Category Archives: relationships

Your Business Is YOUR Partner!

Have you every wished you had a business partner in your solopreneur business?  What if the business itself could be that partner? If you are an entrepreneur, if your pay is ‘commission’ based, if you are self-employed — your business is your partner!

One of the pitfalls of having an independent business is that it’s just you, right?  You make all the decisions.  Sure you may have some outside help for things like accounting and keeping all the technology going.  Hopefully you also use some outside support around marketing.  And at the end of the day it’s just you.

I’d like you to consider a radical idea, one that will actually improve your business!  Think of the business itself as an entity outside of you!  Even imagine it as a person.  First allow your mind to dream her up.  See her there about three feet in front of you?  What does she look like?  What is she wearing?  What is her name?  Is it the name of your business or something else?

Imagine what it would be like to have a partner and ally in your business that you could talk to.  Someone you could brainstorm ideas with.  Someone that is right there with you every step of the way.  Frankly most of us ‘talk’ to ourselves anyway — what would be the value of purposeful conversation with your business?

When you start thinking of your business as a person or entity things shift.  It allows you not only to give different attention to your business, but to also have a clearer separation between it and your personal life.  That’s a very good thing!

It’s very easy for us to get tangled in having the feeling that our business is personal—that people’s response to the business is to be taken personally.  And that’s a trap.  Clients see the ‘business’ you differently than friends and family do, right?  You need to have some separation between those different roles in life to keep sane!

I have had some clear personal experience in this area.  As the Money Knot Untangler, people naturally associate me with money.  That’s a good thing for business.  However, when you find people backing away from you when you are introduced because you represent that scary money thing, you start to worry that you might smell bad!  I’ve had that experience many, many times.  My ‘Business Babe‘ part laughs at that and thinks it’s great.  Personally it took some getting used to in order to stop feeling like no one wanted to dance with me at the school dance.

In case you are thinking this is just weird and woo-woo, allow me to remind you that even our government thinks of Corporations as entities.  Just sayin’!

How about having little meetings with your business?  Asking what it needs?  What’s working well? What needs improvement?  Oh, and together you both might actually gather some data about what’s going on by looking at the money stuff.  Money’s job really is to provide information.  The twist here is that your business may see and interpret the information in a different way that creates new opportunities, or smooths out rough spots.  It’s worth a shot, right?

By creating a real relationship with your business you will make both of your lives easier, and may actually get a level of support you just haven’t found before.  Give it a try.  At least these days when we talk to ourselves out in the world folks just assume we are on our cell phone, so no worries there!  Remember that you are still the President/Owner of the business, and this ally is here to help you.  See what you two can come up with.  And if you need a bit of help mediating the difference between what you want and what the business wants, I’m here to help!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Let me know if you’d like help creating a relationship with your business.  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Finding Reliable Sources

Who do you go to for information?  These days we often dive into the ‘web’ for information, and I’m guessing you also have people who you seek out for their knowledge and expertise.  Long ago my family taught me about this in some interesting and amusing ways.

First let me tell you how I learned to bake bread.  My paternal Grandmother, Dossie, was  a cook—like ran a lunch room, catered meals for 100+ by herself cook.  And she baked, wow did she bake: rolls, cinnamon buns, bread… everything!  In my 20s I started to learn to bake, and it does require finesse and practice.  The interesting thing was how she tutored me in this.  She couldn’t really explain what to do.  She’d say things like “you knead the dough until it feels right.” Huh?  What she could to was diagnose a problem in seconds, even over the phone.  So that’s how I learned the art form of baking from her.  I’d call and tell her how the loaf looked, and she’d tell me I didn’t let it rise long enough, or I didn’t have enough yeast in it, or a myriad of other tips.  She was a very reliable source for baking knowledge, and I got to be a pretty good baker.  (As a sad little aside, I have had to mostly give up baking, at least for myself—gluten and yeast are no longer my friends.)

Even earlier when I was in Junior High School—which you may think of as “Middle School”—there was another resource lesson.  Actually it was several lessons in one event.  My dad was the kinda guy that wanted you to think, and have a good reason for what ever you did, or asked for.  We had this Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia.  It was many very small books.  One day I came to him and told him that we needed a new encyclopedia.  “Why would that be?” he asked.  “Well, it’s because I have to do this report on WWII for my Social Studies class and our encyclopedia was published in 1937,” I responded.  A new encyclopedia was purchased right away.  I needed a better source,  and he readily agreed!

What I took away from both of these early examples—and other life experiences—was that you really need to be careful who you go to for information.  It’s not that people don’t have opinions on a variety of things—they do.  But do they have expertise, a base of knowledge about the subject, or wisdom in that area?

I think we get ourselves in trouble when we ask well-meaning folks who don’t actually have expertise in the topic about things.  For example, we tend to ask colleagues about how to attract clients.  I’ve seen it within the coaching community for years.  It’s not that talking with colleagues about your business is all bad… but how about talking with the people who you actually want as clients instead?  Finding out what they want?  Oh and finding a sales and marketing expert to help you attract those people?

When it came time to upgrade my website I worked with  Jerry Fletcher, Brand Poobah and he started with having me gather data about my clients, and then I had conversations with the clients I really worked well with about what brought them to me.  I needed to know what the clients wanted and needed in order to hire me. And I needed someone to help me give them that.

I know what I do well and where I need help.  And when I need help, I look for someone who is a reliable, deep source in that area I don’t know about.  We all have different talents and knowledge.  I don’t need to know everything, what I do need to know is how to find and expert and when to ask for help.  It saves me bunches of time and money, and also helps me learn about new things.

Where might an expert help you do better?

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

Let me know if I can either be a source or help you find one.  Give me a call at 503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Talk To Your Relationship

No, it’s not an error.  I said to talk ‘to’, not ‘about’ your relationships.

There’s this very interesting thing about all of our relationships.  They are unique, each and every one.  They have their own energy and spirit.  Think about it.  A different person brings out a different part of you, right?  There are those you giggle and laugh with.  There are those you talk with about serious things.  There are those who you hardly talk with at all.

You probably have assumed it’s just the nature of where you and the other person connect that  makes each relationship so unique.  Here’s another idea.  What if it’s the unique blend of the two of you together that creates the energy between you?  Some particular combination at work?

Each relationship’s energy has its own unique personality.  And you can actually talk to it to see what it has to say about the relationship and the people who are in it.  It’s this wonderful concept I learned about, long ago, during my coaching training with CRRGlobal. The brilliance comes when you actually ask the Relationship, or as they called it the Third Entity, what’s going on.

Yes, I’ll agree it sounds a bit wacky, and it works!

When I’m working with a couple, I will ask them to each embody and speak as if they were the Relationship itself.  Often the Relationship has a new perspective on what is going on.  It can often see the whole better than the individuals, while also seeing both sides.

The technique is pretty simple.  One of you moves to a different place in the room, and speaks as if you actually were the ‘voice of the relationship‘.  The only caveats are to speak in the first person, and let go of your perspective while you are speaking as the Relationship.

This is a useful and fascinating tool for all sorts of exploring.  Of course is seems like—and is—a natural for ‘couples work’, and in that arena it works even if only one member of the couple isthere.  They can be both their own voice, and the voice of the Relationship—and just to play a bit further they can also personify the voice of the other partner!

But wait, there’s more! (Not to sound too much like a bad late-night TV commercial.)  There are many other places where you can use this process.  A really obvious one in with your  relationship with Money.  What would Money say if it could talk?  And what would the Relationship between Money and you say if it could talk?

Think of it as a bit of role play, and let your imagination fly with all sorts of options.  It’s not only a playful thing, but a very simple way to give ourselves permission to explore other options and possibilities.

And just for fun, you might want to explore the idea of even bigger groups and systems having a unique Relationship voice or energy.  For example, what about:

  • Your family?
  • Your neighborhood?
  • You and your pet(s)?
  • The company you work for?
  • Your country?
  • Your church?

They all have their own unique personalities, don’t they?  For me, somehow knowing and understanding that there is an overall unique Relationship ‘entity’ makes dealing with all the ups and downs easier!  It makes it all less personal and more a “systems” thing, especially with those bigger entities.  Happy exploring and role playing to you, your partners, and your Relationships!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

I’d love to hear about what you discovered it talking with your relationships. Give me a call at  503-258-1630 or leave a comment.

Self-Cleaning Oven

Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to take care of ourselves — to be a self-cleaning oven.  For me, this last month has been one of those times that irritatingly remind me of that.  In many ways being a ‘Self-Cleaning Oven’ is the counterpoint of my last blog: What If It’s Not Actually About You?‘  Were you able to read that one?  Magically the same cut and paste of the link to that blog—which I used for Facebook and notifying list-serves—didn’t work for the larger mass of folks on my ‘list’.  Razzlefrats!

I will not burden you with all the things that have been challenging for me this month, but suffice it to say that I finally wrote down a list.  It’s now over a dozen.  Maybe I could lay some of it at the doorstep of planetary influences (Mercury in retrograde)?  Certainly, having this ‘cold’ I’ve been fussing with for over a month didn’t help.  The challenges have been wide-reaching, involving clients, friends, technology, isolation — oh, and even money!

I don’t bring all this up to start a ‘poor me’ conversation.  I do bring it up to acknowledge that  we all have times like these, and we need methods to cope with such times.

What I notice is that inevitably it finally comes down to each of us being a self-cleaning oven.  What I really mean by that is, no matter how much support you have from friends, family, and outside resources, it is always up to you to find your own way.  It’s up to you to explore options, find resources, change—or keep—your thinking, make choices, and solve the problem.

To hearken back to the ‘It’s Not Actually About You’ blog, the stuff others try to project on you isn’t about you… AND it follows that what you feel about others isn’t about them, it’s all about you, TO YOU!  The trick is what you do with that.

Remember that old idea that ‘no one can actually make us angry’?  Yes, we do get angry, sad, frustrated — all sorts of emotions!  And these emotions are real and valid.  They are also our projection of our values, morals, history, dreams…

Many, many times we get caught trying to change others in the hope of creating a different result.  The problem is we can’t change others.  We can only change ourselves and our choices.  I did a presentation last week on ‘Managing VS Meeting Client Expectations’ a favorite topic of mine.  One woman raised her hand and asked about several ‘difficult clients’ she just couldn’t please.  Those of you that know me well won’t be surprised that I told her about the difficulty in trying to teach a pig to sing. (That is, it wastes your time and irritates the pig.)  The point is not to keep trying to make people who are difficult happy — it is about finding clients that appreciate you and your work.

No matter how many resources you have, there is always that point where it’s you and you alone who makes the choice of how to react and respond.  Thus the self-cleaning oven analogy.  How can you move more quickly from the frustration with others to the place where you really look at why this bothers you.  How can you be introspective in those moments?  That’s what the self-cleaning oven is all about.  Yes, it may burn and feel harsh sometimes, and in the end it is yourself you need to honor and care for.  You have dreams, values, and ideals that need to be honored and respected… and you are the one to do that for yourself.

And just in case you were wondering: you don’t actually have to declare this position to others.  You don’t have to tell them you are going to take care of yourself.  You just need to do it.  Primarily because taking care of you—being your own self-cleaning oven—is ALL about you, not them.

How about the next time something or someone gets under your skin, you take a moment to see what part of what you feel is about your sense of what’s fair, your values, your dreams — you — and then take some time to be a self-cleaning oven.  What would be the value of that for you?

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to explore some specific ways to be a Self-Cleaning Oven give me a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

What If It’s Not Actually About You?

It’s a really interesting question to ponder, because MOST of the time, it really isn’t about us —even when it feels like it is!  We all process every thought and idea through our own filters.  What we notice about others always is a reflection of what we care about or are interested in — our personal opinions, our values.  It’s just how it is.

I know you have had the experience of, for example, getting a new car and all of a sudden you notice all the other cars of the same model on the road with you.  It almost feels like everyone ran out and got the same car because you did, doesn’t it?  Part of this feeling comes from that really valuable, hard-won human survival trait of Pattern Making — we make patterns  like crazy all the time.  It allows us to not clutter our brains by spending a bunch of time analyzing things.

We respond and react to the thing we are used to, focused on, care about.  And we find it bizarre when others don’t notice or care the same way we do!  For example, I do have several friends that not only don’t have pets, but actually don’t care about animals at all.  I can hardly grok that.  I’m likely, in any circumstance, to pay more attention to the critter than their human!

One of the exercises that is often suggested by counselors and coaches is to ask your friends what they think of you.  It’s often a very positive and illuminating thing to do.  After all, our friends like us!  And it’s also illuminating about the friends, because the things they notice about you reflect what they care about.  If they remark on your kindness and caring for others, it’s because that’s important to them.  If they notice your shoes it’s because they are into shoes.

Here’s an ‘on-point’ example:  Back in the 80’s I dated this really wonderful man, Bill.  Bill was a car guy, big time.  He had a gorgeous ‘Vette‘ that he babied and adored.  At some point we noticed this really interesting thing.  It was about the way we gave directions to folks about how to find some particular place.  He gave directions with reference points of Gas Stations and Car Dealerships.  I’m sure that those of you that know me will not be surprised to hear that my directions had to do with Grocery Stores and Restaurants.  We each noticed and ‘honored’ what was important to us, what we loved and valued.

The point is that when someone makes a comment about you, judges you, criticizes you, it is alway much less about you and more about them.  Something in their experience has been triggered.  Something they have strong opinions about… something about them!

And here’s how and why this is useful to know.  If, before any kind of challenging conversation or interaction, you can repeat to yourself, “It’s not about me, it’s not about me, it’s not” you will be much more effective and calm in the exchange.  Afterall, it’s actually not about you!  It’s about their projection around you, or what you represent to them, or how they want you to be… but not actually about you.  And that is true even when they say it is about you!  

Huh?  How can that be?  I’m not saying you aren’t responsible for your actions. You are.  But how others respond to them is their stuff not yours.  This is good news/bad news.  It’s less about us than we think.  The real value here is that if you can hold the idea the this “isn’t about me” you can truly be more present, and effective in the conversation.

I believe that a really effective sweet spot is to be “100% committed and unattached, at the same time” because when we get “attached” we get muddled.  And a great way to not get attached is to remember: “It’s not about me!

Easier said than done, but well worth striving for and practicing, yes?  How might your interactions with others be different with you knowingit’s really not about me?

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to play more with this idea give me a call  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com

The Big Secret About Getting Fired

Throughout my life there have been many times when I feel like Cassandra.  She was a Greek prophetess cursed by Apollo so that her prophecies, though true, were fated never to be believed.  For me it has often been about stating what I felt was obvious and having others look at me like I’d just landed from some other planet.

One of those areas in which I notice I have a really different perspective is ‘why people get fired.’  It looks like they got fired because they made mistakes, embezzled from the company, or didn’t do the job effectively.  My experience in corporate land says that’s not so.

Before I detail this out let me say that I’ve only been fired once, from my very first job.  I have, however, fired people, seen others being fired, and heard a myriad of stories from friends and clients about being fired.  I know this really isn’t about Money, and yet I keep running into this with clients.  My point is to expose that this does happen, and warn you so you don’t get caught in it yourself.

You may have a very different opinion, and here’s what I notice: What gets you fired is not really about the work you do, or don’t do.  It’s how you fit in the culture of the company.  It about whether or not the people in power like you—and by the way, those people may not be in the top slots on the org chart!  It’s a system thing.  Are you a fit?  Or do you stand out?

In many ways, a Company—just like a Country—has a personality.  In order to fit in and be successful you need to align with that personality.  If you don’t, you won’t last.

Oh,  they will find a more plausible reason to let you go than that you don’t fit.  But nevertheless, it will really be that you just don’t fit.

In my experience if you get hired and really aren’t competent at the job you will be let go within a short time—six months or less.  If you’ve been there awhile and somehow now they don’t like you, and you are sensing impending doom, know that it’s about  that you don’t fit in the current culture, or perhaps in where the culture is going.

The irony is that NO ONE actually talks about this.  Thus my Cassandra thing!  I worked in various Corporate lands from 1970 to 2000 and found this to be present everywhere.  As a manager I admit that I would find other issues/mistakes to come up with a viable reason for firing the person.  They were all true and valid.  However the real reason was that they just didn’t fit.

If someone fit in the culture those mistakes would be forgiven or overlooked.  If you don’t fit you aren’t forgiven.  Certainly in some ways this is awful, it’s like cliques in High School.  And it’s what is happening.

So my suggestion is to look for kindred spirits and places you ‘fit’ as a person, as much as you look for a job that suits your skills.  It’s no fun to stay where we don’t fit, and it’s more than likely not worth the money however much it is.

And if you are in a place that you did fit, and somehow the culture has changed, dig deeper and see if your being suddenly always in trouble, or let go has to do with that… there may be some financial compensation for you if the game has changed.  For example if you recently got a raise or a promotion, and then get transferred to another boss who fires you, there is something else going on—something for which you may be able to get some compensation.

Bottom line — fitting in is often way more important than being competent.  Just sayin’

Ka’ching

Shell Tain, the Untangler

If you’d like to chat about Cassandra things of your own, or how to navigate these ‘not performance based’ problems give me a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

Boomers and Personal Growth

First, in case you didn’t know, I’m a baby boomer—a fairly early one since I was born in 1951.  Lots of individual ‘boomers’ have been pioneers and changed the world.  Paul McCartney is just one of many.  In addition to contributions by many of us individually, there are some remarkable changes they we were the first generation to actually experience.  Things like computers for individual use, space exploration, and the one I really want to talk about today—’personal growth‘.

Actually ‘personal growth’ is  the catch-all phrase I’m using to describe a big cultural change.  I’ve decided, based on my own experience, that my generation is the first one to embrace the radical idea that we can work on changing the baggage from our ancestors and our past without necessarily being considered out-and-out crazy.

Things have shifted.  When I was in high school and having a very hard time with a bunch of things, I asked my dad if I could get some counseling.  His response was: “Sure, we can send you to Camarillo!”  Which meant ‘No!‘  Camarillo was that state mental hospital.  It was a stigma for people of my dad’s generation to get help with their emotions.  He even declined the psychiatric help offered to him after he was liberated from a German prison camp at the end of WWII.

As I grew older there was a shift happening in the mental health field.  It was becoming more and more common for people to seek the support of a psychologist or psychiatrist.  It no longer meant that you were ‘totally crazy’ if you tried to untangle your thoughts and behaviors.  There was still a stigma, but it was much less severe.

It’s an important change for all of us.  For literally centuries people kept doing the same dysfunctional things their families did over and over and over.  There was no way to stop the patterns unless you were willing to accept the judgement involved in ‘getting therapy’.

I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Phil’s statement: “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”  And I would add the obvious idea that you can’t acknowledge what you are unwilling to look at, work on, or talk about.

I’m really writing this to answer a question I get from a lot of my clients, which goes something like:  Why didn’t my parents do better with this?  The answer to that comes from another quote —this time it’s a paraphrase from Maya Angelou:  We do the best we can until we know better, when we know better we do better.  Our parents didn’t know better. How could they?  Their parents, grandparents, etc. didn’t either.

And then in late 1980’s and early 1990’s all sorts of things started to happen around new ways of not only becoming more aware of our thinking and behavior, but actually consciously doing—as Maya would have said—better!  One of the best of these new ways is the one I work incalled Life Coaching.  Imagine, assisting and supporting people to have better lives,! Helping them to let go of the way it was always done before, be it around work, relationships, or even money!

And it’s all been in my lifetime. Wow!

You know I used to think my grandmother, Cupcake (* see below) had seen the most important and remarkable changes in human history in her lifetime.  She was born in 1900 and died in 2001.  In her hundred years there was electricity, automobiles, flight,  computers — a myriad of amazing and miraculous inventions that changed our lives.

And now I think that it may just be possible that the most miraculous thing is happening in my lifetime — people are readily choosing to break the old patterns and embrace their lives and talents in new ways.   They are doing it through workshops, coaching, counseling, retreats — there are all sorts of paths to personal growth.

Wow, just wow!

(*Okay, I recognize an explanation is in order here—as a little girl I nicknamed her that.  She was short and round and had white hair, thus frosting on top.  The name “Cup Cake” stuck!)

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

If you’d like to chat more about this idea of how you can break the pattern, just give me  a call at  503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.

How I Learned About Money

First, let me say that this is a blog I’m writing particularly for Adam Naor to share on Pennybox.com.  Pennybox is an app for kids to learn about earning and using money in a practical and fun way. I was delighted to find out Pennybox is doing something directed specifically to kids around money.  Adam asked me for a blog to use on Pennybox—about myself and how I learned about money—so I, of course thought I should share it with you.  Here goes!

The story is all about me and my dad, A. C. Royden Stone, known as Stoney.  A little bit of context about Dad and money.  My dad was 1957 Dad and Meborn in Oklahoma in 1925, he lived through the dust bowl as a little kid.  My grandparents moved to Wyoming in the 30’s and opened a ‘lunch room’ which was run by the family.  Dad served in WWII and was a POW held in a German prison camp.   When my parents first met he was riding the rodeo circuit and dealing poker for a living.  By the time I was five he had sold insurance, had ‘made it rain’ for farmers in Washington by selling ‘seeding clouds’ and was managing a Pepsi plant in Minnesota.

He was what one calls a ‘self-made’ man.  Later in life he went on to become a TV producer, manage cable TV systems, and—even later—motels.  This background sets the stage for his relationship with money.  He always had a bunch of cash, and was likely to buy a round for the bar.  I don’t think he ever really tracked it or accounted for it—which makes his earnest and engaging methods of getting me both comfortable and savvy with it all the more remarkable.  I was an only child, born in the early 50’s, and a girl.  He wanted to make sure I was smart and self sufficient when it came to money.

He started me early, and he made it engaging, fun, and emotionally rewarding.   When I was really young it was more about numbers than money.  The tool he used then was to teach me how to play poker.  Important life lessons were learned through learning old gambling terms—about “breasting your cards” (not flapping them around), and “not betting on the cards to come” (assuming the right cards will show in the next deal).   Really good things to know in addition to the numbers piece.

When I started getting an allowance part of the deal was that in order to get the allowance I had to keep a ledger of my spending.  It had two columns:  Income and Outgo.  If it was up to date and balanced, I got my allowance.  The brilliant part here was that he had no judgement around what I spent, he just wanted me to account for it.  Trust me, if this had been my Mother, she would have had judgement about every entry, and I would have not been able to succeed.  I think that was an inherent part of his strategy, he wanted me to feel good about this money stuff, so he framed it in a way that I would.

Amazingly it was only a couple of years ago while talking to a client about my dad’s ‘money training’ that I had a clear insight about this one thing he did.  He would borrow money from me on a Friday night in order to take my mother out.  This started when I was about nine.  I was delighted to help my dad!  I felt so ‘grown up’.  And he would always pay me back on Monday with interest, so there was that cool idea of ‘investing’ thrown in there.  What I didn’t realize, but am now sure of is that he never actually needed to borrow the money!  He ALWAYS had a wad of cash.  He was doing this so I would learn about money.  Yay, Dad!

There were other examples and the last one I’ll share is no doubt his favorite!  I was about 13 and wanted a sewing machine.  My dad said that if I saved half the money he’d give me the other half.  I saved and saved money from baby sitting for quite awhile—in those days baby sitting was 50 cents to a dollar an hour!  When I had the money together I went to Dad and he asked how much the machine I wanted was.  I said: “$125.00”, and he said: “Okay, then I’ll give you $62.50” to which I said: “No, just give me $60.00.  I want owning interest.”  In that moment he was the happiest man on earth.  He had successfully taught me about money!

It is no wonder that I ended up an accountant.  The actual magic is that I ended up a Money Coach.  See, my deeper nature is not about crunching the numbers but about understanding why people do what they do.  So with the great relationship that my dad helped me create with money, I was not only able to manage and understand money, but to notice when others were bewildered by it.  When another executive I worked with came into my office one day and, after closing the door, sat down and said: “Shell, I need your help, I can’t balance my checkbook!”, I knew that this was not a skill set issue.  It was deeper than a method—it was in his head.  That was just another event that led me to my current career of helping people untangle their money knots…and fundamentally, without my dad and his loving care in helping me be at ease with money, that would never have happened.  I’ll love him forever, for that, and so much more.

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

Gunnar’s Travels

This is my friend, Claire, at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  You can see by the photo that it’s one of those hazy, almost foggy days.  She’s smiling and looking great.  And look, what’s that in her hand?  That little vial? Oh well, that’s Gunnar, or more accurately some of Gunnar’s ashes.

Claigunnar crop 2re’s cousin, Gunnar, died on the 4th of July weekend in 2015.  He was just 21, hadn’t really had much time or done a bunch of things yet.   But oh the places he’s been since then! His extended family (and there are quite a few of them) all have been taking Gunnar on adventures—everywhere! Sometimes he just visits like when Claire took him to work one day.  She didn’t want him to get stepped on, so he just stayed in the vial.  In other places a bit of his ashes get left like when one family friend took him to see the sunrise in Reykjavik.  Gunnar was named for his family’s first immigrant from Iceland, Gunnar O.

Recently, when the vials are empty his carriers refill the interior where the ashes were  with the elements of the environment he was left in.  Some of the additives are waters, beach sand, or even moss.   These are labeled and delivered back to his parents as a souvenir of his journey.  He’s even been mixed with a bit of Tattoo ink for a more permanent site visit.

He’s really having quite an adventure.  He’s been to a Neal Young concert, one of  Gunnar’s favorites, and seen the Pope up close when he visited the U.S.  Both NASA and Stanford have had Gunnar visits.  He’s been to Ireland and Jamaica.  He’s been added to fireworks and gunpowder and shot into the bright night sky. While in New York he went from under the Brooklyn Bridge to catching the view of the Chrysler Building from the Empire State Building.  Gunnar has been wandering in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming a bunch, and attended a Royals game in Kansas City.

His adventures continue.  And as Claire said: “It’s the coolest idea and I am grateful for my family’s willingness to participate and to actually enjoy the celebration of this young man’s life. Maybe his “job” was to bring us closer together. He’s done a bang up job so far.”

Notice that what’s really happening here is that this family is creating experiences that they want to share with Gunnar and each other.  Those experiences are what we cherish and remember.  It’s an enriching way to spend our time, oh and money too, for that matter.

We all honor those we have lost in different ways.  We take a piece of them with us in our hearts if not in a little vial.  This family has found a way to be very intentional about that, and strengthen their own connection at the same time.  I’m going to be more intentional about sharing my adventures with those that tag along with me in my heart.

Happy trails to you, Gunnar!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler

Dad Made It Rain

Most of you that have followed me for awhile know that my dad started teaching me about numbers and money very early.  It was truly a blessing because I’ve always been good with both of those, and it’s no doubt the reason why I was so successful in my accounting career.

Today, as Father’s Day approaches, I’d like to talk about some of the other important  things my dad taught me that served me well in business and life.  I learned about business from him more by watching him than be being specifically taught.  He modeled some very effective life skills.

Here he is,Dad Jeep crop A.C. Royden “Stoney” Stone.  This is him about the time my parents met – the late 1940’s after WW2.  Dad was riding the rodeo circuit and dealing poker to make a living.  His parents ran a Cafe in Buffalo, Wyoming and he was striking out on his own.

Once my parents got married he sold insurance for awhile, but that didn’t pan out.  Shortly after I was born he worked for Irving P. Krick in eastern Washington state selling farmers on cloud seeding, which meant my daddy made it rain!

I was also impressed with his next job – what little kid in the ’50’s wouldn’t have been impressed with a dad that managed a Pepsi Cola plant?  The next adventure brought him to Hollywood to be the producer for “Beany and Cecil” the cartoon show by my uncle, Bob Clampett—a family business venture, for sure. He probably worked the longest for Storer Broadcasting, managing Cable TV Systems throughout California, and later producing several TV shows for them including “The Littlest Hobo” starring London, a very well trained German Shepard.  Later he did more Cable TV work in Texas, and ended his career managing motels.  All that for a guy from a small town in Wyoming, who only had a high school education.

Living with him through most of that I learned some really important things:

  • Breast your cards. It’s an old poker thing.  Don’t let others see your hand until you are ready. Dad kept his cards close to his chest while being open and friendly.  The deeper places were not easily reached.  The inner circle is small and select. Lots of folks knew and enjoyed him, and at the same time, the deeper spots were available only to a few.
  • Act like you know what you are doing.  This one serves me very well.  I try all sorts of things I don’t really have a clue about, but people don’t need to know that.  I’m bright enough to catch on and catch up.  Part of this one is also something about confidence.  While “acting like you know” you have to really “act like you know”.  You have to be assured.  Not snotty, not superior, just assured—and willing to try.
  • Try new things. I give things a try, and if they don’t work, I try something else.  But I know by looking at others how rare that ability is.  Many people are scared to death to move across town, let alone across the country.
  • Integrity is crucial.  He showed me how to honor and uphold mine. If people ask me what I think, I’ll tell them.  If I give my word I keep it, or I re-negotiate if circumstances change.  I’m loyal.  Come to think of it, I not only “breast my cards”—I keep everyone else’s secret too!

There are many other things I learned from my dad.  He’s very much a part of me, from how much I look like him, to how his quirky sayings keep coming out of my mouth, to the way I operate in the world.

Although he is in my heart everyday, I wanted to share some of him in honor of Father’s Day.  As you can no doubt tell, I miss him!

Ka-ching

Shell Tain, The Untangler