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How My Sons Could Fail in 2014

by Greg Hague

This is my New Year’s blog to my nephew and sons. It’s about how they could fall on their faces in 2014.

I could do the normal “rah rah” dad thing about the importance of goals and how to succeed. But they’ve heard all that. And this negative thing is better.


My boys just LOVE to prove me wrong.

When they see the title, they’ll likely read what I’m writing with fire in their eyes. And, they’ll probably save this blog to shove in my face a year from today. I hope so.

My 32-year old son, Corey, likes things short and to the point. I call it “No Oatmeal.” So here goes . . .

My “No Oatmeal” version of How to Fall on Your Face 2014:


You see weekends different than weekdays.

When the whistle blows, you think “Miller time!”

You let “normal” decide when to bust butt and when to sip brew.

A few days ago, we all came together for our traditional Christmas Eve lunch with dearest of friends. Corey had been working that morning since six a.m. He called to say that he had a two-hour window for lunch and then had to get back on the job.

After we celebrated Christmas together the next day, Corey stayed up until two a.m. working on his company’s payroll. Sounds nuts, I know. But be nice to your brother. If you ever need a loan, he’ll have the dough.

I am not suggesting that Corey stands alone. I know Jason is on the road at five a.m. Brian toils late most nights performing or writing music. And Casey studies for his second bar exam after working ten-hour days.

But I am suggesting that each of you (including Corey) CAN DIG EVEN DEEPER.

Make 2014 the year that defines the rest of your life.

Forget balance. Go on tilt. Pull out all the stops. Make every evening, every weekend, and every holiday count.

I’m not suggesting that you should never take time off. I am suggesting that you don’t let your co-workers, friends, the government or custom decide when it’s YOUR Miller time.

Do what you need to do NOW so you can do what you want to do for the rest of your life.


You get sucked into someone else’s dream.

There are many examples, but politics is one of the best.

As we approach the 2014 November elections, the Internet, media and water cooler talk will be consumed with political dialogue. He said. She said. He’s a winner. She’s a loser. He stole cookies at 12. She dated more than one guy.

Politicians have a dream, and contrary to their campaign slogans, it usually doesn’t include you. There are exceptions, but in my view, very few.

With most politicians, their dream is to put their butt in a high profile government chair. They need your money and your vote to get there.

This is often true in business, as well. Employees become pawns in an owner’s dream. While truly smart companies establish a success model that nurtures employee growth, security and prosperity, many aren’t that smart. And, they simply don’t have good hearts. If you’re part of a firm like that, be careful. They’ll extract the best that you have while paying the least they can and then cut you off at the drop of a hat.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help others. You should every day. Whether it’s business, charity, friendship or family, helping others is what life’s all about. But, do it for bosses who genuinely care about you. Do it for people down on their luck (it may happen to you someday).  Do it for friends. Do if for family.

Just don’t waste your time helping those who don’t appreciate you. Don’t unwittingly get sucked into someone else’s selfish game.



You pursue an ill-conceived dream.

Your time is precious. Your life will pass in a flash. I can’t believe I already have an AARP card. It seems like yesterday when I was “you.”

When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a pro basketball player. I practiced harder than anyone on the junior high team. Unfortunately, my hands were small and my legs didn’t have springs. It was a frustrating year, but I learned a valuable lesson. Contrary to what is often thought and commonly taught, working harder isn’t always enough. Some dreams are simply not realistic. You’ve got to assess your talents and then consider the odds.

When I was a teenager, I was a darn good drummer. I played in several successful bands. I was tempted to make this a career. But I decided against it.

Why? The odds I’d “make it” were paper thin. No matter how capable I was, the entertainment business (music, acting, writing, painting, etc.) is largely about whimsical trends, connections and luck. Talent and hard work are rarely enough. I decided not bank my future on what I couldn’t control.

And, while the life of a musician sounded glamorous, I probably would have hated it long term. I’d have lived much of my life on the road. My continued success would have been subject to whimsical trends. And, I’d have had limited time with you, my friends, and Roseann.

As you know, our friend, Mark Victor Hansen, and his partner, Jack Canfield, are co-authors of the hugely successful Chicken Soup for the Soul series (over 500 million sales in 47 languages worldwide). Canfield recounts how, initially, the first Chicken Soup book was an absolute failure.

But he and Mark were undeterred. They each religiously took “5 action steps” every single day for fourteen straight months to generate interest.  As Jack explained in an Economic Times interview,

“So every day for the 14 months before we hit the New York Times bestseller list, we would take five actions steps. We would make five phone calls to newspapers to review the book. We would send out five free copies of the book to reviewers.

Once we sent copies to all the producers of TV shows like “Touched by An Angel” and when the producer got a hold of the book, they required everyone on their staff, including the cameramen, script writers and actors to read it. That story reached the Hollywood Reporter, which printed it and then it went out to syndication and appeared in many more newspapers all across the United States.”

My point? Choose your dreams carefully. Then do whatever it takes, morning and night, every day. And, make sure you’re doing the right work- the things most likely to get you where you want to be.

The bottom line?

Go 1000% “all in” NOW!  Not next month, next year, next life.

If you’re not willing to do that today, this minute, right now, you likely never will. That means it’s time to shift gears. Your dream is ill conceived. Face it now, not when you open that envelope and pull out your AARP card.


 You keep Jingling when it’s time to Jangle.

Remember my Savvy Dad blog, “It’s 100% Jingle ‘Til It’s Time To Jangle”? Like I said above, the only way to make it big is go 1000% “all in” right now. It’s also the best and fastest way to know if you’re on the right course.

BUT, and this is a BIG BUT, you must keep your mind open. Keep analyzing where you are and what you’ve learned along the road. Watch for changing tides. The point is to keep your eyes out ahead and be willing to shift on a dime when you see a landmine.

Being “all in” does not mean unthinkingly and blindly blasting forward. Go full steam ahead, but don’t wear dark shades. Go 100% Jingle with a possible Jangle in mind.



You AWOL the moment.

Thanksgiving 2012, Corey and his girlfriend, Jessy, hosted a beautiful dinner. I made a mistake. I didn’t stay 100% in the moment.

After dinner, I relaxed in a chair and returned text messages and emails. I was physically present, but mentally absent.

This was different than Corey working before and after Christmas Eve lunch. During lunch he was totally “there.” I noticed.

Whether it’s a business, family or friendship, when you’re physically present, be mentally there. Where your body goes, make sure your mind follows.


 You small talk your time away.

Small talk is conversation about irrelevant, meaningless stuff. Chatter about nothing that matters makes me go mentally blank.

I think it’s an epidemic. It’s what happens at most parties. What’s fun about that? It simply wastes valuable time that could be devoted to learning, teaching, solving a problem or planning a dream.

I’m not saying that every conversation should be about meaningful things. Well, maybe I am.



 You get stalled on the side of the road.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do. There’s a lot to choose from out there. I certainly lack clarity from time to time. I hate the feeling. It’s like drowning in oatmeal, gasping for air.

But I found a solution. Pick something, whatever feels best at the time, and go for it 100%. To do otherwise is to do nothing, learn nothing and go nowhere.

Too many people think about it, think about it . . . and end up never doing anything. Get focused. Get certain. Get going. You can always make a U turn.

Don’t get stalled on the side of the road.



You don’t fast forward the clock.

This is the best way I’ve found to identify excellent goals. I fast-forward my mind to one year from today. I look back and ask, “What happened to make 2014 a remarkable year?” Those happenings become my goals for the year.

I write them in my calendar with a “repeat” so they show up at the top every single day. I’ve done that for me for 2014. I’ll show you mine if you’ll do the same.



You underestimate the value of relationships.

This may be the single biggest mistake you can make. My friend, Harvey Mackay, is a relationship master. What he does goes far beyond typical networking.

Harvey not only knows lots of people, he KNOWS A LOT about a lot of people.  He makes it a point to learn about everyone he meets. Not just the spouse and kids’ names.

We’re talking a favorite wine, a favorite game, the favorite team, the books I’ve read and the movies I like. This often allows Harvey to communicate with people more deeply and personally than their very best friends.

This is power beyond belief. All the money in the world may not buy you the presidency, a Nobel Prize, a shot on the big stage or the head coaching job at Notre Dame.  But relationships will . . .

Remember- everything you want someone else has.


 You let others decide.

I’m not suggesting that you not listen to others. You should every day – and listen closely, at that. It’s a great way to learn. But never forget that your life is exclusively yours.

No one cares about you like you. No one knows you like you.

The point? Ask. Listen. Decide for yourself.



You don’t build something for you.

Too many people live in a work-a-day, get nowhere trance. They devote their lives to building empires for others, but nothing for them.

You may need a dead end job right now to make ends meet. Fair enough. But that doesn’t mean you can’t begin building something for you.

For example, you could start a blog to develop followers and collect a database of customers for a future business. Or you could write a book to posture yourself as an expert in your core area. Or, you could start a small, inexpensive e-commerce store to “test the water” in the area.

Check out dollarshaveclub.com or helloflo.com. A few years ago no one would have given these business models a chance. Now they rock their respective worlds. You never know what might catch. You never will if you don’t try.

The point is to start now building something for you. You don’t have to work for the other guy all of your life.



You think things will change.

Yes, they probably will, but not in a way that will help you. It’s a cliché, but totally true,

“Don’t expect a different result if you continue doing the same old thing.”


 You won’t have the guts to have someone hold you accountable.

Do you have the guts to share your “look back” calendar entries with your dad/uncle and brothers? Will you give me permission to be in your face (and you know I will) if you’re not getting it done?

I’ll reciprocate. You have permission to hold me accountable if I’m not knocking it out of the park in 2014.



You think you’re smart.

Recently I had lunch with a man who reads 20 books a month. He also works 50 hours a week building a business with his partner.

You know one of my favorite mantras (the first line in the intro to my upcoming  book), “It’s really dumb to think you’re smart.” The corollary might be “It’s really smart to know you don’t know”.

The smartest people I know take the time to learn and grow. This morning, Corey and I agreed to read and discuss one common book every month.

Jason, Casey and Brian, I hope you’ll join in and make this a family “book a month” discussion club. I’ll set up a definitive monthly time and date with a conference call invite for us all to discuss our book of the month.

And don’t forget the plethora of online leaning opportunities. Imagine the knowledge you’d acquire from just one hour a day of informative video or audio. I listen to audio books whenever I exercise and often when driving around town.

Harvey Mackay teaches that we become a product of the people we know and the books we read. Extrapolate books to any type of learning.

The bottom line?  To learn is to grow.


 You don’t go for the improbable.

If your “look back” vision isn’t big, audacious and hugely challenging, what’s the point? It’s quite the cliché, but it’s all too true, life if short.

Go for it. You might actually get it.


 You are boring.

Do you answer the phone with a sparkle in your voice?  Do you dress super-sharp, shake hands with gusto, and always have a gleam in your eyes?  Most importantly, do you ask about and talk about what interests the other guy?

What impression do you make to those you meet and those you already know?


 You’re a wimp.

We live in a society of excuses and blame. If only. Your fault. Not fair. Woe is me.

You’re going to get up late, stay up late, watch television, talk nothingness, succumb to distraction, and be too lazy or too chicken to get out of your comfort zone and do what you need to do. Then, you’ll blame everything and everyone but you.

If you don’t believe anything else I’ve said, believe this – YOU ARE ALWAYS TO BLAME.


You’ve heard it before…

Life isn’t fair. But it is amazing.

And it’s a giant ripe peach, there for you to climb and pick from the peak of the tree.

I am so proud of the men you four have become. And I know you can become so much more.

Do the work. Conquer the fear. Don’t get distracted. Make 2014 a “show your dad” year.