Finish What You Started

Finish What You Started

It was the Summer before my senior year in High School when I ran into my Scout Master. He was also our neighbor in the small fishing village of Longboat Key, FL, where I grew up. “Smoke, good to see you. You going to finish what you started?” he asked. Of course, I knew exactly what he was referring to. You see, a few short years before, I was one of the founding scouts of Troop 44 on Longboat Key. As a new troop, I had the opportunity to immediately become a leader. It didn’t take long for a rapid ascent through the ranks; from Scout, to Tenderfoot, to 2nd Class, to 1st Class, to Star, and on to Life Scout by age 16. I only had a few more requirements to achieve my goal of becoming an Eagle Scout, the Boy Scouts highest rank. While Scouting and camping remained something I cared about, sports, school and social activities had begun to take most of my time.

On that hot Summer day while on my way to catch some Mullet with my cast net, Mr. Carmen reminded me, “Smoke, you know that only 4% of boys who start scouting ever achieve the rank of Eagle?”. This had been grilled into us from the first days of scouting. He was reminding me, that in less than a year I would turn 18 and no longer be eligible for advancement. He also knew there was a very good chance I would not finish as he’d seen this happen to many scouts over the years. Wrestling was my priority and I was about to head to Dan Gable’s 28 Day Intensive Training Camp in Iowa. Once the season started, this meant 3 hour practices, 5 days a week and meets and matches on many weekends. Juggling this with school work and applying to colleges would be a challenge as it was, add on all the social distractions that come with senior year in high school and it would be a real challenge to put the necessary time into Scouts. It was a moment of truth. Do I make the commitment to finish what I set out to do or do I take the much easier path and let other things take priority? I remember looking myself in the mirror and asking, “What matters to me?” I decided then and there that I would not let anything get in the way of my goal of Eagle. Looking back, I had no idea of the impact the answer to that question would have on my life.

Eleven months later, I completed my Eagle project. We cleaned up part of the beaches on Longboat Key and built a small foot bridge at the LBK Youth Center. I finished right before my 18th birthday. My brother Clay followed suit, earning his Eagle rank a short time later (but also right under the wire). In the end, it was up to me to do the hard work and complete the requirements. I never would have made it without the support and encouragement of my family and the adult leaders in the Troop, when I needed it most.

Today, I reflect on this story to share one of the many lessons I have learned: finish what you start.

Building the internal fortitude to bear down is hard when there are many other distractions. This is something you cannot teach, but rather one must learn from experience. Looking back on my years since, finishing my Eagle changed my whole life.

The willingness to step up and complete what one begins is an essential element for success in business, industry and community activities. I moved to Indianapolis upon graduating from Cornell University and read about an Eagle Scout leadership dinner in town. This is where I met some of the community’s biggest business and community leaders at the time, including then Senator Richard Lugar. At 22 years old, I was networking with a Senator and CEOs of some of the biggest businesses in a town. Prior to this, I only knew a handful of people in Indianapolis. Being an Eagle Scout has opened many doors for me along my personal journey. A few years later, when I was in position to hire talent for my businesses, a candidate with Eagle Scout on their resume would always make my interview list regardless of other experience. It’s the one thing from childhood that has come up time and again throughout my adult life. This would not have happened had I not finished. No one recognizes a Life Scout.

When my two sons Skye and Cameron joined Scouting, I told them this story. We had many adventures in Scouting together including hiking on the Appalachian Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Philmont Scout Ranch and the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska. As they got older, when time was running out for their Eagle, I had to remind them of it. There was a good chance they would not finish, but fortunately there were many adults and fellow scouts who helped push them when they needed it most. (Scoutmaster Clifton, Mr. B, the Johnsons, the Stewarts, and other parents, in particular Diana Church). When one starts anything new, it is easy to say, “I’ll finish and reach my goal.” It is a lot harder to actually do it. I’m proud that both sons also went on to earn their Eagle rank.

Throughout my career in business as a serial entrepreneur, I’ve encountered many setbacks and roadblocks to achieving my goals. It is how one responds to adversity that determines success. There is a confidence one develops knowing whatever it takes and no matter how difficult the situation one can persevere.

When you have the opportunity to give an extra push or words of encouragement to someone you know who is struggling or has lost sight of their goal, do it, even if it is not what they want to hear. Your encouragement could be the thing that gets them over the top to rededicate themselves to achieve their potential. It takes caring people to bring out the best in each of us. Sometimes, one person asking, “are you going to finish what you started?” is the final catalyst needed for action.

At the end of the day it is up to the individual to do what it takes. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. When you feel most like giving up, that is the time to bear down and do what it takes to finish what you started.

If you enjoyed this read, please follow me on twitter @smokewallin or on https://www.linkedin.com/in/smokewallin and you can read more on my personal website drinktechnology.com. If you know someone how needs to hear this message, please share.

Giving Memorial Day Thanks – “Build Me A Son”

Giving Memorial Day Thanks – “Build Me A Son”

Giving Thanks - Memorial Day 2015

On this Memorial Day weekend I am thinking about all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of Freedom. The world we live in is a dangerous one, fraught with men with evil intentions. But for the sacrifice of a brave few, those men would have their way on all. We can see it in places near and far, from the evil men who brutally tortured and killed a YPO family in Washington DC (Savvas Savopoulos) to the evil being inflicted on whole countries in the Middle East. Left unchecked evil prevails. We live in a the greatest country, a place where an individual, no matter if they were born into poverty and extreme disadvantage can do and be anything they set out to achieve. A country where the world’s people, seek out more than any other, to take refuge from evil, to build a better life for their family, to live free. We are all privileged and I give thanks to those who have made it possible.

This poem, by General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Allied Forces in the Pacific during the great struggle against evil in World War II, has hung on my wall for 26 years. I can think of no better message to all of my children (sons and daughters) than that contained herein.MacArthur on Time

“Build me a son, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee-and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

After all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength. Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain.’”

– General Douglas MacArthur

 

As we all enjoy the holiday weekend, including the many who come to town for the Indy 500 Sunday, let’s all take a moment and reflect on these words. Happy Memorial Day Weekend.

With Gratitude,

Smoke

May 23, 2015

Savvas Savopoulos YPO Member

Savvas Savopoulos YPO Member

On my wall since 1989

IMG_5507

The Wallin Children May 2015

Family Predictions… 2012 Outcomes

Family Predictions… 2012 Outcomes

So, we don’t do a lot of politics here, but occasionally will weigh in on what is going on or an important event.  Today is one of those important events – the US Elections.  I thought it might be fun to ask around a few of my family members what their predictions are going into today and also share a few thoughts of my own.  You will note I have family with widely divergent views to my own, but in the spirit of this great nation, and the true purpose of debate…  “not victory, but progress” – I share a few of them here with permission:

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First, my prediction:

Romney wins in a landslide. All those normal folks who were afraid of the drone slinging pres/gov and would not answer pollsters, actually vote their conscience.  That is, for a smaller, less intrusive government led by a moderate smart successful caring  person, who did what he had to do to get the nomination.  The country moderates back to a post ww2 equilibrium of about 20% fed gov spend of GNP and taxes. Balanced.   This fixes the problem. Yes there are some sacrifices re various worthy spending causes.  But alas, my parents retire with full current benefits, and those of us under 50′, buy into a new social pact whereby we know gov is there for a certain amount, but not for everything we need.  The gen x and later generations have to make the hard choices that the free spending baby boom generation of bill Clinton and our parents did not make.  Instead we focus on personal responsibility, hard work and innovation to get us to the place we need to be as a nation.  No more blaming the past or others for our predicament.

There is a complete rethink in academia…. Ayn Rand was right.  Hayek is the new Jay-z.  As a people, we recall what made us revolt from the British empire and create the greatest nation in history. We will remember Ben Franklin.

This will unleash an unprecedented burst of entrepreneurial activity fueled  by the billions and trillions of money on the sides lines during these dark times.   This will create opportunity for all. Women, Hispanic, Black, American Indian, Asian, all of us will benefit as a result.

Life will be grand.  🙂

———-
Now my Dad’s – Luke Wallin
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“The president is re-elected by comfortable margins in the popular vote and the electoral college.

The senate and house remain as they were.

In the coming year many republicans copy the strategy of “say anything.” However, it doesn’t work. This causes PhD dissertations to be written on why it worked for Romney but not for others. When the first of these works comes up for oral defense, a faculty member points out that “it didn’t work.” The thesis is rejected and all the others are quietly tossed as new topics are floated.

Chris Christie leads the party back toward moderation. This brings a war with the Tea Party, backed by the Koch brothers. Karl Rove backs Christie. Outcome too close to call.

The NRA HQ disappears in a flash of light.

Somebody said they thought they saw a drone.

What say you?”

———-
Now my oldest son, Skye Wallin
———-

“I predict a narrow Obama victory… almost certainly a victory in Ohio.

But he certainly could lose and I don’t pretend that it’s out of the realm of possibility.  Indeed, with the hurricane disruptions of voting in NY, NJ, CN, Obama may lose the popular vote and still win the College.  I hope this isn’t the case.

If Obama loses, it will be a sad thing not because he’s the greatest president, but because it will make cynics out of his supporters and cynics out of the citizens of the world who witness America fire the young man they chose to rescue us from the most catastrophic presidency in history.  People like to say that after 4 years, you can’t blame Bush anymore.  Well, I blame a lot of people and two parties, but Bush changed the world forever and wrecked a lot of things with draconian, expensive policies.

If Obama loses, it says that Americans really don’t have an ounce of patience and give up on promising individuals.  Barack still has lots of potential… after 4 years, I think he has learned what works, what doesn’t, and will approach governance more forcefully in the second term.  What kind of people are we to not even give him the chance to succeed.  As the economy improves, as the occupation of Afghanistan winds down, and as the recovery in Sandy-effected territories gets underway, what kind of sense does it make to fire the Commander?  With all the legislative nonsense that has occurred of recent, I think people blame Obama way too much–Congress is to blame for the vast majority of our problems.

With respect to foreign policy, Obama acts with a restrained neo-conservative strategy full of violence but less stupidity.  He is a scholar of the world with empathy, but unafraid to fire missiles and send in the SEALS…and go to war.  He has adopted responsible Republican tactics, so any argument that he’s soft on terror is entirely cynical and political.

WIth respect to the Supreme Court, it goes without saying that a more liberal court is a good thing.  If you are socially liberal, you understand that the Court is where those decisions get made at the end of the day.  Romney will nominate a smart, but potentially draconian conservative justice with lasting implications for civil rights and other important topics.

In the end, these men are not all that different and to assume there is a fundamental divide just isn’t true.  THe question is, do we fire our guy after his first try?  Just as things seem to be improving?  Or do we throw it all away and let Romney take the credit for someone else’s leadership?

Again, Obama wins Ohio.”

———-
Whatever your views, if you do not exercise your right to vote you really do not have much of a basis to argue about the outcome.  When all is said and done, I do hope as a country we can try to come together.  That does not mean abandoning ones principles just for unity.  It does however mean, finding ways in which, given the realities of a divided and diverse nation we can come focus on the big problems that need big solutions.  Stop politicizing everything and everyone.  Our nation cannot continue on its current trajectory and expect to maintain or grow our standard of living, our standing in the world or create opportunities for the next generations.  Stop pretending we can leave “as is” the social programs put in place in a different day and age when in fact they cannot continue as is.  That is not political.  Stop spending more than we take in.  That is not political.  Possible?
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There a people out there who are indeed thinking along these lines. I recommend checking out Dave Maney and his recent piece in the Denver Post, and this CLAYTON M. CHRISTENSEN - NY Times piece “A Capitalist’s Dilemma, Whoever Wins on Tuesday”
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Back to the family, exercising our duty as citizens, this morning at 6am at the polling station in Carmel, IN – Anitra and my oldest daughter Sierra (who got to vote for her first time today).  Pretty cool.
  
Well that about sums it up.. the family disagrees.  Do any of you have family members this divergent?  I may add more family predictions here as they trickle in.  Stay tuned…

Amazing new film from my son Skye Wallin – “Prague Dreams”

Check this out.. limited availability preview…

 

Skye Wallin “This little epic was a difficult piece for me–emotionally, creatively, physically–it broke me down, but rebuilt me into something better. Something stronger. I hope you enjoy “Prague Dreams” now, for it will fade away in just a few days. Share and LIKE! Will answer any question. ”

*Please watch it on the Vimeo site to see in HD!

Prague Dreams from skye wallin on Vimeo.

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