Why Do We Say “Happy” on Memorial Day?

Despite all the problems we have here in the U.S.A. Its remains the greatest country to live in. The multiple freedoms that we enjoy came at a heavy cost, the lives of those who chose to fight for our country.

To all the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force members who paid the ultimate price I owe a debt of gratitude that I will never be able to re-pay. To the 58,000 plus who gave their life in Vietnam for a war that we had no business being involved in, thank you. Thank you for going even though you were treated like an alien  upon your return to an ungrateful country.

Today you can see the enormity of all those lives by visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. It’s a humbling experience.

Iraq and Afghanistan have added thousands more to that toll with most of them in the 18 – 24 years old range. That’s too many lost sons & daughters, brothers & sisters, fathers & mothers, nieces & nephews, & grand children in the prime of their life.

I live near Camp Pendleton, the busiest military base in America and I see these kids everyday ready to pay that price. Kids from small towns to large cities, who would rather be hanging with their friends back in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New York, California & any other state in the U.S. but made the decision to keep us free another day, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Don’t think they’re not afraid, they are, but they also believe in keeping a commitment they made to their friends, family & country.

I don’t have an answer for the Happy Memorial Day greeting but I do believe that it shouldn’t be “Happy” when we honoring those who have lost their life.

So instead of getting wasted on Memorial Day do something for these kids.

 Even if it’s a simple “thank you for your service.”


Goodbye 55

Junior Seau - (FILE) Junior Seau 1969 - 2012

Just when you think you’ve got life all figured out it comes up behind you and smacks you in the head with something else.

Oceanside, CA. is an ocean front town about 30 miles  north of downtown San Diego. Its home to a eclectic mix of different nationalities. It’s also just south of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, the busiest military base in the United States. I have come to love Oceanside and some of my favorite people live and work here.

Of course no story about Oceanside can be complete without mentioning our favorite son, Tiaina “Junior” Seau

It’s also home to Oceanside High School, where the Pirates ran amok on the football field. One of their alumni was a Samoan Standout football player named Tiaina “Junior” Seau. Junior created mismatches and struck fear in his opponents. He went on to USC with the same work ethic and earned a ticket to the NFL. In 1990 he was chosen 5th overall in the 1st round by his home town San Diego Chargers and couldn’t have been more excited for the opportunity to play at the highest level in front of his family and friends.

He was known for his passionate playing style, he was a 10-time All-Pro, 12-time Pro Bowl selection, and named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.  He was the focal point of the defense and the team as a whole.

I don’t think there is an NFL football quarterback who doesn’t have their favorite Junior story.

This past May 2, 2012 Junior took his own life leaving behind a legacy that will live on despite him not being here in body. His soul and spirit will live on through his aloha that he demonstrated while he was here on this earth. He left behind his ex-wife Gina  and their four children, brothers and sisters and the family Patriarch & Matriarch, Mama & Papa Seau who all live in Oceanside. Prayers should also go out to Megan Noderer, who seems to have gotten lost in the aftermath. She was Junior’s girlfriend and  the person who found Junior in his home on the Strand. Right below is the call that Megan Noderer made to 911, but it was too late.


There is no question that Junior was Oceanside’s Favorite Son. He was involved in his community and never forgot where he came from. He was always giving back to Oceanside, was always seen with a smile and if he met you once he’d remember you as if you were lifelong friends and he’d always called you “Buddy.”

I had the pleasure to meet Junior twice, the first time was at the LaDainian Tomlinson Celebrity Golf Tournament. My ex-father in law is a huge NFL fan  so I took him. We met Junior at the Reception afterwards and I remember him asking if I was Hawaiian.  He had a special place in his heart for the Hawaiians and Samoans. The second time was at a business lunch at Seau’s in Mission Valley, one of the attendees lived out of state and kept asking if Junior ever came into the restaurant, he wanted to meet his football hero. After the 3rd or 50th time he asked about Junior I looked up to see Junior walking our way. His familiar “Hey Buddy, Howzit” was how he addressed me and then he asked if I had been home to Hawaii recently. I introduced him to the other guys at the table and they were impressed by how “down home” Junior was and his friendliness towards strangers.

The Junior Seau Foundation sponsors three major programs each year to benefit children and was built on the following mission statement:

To educate and empower young people through the support of child abuse prevention, drug and alcohol awareness, recreational opportunities, anti-juvenile delinquency efforts and complimentary educational programs.

Shop with a Jock®  

Each December, the Junior Seau Foundation Teamed up with Target and over 250 local professional and amateur athletes to give 250 underprivileged children from the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Diego the opportunity to shop for gifts for their loved ones.

Scholars of Excellence Program

This program was designed to recognize young men and women who are dedicated to both personal and academic excellence. Financial assistance is granted to high school graduates who have the grades and the desire, but not the means, to attend a four year college or university. In 2011 the Foundation awarded 25 scholarships amounting to $107,500 in financial aid.

Thanksgiving at SEAU’s The Restaurant

Every Thanksgiving Junior hosts a dinner for 700+ clients of non-profit agencies, including homeless shelters, rehab centers, victims of domestic violence and military families at SEAU’S The Restaurant in Mission Valley.

Junior Seau Foundation Around Town

Junior’s footprint can be found all over San Diego as it worked hard  to empower and educate young people in the community. From funding athletic fields in La Mesa to underwriting a van to transport special education students enrolled at the Stein Education Center in Chula Vista, his Foundation has focused on making a direct impact in the community and will continue to do so even after . The foundation continues to allocate funds for programs that inspire young people to face life’s challenges with enthusiasm, hope and dignity.

I wanted this to be right so that is why it’s 2 weeks after Junior’s passing, Junior and his spirit of aloha, a smile that could light up an entire stadium, and that now too familiar phrase “Hey Buddy” will be missed

Junior was only 43, far too young to leave this earth, again another sad reminder that we don’t know when our time is up here. Make sure that you tell those around you that you love them. Give them a hug just because. Do something totally unexpected for someone, but do it now, don’t wait because then it might be too late.

Below is a link to the 911 call from Junior’s house. Credit goes to Oceanside P.D. Fire Department & the dispatcher for doing their best to keep Junior’s girlfriend somewhat grounded.


Are We Communicating Or Are We Just Connected?

We live in a technological world which we are always communicating. But are we really communicating or are we just connected? At home, families sit together, texting and reading e-mail. Last night while watching TV I looked around and saw that everyone was either texting on their iPhone or playing Words With Friends on their iPads and I’m sure that my household isn’t that much different than anyone elses.

In the workplace everyone is texting during meetings where attendees pay attention to only what interests them, then spend the rest of the meeting eyes down carefully crafting an e-mail or text to someone else, and sometimes that someone else is sitting right across the table from us.

We live 0n Facebook. Teenagers today believe that texting and maintaining eye contact with someone is communication. It’s not.

We’ve got to the point that in my home texting is not allowed at the dinner table and guess what? They’re finding that they can exist without their thumbs furiously typing messages to their friends.

I’ve told just about anyone that I know to not text me, e-mail is fine but I don’t want to have to answer to text messages. Call me old fashion, that’s just the way I am. If someone does text me I will not answer it. Period, unless it’s an emergency with my boys. We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being alone together. Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another without actually being with them. We have gotten used to the idea of being a party of one. We live in our own bubble, connected to keyboards and touch screens safely ensconced in our safe little world of connection.

In today’s workplace, young people who have grown up fearing conversation show up on the job wearing earphones. Watch as employees lay out their plethora of laptops, iPods, iPads and multiple phones. And then they put their earphones on.

In our bubble people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people; carefully kept at an arm’s length. We keep others at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right. Relationships aren’t easy, they require a lot of effort, sometimes too much effort. We have learned to clean  them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference. We are tempted to think that our  online connection adds up to a real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook,  and LinkedIn all of these have their places But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.

Are we shortchanging ourselves by not learning to create relationships complete with communication?

I think so.

What’s The Worth Of An Advocate To A Company?

“To speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly.

Would an advocate bring value to a company? You bet they do because true company advocates are hard to find even when all is not well in The Mother Ship. 

According to Weber Shandwick; who is one of the world’s leading global public relations firms  say that people are quicker to take action on issues and causes, make decisions to buy products and services, and express satisfaction and dissatisfaction than ever before. Advocates can be further defined as individuals who forge emotional bonds and higher levels of involvement with companies, brands and issues. Three types of Advocates emerged from a recent survey;  High Intensity Advocates, Low Intensity Advocates and Badvocates

Advocates are much more likely than average adults to pay a premium for brands they support. They vote with their wallets and provide tangible returns for the brands they champion.

Nearly three out of four Advocates pay more for select brands compared with approx. 4 out of 10 global respondents who are willing to do the same.

Advocates stand by companies they support in time of trouble. They’re more likely to give companies the benefit when controversy rises. When reputations are in danger, companies can count on their Advocates to help stabilize revenue and sales. Companies should engage their Advocates before needing their support.

Advocates are 3.5 times more likely to continue loyalty to a company when it’s in crisis than to discontinue loyalty. The average adult is only 2.8 more likely to continue loyalty than to discontinue loyalty.

Badavocacy  or the act of actively detracting from companies, brands or products, is more likely than Advocay to travel through personal networks. When encountering a negative experience Badvocates take their stewardship seriously. They feel more responsible than Advocates for cautioning others about which products or brands to use. In less direct channels, writing, blogs, web sites and podcasts are just as likely to be used by both Advocates and Badavocates.

Negative feedback is more likely to be forwarded than positive information, 54% of Badavocates share negative feedback while 45% Advocates send positive feedback.

Why a blog about the importance of advocates vs. badvocates? The company that I’m referring to is in a time of internal changes, changes that will bring a different perspective to the technology landscape and according to those who stand to lose the most as a result of these changes they are not happy. The noose tightens and the wagons are drawing in closer for more protection. We’re not talking about newcomers to the game, we’re referring to people who have been around a long time and for most of that time they were advocates.

September 30th is the end of the fiscal year and the true barometer of this lack of respect for company advocates will be known at that time. All I can say is that I don’t consider myself an 100% advocate of this company any longer for many reasons but I’m not ready to jump onto the Badvocate camp quite yet.

Too often companies have employees making decisions that change relationships drastically without any history of that relationship and I believe strongly that is the case in the company that I’m referring to.

If I were any lesser of a man I would publish the company name and the individuals who are making those decisions but I was taught to take the High Road and once again that’s the road I’m taking.