Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thank You For Your Service!

Nuggets For The Noggin
"Thank You For Your Service!"
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, November 11, 2013

My grandson invited me to take part in his elementary school's tribute to the Veteran relatives of the kids in his school.  Today was the day, Veterans Day.

Initially I had my reservations as his school is about 45 minutes away and in all my years of military service (20) and all the years since (23) I had never been invited or exposed to any such activities on not only Veterans Day but for that matter any day of the year.  It simply did not happen.

Let me take you back to the 60's and 70's.  I entered the U. S. Coast Guard in 1965 at the height of the Viet Nam War.  How I actually got into the Coast Guard is a funny story and that is for another day.  What I can tell you is that during the 60's and 70's the general U. S. population had little use ore respect for the men and women in the uniform of their country.  I have heard the labels like "baby killers" used more often than I care to admit.  I watched the treatment or lack of treatment our service men and women received or did not receive upon their return for war zones.  Never once did I ever hear anyone say, "Thank you for your service."

Now it is 2013 and the first time I heard those words occurred when I was leaving a Sam's Store.  I had my Coast Guard ball cap on and there was a rather elderly gentleman entering Sam's in a wheelchair wearing a World War II cap and a jacket with a couple of military patches.  As I was getting ready to say to him, "Thank you for your service", he said to me, "Thank you for your service."  I was embarrassed that he got it out first and more importantly that he said it to me, a World War II veteran telling me thank you.  You had to be there.  I was uncomfortable for quite a while after that encounter.  This veteran was clearly 20 years or more older than I was and probably endured years of strife during a most miserable war.

Then came today.  The first thing that happened was that I stopped at a gas station wearing my Coast Guard shirt and cap as requested by my grandson.  The lady behind the counter said, you guessed it, "Thank you for your service."  As I arrived at the school, there were several children playing in the soccer fields just outside the school and as I pulled up they were waving at me.  As I pulled into park my car a police officer pointed me in the right direction and again you guessed it, "Thank you for your service."  From the moment I arrived until I left, everyone was so polite and greeted me not only with a smile but also with "Thank you for your service."

The event lasted only about 40 minutes and it was moving to say the least.  There were about 30 veterans who were seated on the stage and the children flowed into the auditorium and all took their places on the floor.  The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps presented the colors.  We all sang the National Anthem and then we were all thanked for our service.  But then 5 of the students came on stage to introduce everyone to The  American's Creed.  It was written in 1917 by William Tyler Page who had a very interesting story that you can learn more about by going to  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tyler_Page  

The American's Creed
By William Tyler Page

I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the people by the people, for the people, whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a  Republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect Union, one and inseparable, established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my Country to love it, to support its Constitution; to obey its laws, to respect the flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

Each branch of service was then called out and the respective veterans on stage stood up to be recognized.  Following the ceremony we all went into the cafeteria for refreshments and conversation.  It was a wonderful experience especially for someone like me and I am certain others on stage who rarely if ever heard the phrase, "Thank you for your service."

As nice as the ceremony was, there was something nagging at me.  The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, National Guard and Coast Guard including their reserve components were all recognized but I noticed that there was no mention of the U. S. Merchant Marines nor the U. S. Public Health Service, both members of the uniformed services of the United States.  In fact the Merchant Marines had the highest percentage of casualties during World War II; one casualty for every 26 members.  Compared to the Army at 1 in 46 and the Marines at 1 in 34.  I have no information on the Public Health Service members.  This may or may not have been an oversight as there may not have been any relatives of the students that served in these branches of the uniformed services.

Therefore my recommendation to everyone would be that in future years and future Veterans Days please remember all the branches of the uniformed services of the United States - Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, National Guard, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and Public Health Service and their reserve components.

More importantly, don't wait until Veterans Day to thank a veteran or for that matter a police officer, sheriff deputy, fireman or first responders in general.  Take it from a retired veteran, it not only felt good, it felt reeeeeeeal good as Zig Ziglar would say.  Thank you for noticing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Do What You Love; Love What You Do!

By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, November 7, 2013

The title of this Nugget has been a mantra for me when teaching classes over the last 32+ years.  I don't know where or when I first heard it but it obviously struck a nerve.  Sadly, no one ever suggested such a notion to me in my formative years like Junior High, Senior High and even College.  By the way, the reverse is also true, Love what you do; do what you love! 

What kind of a life would you be living today if your parents and/or a career type counselor asked you:

·         What do you really love to do?
·         How can you make a career out of doing what you love?

How would you answer that question?  In my early years parents thought that their children should attend college.  In my case I gave it a shot.  But in the two years I attended college I found myself taking all sorts of courses that I had absolutely no interest in and my grades reflected that disinterest.  I just couldn't get into what was being taught except for one course - U. S. Air Force ROTC; that course I loved.  It planted seeds of the military in my subconscious mind.  Then when I found I was one of the lucky 10% of active college students who received draft notices while Viet Nam was increasing in severity, I immediately looked toward the military for my next career move and found myself in the U. S. Coast Guard - I loved it. 

The U. S. Coast Guard gave me the opportunity to do what I love and love what I did and my career clearly showed that love of work as I progressed up through the ranks rather quickly.  I say that not to brag but rather to make a point.  When you truly love what you do, you tend to do it well and constantly look for ways to do it even better.  The same was true for my real estate career that followed my military service.  I loved sliding the keys to a new home across the closing table to a first time homebuyer - it was and would still be a very good feeling.

Having explained that will hopefully lead you to the same conclusion about Mr. David G. Murray who I met in Biloxi, Mississippi this afternoon.  I was wasting time waiting for my wife to exchange something she purchased when I spotted the most unusual business in the Biloxi Edgewater Mall.  "Puzzles USA"  My first thought was:  "Can't be!"  How could someone possibly have a profitable business just selling puzzles.    What would you have thought?

My curiosity got the better of me and I went in.  But before I actually entered the establishment, there was an easel outside the entrance with a rather large and beautiful matted and framed picture of a New Orleans street scene with street musicians doing what they love to do, play music.  You could almost hear the music coming forth from within the picture.  Needless to say, that got my attention.  Upon closer observation you could see that the picture was actually an assembled puzzle.  It was the lines between the pieces that gave emphasis to the picture as if it were something special and it was.

The business contained wall to wall framed pictures all of which were assembled puzzles, small, large and in between.  Sitting amongst these wonderful puzzles sat a fellow who let's say turned out to be both a character (in a good way) and a very colorful individual; David Murray, the owner of Puzzles USA.  (For those who are reading this and are not familiar with my background, I have been in sales for the past 32 years.)  To say that David is a very effective salesman would not be doing him justice.  He may be one of the best salesman I have ever encountered.  After all, he was selling puzzles so would you not admit that for him to be in the business of selling puzzles for the past 18 or so years, you would have to not only be a good salesman; he would have to be a great salesman and that he is. 

What made him so good at what he does?  You could immediately tell that he loved what he was doing and he was doing what he loved.  He was NOT selling puzzles; he was putting smiles on the faces of his customers.  He actively engaged the customer rather than just asking, "Can I help you?"  When you can put smiles on your customers' faces, you are well on your way to making a sale.  By the way, he not only made a sale with me today, he also made a friend and an admirer. 

If you have not seen a colorful puzzle that has been matted and framed, you are missing out on something you would be proud to have displayed on any wall in your home.  The initial visual attraction was only the beginning.  David then displayed his knowledge of not only what the pictures of the puzzles represented, he could also discuss the artist and/or location and even some of the history of the picture and/or artist.  There was one puzzle that was built from, are you ready for this, 24,000 pieces and it hung proudly on his wall over his work area.  By the way, you can purchase this puzzle in his story and as you will see, he will happily frame it for you.

We talked not only about the various works of art on his wall but also his business of selling puzzles.  He asked me the nagging question that I had been wanting to ask him; how do you stay in business just selling puzzles?  He then volunteered the answer - he does all his own framing.  He can also create a puzzle out of your photographs and that is something special.  He explained that he has created a solid white puzzle for weddings where he breaks up the puzzle into large pieces.  Each guest to the wedding is then given their own piece to the puzzle to sign their wishes to the bride and groom.  Then when the puzzle is reassembled it is still all white but each piece contains the wishes from their friends and family.  That is thinking outside the box.

I discovered that David is actually NOT in the business of selling puzzles, he is in the business of selling memories and individual creativity.  People remember assembling puzzles but then the puzzles are typically dismantled and put away to never again see the light of day.  David encourages his customers to assemble the puzzles and then have them framed to be proudly displayed in the customer's home and of course he does the framing.

I would describe his business as a frame shop thinly disguised as a store that sells puzzles that puts smiles on the faces of his customers.  Customers, I would guess, who would happily return and refer their friends just as I did in this Nugget.  If ever there was a poster child for doing what you love and loving what you do, it would be David Murray.  By the way, Puzzles USA Inc is believed to be the ONLY exclusive puzzle shop in America; maybe even the world.  If you happen to visit or call David, tell him Gymbeaux sent you!

The BIG QUESTIONS:  What do you love to do that you could be turning into a career?  What are you currently doing that you may actually be loving but not realizing that you are loving doing it?  What would have to happen regarding your current work to create work that you would love doing?

Puzzles USA
Edgewater Mall
2600 Beach Blvd, Ste 56
Biloxi, MS  39531