July 27, 2009

Let the Customer Service Revolution Begin

Customer service is now officially on alert!

After months of discussion and planning, I have launched a blog that makes companies accountable for the most important component of business – customer service.

If they fail – we will call them out.

If they crush our expectations with great customer service – we will sing their praises.

Without further ado, I introduce the CME* Revolution. (*Crush My Expectations)

Now, I am looking for foot soldiers to provide traction for this movement.

Your mission is simple: When you have a significant customer service experience – tremendous or awful – you give the manager/owner a pre-printed CME* card, and then you make a blog post acknowledging your experience.

The cards are simple and directs the individual to the blog – there is one card for a quality experience and a card for a negative one.


We have also made posting your experience on the CME* blog as simple as possible. There is an online form that you simply fill out and submit.

There are only two rules to joining this movement:

1) You cannot use this blog as a means to get free goods or services,

2) You cannot use this blog as a personal vendetta towards a particular company or business.

We simply want to recruit an army of like-minded individuals – who are sick and tired of settling for crappy customer service.

Again, our society is too content with poor customer service and it is about to stop RIGHT HERE. We also have to stop taking quality customer service for granted and putting convenience and price ahead of it.

If you are interested in joining this revolution, simply click here to make $15 donation. (This donation covers all of our printing and shipping of our CME* cards.)

Once we receive your donation – we will forward you specific instructions and the links to your positive and negative surveys.

Once you receive your cards in the mail – you’re an official foot soldier in the CME* Revolution.


July 21, 2009

If a Child is a Blessing, Put Me Down For One

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a three-part series, updating the status of my 101 List.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog post about a family trip I went on with one of my co-workers/friends.

It was one of those trips that could easily be a public service spot on birth control. There was a leaking bag of throw-up, skinned body parts and several comments like, “Can we pull over? I need to poopoo!” 

Needless to say, there was a lot of chaos. (click here for original post)

It was perfect.

In that particular blog post – I announced to the world that I thought I was ready to be a dad.

As soon as I clicked “POST,” I heard the giggling from my friends and family around the country. Some of it was outright laughter.

Well...don’t pee yourself from laughing this time around....TK and I are pregnant. The first week of March, I’ll get the chance to mark No. 2 off my 101 List.

I’m going to be a dad!


I was on a mental-health trip to West Texas when I found out. I drove out the day before and TK flew to meet me Saturday night.

Saturday morning in my hotel room – before she had arrived – I read my Bible (something I’m trying to do more regularly), prayed, and wrote in my new spiritual journal.

Since we had been diligent about getting pregnant, a baby had become a constant on my prayer list. The wonderfully great thing about that morning, I actually wrote the prayer in my journal.

“My prayers today...for a baby.”

Less than 12 hours later, TK delivered the news.

“I didn’t know how to tell you,” she said. “I took a test last night – I’m pregnant.” (TK was little embarrassed she didn’t “drop the bomb” in a fun and unique way – I didn’t care. I was going to be a dad. She could have sent it to me in a text message as far as I was concerned.)


We gave each other a big hug and a kiss, but quickly put together a game plan about telling the world. The emotional carousel of her miscarriage almost two years ago forced us to gently tap the brakes. We both agreed it was best to wait.

Once we got home from our weekend get-away, we scheduled a doctor’s appointment to see the heartbeat. We were told that once you see that little “flutter” on the sonogram machine – you have a 90 percent chance of carrying the baby to term.

We decided that would be the defining moment – when we could make it official and tell the world (a.k.a. Post it as our status on Facebook).

There was another reason that doctor’s appointment was so meaningful, though. That was the exact same visit – to see the heartbeat – when our world of being parents quickly came to a tragic and temporary halt during our first pregnancy.

Needless to say, there was enough anxiety in the doctor’s office to last a lifetime.

As the process began (no gory details), the anxiety and tension reached an all-time high.
I stared a hole through the monitor and held TK’s hand.

Finally, the doctor pointed out the heartbeat, the room completely decompressed. It looked like a peanut floating in space to me, but I didn’t care. His confirmation was like someone opened the airplane door at 40,000 feet.


A lot of people asked me if I cried. I didn’t – came close, but no tears.

I equate it to when I asked TK to marry me. There was a sense of confident happiness, but no crying.

NOW... I did cry like an infant during the actual wedding ceremony, so I’m anticipating myself being a fountain of emotions in that delivery room. (Hell, I’ve almost lost it a couple of times while writing this blog post.)

Thanks to everyone who has kept us in their prayers for the last couple years, and thanks to everyone’s kind words and congratulatory wishes since we made it “official.”

I ask all of you to keep those prayers coming – the primary one: That TK can actually make it 9 months without drinking a beer.

I just want to reiterate how excited we are, and how blessed we feel.

Now...back to my 101 List. I totally understand that Baby Crash/Baby Ily could completely derail my mission of pulling off this project.

Ummmm....I don’t care!?!?!

Whatever I don’t cross off in these 1001 days – I’ll roll it over into OUR list and try and tackle it together.


Our little "space peanut"

July 20, 2009

List Placed Back into Spotlight; No. 65 Gets Axed

I’ve started to put an emphasis on my 101 List again.

Unfortunately, death is the catalyst. It has recently reminded me over the last couple of months how short life really is. I had a loved one pass away (my Aunt Edie), and I have a half dozen friends who recently lost someone close to them. (That’s not even mentioning Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, and Steve McNair.)

Reminder: I consider my List as a road map to living life to the fullest, and a working thank you note to God for allowing me to wake up every morning.

Needless to say, I decided it was time to start marking some 
things off.

I wanted to share some recent “cross-offs,” and provide an update on other tasks that I’m hopefully about to accomplish. This is the first in a series of three blog posts bringing everybody up to speed on my List (not to mention reminding myself to keep it on the front burner of my grenade-juggling life.)

NOTE: There is one upcoming event that could jeopardize the entire project. Stay tuned for that wonderfully great post (it will be No. 2 in the three-part series).

• No. 65 (Plant a tree):

To honor our five-year anniversary, I planted a tree for my wife, TK.

Over the last five years, I’ve stuck closely to the recommended anniversary gifts – traditional AND modern. I try to add a little twist of romance and surprise to each present – and I’ve definitely used some artistic license through the years.

Here are a few examples:

Traditional Gift: Paper
Modern Gift: Clock

DETAILS: I gave her a sundial (a.k.a. Clock Gift) for her garden, which she didn’t have at the time. We were living in an apartment. But the Paper Gift was the completed mortgage paperwork for a new house and, of course, a new garden.

Traditional Gift: Leather
Modern Gift: Crystal/Glass

DETAILS: I bought her a baseball with the NY Mets logo on it (Leather Gift) and a shot glass with “I Love NY” on it (Glass Gift). Here is that before-mentioned artistic license...those gifts represented the trip to New York that I had planned for us.

Here is the breakdown for this year:

Traditional Gift: Wood
Moderns Gift: Silverware

INQUISITIVE NOTE: Who came up with this list? (click here to see it)

DETAILS: I planted a Magnolia tree in our front yard (Wood Gift). I thought it was appropriate on several levels – the main one being the fact that Tanya wanted a new tree in the front yard.

I specifically chose a Magnolia, though – that was the tree that greeted us every time we visited our Great Aunts, four of my grandmother’s sisters who all lived
together in Dallas. They were like 
“extra” grandparents to me 
and my cousins.

This particular tree was on my mind, because of the recent death of my aunt Edie, the last living sister. (FYI: I stole the idea to honor her memory from my cousin, Christine.)

Anyway, I thought planting that Magnolia was a PERFECT way to say,
“I love you” to my wife.

For the fifth-year Modern Gift – I got extremely “poetic.” (Reminder: 

I definitely wasn’t going to buy my wife a fork, but we were in dire need of a new silverware caddy – a little sexier, huh? (Silverware caddy? You know the thing that sits in the drawer and organizes your utensils.) The one we received for a wedding gift bit the dust after 4 ½ years. (How do these things wear out?)

I wrapped the new silverware caddy and attached a note for her to replace the broken one “Right Now!”

In the drawer where the “crappy caddy” once lived, I filled it with baby utensils – the kind you use to shove stewed peas and creamed carrots down an infant’s throat.


Oh, yeah...TK and I are having a baby. We found out last week and we are SO EXCITED! (Ironically enough...having a child is No. 2 on my 101 List and the one item that could derail everything – again, blog post coming.)

Does that make more sense?

At this point, you can scroll to the bottom of the blog and tell me how sweet I am. Actually – instead of that solicited compliment – can you give me some ideas for our sixth anniversary? Candy/Iron (traditional) and Wood (modern).

July 17, 2009

Giving Back on a Whole Different Level

The scope of some people’s generosity continues to blow me away.

In a good way.

You constantly see the “me, me, me” of our society, but there are still A LOT of people stepping up to the plate and graciously giving back.

It’s so refreshing to see.

Here are a couple wonderfully great examples that I recently saw firsthand.

We were finishing up our Adopt-a-Client initiative, when I got a phone call from one of my former co-workers at TCU, Alex Cunningham. He wanted to support our efforts of helping our shelter friend, Cole, get back on his feet. (original blog post here)

We were still searching for some miscellaneous items to help get Cole settled in his new apartment (e.g. bookcase, end tables, lamps, etc.).

ALEX: “I have this gift certificate for some custom-built furniture, would you like to use it?”

ME: “Are you sure?”

ALEX: “It’s some pretty high-end stuff and I wouldn’t waste it on my crappy bachelor pad.”

ME (laughing): “That would be awesome. Thank you.”

ALEX: “You should be able to get something pretty decent for $1,000.”

ME (not laughing): “HOW MUCH!?!?”

ALEX: “$1,000.”

ME: stunned silence

What I wanted to scream into the phone was:
• “You’re a stud!”
• “You rock the house!”
• “Are you kidding me?!?!”
• “Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!”
I played it cool, though. Once the shock wore off, I simply expressed my appreciation and enthusiasm with a heartfelt, “Thank you so much, Alex.”

I quickly reached out to Techline – the company who issued the gift certificate. This is where the story gets even more wonderfully fantastic.

I explained to the members of the Techline team what we were trying to accomplish. 
They picked up the ball and ran with it.

You see, I didn’t realize that $1,000 at Techline MIGHT get you a simple nightstand. Reminder: This is high-end customized furniture.

TECHLINE SALES REP (Jennifer): “Don’t worry about it – let’s see what we can do for you guys. Let me talk to our owner, and we’ll see if we can hook you up.”

ME: stunned silence

That’s when Jennifer and the rest of the Techline team (Jerry, Carol and Carl – pictured right) elevated themselves to all-star status.

Jennifer called me back 48 hours later and let me know what our $1,000 gift certificate would get us. (Reminder: Normally, that amount would buy you a very nice drawer.)

The items being furnished for Cole’s apartment:
• Entertainment center, with bookcases on each side
• Bookcase
• Two end tables
JENNIFER: “I just sent you the photos.”

ME (looking at the images): more stunned silence

JENNIFER: “Drew....are you there?”

Techline recently delivered the furniture to Cole’s apartment. In the 103-degree heat, Bradley and Mark (also members of the all-star team – pictured right) hauled the furniture into his second-story abode.

They gently put the furniture in its appropriate place and added the hardware.

Cole wasn’t there – he was working – but his girlfriend, Adrianne, sat in stunned silence watching his new house become a home right before her eyes.

I would have given anything to see Cole’s expression when he walked into that apartment after a long, hot day at work. Just imagining his face makes me smile. I bet you anything he let out a “HOLY CRAP!” or something with a little more pop.

Here’s a little more pop, 
compliments of me:

• Alex, you are 
a bad ass!

• Team Techline, you guys are the shit!

Seriously, just thinking about how all of this has played out takes my breath away.

Thanks again to EVERYONE who supported this incredible project. A very special expression of gratitude to Alex and Team Techline – you guys are officially rock stars in my book.

July 9, 2009

Shaping Young Minds & Crushing Dreams

Right before school got out for summer break, I was asked to speak at a local middle school.

My friend, Jessica, was teaching a career investigations class, and she thought I could provide some insight to the 7th- and 8th-grade students she was molding.

HER: "Please help! They're tired of listening to me!"

ME: "Seriously? Career investigations? I've had seven different jobs and five career changes since graduating college."

Then it hit me like a inside fastball.

ME (quickly changing my tone – almost excited): "Yeah, I'll do it."

I realized my career path – one that has taken me from the newspaper biz to the football field to the wild and crazy world of entrepreneurship – was the best guidance/advice I could provide a 14-year-old.

THE PREFACE: Whatever your dream job is right now – it WILL change. 

THE MESSAGE: That is perfectly fine. (Actually, it's normal.)

I started each presentation by having the students tell me what they wanted to be when they grew up. We had  doctors, lawyers, a PR rep, and a graphic artist; there was one missionary; a couple pro athletes (obviously), and a whole lot of "I don't knows" (which I said was OK, too). 

I did a little demonstration by having everyone stand up. I walked around the room, tapping each one on the shoulder and having them sit down. When I was done, there was one student left standing.

ME: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

STUDENT: "Fashion designer."

ME: "Congratulations. You're going to be a fashion designer. Out of every student in this classroom – your dream will come true."

The rest of the class looked defeated – especially the future NFL stars.

ME: "For the rest of you...your dreams will come true, too. They'll just be different dreams."

I quickly reinforced my point.

ME: "It's perfectly OK to change your dreams and do something else with your life and/or career."

Then I shared my story.

In college, I wanted to write for Sports Illustrated – but went into newspaper design instead. Abandoned that after two years and a 1,900-mile move to Oregon. Worked in college admissions for two more years, before deciding to be a football coach. That got me to TCU, but made me hang up my whistle after three seasons. Then I was climbing the administrative ladder in collegiate athletics....insert crazy business idea.

ME: "See I turned out OK."

I couldn't tell by their stares if they understood or thought I was a loser for switching jobs every 2.35 years.

STUDENT: "You mean I don't have to be a nurse because that's what I told my parents when I was seven years old?"

ME: "Nope."

STUDENT: "Good – I don't like blood or urine."

I think they understood.

Other discussion items: (BTW: 50 minutes goes slooooowwww when standing in front of 20 prepubescent teens.)

• I made them write "MONEY" and "FAME" on another sheet of paper. Then I had them wad it up and throw it in the trash can.

POINT: If these two things are your motivation – you will NEVER be happy. Do something that you love and these things will come.

• I asked them what tugs at their heartstrings. Some said underprivileged kids, had a few abused animals, a couple said homelessness.

POINT: Never stop giving back.

• I told them the story about the salesman who heard his alarm clock go off for the first time in years, and how his boss told him it was time for him to get another job.

POINT: If you don't love what you do – something that makes you jump out of bed in the morning – DO SOMETHING ELSE.

When it was all said and done, I had given my presentation three times, sweat through most of the clothes on my body, and gained a new appreciation for middle school teachers.

Of course, I internally critiqued every performance. I was really questioning my "teaching methods" until I received the homemade thank you notes from all three classes.

I know. I know. My friend, Jessica, MADE the students write them, but there were a couple that stood out and the entire experience worth while.

Time for another career change? Professor Myers? 

July 3, 2009

Giving Back Helps Define 'Independence Day'

When I created my 101 List, I thought to myself, "I'll just put some interesting things on here and have some fun with it." (click here to see entire list)

It has grown into so much more than that, though.

Every time I scratch something off – it turns into this powerful experience. (Even eating a double-scoop of ice cream – No. 47 – which I shared with my Little Brother Anthony.)

My most recent "cross off" could end up being the most powerful experience on the whole list: No. 30 Adopt a Client.

The initial subtext on The List read: "Program through Presbyterian Night Shelter – helping a client make the transition into mainstream society."

That was accurate, but words could NEVER completely capture that experience.

On July 3, 2009, we officially adopted Cole Searcy and helped turn his new house into a home.

With the help of some wonderfully great friends and family, we were able to provide a hand up to Cole as he continued to put his life back together and get off the streets of Fort Worth.

We received a futon and TV (thanks, Connie & Raymond), bed and dresser (Christine & Travis), chair and ottoman (Kenny & Arlene), lamps and picture frames (Kelly), kitchen supplies and toiletry items (Denise). My sister Susan even collected items in lieu of gifts for my nephew's first birthday.

We had a tremendous response and I can't express my appreciation enough.

When we were initially gathering the items, however, we were going to drop them off at the PNS warehouse and let them distribute them to the appropriate client(s).

We were giving back, but doing it from afar.

Then I got a call from the shelter volunteer coordinator, Heather White. She informed me that one of the residents, who I had come to know and love during my weekly trips to PNS, was moving out. She asked if we specifically wanted to adopted him.

ME: "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

On the morning of the 3rd, we pulled up into Cole's new apartment complex and he was waiting on his stairwell like a little kid on Christmas morning. He quickly informed me that he chose to sleep on a pallet in the empty apartment the night before.

COLE (smiling ear to ear): "I didn't want to accidently over sleep and miss this."

With the help of The Bulldog and her husband, Matt (both all-stars), we hauled Cole's things up the stairs. With each load, you could see Cole's appreciation.

COLE: "It's almost overwhelming."

When he sat in his "new" chair for the first time and put his feet up on the ottoman, you could see the pride in his eyes.

He loved the TV.

He was thrilled to have his own bed.

He appreciated that we thought of the little things, too – like the liner to the shower curtain and some coat hangers. (All things we take for granted.)

COLE: "I'm going to have trouble sleeping tonight."

ME: "Why is that, Cole? Did you have trouble sleeping here last night?"

COLE: "Last night, I didn't have all this stuff."

I had to make one more trip to the apartment later in the morning. (Had to pick up some items that fell through the cracks – broom, trash can, etc.)

As I was saying good bye one last time, Cole handed me a homemade thank you card.

On the inside, he wrote: "I'm blessed to have angels like you in my life. You all are so special. You don't know the positive impact you have on my life and the lives of others. Keep up God's work."

I stuck out my hand for Cole to shake, he pulled me in for a hug.

When I got back to my truck, I said a short prayer and thought back to something Cole's girlfriend, Adrianne, said earlier in the day, "This gives a whole new meaning to independence day."

Cue the fireworks going off in my heart!

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