It’s May 3rd, barely sunrise. It’s foggy and gray, a forshadow of LA’s infamous June gloom. You’re on PCH approaching Point Dume and Topanga Canyon state park. Suddely your phone vibrates a text ping on your lap. You quickly glance down to see who’s texting you.
In a nanosecond your world changes. Your eyes dart back up at the windshield and are blinded by the headlights of a box truck hauling refrigerated food to a nearby grocery store. Time freezes. You stare at the twisted metal surrounding your neck, shards of glass suspended in midair like shiny snowflakes in the dark.
In that next instant — floating in death’s doorway — you behold an eternity of memories in vibrant colors…family members, friends, nieghbors, homes you’ve lived in, neighborhoods you played in, schools you attended, customers you served, employers you worked for, many friends, a few enemies.
And then comes the judgement. Not from God. From your inner being, whispering these deafening words…
“This was your life. You can’t have it back. Each thought, action, event…they’re all etched in stone, cemented in eternity and the memories of all who knew you, loved you, avoided you.
“Is this how you wanted to be remembered? Are you proud of what you became, the choices you made, the character you demonstrated by actions you thought no one would see?”
Thankfully, this scenario isn’t real.
But it could be. If nothing else it begs the question…
“What do you want to do with your life that’s honorable? How do you want to be remembered?”
Today you’re staring at a mostly blank 2021 calendar you’ll soon fill up with stuff to do, people to meet, places to go, things to buy, etc.
If it could talk, what will it say at the end of the year, about your priorities and your determination to meet whatever goals you’re still formulating in your head right now. (Also, your checkbook — what will that reveal about your 2021 priorities?)
One of my literary heroes, Mark Twain, penned one of the most profound quotes I’ve ever read.
“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
Why were you born? Why do act the way you do? Why do you sometimes miss the mark?
These are questions I’ll explore in my next post, Part 2 of “The Two Most Important Days Of Your Life.”
I hope you’ll join me for that. I plan to finish it in the next few days.
Written by Phil Herzog for TrailMasters, a new social network for men of adventure
In my previous post I told the story of my exploits in the woodlands of upstate New York with my best friend and hunting-fishing-trapping partner Dale. As I explained, he gave me an Encyclopedia Britannica’s worth of outdoor knowledge in my formative years as a woodsman.
Those scouting and hunting expeditions back then gave me the foundation for successful hunts to this day. As such, I’ve made it my mission to keep getting better—better at hunting, studying nuance, body language and the art of closing.
Here are 10 things I apply to nearly every target I’ve studied, stalked and closed–be it fish, foul, man or beast.
Research thoroughly—If you don’t intimately know your target–what’s important to them and how they behave–you’ll never get close enough for a shot, nor even a glimpse.
Be properly armed—Match the right firepower with your target. Too much and you’ll have carnage. Too little and it’ll slip away.
Get comfortable—Whether standing, sitting or stalking make sure you’re physically and mentally comfortable. Pee before you climb a tree. Wear proper clothing. In a boardroom that means dress like your audience, test your presentation technology, practice your pitch, that sort of thing.
Plan your shot in advance—Know where the idea kill zone is. Shoot for the heart. Always. But if there are bean counters in the room go for a head shot.
Plan the second shot –Always be thinking of closing and what happens after the initial close. Think in advance of how your target will react, then be ready for round two.
Don’t call attention to yourself— Stay low and stealthy–whitetail can spot and smell you literally a mile away. So can potential deal-makers who quickly become deal-breakers if you’re annoying or exhibit flashy behavior. For many hunters the North American whitetail is a more prized trophy animal than the majestic Rocky Mountain Elk. Why? Because they’re smarter and sportier. It’s like comparing a salmon to a steelhead. (I’d fish for steelhead any day over salmon for the same reason.)
Be quiet—Everybody talks too much. It applies equally to people in boardrooms and game trails. Silence is golden in most cases. Take your turn to speak—to shoot—only when the time is right.
Watch for movement—Body language of a deer or elk can tell you everything about what it’s going to do. So can the body language of deal-maker in a boardroom.
Choose the ideal shot—Wait for it. I can’t stress this enough. You’ll know when the time is right. When it comes, aim and fire with 100% confidence. With the deal pitch, there’s incredible power in brevity.
Wait–After your kill shot, don’t move. Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open and see what happens. Don’t impulsively chase after your game just because they’re suddenly startled or hyper-react. Pause in completely silence, then cautiously backtrack or follow the trail of blood. If necessary, sneak up again and fire for the close.
Of all the misdeeds of the average hunter—or deal-maker—the one most are guilty of is talking too much. It’s the reason I mostly hunt alone. Most guys want to talk and hang out. You don’t do that when you hunt. You hunt in silence when you hunt, at least on the game trail or in the blind. Hold your tongue. Save the chatter for the ride home in the jeep or on horseback.
There’s a saying that goes something like “Even a fool sounds smart when he keeps his mouth shut.” That’s so true–in the woods, boardroom and even the bedroom.
My friend/social media buddy Charlie Peacock, one of Nashville’s most distinguished singer/songwriter/producer triple-threats, says it so well in his Mississippi Delta root- inspired tune Death Trap >>> https://youtu.be/igrDTWzQb4A. The tune’s takeaway is simple and applies to wherever the winds of promise and opportunity might lead you, personally or professionally:
“If a man can’t hold his tongue…he’ll be walking into a death trap.”
The other ancient saying that relates to this notion of being quiet and measuring your words with the right timing is this: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver”
I know precious little about heaven, almost nothing. But if there are streets of gold is some say, there may also be golden apples hanging from silver trees in the boundless orchards of heaven. That would be a good thing. Because where there are lush apple trees there are usually deer. And where there are deer, and you just happen to be carrying a rifle, then, if you’re a hunting enthusiast like me you’ll know you’re in heaven.
SmoothStone Partners is a business development firm that carefully builds brands in the sports, entertainment and lifestyle space. SmoothStone Entertainment’s Talent Division is led by Phil Herzog who provides marketing and social media support to recording artists, entertainers, fine art and photography talent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those times of profound revelation. Times where you approach that rare intersection of fate and providence, face into the winds of promise, then whisper “I’m taking the narrow road. Heck yeah it’s dangerous but I’ll always have regrets if I don’t try.” That’s happened to me on more than one occasion.
In my early adult years it happened when I pulled myself away from friends and family immediately after college. I said a tearful goodbye to the comfortable yet stagnant pace of Upstate New York’s rust belt and headed West to stake my claim of fame and fortune in the buckle of innovation and creativity–Southern California. After setting down roots in Redondo Beach I never looked back.
A few years later I left a lucrative commercial sales career to serve under the mentorship of Freeman Gosden, Jr and Bob Hemmings, two of modern direct market’s most accomplished pioneers. My curious intuition told me direct mail would soon become the forerunner of digital interactive marketing. My hunch paid off.
My biggest headfirst dive into the dark unknown, however, was enlisting in the service of Mercy Ships, the faith-based fleet of hospital ships that is redefining volunteerism and the modern short-term missions movement on a global scale.
At the time it seemed like a mistake. During most of my eight years with Mercy Ships my family and professional friends kept bashing me with words like…“That’s just a dumb idea. Why would you ditch a promising career path to work for free for a religious order?”
What they didn’t know (nor did I at the time) was that there’s no such thing as a “promising” career path. I learned–and keep learning–that weird stuff happens to you. And by you. Neither did they understand I never worked a day of those eight years for free. What I got in return for my service was international travel and a million dollar education in global fundraising and public relations of the highest order–worth more than an MBA at Cornell and an unlimited travel pass at ClubMed. And a cool extended family on every continent.
Yes I was a volunteer. Yes our income was often cobbled together–month to month…hand to mouth–by sacrificial donations from friends, family, churches and businesses. But I discovered almost daily that you can never out-give the God who put you on this earth. That’s certainly been my story.
After helping to build a global fundraising, public relations and recruiting infrastructure (much of it still remains) I made yet another big move. This time heeding the call of the wild to one of the most ruggedly beautiful, pristine corners of the globe–the North Kitsap Peninsula, west of Seattle’s Puget Sound.
Ironically, I’ve discovered my eight years with Mercy Ships were not the end of my missionary exploits. Rather, that season of life was preparation for an equally important and altruistic mission: helping businesses protect their most important assets with robust commercial security services (my day job with ADT Commercial Division); and, helping sports and entertainment professionals prosper through innovative, cost-effective marketing strategies that bond their brands to customers and fans for life.
We all have stories of standing at a crossroads. More will confront us in the future. Will we ignore that still, small inner voice that says “This is the way, it’s hard and risky but you can’t afford not to try it?”
Before you answer, consider the mountain of data collected from interviews with senior citizens who were asked “What would you do differently if you could live your life over?” Nearly all of them said the same thing. “I would take more risks.”
So, the question…Are you approaching a crossroads?
Here are a few things I’ve learned from some of the seismic changes I’ve made in my life, and particularly my career.
Listen to that inner voice. You won’t hear it very well if you don’t pay attention to its soft whisper. Get away for a half-day, frequently if necessary. By yourself. Take a few pieces of paper or notebook and a pen, get into a comfortable quiet place and listen patiently. Pray. Listen to music. Then start taking notes. Do whatever will surface your subtle inclinations from deep within.
Talk to trusted peers. Share your hopes and dreams with them, but only those people you can trust to support and love you unconditionally–and give you tough love in return if your ideas are too off the wall.
Do the research. Get busy learning about the opportunity that awaits. Keep in mind we’re talking mostly about career changes here, but it can also apply to hobbies, volunteer work, a sabbatical, travel, etc.
Get your affairs in order. That especially includes your finances. Far too many folks approach big life changes without the financial resources to carry them through the transition period. On the other hand, financial shortages can often be the very catalyst to get you in motion.
Think long-term. Remember that life is an unending journey. Over a lifetime of risky career experiments I’ve learned that there are no mistakes if you follow the voice and will of God. In the same way I’ve learned you can never out-give God, I’ve also learned that all things work together for good if you love your Creator and are trying to follow the path carefully set before you.
Enjoy the ride. When you jump into the deep, fast moving current of opportunity, savor the exhilarating experience of trusting your faith when conventional wisdom runs counter. It won’t always be a smooth ride–sometime it’ll be anything but. But in the end you can look back and say “I did it.”
Phil Herzog is a senior consultant for ADT’s Commercial Division and moonlights as a sports and entertainment marketing executive as CEO of SmoothStone Partners.com. Reach him at email@example.com.