George Bailey or Bill Gates?

Are you rich?

In one of the most beloved movies of all times “It’s A Wonderful Life” ***spoiler alert*** Harry Bailey, George’s brother, says George is the richest man in town because of the life he has lived and the friends he has.

Forbes Magazine says Bill Gates the richest man in the world.

These are obviously two very different definitions and examples of being rich. Which one do you align more closely with and which would you like to be if you had the chance to choose?

If you are honest you would probably say, like me, I could be George Bailey with Bill Gates’ money, but could you really?

Matt Ham explores exactly what it means to be rich in his new book, Redefine Rich. Redefine-Rich-front-667x1024He might just help you redefine what rich means for you. Through personal stories and experiences from his life, he reminds us of some important life principles.

How do you define rich? Does the world’s definition of riches leave you feeling empty?

Redefine Rich will help you ponder these questions and will either give you a new perspective or remind you of one you once had that has slipped away.

Books don’t always have to reveal something new in order to be entertaining and enlightening. Often they are just reminders of something we already knew or help validate what we already know. If you can identify with any of the experiences or stories the author describes it can be life altering for you. Redefine Rich can be just such a book for you.

Matt digs deeper than the surface question of “Are you rich?” to “Are you living richly?” which is a question you may have never considered.

There are many passages from the book I have highlighted in my Kindle Notes. Here are just a couple.

“This book isn’t about finances. This book isn’t about death. There are many books on both subjects. This book is about our choice. A choice to live richly.”

“Can we all live a life abounding in desirable qualities? Can we all live richly? If so, what would that look like?”

As the author says, this book isn’t for everyone but his ground rules are.

1. You can live a rich life.
2. It will not happen by accident.

The thing about books is, as the old saying goes, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” Covers can be nice, pretty, disturbing or awful but you can only judge a book by what is inside the covers and you can only do that by opening it and reading it. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Redefine Rich and open it and read it. I believe you will be richer for making that decision.

This could be considered another spoiler of sorts but if you have read this far probably not,

“A great, wonderful life has everything to do with being rich, and being rich has very little to do with money.”

You can also check out Matt’s blog here http://mattham.com/blog/

Until next time…

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I don’t run marathons…however

I have never run a marathon, never really had any desire to. To me running is not fun or something I want to spend time doing. However, I do know people who have run marathons and half-marathons and I am amazed by their drive and persistence in accomplishing this feat.

I was reminded of this again this morning as I saw some tweets on twitter about the Walt Disney World Half Marathon being over today. This brought back memories of last year at this time when we were there.

My wife, Sharin,  completed her first half-marathon.2013-01-13 05.07.44

On the next day my daughter Amy, running with her friends Meggie and Anne, completed her first marathon.2013-01-13 12.45.48

I am still amazed and in awe of these achievements as I know they are far from easy and often painful and discouraging. The thrill and sense of achievement one feels after achieving this feat should never go away.

If you have completed one of these events and have lost that feeling of pride in your accomplishment, go back and think about all the sacrifices you went through to get there, days you did not want to get out and run, days when you were unable to run due to a nagging injury your doctor recommended you rest until it got well, days when it was raining and cold, or both, and you ran anyway. Look at any pictures you have of you with your medal after you finished and just be proud of what you accomplished.

Regarding those tweets I found myself congratulating people I didn’t even really know. I have followed @runDisney on twitter since last year and saw the posts and just felt like congratulating them. They deserve it. That is the thing I wanted to emphasize with this post. Even if you, like me, have never even considered running a marathon or half-marathon I encourage you to go watch one. Find a spot near the finish line and just watch. I guarantee you it will be something you will not soon, if ever, forget.

You will see all different types of people and all different types of stories. Everyone has one. You will see young people, middle aged people, and older, seasoned, people. Seeing them push through those last few steps and yards to reach the finish line will inspire you. Some will make you laugh. Some will make you cry. All will make you cheer and by doing so you can share in their accomplishment.

If you are considering running either a half-marathon or marathon I read a book recently called You Can Go the Distance by Bruce Van Horn. I recommend this book to runners and non-runners alike. You will probably learn many things about how to prepare and run a marathon. You will also learn many things about how to run this marathon we are all running called life. One of the quotes from the book makes this point, “Marathon training is like life; it requires that you train in all conditions for all situations.”

I am not going to suggest or recommend you start preparing to run a marathon since I have no direct experience or desire to do so myself. If you are considering it though I say go for it! You will be glad you did. If you are looking for a good first marathon experience check out http://www.rundisney.com. Disney does know how to make anything fun and interesting and they don’t disappoint with these events.

If running is not your thing, I do understand that. I do recommend you go watch one sometime though. It will change your perspective for any future marathons you see in the news. Find someone you know training or running one and go support them.

Congratulations to all runners running this weekend or if you have run and completed one of these in the past. Be proud of your accomplishment and use the lessons you have learned about running and yourself in all other areas of your life.

Until next time…

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2013 Year In Review

Well 2013 has come and gone so I thought I would just take a quick review of the year for Peculiar Perspective. I received my annual report today from WordPress and it contained some interesting information.

First, if you are reading this thank you. If you have read any of my posts this year thank you. As I mentioned in one of my posts Feedback Is Always Welcome I do appreciate any and all feedback I receive. I can look at numbers to see how many people have clicked on my blog but I really cannot tell how many people have actually read it without your feedback.

Thank you for the feedback you have given me by commenting here in comments, on Facebook and in person and please give me more in 2014 – both good and bad. That is the only way I will learn how I am doing from your perspective. I am still not sure exactly what I am doing with this except expressing some of my thoughts on topics that are of interest to me. I hope some will be interesting to you as well but whether I will ever settle on just one main theme or not I don’t know. Continue reading 2013 Year In Review

Shopping Can Be Fun

Jaclyn Smith_StanJust reminiscing a little bit today about what we were doing a year ago and a few things I learned.

I am sure most of you have your own stories about shopping – good and bad. This is one shopping experience I was fortunate to participate in one year ago today and it was a good one (Understatement #1).

Shopping can be fun!

It started on November 23, 2012 when I entered a contest on the Sears/Kmart Shop Your Way Rewards web site. The contest said,

You could win a trip to LA and a shopping spree with Jaclyn Smith!

I enter contests regularly and often. I figure someone has to win these things and it might as well be me. Of course that doesn’t always happen but I have learned that I don’t win every contest I don’t enter.

No-Brainer

Of course I had been a fan of Jaclyn Smith for many years. I think I was in junior high school when Charlie’s Angels was one of the most popular shows on TV and I suspect most boys my age were fans. She is one of the most beautiful women in the world. It would be before Christmas and we did need to do some Christmas shopping,

It seemed like a no-brainer to me.

To say I was surprised when I received a phone call on November 27th telling me I had won would not be accurate. I was shocked! (Understatement #2) After talking with Sharin for about 2 minutes we decided we would go after we confirmed the details and this was really real. It was one of those moments when you think, “Is this really happening?” or “This is too good to be true. It can’t be happening to me.”

Alabama to LAX

Well, it was really real and on Monday, December 10th we flew from Alabama to LAX, drove to the Hilton Los Angeles Universal City, which is located at the entrance to Universal Studios. After checking in and getting settled we walked around Universal City Walk and had dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

You might be thinking, “You were at Universal Studios. Why didn’t you go to the park?” Well, we had already planned to drive to Disneyland while we were there so we were saving our energy and our money. Our original thought was we would go on Monday after we arrived but we decided to wait until Tuesday, after our shopping spree, since we expected that would not last much longer than the allotted hour. That expectation proved to be false in the best sort of way.

Exceeded Expectations

Well, Tuesday arrived and we arrived at the Kmart a little before 10:00 as planned. Everything that happened after that was both surreal and real at the same time. Never having spent much time with a celebrity, (Understatement #3), we were not sure what to expect. We expected it would be an enjoyable once-in-a-lifetime experience, of course, but the time would be limited according to the itinerary. We were wrong. It was an amazing day, far beyond anything we could have expected. Here is a link to a short video Kmart created. We did get the Christmas tree mentioned in the video.

Jaclyn Smith Christmas Tree_2012-12-20 02.50.08

Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience

I know this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Jaclyn. I mean really, how often does she get to meet a couple from the other LA (Lower Alabama) and go Christmas shopping at the Burbank Kmart with them? I expect this was the first and last time, thus, the once-in-a-lifetime description fits. I am sure she would agree. She did say “it was a highlight of the season meeting the two of you.”

Shopping Couple from LA_IMG_1423 (2)

In case you were wondering, it was also a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.

What Did I Learn?

I knew that Jaclyn Smith was a beautiful woman. I learned that Jaclyn Smith is a beautiful person.

I was reminded it takes a lot of people working behind the scenes to make an event like this work and look effortless for those participating. There are many that deserve thanks for this. Kim, Leah, Shana, Amanda, Rena, and Clarine – you all made us feel special and made our day special. Thank you all again. To the local Kmart folks – Mark and Victor – thank you again for your Southern (California) hospitality.

USA_JACLYN SMITH
The St. Jude Christmas Bear Ornament

While watching Brooke shop for the kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital I learned Kmart is their number one retail supporter. That was fun to watch too.

I learned that shopping can be fun, especially when you are pushing the buggy (shopping USA_JACLYN SMITHcart for anyone confused) for two of the most beautiful women in the world and they are doing what women do while shopping – talking, laughing and having fun. It was definitely a win-win for me.

I learned that Jaclyn Smith is a prophet. On the autographed photo she signed before we went shopping and shown above she said, “I know we will have fun today.” She was right!

After the shopping was done

Probably the coolest part was after the shopping was done – her commitment was complete – she invited us back to have lunch with her, Rena, and Clarine, her team. She did not have to do that. She could have just used the down time to relax but she chose to spend it with us. That was special and will not be forgotten.USA_JACLYN SMITH

We ate lunch and just talked for probably an hour or more about kids, pets, new cars, etc. – just life like most people talk about. She was concerned about her new car that her husband was driving that day. She is a breast cancer survivor so she talked about that and the importance of the annual exams. We talked about Sharin’s upcoming Disney Half-Marathon in January as well as the Ability First Stroll and Roll event she was planning to participate in to support children and adults with special needs.

I learned Jaclyn Smith is a very nice down to earth person, mother, wife and humanitarian in addition to being one of the most beautiful and gifted models and actresses in the world.

You don’t have to fly to Los Angeles and go shopping with Jaclyn Smith to have fun shopping. Although, if you do ever get this opportunity I highly recommend it (Understatement #4).

It is the Giving Season

When you are shopping and looking for that perfect gift enjoy the time with the person you are shopping with and imagine the joy you will receive when you see the recipient open that gift. When you receive a gift remember that joy you received and accept any gift you receive with gratitude and allow the gift giver to experience that joy as well.

I just saw a quote from Andy Andrews about giving that fits well here I believe,

“Giving is an unbelievable action that continues to produce returns that are unexpected in nature.”

Just a note

If you look at my profile picture and the smile on my face you now know why I was smiling so much. I was having a good time shopping!

 USA_JACLYN SMITH

And, just in case you were wondering, we did make it to Disneyland too.

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Until next time…Happy Shopping!

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 12/11/2013

 

 

It was all started by a…rabbit?

You may or may not have heard that quote. If you are a Disney fan as I am I suspect you have. I happen to be wearing a shirt with that quote as I write this. Walt Disney did say that and it is true but is it really the whole truth?

It all depends on what you use as the starting point in time. Mickey Mouse is the character that allowed Walt and Roy Disney to jump start the Walt Disney Company in 1928 and is still one of the most recognizable corporate icons in existence today. Practically everyone has heard of Mickey Mouse and that speaks to the impact that Walt Disney has made in our culture and our world today.

English: Portrait of Walt Disney, 1 January 19...
English: Portrait of Walt Disney, 1 January 1954 Here is a picture of Walter Disney cropped from a NASA photograph. Deutsch: Walt Disney, 1954 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

There is no doubt about that. However, if you backtrack just a little from that point in time, there is another story that many may not know. To borrow a phrase from Paul Harvey, here is “the rest of the story.”

 

 

The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio was a partnership started by Roy and Walt Disney in 1923. They created cartoons but to get those cartoons distributed to an audience where they could be seen, and produce income, they had to work with other companies, such as Universal Studios. Oswald The Lucky Rabbit was a character created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks and several Oswald cartoons were produced in 1927 and 1928. Oswald was the first character that also generated merchandising income for the company with an Oswald candy bar, stencil set, and pinback button.

They were producing the cartoons ahead of schedule, one every 16 days when the contract only required one every three weeks. As he was always striving to produce a better product the cost of the Oswald cartoons was increasing and his current contract to produce the cartoons would be ending soon Walt and his wife, Lillian, traveled to New York to talk with Disney’s distributor at Universal, Charles Mintz, about the new contract.

Negotiations did not go well

During these meetings he learned that Mintz was in the process of hiring his animators, was offering a reduction in the price currently being paid for the cartoons and ultimately wanted to take over the Disney company and have Walt and Roy work for him. He had believed that Walt, since he was not actually doing the animation any more, was expendable.  Walt tried to negotiate a new contract with another distributor but learned since he did not own the rights to Oswald he could not take him to a new distributor. So, as he and Lillian left New York for the long train ride back to California, he had no character to draw when his current contract ended, only a few employees left, who had not deserted him for Universal, and a very uncertain future.

What Next?

As he left New York in March 1928 Walt Disney had made a vow to himself to never work for anyone again and in the future he would have complete control over his work, which, in his line of work was his characters. His problem was he had no character he could call his own. He was 23 years old, recently married, July 13, 1925, and without a job for the most part, and had been deserted by what he had thought were loyal employees.

What happened next changed the world(s) as we know it.

There are different versions of the story of how Mickey Mouse came to be Mickey Mouse. The most common is that during the cross country train ride west, Walt, trying to create a new character, began drawing a mouse. When Lillian saw the sketches she asked him what he was going to name it and he said Mortimer. While working in Kansas City he had caught several mice in the animation studio there and had one that would even run around on his drawing table that he fed and had given the name Mortimer. She did not like that name and suggested Mickey.

Concept art of Mickey from early 1928; the ske...
Concept art of Mickey from early 1928; the sketches are the earliest known drawings of the character. From the collection of The Walt Disney Family Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Ub Iwerks was one of the animators that stuck with the Disneys and would become the animator for Mickey Mouse. He drew more than 700 drawing per day working on the first Mickey Mouse cartoon. This also had to be done in secret since the animators leaving were still there finishing their contracts for the Oswald cartoons.

Mickey Mouse made his debut in Plane Crazy on May 15, 1928, less than two months after the meeting in New York and the defection of his animators.

 

Walt Disney with a collection of Charlotte Cla...
Walt Disney with a collection of Charlotte Clark Mickey Mouse dolls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rest, as they say, is history. Walt Disney had learned from his experience with Oswald and Universal and would not make those mistakes again. He did control all rights to Mickey Mouse and he parlayed that into a merchandising success that was as innovative as it was successful and still is today. We have in the past and still do enjoy  in that success. See Disney…Is It Worth The Cost if you want to know more about that.

What would you do?

What do you do when you face a failure or roadblock in your life or career? Do you throw your hands up in despair and hold your own pity party? Walt Disney was able to take this major setback and, at the ripe young age of 23, employ his vision and perseverance to create what is arguably the most recognizable character and franchise in the world. Most of us will not duplicate that feat but we can learn from his experience and apply it in our own lives. His ‘never give up’ spirit propelled him to the next leg of his journey in his career and that did literally change the world and is still changing people’s lives today. This was just one hurdle he faced in building the company many of us love today.

Walt Disney express his thoughts on failures and setbacks seem applicable here to me.

“It is good to have a failure while you’re young because it teaches you so much. For one thing it makes you aware that such a thing can happen to anybody, and once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterward.”

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

I believe we do learn best from our own mistakes and failures but if we can also learn from someone else’s experiences that can help us move down the path toward our goals too. It might help us to avoid a few hurdles and might also save a tooth or two.

Oswald is back home now

As a postscript to the Oswald dilemma, although he did not live to see it, the Walt Disney Company did acquire the licensing rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 2006 in a deal with NBC that included a trade for Al Michaels to be able to do sports broadcasting on NBC. That seems fitting to me and just to show my support I bought my first Oswald The Lucky Rabbit cap this week.

IMG_20130705_162706

I hope you enjoyed the Disney history and the life lesson we all need from time to time to never give up, regardless of the circumstances.

 

 

 

 

Until next time…as Mickey would say, “See ya real soon! heh heh”

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 7/7/2013

 

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Disney…Is it worth the cost?

Have you ever bought anything and then had “buyer’s remorse”, wishing you hadn’t bought it or that you had waited to make your buying decision? I know I have. However, I have learned over the years as I get older and hopefully wiser, at least in some areas, that if you wait for some period of time, whether that is a day, a week, a month or longer, you often find that item you were about to exchange your hard-earned dollars for is not something you really have to have. Often, your “I have to have that” mindset changes to “I might get that later” or “I will wait until it goes on sale” or “I really don’t want to spend my money on that” to “I found something else I want more.”

Items differ, desires are more common

We all have desires or wants for things we do not have at times. We could see an ad on TV or on the internet for the latest cell phone, newest iPad, golf club, pocket hose, latest diet fad, or bass-o-matic blender. We are the most marketed to generation that has ever existed on planet earth and these marketers are good at what they do.

Disney is one of the best in the world

The Walt Disney Company is one of the best marketing organizations in the world. They are very good at determining what their customers or guests want and then providing that product or service  in a manner that is second to  none. Walt Disney World, in my opinion, is the crown jewel of the Disney Empire. If you have ever visited Walt Disney World then you know that a pass to enter any of the parks there is not inexpensive, especially if you are taking a family of 6, which is what we often did. You do pay a premium price for a premium entertainment experience.

We have visited Walt Disney World too many times to count. We did live in Florida for nine years and had Florida Resident annual passes which allowed us to go multiple times a year. Our oldest daughter went before she was born, when my wife was pregnant with her. We got her a Mickey Mouse plush doll  she still has today. She turns 26 next month.

27 years and no buyer’s remorse

In all the trips we have made to The Magic Kingdom over the past 27 years, I have never once had a feeling of not getting our money’s worth. There are not many places I know of which that statement could be applied to and be true. We have spent a lot of money there, too much of that to count as well. You cannot put a price on the first time your children see Mickey and Minnie, Chip and Dale, Cinderella in her castle or Goofy, although he was kind of scary at first because of his size.

Magical Place, Where Dreams Do Come True

It really is a magical place and not just for the kids. That was part of Walt Disney’s goal – to make entertainment enjoyable for kids and for the kid in all of us adults too.

Regarding Disneyland, Walt Disney said, “I felt there should be something built where the parents and the children could have fun together.” He succeeded in building that place and his dream of Walt Disney World was honored and completed with Roy’s leadership, who died just two months after it was opened.

It is a magical place for me too. I have always been amazed, first at the art of animation that started with Roy and Walt Disney when they started the company in 1923, to the magic of Disneyland and  Walt Disney World and the feeling I get when I step inside the gates. I really am transported to a different world. I can leave the “real world” behind for a few hours and enjoy time with my family and the magic created there. That is priceless and hard for anyone who hasn’t been there, and even some who have, to understand.

I guess some of that magic has rubbed off on our children as they still love to go whenever possible and our oldest daughter, mentioned above, is now a cast member. My family surprised me with a trip they had planned for us to celebrate my 50th birthday in 2011. It was the best gift ever.

The Family - My 50th Birthday Trip
The Family – My 50th Birthday Trip

 

Me, Roy and Minnie - New Year's Eve Eve 2011
Me, Roy and Minnie – New Year’s Eve Eve 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In retrospect, I do wish I would have been wiser in how we paid for many of those trips and not resorted to the “American way” of putting it on a credit card and paying for it later but I still would not take back or undo any of those trips because they are such a big part of our lives and memories…good memories.

No Regrets

What I am trying to say is I have never left Walt Disney World with any regrets or buyer’s remorse for the dollars we have spent. My only regret when we leave is that we are leaving. We are often trying to plan our next trip on the way home.

This is not meant to be an advertisement for Walt Disney World but it is an endorsement. If you have never been then I do recommend you go if at all possible. Some people actually do not like it. I really cannot understand that but it is true. My purpose in writing this is just to try to give you a sense of my love for the place, respect for the men who created it, and fascination for the history  of how it all came to be.

As for the history, I have read several biographies of Walt Disney and have one on Roy Disney on my bookshelf now to read as well. I am actually in the midst of reading Walt Disney by Neal Gabler now. Since this is one of my interests, some would say obsession, I expect you will see more blogs about Walt, Roy, the history of Disney, lessons I have learned from studying their lives, and some of the new developments there too.

The reason I hold these men and this place in such high esteem is what they have meant to our family. I also believe there are many lessons to learn by studying more about successful people and how they became successful and I obviously believe there are many lessons we can learn from the Disneys.

Imagination, Perseverance, Innovation, Attention to Detail, Pursuit of Excellence, Love of Country

I am fascinated and amazed by the imagination, perseverance, innovation, attention to detail, and constant pursuit of excellence exhibited by the Disney brothers. Those are qualities that will serve anyone well in whatever they do. We all benefit from their successes and failures today. They changed their generation and continue to impact our culture today, 40+ years since they both died.

Since it almost July 4th I am also reminded that Walt Disney had a great love of country that is on display throughout his life and career that continues to be displayed by The Disney Company today. “And actually, if you could see close in my eyes,” Walt Disney said, “the American flag is waving in both of them, and up my spine is growing this red, white, and blue stripe.”

Regarding The Disney Company Walt Disney is quoted as saying “It was all started by a mouse.” Regarding movies, he said, “I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all  of us, whether we be six or sixty.” As I am much closer to 60 now than 6 I hope that my ‘inner child’ does not disappear when I do reach sixty.

Regarding Disneyland, from which Walt Disney World and the other Disney Parks around the world originated, he said, “It all started from a daddy with two daughters wondering where he could take them where he could have a little fun with them, too.”

As for this daddy, with three daughters and a son, and now a son-in-law too, I am thankful that we can enjoy the realization of “One Man’s Dream”. We are forever in Walt and Roy Disney’s debt because the fun and memories we have made and now share are priceless to us so, yes, it has been well worth the cost for us.

Whenever I see Mickey Mouse or Walt Disney or the entrance to Walt Disney World or Cinderella’s Castle or the train station something is triggered in my brain that causes me to smile and think of the many good times shared there with my family. For that I am very thankful.

Here is one last picture, for now anyway, of Walt watching over the Magic Kingdom.

Walt watching over the Magic Kingdom
Walt watching over the Magic Kingdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a magical day!

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.