Risking a Fortune

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Bonton Farms, Dallas Texas, USA

“A Fortune should not always be measured by its perceived value.”

Stories of great innovators who went from rags to riches, certainly abound throughout the last one hundred years. Their diligent efforts and hard work are frequently chronicled in articles, books and even in full-length, cinematic films. Most of them are centered around the idea that someone started with next to nothing and went on to create a thriving business. While this type of success is definitely something worth admiring, it is often equated with attaining a level of, or assuring some type of happiness. No doubt all of us have heard the expression money can’t buy happiness, however; when these rags to riches stories are portrayed – and somewhat revered – in this way, that expression seems to fall by the wayside.

To close out the year, let’s put a little different spin on those kinds of stories and highlight some who intentionally reversed the wording and completely altered their lives. Namely, stories where individuals went from “Riches to Rags” for a greater good. Commending and applauding those who realized that although their greatest accomplishments were not in the wealth they accumulated but rather how they could touch and inspire the lives of others. That their pursuit of happiness was discovered when they used their great fortune for the benefit of their community and beyond.

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For the Christmas Holiday, I traveled to Dallas, Texas to visit two of my sons and their families. My daughter-in-law told me about a local farm started by Daron Babcock, who worked at a private equity firm and did extremely well. At 47, he did some soul searching and began volunteering in a neighborhood known as Bonton, which was riddled with poverty, drugs, and former inmates looking to reenter society.

The town’s people really touched his heart. However, there were no local grocery stores and the people in thet community were literally dying from poor nutrition. He soon realized that the two hours a week he spent volunteering weren’t enough. After a few months, he quit his job and moved to the town to become part of their community.

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Although many of the residents were suspicious, Babcock concluded the best way to start helping was to grow healthy food that was accessible to his new neighbors. The farm began in his backyard but with support from Habitat for Humanity and the city of Dallas, Bonton Farms became a reality.

Today there are two locations from which their produce, milk, eggs, and honey are sold and even sought after by some of Dallas’ finer restaurants. But for Babcock, the most important accomplishment is to bring hope back to a community that in many ways had none. He chose rather to help and inspire a community that most would have written off.

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There is no better way for 2018 to begin than with a giving spirit; one which has a potential of transforming a life.¬† Next week will feature one more story of “Riches To Rags”. If you have one of your own, please feel free to leave it in the comments. Thank you.

All of the pictures were provided by my daughter-in-law from when she took her children to visit the farms. To Find out more about Bonton Farms, click here .



A Gift To Remember

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Photo Courtesy of Osman Rana

“It doesn’t always take much thought or effort for a gift to leave a permanent impression.”

In last week’s article (click here to read it), choosing the right gift was discussed along with a request to comment about gifts you had either given or received that left an incredible impression. Originally, I had planned on telling a story from a Christmas 16 years ago but as so frequently happens, those plans changed.

Just this week, I was blindsided by an unexpected gift which will never be forgotten.

Last Thursday, I rushed to the grocery store to pick up a few, last-minute items before a friend came to visit. As the cashier rang up my things, we had a friendly chat. The conversation continued after I paid and he said something that reminded me I had forgotten milk. I scurried to grab it then rushed back but this time, got into a different line.

Another gentleman stepped just ahead of me but fortunately he had only a few items. I set my milk on the belt and placed the divider which separated our groceries. He was bantering with the some people in front of him and I wasn’t paying much attention but did happen to overhear him say something about people not having the Christmas spirit. Then he looked at me and said, “Merry Christmas, I’ll pay for your milk”.

My initial reaction was that he was just making conversation. After all, he was dressed in tattered clothing and I didn’t want to put him out so at first I declined his offer.¬† Then he reached over and removed the divider from between our items. The cashier proceeded to ring up his groceries and did the same with my milk. Then the gentleman looked at me and said, “You’re good to go!”

I was stunned.

Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I wanted to tell him, “please no, it’s okay” but that would have only negated his charitable, Christmas outlook. I thanked him profusely, shook his hand and that of the young man with him, and couldn’t stop smiling as I wished him a Merry Christmas.

I have no idea who he was, his name, and will probably never see him again but one thing is certain; his kindness and willingness to spread joy will never be forgotten. It was only a gallon of milk but the goodwill he showed that day defined how we should be not only at this season but throughout the entire year.

For months now, I have been posting articles which are intended to be thought provoking and inspirational. However, if I had one wish for Christmas, it would be that any one of these posts would inspire someone as much as that gentleman’s gift did me.

I look forward to your comments and my thanks to Osman Rana for the beautiful photograph. Find out more about him by clicking here or visit his website at: oranaphotography.com.

Giving the Right Gift


Photo Courtesy of Kira auf der Heide

“A true gift is given not for what it might expect in return”

This time of the year heralds plenty of warm reminders that giving is virtually an integral part of the human experience. No matter what holidays you do or don’t celebrate, the best part of the year’s end message is that giving a gift is much more satisfying than receiving one. But when all is said and done, how many truly do live their lives congruent to this mantra?

Consider for a moment on past years around this time and recall what stands out the most. Was it a particular gift or gifts you received which were most memorable or was it the smile you put on someone’s face by your generosity?

It doesn’t always involve a tremendous effort but it does require a genuine and sincere heart. These kinds of presents have the power to do more than we can know.

Undoubtedly many of us would gladly hand-deliver gifts that could change the world or even a single life. However, there is no way of predetermining what that outcome will be. Nevertheless, that ought not keep us from being sincere givers. Not knowing what consequence our gift may bring should never stop anyone from an overabundance of generosity.

A friend told me a story which happened years ago while he was in New York City. A young boy limped up to him and timidly asked for some money. He handed the child a few dollars and moments later, the boy was laughing and making fun of my friend’s compassion. This type of act certainly could be grounds for second guessing any and every opportunity for charity. However, why should we allow the ignorance of others to shackle our generosity?

It is customary after dining at a restaurant to leave the wait staff a tip. Regardless of how much is left, we don’t make demands on how they are to spend it. There are no warnings which demand the money not be used on superfluous items or addictive substances. It’s a gift which they choose to spend any way their heart desires.

On the other hand, have you ever left a larger tip than usual just to make someone’s day? Perhaps the person may be showing signs of stress and the service may have been subpar. Was there ever a consideration of showing your kindness simply to brighten that person’s day?

There is rarely ever a way to know if a gift will impact someone in a completely transformative way but one thing is certain. If nothing is given, there will never be an opportunity for a life-changing event.

“The Right Gift” is one which is given from the heart. No matter what the cost, significance, or purpose, the act of giving itself determines the kind of person we are. Feel free to write in the comments about stories where you either gave or were given something and it made a world of difference. I look forward to reading them.

My thanks to Kira auf der Heide for the photograph. Find out more about her work by clicking here and her LinkedIn profile here.

Raising Confidence to a Whole New Level


“Forget not the smaller lessons for without them, the greater ones would have never been.”

Confidence can have different meanings for different people. In last week’s article, the question was posed about teaching others to gain more for themselves (click here to read that article). While many of the comments elaborated on its importance, there were very few mentioning how to teach it or pass it on to others. However, there was one post which impacted me in a way that I will not soon forget.

Before I reveal its full effect, I must begin with a confession. One of the biggest joys I receive from posting these weekly articles is the positive response not only about their content and substance but the writing style as well. It is a thrill and an honor for my words to evoke and influence positive outcomes in others. Furthermore, one of my reoccurring themes is to look in the mirror and examine what WE can do to change and grow ourselves. So when a reader leaves a comment which triggers that same response in me, it is a serious reminder and kind of a figurative slap in the face, that my own growth should constantly be under examination.

With that said, I want to thank Julie D’Hondt for that proverbial “slap” and discuss its impact. Her first remark explained what confidence meant to her and how she has successfully dealt with it. Later, she added, “One thing that I’ve discovered is that sometimes we tend to forget feeling a certain way once we have the tools and know how to overcome things and gain confidence. Essentially, we can be blinded by it (our own confidence) and how we got there in the first place. It can create a disconnect with others that is growing and maybe haven’t learned yet how to create it for themselves”.

After reading this, I had to pause and reflect. While these words may not have struck you with the same intensity, I found myself peering into the mirror of self-reflection. How many times had I misunderstood or disconnected with someone because the older memories of my first challenges were long forgotten.

At times it is easy to forget how troublesome it really was while striving towards those goals. It’s only natural to want to relish these victories and enjoy the fruits of extraordinary efforts but it’s vital to remember everyone’s struggle – no matter how insignificant it may appear – can seem insurmountable when a person is surrounded by overwhelming circumstances. Time does have a way of easing the agony and our growth can be a “pain pill” of sorts that dulls the memory of how difficult those events truly were.

Although part two was originally intended to be an articulate conclusion on confidence, instead it became another treatise on self-reflection. Once again, another “Irony of Life” transpired right in front of me. Apparently, the Universe needed me to take confidence to a whole new and different level.

Thanks again, Julie and I look forward to your comments.

The Key to Confidence


Photo by Helena Yankovska

“One unique attribute of confidence is that it both feeds and grows on itself”

I recently had a conversation with a prominent therapist and asked, “How do you teach your clients to gain more self-confidence?” The response was unexpected but also became the genesis for this post. “That is a great question” was how it began and the next ten minutes were spent discussing our own particular techniques, experiences, and results.

While working with my clients, confidence, and the understanding of how to achieve more, is one of the key elements on which I focus. Learning how other professionals deal with this subject generates new ideas so I am constantly on the lookout for what techniques and methods work for others.

Before I begin laying out some of my thoughts, take a few moments and consider ideas you would use to help someone gain self-confidence. Most of us don’t need to be a therapist, life coach, or have a motivational type career to warrant using this skill. Building confidence is something just about all of us could use. Parents imparting it to their children, successful managers implementing it in the work environment, and in our everyday lives, we can inspire people to become better by simply boosting their self-esteem.

The dictionary defines confidence in part as: full trust, belief in ones self, certitude, assurance; all of which are key components but how do we impart that on others? For that matter, how do we instill and develop it within ourselves especially when many of us have a tendency towards lower self-esteem in the first place?

One way in which confidence is cultivated is seeing improvement in a particular skill or action through practice or repetition. A basketball player can spend hours shooting free-throws concentrating on the movements which propel the ball from the fingertips right through the center of the hoop. Repeating this regularly will culminate in making more baskets and boosting confidence. Likewise a painter can meticulously work at making straighter lines which leads to cleaner and more accurate results.

The positive outcomes experienced boost self-image and create an atmosphere in our minds conducive to acquiring self-confidence. It was not luck but rather the culmination of tremendous effort done correctly. However, if either that basketball player or the painter were practicing incorrect or ineffective techniques, the results could produce the opposite effects.

In either case – whether confidence was lost or gained – the individual must believe and accept it for her or himself in order for it to transpire. All the practice and repetition in the world will not generate results. No amount of compliments or praise creates confidence and self-esteem until it is ultimately accepted by the individual attempting to foster it. In short, confidence is attained when we BELIEVE it is true about ourselves.

I hope to see some innovative ideas in the comments below and next week, share some of the great views. We can always use more confidence so let’s share some awesome experiences. Thank you and I look forward to reading them.

My thanks to Helena Yankovska for the great photograph. To find out more about her, click here.