Passion for Pop

November 8, 2009
Frostie-Cap

Frostie cap sign from the 1950s

When I was in the six- to eight-year-old range, one of my favorite treats was to have a Frostie brand root beer. I remember it as being especially smooth and creamy with lots of sassafras flavor. This was the real thing, boys and girls. Finding a soft drink that’s not made with high fructose corn syrup anymore is extremely difficult.

It’s a shame what we’ve done to our food system. And it’s even a greater shame what we’ve allowed government backed big business to do to make small businesses work harder to gain a foothold and survive. But when a small business owner finds a niche and a passion for a service, then a market gets well-served.

In this video of John Nese, the owner of Galco’s Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles, I believe you’ll find a passion for soda pop and delighting customers that will inspire you to carry that same passion over to the people you serve.

Galco's-Soda-Pop

John Nese, Galco's Soda Pop Stop

I probably don’t drink more than one or two soft drinks a year. Watching this video got me teary-eyed and made me want to hop on a plane for LA.

Now, where can I find a “Frostie”?

Charles Gupton

http://www.charlesguptonphoto.com

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Supporting Local Farms – MAE Farm

November 4, 2009

MAE Farm is the third in a series of local farms I’m profiling for a project I’m working on to promote support of local farms. The project involves photographing, producing video and recording interviews with several farms about why they farm, who their customer base is and, most importantly, how they stay sustainable. I want to encourage folks to buy locally but also to know and have a relationship with farms in one’s area.

Mike and Suzanne Jones started farming because of their desire to raise their children on the land with meaningful work to do. Their primary emphasis is on producing sustainably raised meats, primarily pork. They also raise goats and cattle for meat as well as chickens for eggs. In addition to selling fresh pork, they have also started producing their own barbecue for sale. The pork is all hand-pulled with no soy or other fillers added. You can buy from them directly or at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh.

MaeFarm_collection_web

MAE Farm

More to come…

Charles Gupton

http://www.charlesguptonphoto.com

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Not Without Hope – Greg Ferguson

October 21, 2009

I met Greg through my involvement with Toast Masters, an organization committed to helping people build their confidence in giving presentations and public speaking. Greg has been engaged in public speaking for over twenty years and has recently published a book sharing his knowledge gained on the subject.

Greg always has a positive, focused approach to everything he does. So, as the economy slowed, he turned his attention to reaching another one of his personal goals so that time and energy wouldn’t be lost or misguided. As I’ve gotten to know him, I’ve been encouraged by the manner in which he uses his abilities to help others in the community serving as an advisor in the civic and business arenas.

I trust you’ll be encouraged by his story as well.

Charles Gupton

http://www.charlesguptonphoto.com

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Greg Ferguson leading a ToastMasters meeting.

Greg Ferguson leading a ToastMasters meeting.

Every adversity carries with it the seeds of an equal or greater opportunity.

I am in the residential development business, and as I write this, our local construction output has dropped 75% from its peak before the national economic meltdown.  As a result, our projects have generally been on hold for the last six months.

During this time, it has been nearly impossible to do business the way I have done it for the past twelve years.  There are few buyers and there is virtually no money available through the traditional channels.  We have had to resort to coming up with different assumptions and different actions to be able to move forward.  This takes time and it takes skill in convincing others that there will be a fundamental change in the way we do business in the future.

This downtime in activity has allowed me to re-examine my personal goals and to get focused on them again.  My “chief aim” in life, as Napoleon Hill calls it, is to help others help themselves.  One of my goals has been to write books to help others.  I am glad to report that my reduced business activity for the last six months has given me the time to write my first book on public speaking.  It’s called “How to Give Your Best Speech or Presentation Ever.”

My second book has just gone into the proofing stage and should be available shortly, and I’ve already begun the research for my third book.  Once I broke through all the reasons for not beginning to write sooner, it has become easier and easier to keep my momentum going.  Writing is much like public speaking—the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I expect that real estate development will pick up again in the foreseeable future.  This slowdown has been painful, frustrating, and downright scary.  But in the long run, I believe I will look back on this gap in activity (and income) as a blessing that allowed me to fulfill one of my long time personal goals.

If you are finding your circumstances different than they were a year ago, I encourage you to examine your purpose in life. Recognize this time of challenge as a blessing, and recognize that it carries with it the seeds of opportunity. ~ Greg Ferguson


Hustle Doesn’t Require Talent

October 6, 2009
Lady Vikings Tennis Team

Lady Vikings Tennis Team

For the past several weeks, I’ve been driving up a couple of days a week to work out with the girls’ tennis team at Northern Vance High School. My buddy Jeff Arthurs invited me to help out with some of the drills and offer general encouragement. What’s been amazing to me is how much I enjoy the time hitting with these ladies as well as how emotionally involved I get when I watch them play.

One of the most gratifying feelings a teacher or coach must experience is when students “get it” and begin to apply their newfound knowledge.  I come home from each practice just totally rocked because one or two of the girls has made progress on her ground strokes or volleys. Although I want to see each of them “kick butt” in their matches, what I really want to see long-term is for them to develop into well-rounded, well-grounded, confident women. I believe that when one’s confidence grows in one area of life, it builds a foundation for confidence in other areas as well.

One of the aspects of tennis, and athletics in general, that I appreciate is how much of competition is psychological. It’s a head game as much as it is a physical one. As I watched matches at Wimbledon and the US Open this year, I saw the pros affected by their mental lapses just as much as these high school players are. And I’ve seen how much of an emotional/mental bounce comes from a well-hit winner.

Other life lessons I’m reminded of each time I go out to the courts are the importance of persistence and conditioning. In sports, it’s usually called hustle.

I’ve found that it’s difficult to consistently hustle on the court without conditioning – both mental and physical. Too often we mistakenly believe that more talent or knowledge is all we need to succeed in our endeavors, but as I recently read on a t-shirt, “Hustle doesn’t require any talent.”

That’s not to say that talent isn’t important, it’s just that persistence and conditioning can prepare the way for talent to show itself as it develops. My high school coach made us chase down every ball that came over the net and hit it back with the reasoning that even if we didn’t get to it on the first bounce that time, by developing a “get to it” mindset, we eventually would.

I still remind myself that I can’t hit a winner if I don’t get to the ball.

Joining these ladies on the court has been a blast for me. Don’t know how much I’m helping them but they allow me a great opportunity to learn from their growth.

More to come…

Charles

http://www.charlesguptonphoto.com

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Not Without Hope – Karen Tiede

May 11, 2009

Karen and I met through a couple of different business networking events. As we talked at length, I was impressed by her quest for continued education and to apply her skills to help other people. I was equally moved by her positive spirit in the face of some daunting challenges. So I asked her to share some of her thoughts in this post. You can learn more about her organizing company at www.red-tuxedo.com.

Charles

http://www.charlesguptonphoto.com
On Twitter @ http://twitter.com/CharlesGupton

Karen Tiede

Karen Tiede


Hope is bigger than life.

I never quite understood what people meant when they said, “there’s no hope…” to mean, “there’s nothing medical science can do to bring a person back to a full and healthy life.”  If there is any truth to the Christian message, and if there is a brighter future in store, then hope clearly HAS to be bigger than this life we stumble through. It’s helpful to ground myself in the largest sense of the word in order to bring perspective to the smaller events that offer a decision point about hope or despair.

I spent 20 years with a company that was reasonably satisfied with my contributions to their bottom line and, similarly, I was happy with their contribution to mine.  Now that job’s gone on a flight to China.  I could not create any amount of assurance that any similar job available locally would not be similarly off-shored before the first anniversary.

I have an aging body, but an agile mind.  With limited financial resources in a “bad” economy (whatever that really is), the opportunity to indulge the demons of despair and unfairness lurked, especially when some co-workers were called back.

And yet, I’m an American, and the flow of immigration indicates more people see this as a land of opportunity, and hope, than not.  My grandparents came here to figure out a better life (and a new language), and managed.  Am I less able than they?  Every business around me was started by someone, and I can’t be less capable than every single one of those people.  In the service of full disclosure, I have already learned that there are a lot of business opportunities that will not work for me.  I am not going to make a reliable living if the business demands sustained physical fitness.  I am not able to make art that will sell at a living wage in the amount of time between now and when my money runs out.

Thomas Edison knew a lot about how not to make a light bulb but didn’t let that body of knowledge affect his hope. I have more ideas; they are in the test stage now; I expect something will bear fruit.  Businesses fail for a lot of reasons, but mostly because people give up on them.

Having a penchant for thoughtful organization, I’ve started a new company helping people bring order to their lives in such a manner that will allow them to sustain that order. As with any new endeavor, the initial momentum seems slow but it is building. I believe if I don’t give up, it’s going to work.

Hope is a decision.  ~ Karen Tiede


Not Without Hope – Kristen & Andy Osterlund

May 7, 2009
The Osterlunds

The Osterlunds

We have been living and working in Raleigh since we were married 11 years ago.  Two years ago, our son was born and we adopted him and brought him home when he was 9 days old.  In the summer of 2007, I returned to work on a part-time basis.  In October 2008, Andy lost his job when 18 people were laid off from the firm where he was working.  He immediately started his own business.  We decided to invest in this business for 6 months and reevaluate in April.  Since October, Andy has had steady work and continues to pursue more projects.   We are thankful for the clients he has and the work he has been able to do.  It is not yet enough for him to be able to pay himself a full salary.  The last few months have been good in that Andy has been realizing his goal of starting his own business and we have had really good time together as a family.  Month to month, finding money to pay bills has been a struggle, but we have seen God provide for our needs.  We have been able to keep our son enrolled in his preschool, which he really enjoys.  I have been able to remain in my part-time work schedule and enjoy lots of time at home with our son. ~Kristen Osterlund

If you have a story of inspiration you’d like to share, please let me know.

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On Twitter @ http://twitter.com/CharlesGupton




Not Without Hope – Bob McCarthy

April 21, 2009

I met Bob a few years ago at the YMCA and started getting to know him better during brief exchanges while we were working out. I was always impressed by his positive outlook during each encounter. Since I am usually interested in the disciplines that writers apply to their work, I always enjoyed asking Bob about how his novel was unfolding. I was most impressed by the daily commitment that he made to move the process forward. It’s that commitment to continue with our objectives in the face of apathy that we all can benefit from making. Whether it’s writing a novel or looking for a new job, the daily steps we take are most important.

What do you think? How are you moving ahead with the apathy you encounter?

Charles

http://www.charlesguptonphoto.com
On Twitter @ http://twitter.com/CharlesGupton

Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy


As a novelist, my hope is tied to a belief that through a pursuit of excellence, I can achieve successful publication of my work. So far, all I’ve received are rejection slips or worse, no response at all!  At times, I’m uncertain as to where to turn or what the next step is. But every day I continue to write, believing that consistent attention to my craft and constantly producing new material will, in time, lead to publication.

When I retired as a clinical psychologist, I dedicated myself to a second career as a writer.  I’d already been writing for 35 years; I didn’t wait until the day after to begin.  With this new direction, however, I went from a settled life into a wilderness of sorts, often feeling lost. I’m attempting to develop new skills – mastering the computer, learning to distinguish trustworthy criticism, developing a professional and social network – while continuing to write.  To pursue this goal in my mid-60’s added a dimension of doubt relative to limited time – not just time left but time left with a mind intact enough to write well.

Hope is more than a wish, more than a feeling disconnected from effort.  I view hope as moored in part to a belief in self, in part to a faith in the world.  The view grants me a sense of honesty in the way I hope as opposed to a gambling desperation.

Hope is not passive.  It’s not something I wait for like the arrival of sleep.  It is entwined with an active pursuit of my goal when there is no guarantee of achieving it.

My challenge is to treat hope well, to be ready to let it in when it offers itself like light through blinds, not wasting my time begging it to come to me.  I have to fight vigorously at times to keep hope at my side.  At other times, I have to understand that I am on my own, pursuing my goal in somber tints, trusting that hope will return.  I have to set my “dials” daily on remaining hopeful so that I’m open to hope when it honors me with another visit.  Present or not, hope is an option, on occasion a choice overlooked. The choosing to be hopeful keeps me prepared to do whatever I can to sustain the journey.

My hope moves in wave-like motions, my confidence, at times, a function of the waves. Nonetheless, the commitment is for the duration.  Success or not, I will continue to write. That is my hope. ~ Bob McCarthy