Grandma’s Hot Chocolate

There’s something special about grandma’s hot chocolate.

It doesn’t matter that she boils water and pours in the envelope of instant powder like the rest of us.

It’s what she does while the water’s boiling.  The questions she asks while stirring-in the powder.  The way she stops stirring to listen to your answers.

Grandmas have that way of listening, even to the stuff we’re not saying.

It’s the way she adds the right amount of milk to “thicken it up a bit.”  Nobody else gets it exactly right like grandma.  She knows just the way you like it.  In fact, she’s the only one who does.

It’s counting out the right number of baby marshmallows.  Enough to sweeten things, but not so many that they get in the way.

It’s the way she squeezes your shoulder as she places the cup on your placemat.

It’s the way she sits to enjoy it with you.

That first sip is such a treat.  Is it the taste of the chocolate, or seeing grandma’s warm smile across the table that makes it so good?

It doesn’t matter.  Your loving journey to the bottom of this cup of wonder is just beginning.

Funny how the simplest things in life are transformed when they’re mixed with grandma’s love.

A love she teaches us to bring to the simple things in our own lives each and every day.

Photo by Salome Alexa on Unsplash

The Four Most Important Letters in Leadership: L-O-V-E

It’s no coincidence that these letters spell out love…

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about business, politics, sports, charities, social clubs, or just about any other area where human beings come together to accomplish something.  The most important determining factor in an organization’s success is the quality of its leadership.

What makes a strong leader?  Is it the one with the loudest voice?  The guy who makes the best speeches?  The one who puts in the most hours?  Is it the dude ordering people around the most?

Of course, it’s none of these.

The best leaders focus on the four most important letters in leadership:  L-O-V-E

L—Listen and Learn.  Strong leaders are curious.  They never stop asking questions.  They have two ears and one mouth so they can listen twice as much as they talk.  A strong leader listens to employees, customers, competitors, “the market,” and any other source of information available.  A true leader is constantly learning, and knows he doesn’t have all the answers.

O—Observe and Organize.  Leaders make time to observe what’s really happening.  They don’t rely solely on the stories people tell.  They measure the reality.  Leaders organize for success.  They delegate responsibility and authority to others within their organization.  They define processes that multiply their efforts, and the efforts of those they lead.  Ronald Reagan coined the phrase, “trust, but verify,” and strong leaders live by this maxim to ensure their organization is as efficient and scalable as possible.

V—Visualize.  Where are we going?  How will we get there?  These are the two biggest questions leaders face.  The leader’s ability to visualize the future, define and articulate the mission, and steer toward success will make or break their organization.  Look too far into the future, and they may fail to see the short-term obstacles and challenges.  Look too closely at the short-term obstacles, and they may steer their organization off-course and miss its ultimate objective.  Visualization isn’t an independent activity.  The strong leader makes time to help others take emotional ownership of the vision and connect it to what they do each day.

E—Encourage and Execute.  Ultimately, success is all about execution.  A strong leader knows that nothing happens without the people he’s leading.  Encouraging others to give their maximum effort in pursuit of the organization’s vision and goals is the primary role of the leader.  Encouragement comes from the leader’s words and actions.  People will watch and listen to see if their leader’s values and moral compass are something they can support.  They will learn quickly whether their leader cares about their well-being, as well as that of the organization.  A strong leader is sincere in defining what it will take to succeed, and excels at encouraging their team to make it a reality.

It’s no coincidence that these letters spell out love.  It’s the attitude a strong leader brings to their work each and every day.


Shameless plug:  If you want to improve your leadership game, check out my new book, Leadership Starts (and Ends) in Your Head…the rest is detail.


Why Oreos and Steaks Matter

I personally never saw the benefit of splitting my Oreos in half, and eating the middle first…

A kid’ll eat the middle of an Oreo cookie, and save the chocolate cookie outside for last…

I personally never saw the benefit of splitting my Oreos in half, and eating the middle first.  Seems like a lot of work.  In fact, the middle is boring without the chocolate cookie, in my humble opinion.

If dissecting the cookie isn’t the best, what’s the best way to eat an Oreo?

If you bite into an Oreo, it’s a challenge to not drop crumbs all over the place.  The cleanest and most effective way to eat an Oreo is in one bite.  Just pop the whole cookie in your mouth and let the taste celebration begin.  To add to the party, take a small sip of milk and let all that flavor mix around as you chew.  Enjoy.

The ideal number of Oreos to eat in one sitting is four…each with one bite, and each with a healthy sip of milk.  Oreo purists will argue that the ideal number is an entire column (purists know what a column is in this context), but that’s a bit much for me.  You’ll have some milk left in the glass after your four cookies, and that’s useful for rinsing everything out of your teeth as you contemplate the goodness of your Oreos.

I always thought it would be fun to eat a few Oreos before a dental hygienist appointment.  I wonder if anyone has actually gone through with this idea.

Steak.  It’s what’s for dinner.

For vegetarians, I apologize in advance…

The smell of steaks on the grill is a little slice of Heaven.  There’s something about the smell of a barbeque grill that permeates a neighborhood.  If your neighbor is cooking steaks, you know it, and you wish you were cooking your own.

Some of the best steakhouses age their beef for thirty, even sixty days.  They say that the longer the aging process, the more tender the meat will be.  I’m not quite so patient.  I’ll give it about three days of aging in the fridge before cooking.

I’ve tried many cuts of beef.  My favorite is the rib eye.  Rub a little olive oil on each side, and then season with Mansmith’s.  Grill it low and slow, about ten minutes on each side for the perfect medium-rare tenderness.  Let the meat rest for a few minutes, and then enjoy with a baked potato and some steamed or sautéed asparagus.  Talk about good eats!

I like nearly every food I’ve tried, except olives and horseradish.  A few favorites come to mind…Salmon.  Eggplant parmesan.  Hot apple pie (with ice cream).  Saag paneer.  Unagi.  Lasagna.  Date shakes.  Vegetarian lamb.  Chocolate chip ice cream.  Chili.  Oatmeal cookies.  Fried chicken.  Carrot cake.  Cornish pasties.  Bacon!

Food is much more than the sustenance we need to live.  It’s more than nutritional value (or lack thereof).  Foods have history.  Many are at the heart of our family traditions.

One thing all foods across the world have in common:  they are best when shared with the people we love.

Explore.  Taste.  Savor.  Share.  Love.  Enjoy!

Unmaking an Oreo:

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