1378=Your Savings Goal for 2017

Saving money can seem impossible.

Baby step #1 of Dave Ramsey’s plan for getting out of debt is to accumulate $1,000 cash in an emergency fund. The reason you need the cash is your car will break or your washing machine will die or you’ll have a wreck and have to pay your insurance deductible. If you don’t have the cash you’ll have to go further in debt.

Whenever I teach about finances I get asked, “How can I save $1,000 if I can’t pay my bills as it is?” Well, I’m going to show you how and at the same time help you develop the money saving habit.

The reason most people fail when they attempt to save a $1,000 is they try to do it all at once. When they fail, they give up because they think it’s impossible. The genius behind this strategy is it’s gradual and starts with an amount of money anybody can save, $1.

This idea is so insanely simple, I wish I had thought of it. You put $1 in your savings in account in week one. Then you add one dollar more per week for every week of the year. By the last week of 2017, your deposit will $52 and you’ll have $1378 in your savings account. Boom! you’ve got your emergency fund AND you’ve developed the habit of saving money every week.

Here’s the spreadsheet I use to track my deposits.

52 Week Savings Plan

No more excuses! Get started today!

The Lost Art of Haggling

Before credit cards and loans, one of the keys to survival and success for any southern gentleman was haggling. Some people call it negotiating but I think haggling is a the southern word. The better the southern gentleman was at haggling, the more successful he was. There were lots of southern men who were able to build financial empires on the strength of their haggling ability.

Now haggling has become a lost. A big reason is the internet. As much as I like using Amazon, I have to pay their price. Period. But there are places online where you need to know how to haggle. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are two places you can get a great deal if you know how to haggle.

I think of haggling as second job. Every dollar I’m able to negotiate off of the price, is the same thing as a dollar earned. Well, iff that’s true, why don’t more guys do it?

Why Men Don’t Haggle

Negotiating is for Poor People

If you think that, then you don’t know any rich people. Never forget, they didn’t get rich by paying full price.

Not Worth the Time

Rich people have learned to haggle on the right things. They have determined a haggling threshold, which is when any discount you might get below this line is not worth the time it would take to get. What’s your threshold? Maybe your rule is to haggle for anything that costs more than $100 while Bill Gates number might be $10,000. But the principle is the same.Time is money. Be sure the potential discount is worth the time it will take you to get it.

I’m not Aggressive Enough

Good hagglers aren’t pushy or obnoxious because they know a good negotiation is not an argument. It’s a conversation where two parties are trying to get what they want.

How To Haggle

I believe the biggest reason men don’t haggle is they don’t know how. Here’s a few principles to help you develop your haggling skills:

#1 If Someone Loses, You Did it Wrong

Forget what you’ve seen on TV or in a movie, the best negotiations are where both sides are satisfied with the deal. It’s a win-win scenario not a zero sum game with a winner and a loser. Herb C0hen was named world’s best negotiator and he proved it when he guided the US government through the Iranian hostage, had this to say about what makes a successful negotiation:

“A successful negotiation occurs when both sides discover an outcome they prefer over the status quo”. -Herb Cohen (here’s a great interview with Mr. Cohen)

#2 Know What’s Possible

You need to be sure what you’re offering is reasonable. No store is going to take your offer if it’s less than what they paid for the item.  This is another way the internet has leveled the playing field. In just a few minutes, you can find out either the wholesale price or the typical markups for different industries. Here’s a few examples I found on google in less than 5 minutes.

  • Furniture is marked up 200-400%
  • Gold jewelry 100 to 400%
  • Diamonds 50 to 200%

#3 Cash is King

When it comes to time to close the deal, hundred dollar bills can make all the difference. Why? Cash shows you’re a serious buyer and not just a tire-kicker. Sellers know they have to decide whether or not to say no to a guaranteed sale.

Even if the seller won’t come down on the price, he’s saving the 4-6% credit card transaction fee when you pay cash and should be willing to pass that on to you. If not, then it’s probably time to take your business and cash elsewhere.

#4 Loyalty Pays

Good sales people know it costs more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Let them know you’ve done business with them before and want to do it again. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars from a cable tv provider using this strategy.

#5 Floor Sample

Ask if there’s a discount for buying a floor sample. You can get a really good deal when buying appliances using this strategy. Also, look for units that have a small dent or paint imperfection in a place where it won’t be seen and you’ll save some serious $.

#6 Know When to Shut Up

This one is tough for a guy like me who enjoys haggling but it’s a jedi mind trick that can tilt the deal in your favor. Sometimes a salesman will agree to your offer just to break an awkward silence.

#7 Be Willing to Walk Away

If I had to identify THE key to haggling it’s you must be willing to walk away. You can only do this if you don’t get emotional about the deal. In the word’s of the great haggler, Michael Corleon, it’s not personal, it’s just business.

#8 Ask The Magic Question

If you’re still nervous about how to begin a negotiation, use the magic question “Is that the best you can do?”

But the big take away is don’t be afraid to haggle. The worst thing they can do is say “no”.

Do you have any haggling tips? Share them in the comments

Organization 101

In case you haven’t noticed, you have a lot of crap to keep up with. Paying bills, projects your boss has assigned you, getting your oil changed, spending time with your wife and kids. . . The list keeps going and can seem overwhelming. But it’s all stuff you’ve got to do because they’ll turn your cable off if you don’t pay the bill, you’ll get fired if you forget the project, you’ll have to have your engine rebuilt if you don’t change the oil and your feel so guilty about how little time you spend with your kids that you curl in the fetal position any time you hear “Cats in the Cradle”.

Your list of stuff to do might be long but it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. You just need to get organized. And it’s not even not all that hard to do. In fact you can get your crap together in a weekend with these simple steps:

Write It Down

This is hand downs the best stress reliever. Especially when you get to be an old-fart like me. Writing down EVERYTHING takes away the stress of worrying about forgetting stuff.

A couple of tips on how to do this:
Sign up for Evernote! The best thing to happen to organization since the pencil. I capture everything in Evernote (3100 notes and counting).

  • I don’t keep paper owner’s manuals anymore. Instead I download the pdf and put it in Evernote.
  • I keep the model number for the water filter on my fridge evernote.
  • Every year I put the goals for that year in Evernote.

BONUS TIP-I download every note to both my iphone and laptop so I don’t have to worry about being online plus it’s another backup.

Paper is better for retention. Study after study has proven your retention rate is over 70% greater if you physically write something down than if you typed the information. I’ve used every notebook available. Moleskine, Field Notes, you name it, I’ve tried but I always cycle back to good a old fashioned, spiral bound notebook. Don’t get sidetracked trying to find the perfect notebook because that’s just another form of procrastination. It doesn’t matter what you use, just write it down.

Schedule Everything

Schedules keep you from panicking. Ever woke up in the middle of night, drenched in sweat because you realized your anniversary was last week? Enough said.

Schedules also prevent you from overbooking yourself. There’s not much more embarrassing and more unprofessional than realizing you told two different people you’d have lunch with them at the same time.

BONUS TIP
Sign up for google calendar and then put in birthdays, anniversaries, due dates for bills, along with appointments and deadlines.

PRO TIP
Make sure you set a reminder in google calendar for the day BEFORE an event is due.

Eat the Frog

You’ll never get organized until you stop procrastinating. A great way to break the habit is to eat the frog. What I mean is, find the most distasteful item on your schedule and do it first. You’ll be amazed how much better your day will go when the frog isn’t still hanging over your head at 4pm.

Give Everything a Home

Ever thought about how much time you waste looking for your keys, wallet, or phone? That’s why everything needs a home. Even if it’s just a bowl beside the door where you put your keys, wallet and sunglasses when you walk in.

Keep Only What You Need

This is an ongoing project for me. I get rid of clothes that don’t fit or I haven’t worn in more than a year, old books I’m never going to read again, and generally anything I don’t use any more. Why? Having more stuff means there’s more stuff to organize.

If all of this feels like too much to remember, just copy and paste this and make it the lock screen on your phone.

If you take it out, put it back.
If you make a mess, clean it up.
If you open it, close it.
If you take it off, hang it up

Men Are Not Defective Women

There is a war on true masculinity. Not the cartoon image of men perpetuated by the media and groups with an agenda but true, Don’t Be A Jerk, masculinity.The kind of masculinity we teach, promote and celebrate at Modern Southern Gentleman.

I ran across this article that pulls back the curtain of how the battle is being fought at some universities. BTW, don’t miss this fact about the program at Duke:

“Duke University, on the other hand, told Campus Reform that its Men’s Project exists “under the advisement and funding of the Duke Women’s Center.”

Programs like this reinforce the narrative that men are actually defective women and the world would be a much better place if men would just admit it and work on becoming more like women. Not true. The world will be a better place when men take on their role as Provider, Warrior and Guide. Real men are not oppressors, they are liberators. They protect not attack. They are wired to pass on the lessons of manhood to future generations because they understand how high the stakes are. The most important fact real men know is if we lose masculine men, we all lose.

That’s the narrative we’re spreading at Modern Southern Gentleman.

Why You Scared Bro?

One of the biggest hurdles I continually struggle with is spending more time planning/researching than publishing/producing. What I mean is it’s way easier for me to spend my time listening to the latest podcast from Tim Ferris, Michael Hyatt or Gary Vaynerchuck or reading Pat Flynn’s blog than it is to publish something I wrote or recorded. Way easier.

Based on conversations I’ve had I’m not the only one. Somebody reading this is being forced to admit “Me too”.

It’s also easier to spend time redesigning your website or fine tuning your email lead magnet, instead of putting out what you think, what you’re passionate about, what YOU wrote.

It’s so much easier a lot of us end up in perpetual planning mode.

Why?

I think fear of rejection/failure is at the root of the behavior. Nobody likes to be rejected or told what they produced sucks. So rather than take the chance of being rejected, we just avoid publishing all together.

This is sad because the world needs your unique take on the world or music or politics or computers or coffee or whatever.

But why are we so afraid of failure? It’s not like we’re going to die if we fail. There’s not much chance there will be lifetime consequences if we fail.

If you’re still not sure, go find a guy who has cratered his life, and ask him about failure.

I’ve got several friends who fit this description and they all have one trait in common now, they are fearless. 

I talked to one these guys about this. He was all over social media before his personal train wreck, so when it happened, the news was everywhere.

BTW, I watched what he went through and I wouldn’t wish that kind of attack and scrutiny on my worst enemy. If you are trying to get known on the web, be careful, there’s a dark side to internet fame that is uglier than anything you can imagine.

Anyway as he and I were talking I said “You’ve already survived a public failure and you’re still standing. If I were you, I think I would never fear failure again because I’d know it’s not fatal. Maybe embarrassing but nothing that can’t be overcome.”

He said, “yep.”

Not Your Normal Inspiration

It’s weird that I get inspired by his story when I’m killing time “researching” instead of writing. Now I ask myself “What’s the worst thing that can happen? Somebody will leave a bad rating or say something negative about me online.” If that’s the worse that can happen, why am I scared? 

I need to man up and get to work getting my message out.

And so do you.

Everything I Need to Know About Being a Man, I Learned Playing Football

Week 1 of 2017 is in the books. How’d you do? Is the world a better place because of what you did this week? If not, don’t worry about it, you get another chance this week. Here’s some tips, tools and tactics to help you be awesome.

TIPS

There’s nothing more southern than a gentleman with a tumbler of good bourbon. Not a shot of Fireball, but a couple of fingers off fine sippin’ whiskey and maybe a cube of ice. Deals have been made and feuds have been settled by two southern gentleman having a long talk over a bottle of good bourbon. In honor of this heritage, here are 6 famous men and their whiskey of choice from the folks at coolmaterial.com

Frank Sinatra – Jack Daniel’s

What’s there to say about Old Blue Eyes that hasn’t already been said? Did he have the voice of an angel? Absolutely. And what do you think that angel lubed his throat pipes with? Jack Daniel’s. Sinatra was such a huge fan of Old No. 7 that Jack Daniel’s released two limited labels in his honor—Sinatra Select and, to commemorate what would have been his 100th birthday, Sinatra Century.

Lemmy – Jack Daniel’s (and Coca Cola)

We included one man and one man only on this list who drank his whiskey mixed, and his name is Lemmy. Lead singer of Motörhead, one of the gnarliest rock and roll bands to ever grace a stage, Lemmy’s penchant for hard living—sex, drugs, rock and roll, and especially booze—is a thing of legend.

After his death (prostate cancer, of all things) late last year, a petition was formed online to officially rename Lemmy’s drink of choice, the popular “Jack and Coke” (Jack Daniel’s and Coca-Cola) to “The Lemmy.” Food and Beverage Magazine listened, and made the official change, honoring the petition that accrued more than 40,000 online signatures.

Andrew Jackson – Homebrew

When we think of American badasses, Andrew Jackson nears the top of our list. Aside from his incredible battle-tested wartime heroism, Jackson was big on gun fighting. A reporter once called his wife a whore, so he said something like, “Yeah? Screw you. Let’s duel about it.” So they did, and Jackson killed him. It has been alleged that throughout his gun-fighting career, Jackson killed more than 100 men.

And he didn’t just have a penchant for gun violence. He also lived like a 19th century rock star. After he was elected POTUS, he threw public parties at the white house, beat an attempted assassin with a walking cane, and at his funeral, his pet parrot had to be removed from the procession because it wouldn’t stop cussing in the Lord’s house.

Jackson was also a well-reputed whiskey guy. Old Hickory loved the brown stuff, and he never had a noted brand of preference because he was too busy making his own. When Jackson wasn’t practicing law, shooting dudes in the throat, and being a president, he was entranced by the process of alcohol distillation. He had his own distillery at Hermitage, his Tennessee plantation home.There’s even rumors about that when his friend, John Coffee, was suffering from arthritis, Jackson recommended he take a whiskey bath. A bath. In whiskey.

John Wayne – Wild Turkey Bourbon

John Wayne was another man’s man, and he too was a whiskey guy. Lore tells us Wayne was a situational drinker of sorts—tequila, vodka, cognac, and even high-end French wines, on occasion. But it came time to declare some loyalties, Wayne was a bourbon guy. In an interview, his son, Ethan, recounted that when his dad would take on a movie role that would keep him in exotic places for months at a time, he’d pack cases of Wild Turkey for the trip, just to make sure he didn’t have to go without the good stuff for too long.

Anthony Bourdain – Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon

A New York-born and Jersey-bred creator and ground shaker of the highest degree, Anthony Bourdain has proven himself an incredibly talented chef, food critic, traveler, and writer. He’s also a certified booze connoisseur.

Bourdain once jokingly (presumably?) tweeted that he was considering getting a full back tattoo dedicated to Pappy, and has talked about it in several interviews. When he sat down with Eric Lipert for an interview, Lipert surprised Bourdain with an unopened bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year. Bourdain’s face lit up, he immediately let out a gasp, and proclaimed, “That is the most glorious bourbon on the face of the planet.” You can’t really get any clearer than that.

Dressing Like a Modern Southern Gentleman

#135 is one of my favorite Man Skills

Showing up in jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt is not how you get serious men to take you seriously. But you also don’t have to wear a tuxedo everywhere you go. Here are a few basics that will help you stand out from whatever crowd you’re in.

Keep Your Shirts Pressed and Your Shoes Shined. Here’s a greatvideo on how to polish your shoes from Kiwi
Keep It Simple, Stupid. Classic always works. So no crazy colors, no Mister-T starter set necklaces. You want them to remember the man, not the Ed Hardy T-shirt
When In Doubt, Go With A Plain White Shirt. There’s nothing better than a starched white dress shirt when you’re wearing a suit or sport coat. Bonus points for french cuffs and good cuff links.
It’s Always Better to Overdress Than Under Dress. Whether it’s a job interview, funeral or dinner party, I’d rather show up in coat and tie and realize i’m over dressed, than show up in jeans and a baseball cap. I can always take my tie off but there’s no way to dress up my favorite Alabama baseball cap.
Never Leave Home Without Your Wristwatch. One reason is it looks good. But an even better reason is it’s one less temptation to pull your phone out. BTW, you don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands to have a nice watch. This one is less than $50

Socks are the best way to go a little crazy. Great sock game will get you noticed in a good way.BONUS-Your belt should always match your shoes.

TOOLS

I can handle the basics of car maintenance like oil changes, replacing air filters and burned out bulbs but there’s one I’ve never had the nerve to try, change brake pads. This video makes it look so easy I may give it a try.

_____________________________________________________

One thing I learned early on is the right tool makes any job easier. So what tools do you need to tackle the average projects and repairs around the house? Here’s a pretty good list.

______________________________________________________

BONUS tool tip- Check out these uses for a screwdriver you’ve probably never thought about.

TACTICS

Everything I needed to know about being a man, I learned playing football

I played football from 8 years old until I graduated from high school. I can’t say I enjoyed every minute of it but I can and will say it was not wasted time. The reason it wasn’t wasted is I’m convinced much of who and what I am as a man was developed on the practice field and in games. There are certain lessons learned in a competitive, physical sport that are hard to pick up in other ways. Here’s a list.

  1. I have to own my mistakes. When I missed a block, it was me. Not my parents. Not the coach. Not the QB. It was me.

  2. How to follow authority, even if you don’t always respect the person. I played for a lot coaches and liked all of them. Except for one. I had to learn it wasn’t necessary that I like him, he was the coach and if I wanted to play, I was going to have to do it his way. 

  3. Don’t be thin skinned. You’ll miss a lot of good lessons if you focus on the manner and method of the coaching instead of the substance of what the coach is saying.

  4. I must relentlessly review my performance. Watching game film can be the worst time of your life. Especially with a coach who’s in love with the rewind button. But it’s really the only way to get better.

  5. How to be a dependable teammate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a starter or a scrub, you have to be there for your teammates and they have to know that.

  6. Being a man is results oriented not talk oriented. You can talk all the smack you want before the game, but when it starts, it’s all about how YOU perform.

  7. Discipline. I learned how to do something I didn’t want to do, two-a-day practices in August, to get something I really wanted to have, playingon Friday night.

PS

As you get ready to start your week, here’s a short list of actions any man can do that will guarantee his world is better today than it was yesterday:

  • Help one more person every day
  • Give more and take less
  • Ask why

Digital Heroin and Don’t be a Jerk

Happy New Year! Let’s get this year started off strong! I’ve got some good stuff to help you make 2017 your best year.

Tips

How many cars can you fit in your 2 car garage? If the answer is 0, this post is for you. Great tips on reclaiming your domain.

I love a good hamburger but there’s nothing worse than a bad hamburger. Watch Chef/Author Anthony Bourdain talk about what makes a perfect hamburger

 

Tools

Lewis Grizzard said “Credit cards are financial heroin”. Credit card debt can sneak up on you  and put you on a treadmill of minimum payments and ballooning balances. Check out this post to better understand the APR of your credit card.

One of my mantras is “Measure Twice, Cut Once”. I use it as a reminder to proofread every email before I hit send. This article on the presidential election hasn’t gotten much notice but if it’s true, it’s the best illustration what can happen when you don’t measure twice, cut once.

Tactics

Retired Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis is President Elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Defense. Watch this video to get to a sense of the not just the Marine but the man. I look forward to seeing our Armed Forces after a year or so under the leadership of General Mattis.

Digital Heroin

In my opinion, internet/smartphone/video game addiction is the next big crisis to be dealt with in our country. The author of this article calls it “digital heroin”. It’s also at the root of internet porn addiction. In fact, it’s not out of line to say this entire article could be written about a 35 year old man who’s addicted to porn instead of a 9-year old boy who’s addicted to video games.

This is a topic I’ll be writing a lot about in the coming weeks because I want the men who are trapped in an endless cycle of relapse to know there is a way out. I want them to know it’s not a lack of willpower that prevents them from kicking a porn habit, it’s a lack of knowledge about what the real problem is and how to deal with it.

BONUS

I love this story about Muscle Shoals Sound Studio being revitalized. One of my favorite podcast interviews was done in the control room with founding member and bass playing legend, Dave Hood. Click here to listen.

 

Click here to get posts like this delivered straight to your email inbox.

 

This is our mantra for 2017. You ready to make the pledge?

How to Pay Your Bills

3 Part Process To Keep You Cable From Being Turned Off On A Football Saturday

According to all kinds of research it appears that one of the biggest skills guys under the age of 25 (probably more like under the age of dead) want to know is how do I pay my bills? I think the real question is how do I avoid forgetting to pay my bills which means I come home to the electricity being turned off because I didn’t pay the bill.

But whatever your reason, I’m going to show you how to pay your bills.

One big reason is a southern gentleman is a man of his word and that means paying people what you owe them. Whether it’s visa, mastercard or cousin goober.

It’s Not Complicated

A lot of guys think they “just can’t” pay their bills so they let their wives or God forbid, their mommy do it for them. If got more than a D in 2nd grade math and know how many months there are in a year, you can pay your bills. All it’s going to take is one Saturday and probably not even the whole day, to get organized. You only have to know 3 pieces of information to pay your bills

  • What You Owe
  • When It’s Due
  • How Much You Make

That’s it. And none of this information is classified and requires 3 forms of ID for you to get. What you owe and When it’s due is ON THE BILL. What you earn is on YOUR CHECK STUB.

That’s it. You don’t have to know what your APR is on the car payment, you don’t have to know the maturity date of your mortgage (that comes later, right now I’m trying to teach how to keep your cable from being turned off right before the Alabama LSU game comes on).

The next step is you get to decide how you’re going to track all of this. Remember all you need to track is what you owe and when it’s due. The options are endless

Mint– great app for tracking your bank account activity but the budgeting part is a little weak.

Google Calendar- This is what I use. When I open a bill, I simply enter it in google calendar. But here’s the secret: Set the reminder to the day BEFORE the bill is due. Preferably set to go off before you leave home.

You can go old school and get a paper calendar and do the same thing. The trick is developing the habit of checking it FIRST THING every day. Before facebook, before instagram, before texting. Get it? Before Anything!

When it comes to tracking what I owe vs what I earn, I use a very simple spreadsheet that I keep in Google Sheets. It’s dirt simple, what I earn is at the top, then my bills are listed/deducted and the balance spits out at the bottom. Here’s a bonus tip, if the balance shows up in red, with a minus sign in front of it or in parenthesis, that’s BAD!

If you want the ultimate in secure, then get a $1.99 spiral notebook and the calculator app on your phone. Then the process is the same, write down what you earn at the top, then list all your bills. Subtract the bills from what you earn and presto you just learned the concept of disposable income.

WARNING

Do this at the begining- look at your bank balance. Be sure it’s a nice, pretty, positive number. Now if you follow what you wrote down, this number should never go negative. But just to be sure, set Mint or your bank app to send you a text if your balance drops below $100. Then check the balance once a week. Come on, it takes all of 30 seconds on your phone/computer or full minute to do a balance inquiry at the ATM.

There you go. That’s it. Easy, breazy.

I can’t end this post without giving a select group of guys a swift kick in the ass. Be a man. Pay YOUR OWN bills. Don’t put the task off on your wife or God forbid YOUR MOMMY. If you can add and subtract, you can pay your own bills. Quit being lazy and take care of your crap.

PS

Email me at dee@modernsoutherngentleman.com if you’d like a free copy of the spreadsheet I use.

You’re Never Too Old To Pay Attention To Who Your Friends Are

Crazy headline from Australia-”Two Friends Shoot Each Other in the Butt to ‘See if it would hurt’”.

The two men had been drinking for several hours when they took turns firing an air rifle at each others’ butts. It hurt but they thought they were fine and went home to sleep it off.

The next day both men had pain other than a severe hangover and were taken to a hospital, where doctors had to remove pellets from their buttocks and thighs. Turns out they were not only stupid but also horrible shots.

WHAT?

These two morons prove our friends lead us to wherever we end up.

For some reason we think we can stop worrying about who our friends are after we become adults. Dr. Jim Rohn disagrees and said:

”You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

SO WHAT?

Picture the 5 people you spend the most time with. Got it? Now, do an assessment of their weaknesses. Are they hot-tempered? Are they dishonest? Are they bad with money? Even the weaknesses that are just annoying like they are always late.

Now comes the tough question, which of their weaknesses have your copied? Probably more than you realized.

NOW WHAT?

If I really am the average of the 5 people I spend the most time with, how do I figure out who my 5 people are?

3 Questions to Evaluate the People you Spend Time With

How do I feel after interacting with this person? Am I energized/inspired or drained/confused?

Some people are leeches. They attach themselves and drain you dry. Which is bad enough but the worst part is they then go find another person to latch onto AND complain about how you weren’t there for them.

You want people in your life who inspire you. Who motivate you. Friends cheer us on when we hit bottom and keep us humble when we reach the top.

How does this person respond to criticism? By embracing it and showing gratitude or dismissing it and becoming angry?

Nobody likes criticism but it’s how you become the best version of you. And the best way to learn how to deal with criticism is by watching someone else do it.

Does this person accept responsibility or deflect it?

None of us can succeed until we take personal responsibility. But it’s hard to do. It can be embarrassing. That’s why we need friends to stand by us and give us the strength to do it.

Here’s my favorite story about friends from “The West Wing”.

This guy’s walkin’ down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out.

A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, “Hey you! Can you help me out?” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole, and moves on.

Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, “Father, I’m down in this hole; can you help me out?” The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

Then a friend walks by. “Hey, Joe, it’s me. Can ya help me out?” And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, “Are ya stupid? Now we’re both down here.” The friend says, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.

That’s what friends do. Who do you have in your life who’ll jump in the hole with you?

We Can’t Solve Our Problems if We Can’t Even Sit at the Same Table

What?

Take a few minutes and think about the best times of your life. Times when you were laughing until your sides hurt or were suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude.

How many of those happened around a table?

If you’re like me, the answer is most of them. Not surprising when you think about how much of the southern culture is centered around tables. Especially family gatherings during the holidays.

So What?

The presidential election has caused disagreements on facebook, twitter, and around tables. Families and friends are breaking relationships over who voted for who and which lives matter. Here’s an example from The Daily News. (Click here to read the full article)

“Mothers and sons, sisters and brothers, friends unfriended — it’s been tough for some on opposing sides who must now figure out the way forward. They wonder what their ties will feel like a month from now. A year. What about the holidays?

Leigh Anne O’Connor in Manhattan already has her answer, and her heart broke.

“My dad just called and said he is not coming for Thanksgiving,” she said Thursday. “I cried last night when we hung up.”

He supported President-elect Donald Trump, along with one of her sisters and other relatives. She did not.
“He got into a ‘discussion’ on Facebook with a friend who will be at Thanksgiving and he also read something my oldest daughter wrote against our family members who supported Trump,” O’Connor explained.”

This is bull&*#)! Trump vs Hillary is no excuse for breaking up a family or a long time friendship.

Not only is it pathetic, it’s counter productive. How are we going to solve issues like racism, hunger, abortion, failing school systems, excessive taxes, wasteful government spending, and more if we can’t even sit at the same table with those we disagree with?

Now What?

This is where southern gentlemen everywhere can step in and show the way. Boys get up and storm away from the table when confronted with opinions he doesn’t agree with, southern gentleman stay seated and follow the three keys to treating people with respect:

3 Keys To Treating People With Respect

  1. Disagree without demonizing-Just because a person’s beliefs are the complete opposite for yours does not mean he/she are evil. Assume the best about the person. Believe they think the way they do because they believe their way of thinking will make the world a better place.
  2. Don’t interrupt or dominate- spend more time listening and less time attempting to control the conversation.
  3. Don’t be a jerk-Southern gentleman are known for their manners and around the table is a great place to use them.

My challenge to all of you modern southern gentleman is to set the example. You lead the way. Use these 3 keys to treat people with respect. Not only practice them but pass them along if you get the chance. But there’s no substitute for a man who shows the way.