his problems, many of his current and former teammates in Pittsburgh have talked of how he changed after winning his first Super Bowl.

Roethlisberger’s teammates point to a young rookie who came to the Steelers fully dedicated to doing what needed to be done to achieve success. He was first to practice and last to leave. He exhibited the qualities of a leader and quickly became one, while still being “one of the guys” for his teammates. But they also point out that he began to change once he became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Soon he was last to practice and first to leave. He became aloof from the team and instead of being one of the guys, thought he was the only one. He acted as though he was entitled to be treated differently from the rest of the team. According to comments by teammates he began to be derisively referred to as a “bar-hopping pied piper.”

I have written on the subject of maintaining success – once it has been achieved – but the latest examples of Woods and Roethlisberger justify a refresher. Those of us who seek success in life or career can learn from these examples.

It is not just the high-profile celebrity that can exhibit self-destructive tendencies once success has been achieved; while not so visible, such attitudes can – and often do – afflict business leaders and companies. We work so hard to achieve success that we sometimes forget that it takes even more focus and commitment to maintain success achieved.

The key to maintaining success is being alert to losing success. Success has its own way of weakening the very behavior that achieved it. Any organization or anyone who achieves success must be willing to ignore the success achieved. Only by doing so is success maintained over time.

It’s a fact that more people rise from failure than survive success. That’s because it is more difficult to survive success than failure. Success is a rare commodity that few are prepared to deal with. When you are successful, you step out from the crowd and accomplish what many talk about but few do. That is well and good, but when you do succeed – you have to deal with the consequences of success. This is where both Woods and Roethlisberger failed and where those of us who are lucky to achieve success must be always vigilant.

What Went Wrong?

Why is it that so many business leaders and successful companies manage to fail the test of long-term success so consistently? Some say changed markets are to blame. Others point to increased competition, technology advances, reduced productivity, product obsolescence, even government interference as the source of the corporate tailspin. But, these are superficial excuses that highlight only the symptoms of the real illness.

After eliminating the suicidal acts of greed, blatant fraud and inbred incompetence from the list of culprits, there is a simple explanation for the failure of successful individuals and companies. Successful leaders and companies start to fail when they stop doing the things that made them successful in the first place.

Successful businesses and the executives who run them become comfortable, lazy, complacent and less tolerant of risk and innovation. Many fall prey to the illness of entitlement. They lose the very culture that produced their initial success: Doing the right thing at the right time, and doing it first, fast and often.

Fortunately, there are some simple and obvious clues that will help us identify if we and our company may be in danger of risking loss of the success we worked so hard to achieve.

Some of these signs may be when:

  • We find we are too busy to take the time to do the little things we took the time to do in the past.
  • We begin to define our success predicated on what we have done rather than what we could do.
  • We begin to feel that getting better is not as important as keeping what we have.
  • We discover our actions formerly threatened competitors but now the actions of competitors threaten us.
  • We become more concerned with what we get for ourselves than what we can give to others.
  • We begin to view process and procedure as more important than performance and progress.

And the Moral of the Story …

Never lose sight of this one thought – If you are not making history – you are history!

Those who maintain a pattern of continued success have a common trait – they see success as something to build on – not rest on. For them success becomes a nagging voice in the back of their mind that reminds them of how difficult it was to achieve and how much will be lost unless they continue to do the things that allowed them to come out one top, again and again.

They have a mind-set to continue to make history. They recognize the responsibility they have to build on the success achieved. They know their methods have allowed them to make history in the past and that gives them the opportunity to make history in the future.

If, as you achieve success, you adopt this philosophy, then you will accomplish what many who have achieved success fail to do. You will create the opportunity to maintain and even grow your success by never forgetting to do what you did to achieve success. Hopefully, Tiger Woods and Ben Roethlisberger will be able to learn from taking success for granted and be more successful because of it, but one thing is certain – we can!

Hypocrisy Thy Name is Billy “Augusta” Payne!

Augusta National Golf Leader and Members Show Height of Pomposity and Double-Standard

And you thought all the bigoted, good old boy, bubba, white-trash rednecks were relegated to trailer parks in Alabama. Think again! The real redneck white trash congregated for their annual convention this past weekend in Augusts, Georgia. It was easy to pick them out. Rather than wearing stained, white bed-sheets, they were prancing around in stupid green jackets.

I recognize the subject of this week’s blog may seem a bit off track from the subject matter of most blogs, but my ire has been raised and my dandruff ruffled by a presentation made to open the convention by the chief white- trash redneck Billy Bob Payne. If anything sets me off it is the pomposity of blatant hypocrisy. Billy Bob and his elite-seeking cronies at Augusta National have raised hypocrisy to an art form. Yet, upon closer look, this incident serves as a great reminder of what goes on all the time in the corporate world and what we should seek to distance ourselves from.

Billy Bob stood at the lectern of pretentiousness before his gang of cohorts and chastised Tiger Woods for his deplorable personal behavior. Among other things Billy Bob said, “Our hero did not live up to the expectations or the role model we saw for our children.” In what one sports writer labeled an “unprovoked assassination,” Payne called Tiger’s actions “egregious” and continued, “I hope he now realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile.” Billy Bob finished up by saying that Tiger had “disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids.” What a dead-flat jerk this Billy Bob Payne is! Even worse, all the members of Augusta sat there goo-goo eyed, apparently enraptured by Billy Bob.

As George Vecsey wrote in the New York Times (April 8, 2010, “Thanks for the Tasteless Sermon), “The other members in attendance did not rush up and sedate Payne, or slap duct tape over his rude mouth, or jeer him down. They let him continue. Ol’ Billy probably wasn’t saying anything the other men in green jackets hadn’t thought.”

No one would condone the transgressions committed by Tiger in his personal life, but the timing and the source of this criticism was way out of line. For almost six months Tiger has been appropriately (and sometimes not so appropriately) battered from pillar to post in the media. Not to even mention what happened within his family.

Then, just as he is set to emerge – literally and figuratively – back in public view to try and put his career back on track, Billy Bob steps up to take the ultimate cheap shot. (The irony is that the media had suggested that Tiger came back at The Masters because the environment is so tightly controlled that he would not have to face such low-blow attacks.)

The timing of Billy Bob’s comments were bad enough, but the most egregious part is the very source and credibility of the attack. What is it they say, “People living in wooden homes should not play with matches.”

Billy Bob and his bubba-boy members are part of a club that for 70 years would only allow African-Americans on the grounds to serve grits and carry golf clubs. For decades they manipulated the qualification rules for entering The Masters golf tournament with a single objective of preventing African-Americans from qualifying to play.

I was at Augusta one time (shameless name-dropper) playing golf and I asked Jack Stevens, then head of the club, why African-Americans were only allowed to be waiters and caddies at the club? His response was, “Well, we do it to benefit and give jobs to the “colored people.” He was serious and attempted to prove his point by saying, “We do not allow whites to be caddies or waiters.” True to this philosophy, for years and years, the professional golfers playing in The Masters were not allowed to use their white caddies during the tournament and were required to use the “appropriate Negro caddie” supplied by the club.

When pressured by the media and others to admit African-American members, the club staunchly resisted, claiming the right of “privacy” and “freedom of association” as license to discriminate. They argued that based upon their inviolate principles of “freedom,” it was a private matter. Then when the PGA and CBS television indicated that they could not support or televise The Masters tournament, the result of which would cost the club millions of dollars annually, the members put aside their “inviolate principles” and admitted a couple of “token” African-Americans. So, Billy Bob it all about money isn’t it? What type of message is that to send to our kids and grandkids?

In another blatant case of name-dropping, I was invited by the second “token” African-American to join Augusta to be his guest for a couple days of golf at the club. What struck me during those days was the feeling that he was “grudgingly” accepted by the members there, but that I was not, because I was with him. Amazing!

Then there is the case of gender. To this day Augusta National does not have a female member of the club. Again the elite privacy argument is dragged out as a defense. When questioned about female membership, Billy Bob said membership is, “subject to the private deliberations of its members.” Such pious BS! The fact is Billy Bob and his cohorts live their lives on the basis of exclusion. It is what creates their personal feeling of self-worth and value. Makes me almost feel sorry for them.

And the Moral of the Story …

So lets see, are we supposed to take Billy Bob serious in his self-righteous castigation of Tiger Woods? This from an exclusive group of hypocrites who, to this day, stand for nothing but power, money and the exclusion of women.

Based upon their history, one has to wonder if there is not a double-standard at play here. Would Billy Bob have been so pious if the golfer in question had been a white man?

Maybe we should ask Billy Bob and all the members of Augusta who have not had an affair or cheated on their wives to stand up. Maybe we should ask all the members of Augusta who have never done anything in business or their personal lives that they would not want known in public to stand up.

But there still might be something positive to come out of Billy Bob’s self-important pretentiousness and haughty arrogance. Maybe our kids and grandkids can see exactly what type of phonies they will have to deal with in life and precisely the type of person they should not be.

I guess it’s like James Carville famously said , “If you drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” Well, now we know.

Thanks Billy Bob . . .