Fatback and Gefilte Fish

I am a Southerner. I am not a confederate flag waving “if the South would’ve won, we’d have had it made” Southerner, but I am proud to be from the South. I grew up in Alabama, went to college in Mississippi, and my roots are known to show from time to time. Not many of my friends, however, know that I was born in Silver Spring, Maryland.

For the first four years of my life, my father was a lobbyist in Washington, DC, and we were the only non-Jewish family living in an all-Jewish neighborhood. From an early age this Southern Baptist Alabama boy developed a taste for Jewish cuisine. Lox, bagels, chopped liver, and gefilte fish were common fare when I was playing with the Lieberman or the Rosenthal kids.

Years later, when I was living in Nashville, Tennessee, as a single musician, I befriended an older Jewish woman who lived in a small house in my neighborhood in Hillsboro Village. I was finishing a jog one afternoon and as I passed her house, I noticed that she was trying to mow her lawn and seemed to be having trouble. I stopped and introduced myself, and then offered to finish the job for her. After mowing her yard, she invited me into her home for lemonade. We talked for a while and she shared with me pictures of her children, grandchildren and even a picture of her ex-husband —  “May God rest his soul….soon (her words). On her mantle was displayed a beautiful menorah so I told her of my early years in the all-Jewish neighborhood outside of Washington D.C. She said we were the “token gentiles”. We came to an agreement on that day. I would mow her yard in exchange for her homemade chopped liver. Music City had never seen such a deal and probably never will again.

I’ll never forget the advice Mrs. Frank gave me one afternoon over lemonade. She said  “Bubbulah, it is just as easy to marry smart and beautiful as it is to marry dumb and plain”. I married a smart and beautiful woman and I thank God every day that my wife never met Mrs. Frank for fear that she would have followed her advice and done the same. Mrs. Frank was right. It is just as easy to marry smart and beautiful as it is to marry dumb and plain. Just as it is as easy [if not easier] to surround yourself with talented and motivated people rather than those who bring you down.

My favorite quote comes from High Point University President Dr. Nido Qubein. Standing in his office many years ago, I asked him  “What is the secret to your success?” He pointed to a beautiful credenza on the far side of the room and said “Go push the button.” I walked over and pushed a button on the front of the credenza and to my surprise the lid began to fold back and a crystal statue arose from the interior like something out of a James Bond movie. The statue was three figurines holding hands. Dr. Qubein told me that the statue was a gift from his mother and the figure in the middle represented himself, the figure on the left represented Albert Einstein and the one on the right Jesus Christ. The inscription at the bottom of the statue simply read “If you want to be great, walk hand-in-hand with greatness.”

Are the people you are surrounding yourself with pulling you forward in your career or holding you back?

Here are three ways to maintain positive relationship capital:

1. ELIMINATE NEGATIVE PEOPLE FROM YOUR SPHERE Of INFLUENCE.
The biggest and most delicious fruit comes from trees that have had the dead branches pruned away.

2. CREATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE.
A rising tide lifts all boats.

3. FIND A MENTOR.
A commonality of successful people is GREAT MENTORS.
 Seek out a mentor who is where you aspire to be in their career; has a similar set of values; and is accessible.

Patrick Henry is a songwriter, author, and speaker who teaches clients how to create distinction in the marketplace and blow away the competition with the four keys to becoming a “ROCKSTAR IN A ROOM FULL OF KARAOKE SINGERS”. Patrick’s entertaining programs show audiences what happens when Keynotes, Comedy, and Concerts Collide. To book Patrick Henry for your next event, visit www.patrickhenryspeaker.com

1 Comment

  1. Kelly Swanson on February 23, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    This is a GREAT post Patrick. Well written. I hope it shows up somewhere on the stage.

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