family Posts

Why Not Dig a Hole For Your Soul?

The waves crashed melodiously, relentlessly on the beach. Time’s ceaseless, forward push seemed to whisper: “Our days are numbered, but everything will be fine.” Watching waves lap a beach has a calming, numbing effort on even the most stubborn of stresses, worries.

The brown pelicans soared watchful above the ocean blue, looking for fish. Their plummeting dives were direct, forceful, swift; hunger leaves nothing to chance.

Beach vacationers forgot their cares on the brilliant, soft, silky Florida Gulf Coast sand.

Two teenage boys flung a bright red Frisbee against the southerly breezes.

Pelicans have soul-strengthening powers.

Pelicans have soul-strengthening powers.

A fit middle-aged man grimaced as he ran the beach shore, expertly avoiding the gleeful throngs of sunbathers. Sweat beads collected on his forehead.

As my son and I settled in for a day at the beach, we weighed our delectable selections:

  1. Swim
  2. Go for a walk
  3. Snorkel
  4. Rest on the beach chair
  5. Dig and build a sandcastle

It wasn’t the predictable choice, yet it was an easy one: dig and build a sandcastle.

The sand moved effortlessly on this particular afternoon. My son and I seemed to know what we were building without saying a word or sharing a plan. He’d cover the fort, while I built the castle.

As the castle walls reached upward, the fort’s exterior began to take shape. This fortress could withstand even the mightiest waves.

There was no toil or struggle or strife in shaping and moving sand to our liking. This was a creation that was teamwork.

Get any from your desk, computer, stuff and spend some time with your son and your soul today. It will make a difference today, tomorrow, forever.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Fishing’s got me hook, line, and sinker.

I reached back and threw the baited hook into the distance like a Nolan Ryan fastball. The fishing line fell in the Destin, FL pond with the slightest “plop”.

Circles fanned out lazily from the bobber.

The wind whipped up tiny waves, and we waited. We perked our ears to get a clue of what’s next, yet the underwater world offers no such assistance.

I nervously was flying blind. It had been 25+ years since my last fishing expedition.

bass fish

When the fish start biting, the excitement rises.

Would the wait for action be hours, minutes, or somewhere between? Would the fish swim over and take out a bite? Or would they ignore our ploys at gamesmanship? And what would I do if we actually caught something?

Excitedly, the bites came furiously on this mild, sunny Wednesday afternoon. It was an ‘all you can eat worm buffet’ and we couldn’t stock the place fast enough.

The ‘bobber’ kept doing its disappearing act while our children and I pulled, lunged, grabbed the ‘catch’ from the water.

Bass, bluegill, sunfish keep plopping on shore – fins flapping, gills expanding, eyeballs at alert. One ‘big fella’ snapped my line, pulling the bobber and hook with him for the ride. I’d love another shot at that guy.

Despite my trepidation over fishing with the family, all worries, stresses, urges, anxieties sank to the bottom like the worm on a fish hook.

Do yourself a favor: Take some time and get away from it all. In our ever-connected society, it’s very easy to think that always-on means you are never ‘off’. Being never ‘off’ means you’ll be on the fast track to burn out. And you, your team, business, friends, family, customers won’t want that to happen.

Fact: It won’t be two decades until my next fishing expedition. I am thinking of picking up some new family fishing poles this week.

If the fish are biting, I’ll be ready.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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@Disney: 3 ways to turn your wait in line into a world of wonderment

Waiting in line for something thrilling is sometimes difficult.

Your mind races with excitement in anticipation of what’s next.

  • The movie premiere that you’ve been longing to see is now just 30 minutes away.
  • The newest version of the iPhone that you can’t live without just went on-sale and you are nearly to the front of the line.
  • The clock on your oven counts down 5,4,3,2,1 signaling that your juicy, succulent Thanksgiving turkey is about ready.

As I recently stood in line to ride the much-hyped Disney World coaster, Expedition Everest, “The Waiting”, a familiar song from a Florida native son, Tom Petty bounced through my head:

“The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part.”

Waiting in line is time-consuming at Disney, although not nearly as bad as expected when I saw the immense group of visitors. The crowds were heavy during our stay, yet, surprisingly, we never waited for more than 30 minutes for a ride – sometimes even without a Fast Pass.

The Alphabet of Fun should start with D for Disney.

The wait for Expedition Everest was one of the longer ones, yet once immersed within the world of Yeti footprints, Himalayan explorers and snow-capped peaks time seems to melt away. You find yourself pondering the existence of the Yeti instead of searching for a clock, which you’ll be hard-pressed to find at Disney World.

@Disney: Why not try these ideas to make wait times seem even shorter and thrill the customer in the process?

  1. Can characters entertain the guests as they wait in line? The youngsters might want to frolic with Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, but I am thinking more characters that are true to the theme. How about a pirate mingling with the line as they wait for the Pirates of the Caribbean? Or a bearded explorer in search of the Yeti for the masses waiting for Expedition Everest?
  2. I realize I am biased living in Austin, Texas, the live musical capital of the world, but can Disney World weave music into the experience of waiting? The Pirates of the Caribbean already has an entire movie soundtrack guaranteed to make everyone say, “AARRRGGGGHHH.” Music over the loudspeaker could add ambiance, but imagine the impact of a live band playing imposing ‘pirate music.’
  3. Surprise customers that had to wait the longest for a ride on Space Mountain with a Fast Pass to another great ride at the resort. You’ll turn a happy customer into a Disney evangelist.

The customer service of Disney is legendary in concept and execution. Despite the lines, I’ll still wait for the rides and shows at Disney World. The thrills that await are unforgettable. Perhaps trying a few new customer experience angles will even enhance its excellence.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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My 3 Most Memorable Halloween Costumes

Let’s take a departure from our normal ‘Naden’s Corner’ content. We’ll be back with our regularly-scheduled programming next week.

It’s November. The Halloween costumes are all put away or thrown out. (Is it just me? Or are purchased costumes today made out of ultra-thin, cheap materials?)  Ghosts and goblins fade into the distance until next year. As Halloween transitions into Thanksgiving, and the stores think Christmas can’t arrive fast enough, I like to stay in the Halloween spirit and share my Top 3 Halloween Costumes.

Spooky Halloween pumpkin

You can let your imagination run wild on Halloween.

1.       Astronaut: (1978). I had visions of floating through space. To take me there, I thought I’d sport an astronaut costume for the spookiest day. My Mom and Dad assisted with my quest to the moon. I cleared out a gallon ice-cream container (that was a fun exercise!!), cut holes for eyes and voila: I had a helmet. My suit consisted of sky-blue pajamas jazzed up with some tin foil patches. Take me to the moon and back.

2.       Howard Cosell: (1980). Before Dicky V went ballistic, and Chris Berman went “back, back, back, back”, Howard Cosell set the stage for the future of sportscasting. His confidence and viewpoints brought a new energy and attitude to watching and listening to a sporting event. Brown suitcoat. Black wig. ABC microphone. Big clip-on ears. Everyone wanted to hear my Howard Cosell imitation by the time the school bell rang.

3.       Football Referee: (1981). I wasn’t the teacher’s pet on this day. Not only did I wear the zebra stripes, black hat, tight pants, but I completed the ensemble with a yellow flag and whistle. “TTTTTWWWWEEEETTTT; 15-yard penalty on Mikey for being a dork.” Apologies, Ms. Martin, I hope I didn’t damage your hearing too much on that Fall day.

Honorable mention: Goldilocks and the Three Bears (1979). I was one of the, sly, cunning little bears, complete with brown corduroy suit, ears, and small tail created by my grandmother. My Dad wore the yellow wig, green tights and raised his voice a little; we were the highlight of that year’s party.

(Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures readily available for these 3 classic costumes.) The word pictures should be clear enough.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Dear Roger Goodell: you’ve some pint-sized fans

When we sit down to watch a little weekend gridiron action, my daughter politely asks, “What team are we cheering for?”

“The black team,” I announce if my lovable Bears are playing.

She doesn’t quite follow the ebb and flow of the game, yet she continually asks about the score and what’s happening. If the Bears are winning, I’ll prepare a glowing monologue about the running game or the Bears’ 3rd down efficiency. If the Bears suffer, I’ll try to sullenly instruct with one word answers. I can sometimes be a sore loser. Despite my hidden bitterness, my near-silence never suffices for my insatiable daughter.


Why can't the Bears run, catch, or throw the football?

I made one observation (with my daughter) that symbolizes the cash-heavy beast that is the National Football League. As I watched a recent battle between my Bears and the New York Giants, (I’d rather not get into the particulars from that affair), I noticed that nearly 50% of the audience is wearing some type of ‘fan gear’ (jerseys, hats, shirts, etc.)

The NFL is huge business. The yearly revenues of approximately $7.8 billion are by far the largest of all major US sports. It’s amazing and scintillating to watch a game that’s so successful and extremely entertaining.

It seems NFL fans have an undeniable allegiance to their squad, and they are proud to display that loyalty for all to see.

Let’s calculate something: (thanks to Wikipedia)

  • The average NFL stadium seats: ‘about’ 70,000 fans
  • 50% of that stadium is wearing ‘fan gear’: 35,000 fans
  • Average cost of ‘fan gear’:  (average of team shirt, jersey and hat): $55

$55 x 35,000 fans = $1,925,000; think about that large number; this is only from one of the NFL’s 32 stadiums.

I think I am ‘underbidding’ by thinking that only half the fans in attendance have NFL gear. It appears to be more like 75%.

Could this incredible ‘franchise’ of the NFL even grow larger by tapping into the younger generations? As I watch my daughter become intrigued by the running, throwing, and tackling on Sunday afternoons, I have to ask: is their ‘market potential’ here for the NFL?

Now I’ve seen young children sporting NFL gear. Many years ago, I caught backyard touchdown passes from my friend Kevin with a wool Bears cap on my head. Flurries sometimes drifted from the sky; a chill hung in the air, yet I was warm. Today, I see many youngsters branding the Cowboys star here in the Lone Star state. Our neighborhood seems like an extension of Cowboys Stadium on Sunday afternoons.

But should the NFL be building products and services that cater to an ‘even younger’ generation?

Baby Crib

Should the NFL let 'Sweetness' rock you to sleep?

What about NFL-themed diapers? The fuzzy, bleary-eyed 2am diaper change might be more satisfying with a Bears ‘C’ on display.

Would your infant be especially soothed with a Monsters of the Midway-branded pacifier?

If you can plaster your wall with a Brian Urlacher skin from Fathead, why can’t you get a Chicago Bears plastered car seat?

How about a NFL mobile with the retired numbers of Bears greats dangling from the ceiling? Wouldn’t your child sleep better if Sweetness (Walter Payton #34) or the bruising Dick Butkus (#51) were watching over?

Who knows if this ‘market slice’ is ripe for the taking? I might be watching an upcoming Bears/Packers game while my daughter plays with her Bears tea set with dark blue dishes and orange cups. I’ll join the party when that happens.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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