The Brickgown Brewery was the first brew pub in Oklahoma since statehood. Jim Cowan was the young manager who opened it, ran it, and eventually owned it. On this episode of The Spirit of Leading, we hear first hand about those days and what it took to get a new restaurant concept to take hold in an emerging entertainment district that was still in its infancy.
Jim worked shoulder to shoulder with the legends of Bricktown and the city and business leaders who envisioned and championed a bold new venture that has made Oklahoma City one of the cities to watch. What Jim and early investors in Bricktown built has paved the way for the next wave of investment and creative energy.
I remember when I could run a 9-minute mile. I ran every day and did some form of resistance training three times a week most weeks.
Then I got too busy to maintain that exercise schedule. Little by little my stamina and strength evaporated.
I remember when I was well versed in pop culture. Today, there is a new wave of pop artists I’ve never heard of, while my favorites are now the classics.
A new generation is born, grows up, moves in to drive the commerce of culture, and takes over all the institutions. The world as I knew it is a relic, and I’m left hanging on to it with a death grip, terrified of falling into the abyss of irrelevance.
Everyone experiences this with age. It happens because as time goes by, somewhere along the way we find a comfortable spot and stop. It feels familiar and safe and predictable, so we decide to relive that life every new day.
We desperately try to mold the emerging world to match the way things are supposed to be. When that fails, we become like the ostrich that sticks his head in the sand, thinking it’s better to be blissfully ignorant than engaged. The problem is we don’t realize we have done so.
Opening my eyes to a new life
I’ve taken a different approach.
I’ve decided to evolve with the times.
I’ve decided to embrace pop culture as expressive of the interests, personality, hopes, and dreams of the world’s new population of leaders.
I’ve decided to embrace the exuberant freshness of their inclusiveness, tolerance, and passion for a better way
I’ve decided to let go of the way things are supposed to be to grab hold of the way things could be.
I’ve decided to
I’m an advocate for setting your goals, then, going with the flow. It sounds counterintuitive; yet, it works for me.
I’ve learned that choosing to go in one direction means that I cannot go in all other directions. However, no matter which path I choose, I know that I will face obstacles and opportunities along the way that either force me to alter my course, or that intrigue me enough to want to do so.
Frankly, I love the surprise.
You can tell from my photo that I’m not a spring chicken. Five years ago I found myself unexpectedly single again, living in the DFW metro. The shock of it was devastating. I resolved that I would never marry again.
I set myself on a different path to go it alone. I buried myself in my work. A friend insisted I go on match.com. I said absolutely not. But months later I relented. However, I posted a profile I was certain would turn off any prospects.
As it turned out, I was exactly what one lady was looking for, and she contacted me on the very last day my subscription was active. After several years of a distance relationship we married and are happily settled in Tulsa.
Way leads on to way–it’s true.
During those years she became a driving force in helping me to alter my path, while staying true to my passion. I shifted my work toward writing and working with Millennials. I have written and self-published three books, and I’m on my forth. You can find them on Amazon.com.
I’m working daily with Millennials across Oklahoma encouraging them to step into their leadership opportunities now, instead of later. You’ll hear more about NextGen Leadership Oklahoma and it’s counterpart recognition program NextGen Under 30 Oklahoma going forward (www.nextgenunder30.com).
My life since that devastating Tuesday in May more than five years ago has been a case study in serendipity. It would not have happened if I had stubbornly stayed my course of going it alone. All this probably would not have happened if I had not allowed myself the occasional side trip on my path.
I’m the happiest and most fulfilled I have been in twenty years.
Allow the surprises in your plans.
Embrace the serendipity if you want to
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Tom McDaniel, President, American Fidelity Foundation
Tom McDaniel chairs the citizens advisory board for the Oklahoma City MAPs-3 initiative (Metropolitan Area Projects). The MAPs project has revitalized an urban center from the verge of blight in the 1980s to a teeming destination location with sports venues, convention space, improvements to public schools, and other major infrastructure improvements.
A vibrant downtown area is emerging with retail, hospitality, entertainment, sports, and residential space. Oklahoma City is quickly becoming one of the nation’s most attractive cities for Millennials and young professionals.
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In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, Tom discusses the transformational impact the project’s three iterations. Tom also discusses his approach to leading the citizens advisory board and the value of citizen involvement and collaboration with the elected city officials and other interest groups in the community.
Tom McDaniel (3rd from left) joins OKC Mayor Mick Cornett (center) and other civic leaders in a MAPs 3 groundbreaking ceremony.
The Oklahoma City MAPS-3 project
Background of the OKC MAPs project
American Fidelity Foundation
OK Cleats4 Kids Foundation, founded by Tom’s son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Stacy McDaniel
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The line between convictions and being obstinate is thin. When we consider our convictions to be absolute truth, to which everyone else must yield, we have set ourselves up for a world of frustration and strife.
I think it’s a sad state when people are so firm in a belief that they cannot even consider the possibility that they might be misinformed or have distorted the facts.
My arrogance was surpassed only by my obnoxiousness.
I’ve learned that the hard way. I would argue about my opinions at the drop of a hat, and I’d drop the hat. I was right, and I had to convince everyone that my way was the right way.
I worked hard on being right about my opinions. So, if you disagreed, you must be wrong. After all, why would I intentionally be wrong about my beliefs?
One day it dawned on me why, when I joined the conversation group, I was soon the only one left standing there. I was literally running everyone off. Fortunately I’ve mellowed, and I have more friends now.
But isn’t that the catch with our beliefs? No one in their right mind would intentionally be wrong about their beliefs.
Then I realized that an opinion is just that: my subjective understanding of what facts mean to me.
Often we overlook our own inconsistencies and ignorance about simple facts.
I saw the caption on the back of t-shirt recently that said something like, “Our national parks belong to the people, not the government. Get the government out of our national parks.”
I’m sure the man wearing that shirt believed passionately in its message. But here’s the problem he obviously did not see. Without the government, there would be no national parks. National parks are established by an act of congress. I’m sure that trying to convince him that having the government involved is a good thing for national parks was a conversation better left alone.
Conviction and facts do not always coincide.
Recently I saw on television a side by side comparison of Facebook posts about the same set of facts as posted on liberal leaving versus conservative leaning pages. You got it–each side represented the identical set of facts with a different interpretation depending on their leanings, a.k.a. convictions.
The truth is, we usually believe what we want to believe, and we cherry-pick the facts to back up those beliefs. That’s why discussing politics and religion with most people is futile. We also will rationalize facts that are contradictory to our beliefs rather than change our minds. Boy are we in trouble.
Let’s get sane by being willing to change our minds.
I still have my personal beliefs, but I realize they come from my personal experiences and understanding of information at the time. Sometimes new and more accurate information comes to light, and my personal believe are subject to change.
However, I am a fact checker. Before I jump on whatever bandwagon you are riding, I’ll challenge your facts and the way you handle you facts.
I recommend everyone get in the fact checking habit. There are several groups that do so in the political and government sectors such as FactCheck.org, Politifact.com, Snopes.com, OpenSecrets.org, and TruthOrFiction.com.
Being mature enough to change your mind
when the facts warrant is not a character flaw.
It’s a signal that you are
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Executive Director Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation
Nothing breeds success like success, and the transformational impact of multiple success stories can have a major impact on the psyche of an organization, a city, and a state.
That’s part of the impact that Mike Knopp’s crazy idea of making a dry North Canadian River riverbed into a successful rowing venue has had on Oklahoma City and the state.
In this episode of The Spirit of Leading, I talk to Mike about the origin of his idea and what he experienced bringing it to life.
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Mike talks about the value of persistence, the time and patience it takes for an idea to take root and grow, and the importance of telling the vision story so others can see it and make it their own vision as well.
Mike started out on a law career. His passion for rowing resulted in him and his wife volunteering in rowing programs on Lake Overholser in Bethany, OK.
Mike Knopp as rowing coach for Oklahoma City University
Mike is now the Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, and is a guiding influence on the continued development of the Boathouse District on what is now known as the Oklahoma River.
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The Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation
The history of rowing in Oklahoma
Her name is Rita. The voice in my head. She is the voice of my GPS that I can’t get rid of.
Rita’s job, when I’m traveling in unfamiliar territory, is to keep her eyes on the map and tell me when to turn so I can keep my eyes on the actual road and drive the car. We make a great team.
There is a fundamental difference in the statements, “I think we are going in the wrong direction,” and “I think we are going to the wrong destination.” The INPowered understand that difference and how to use both the questions effectively.
Have we lost our way?
I think we are going in the wrong direction, indicates we are certain about our destination but have wandered away from the path to it. These distractions lure us and the detours force us away from the things we need to do to get to our goal.
This perspective matters when we are asking the question, “what must we DO to get what we want?” If we are doing the wrong things, we probably won’t get where we intend. Or, we’ll waste a lot of time and resources getting there.
Are we clear about our destination?
I think we are going to the wrong destination, says that the goal is the wrong goal. We can be firmly on the path to a goal, but when we get there, it won’t be the right place.
This perspective is about the clarity of the goal itself. It’s the answer to the question, “What do we want?” Instead of driving around hoping the destination will reveal itself, we know exactly where we are going before leaving the house.
The voice in my head
When I’m working, it’s my job to program in the destination–the exact place I want to end up. I call on the Rita in my head to help me map out the path and stay on it.
Sometimes, I realize the destination I had programmed in is the wrong destination. When that happens, Rita is not helpful until I reprogram the destination.
It’s not good enough just to realize I’m headed to the wrong destination. The sooner I abandon the wrong destination and reprogram the right one, the more effective and efficient I can be.
We must be diligent to ask the one right question: where exactly do we want to go?
I believe in the serendipity of the journey. I believe the journey is part of our growth and adventure.
I also know the aimless wanderer risks a life of almost, but not quite, fulfillment and happiness. They are left trying to reconstruct meaningfulness in retrospect. Been there, done that. But it’s never too late to reprogram the destination.
I’ve learned from my travels to get and keep the destination clear.
And, if and when you realize the destination is not the right one,
reprogram and redirect without hesitation or regret.
Learn this difference, and you will be