I remember Yogi

It was a two years ago today that we learned of the passing of one of the all time greats, Yogi Berra. He played ball in a time where the sport WAS the national pastime and the baseball world revolved around the Yankees. Yogi was 90 year old. The Yankees legend and Hall of Famer may be better known for the way he creatively butchered the English language, with what became known as Yogi-isms. Here are some of my favorites....

“It’s deja vu all over again.”

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

I've said everyone at one point in my life, sometimes never knowing I was quoting the great Yogi Berra.

It was only today that I realized that there are a few marketing lessons to be learned from Yogi as he quoted his way through life. Allow me to get you thinking on just a few of them....

Be an original. In this day where every business is making the same claims about the 'lowest price' or 'biggest selection' the ones that are successful have an original thought or idea and do an excellent job of stating it plainly and in a way you will remember it. Coke, for example, doesn't say we taste good (like Pepsi), instead it states that Coke is part of the sweetest moments of your life. 

Be who you are. Yogi Berra never tried to be someone he wasn't. There is a story of a teacher one time asking a young Yoggi, 'Son, do know ANYTHING?'. To which Yoggi replied, 'I've never even suspected anything!' Apple makes incredible products that all have a unique look, feel, and way they operate. Windows and Android based products sell the fact that they are fully customizable to the way you want, I like that. But Apple says, this is who WE are and if you are cool enough, sophisticated enough i.e. smart enough, use one of our products.

Finally, be alert. Yoggi said, "You can observe a lot by watching." By paying attention to other businesses in your field and marketplace you can let them do the learning for you. Not just so you don't make the same mistakes they did, but that you can do things BETTER than they did or do. Yoggi also said that, "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else", so watch an be mindful of the steps you take. Have a target, a goal, an objective to aim at daily and one for the long term as well.

Yoggi Berra, his goal has been achieved, starting catcher in heaven. Can't you just imagine the things he's saying now.

I remember...

A year ago I gave the following speech at the 9/11 Memorial Run. That was before Charlottesville, Va, before we started tearing down statues, and before the network news told us - nightly - that we don't like each other. These words mean just as much today...

Today is September 11, 2016, it was 15 years ago today and not too many minutes from now that a series of events unfolded that changed those of us who lived through it and changed the future of all those who came after it.

September 11, 2001, was a day for our generation, much like December 7, 1941, was for a generation before. On September 11, 2001, almost 3000 people died as terrorists attacked New York and Washington. There were also passengers - turned heroes that down a fourth plane in Pennsylvania.

Hero. That word somehow falls short in describing the actions of so many that day. The passengers on that plane, everyday citizens, the firefighters, port authority police, first responders, and bravest of the men and women in blue. On that day the color of our skin color didn’t matter, religion didn’t matter, backgrounds, social status didn’t matter. Politics didn’t matter. Everything that divides us now - didn’t matter then. Only humanity mattered. Together - despite our differences would we survive - or at least have a chance.

Today, as we look back and honor the sacrifices made by all and remember the heroes. I want to share a story a different kind of hero that caught my attention and touched my heart - and still does today.

He was called the Fireman’s Friar. His name was Father Mychal Judge. He was the most notable first victim of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. One month after Mychal Judge's body was pulled from the shattered lobby of 1 World Trade Center, and three weeks after his televised funeral, some of the friar's friends decided to hold a smaller memorial service - an evening of Celtic music and storytelling. Priests, nuns, lawyers, cops, firefighters, homeless people, rock-and-rollers, recovering alcoholics, local politicians, and middle-aged couples from the suburbs all streamed into the Good Shepherd Chapel on Ninth Avenue. Mychal Judge had a Clintonian talent for making people feel as though they were the only ones in the room and a bartender's gift for bringing strangers together.

Did you catch it? Those things that can divide us, did matter to Father Judge - that day or any day.

The firemen loved him. He had an encyclopedic memory for their family members' names, birthdays, and passions; he frequently gave them whimsical presents. Once, after visiting President Clinton in Washington, he handed out cocktail napkins emblazoned with the presidential seal. He'd managed to stuff dozens of them into his habit before leaving the White House.

Father Mychal Judge didn’t go without having his share of controversy surrounding his life, suffice it to say he didn’t fit the mold when it came to a shepherd of people.

He was killed on that day as tower one collapsed on him but not before connecting with and ministering to as many he could. He was reportedly last seen administering the last rights to someone on the sidewalk.

Reportedly in his pocket was a simple prayer card with these words:

Lord, take me where you want me to go.
Let me meet who you want me to meet.
Tell me what you want me to say,
And keep me out of your way.

Good words from a good man to hide in our heart in preparation for the next day we’ll never forget.

May God bless us today as we remember the good father and other heroes from September 11, 2001.