Fancy Footwork

A recent sashay into the world of West Coast Swing has been enlightening, empowering and encouraging. The most entertaining element of the experience is how Life follows Dance.

West Coast Swing

Much more amusing than a CPA Blogger is a CPA Dancer.

Each week, fingers tickle this keyboard in hopes of reaching your funny-bone.

A recent sashay into the world of West Coast Swing has been enlightening, empowering and encouraging.

The most entertaining element of the experience is how Life follows Dance.

From the dance floor to the canvas of life, these are the Bold and artful lessons that were either reinforced, or learned for the very first time!

Be Open to Opportunities

This saga begins at a community fundraiser event with a live band and a plywood dance floor in a horse barn. Now, really, what are the odds of anything out of the ordinary occurring?!

As I’m standing there enjoying Billy Waldo and the Flying Grizzlies, an older lady taps me on the shoulder and says something to the effect, “I want you to save me a dance tonight. Sometimes, you are hogged by the other women and I don’t get a turn.”

All I could do was blush and say, “You’re sweet!” and “OK.”

Now, the truth of the matter is: Yes, I love music. As a result, I have decent rhythm. My dancing skills are limited to self-taught moves practiced a couple times any given evening when attending an event.

Yet, sure enough, we danced what I knew: a Jitterbug and my “modified” Box-step. She called it a Three-step. Once we had a better name for it, we danced it some more. Then, it got shortened to a Two-step, which usually isn’t my favorite. My favorite, though, is the Waltz; the music changed to three-four time and we danced it, too.

Right in the middle of the whole dang show was a little conversation, wouldn’t you know!

“There’s a workshop in Denver next weekend called Swingtime in the Rockies,” she said.

Always clever with my responses, I said, “Really!?”

The Want To

There is one rule of the Universe that refuses to acquiesce: Change will be met with Resistance. Ruts are graves with the ends kicked out; yet, we are comfortable in them. Decide to do something about the situation and all of creation will test our resolve. The little negative voices in our heads will catch a gear and do double-time in their efforts to talk us out of a new idea. They know, for a fact, “All We Do Begins With A Thought.”

Start At the Beginning

As part of the opening activities of Swingtime in the Rockies, a workshop was offered that first evening. I went; big mistake! Thinking that it might be for beginners, I took the dance floor. A few minutes into the lesson taught by a nationally acclaimed dancer and instructor, I left the dance floor. Sitting there, all alone, on the fringe while everyone else danced, it felt right to leave the ballroom. And, I must confess, the temptation was strong to leave the hotel and go back …

Wait! Go back?! Quit? Never!

Skin in the Game

Some refer to it as Commitment. That night, and the next three nights, of my hotel room were already paid; part of the deal for making reservations at the last moment during tourist season. Maybe it was the Scotch-Irish of my ancestry, or my accountant training, the realization was vivid that I needed to look for the dividends from my investment. And, I wanted to learn how to dance the West Coast Swing, too!

Ugly Mistakes

There are no words to describe the sensation of screwing up on the dance floor. Right there, in front of God and the whole wide world, with video cameras everywhere, a partner is left standing, wondering, “What was that?!”

Laughter

Humor covers a multitude of sins. Plain and simple, when the ego has been beaten to a bloody pulp, the only saving grace is to acknowledge the beauty in a second chance. With a quick apology, wink, and a smile, that opportunity was given every single time over the course of four days!

Communication

Evidently, the instructors of the workshops had previous life experiences of first-hand embarrassments, or being the object of them. They graciously and generously had us dance with different partners throughout the hour of each workshop. One of the social graces of dance is to make an introduction to the new partner. Feeling obliged to give fair warning to the unsuspecting, mine morphed into, “Hi. I’m Dangerous!”

Beauty on the Inside

Since the natural principle is Like attracts Like, seldom in nature do we see Beauty and the Beast. On the dance floor, I got lucky. Or, so I thought; lucky to dance with beautiful women. Quickly, I was reminded of another ageless principle, “Never judge a book by the cover.” The most memorable and insightful encounters of the weekend were with the women of radiant inner beauty.

Thank You

Two simple little words. Regardless of my performance, or lack thereof, all was well at the end of the dance movement by acknowledging the bravado of my partner. Body language is a wonderful medium for expressing feelings of the heart. The fear inherent in keeping sandaled bare toes out of the way of my cowboy boots displayed itself on many faces. An expressive, “Thank you,” always garnered a smile!

Right Here, Right Now

Mindfulness, or living in the present moment, is a given on the workshop dance floor. There is no time to have regrets about the last Ugly Mistake, or to be worried about the next requested Uncertain Movement. Daily growth occurred by focusing on, “Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive,” or if the pain of the current lesson made that thought borderline untruthful, to accept that “This too shall pass!”

My Steps to Leadership

In the moments of learning to lead, there were absolutely no thoughts about what my partner “should” be doing to follow. The point was well made by an experienced dancer, who was enduring my deer-in-the-headlights look and feet-in-the-quicksand hook, in her comment, “I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. I just follow!” (Note to Self: “Oh, darlin’, just wait until next year!”)

Understanding and Appreciation

One, Two, Three and Four, Five and Six. That’s the count. The question for me was: Is all of that done in a four-beat measure, or what?! Sure enough, I finally found the count and the beat. Then, the evenings of watching the Social Dances went from: “Sure is pretty; wonder what they’re doing.” To: “That’s a Sugar-Push. There’s an Inside-Turn. That’s a Right-Side-Pass. Wow; there’s a Whip!”

Step by Step

Day by day, the pieces to the dance puzzle fell into place until the whole picture made more sense. That first beat and step back for the guys was (and continues to be) the hardest thing to remember. Then, there is the issue of arm height and appropriate moments of elasticity with a partner. Add to that the basic moves, musicality, and interpretation, until many steps were taken over four days on the journey of learning West Coast Swing.

Show Up

Each day had scheduled times for the workshops. Good thing, too! Because, without those appointments to keep, the natural inclination was to find something easier and more comfortable to do than stepping onto that dance floor, one more time.

Courage

It is a three-letter word: YES. Our greatest fears are related to the preservation of who we are. Sticks and stones can break our bones; and, words can injure even more severely. It’s a fine line: to grow, we must change; yet, it must be our choice. To preserve the best of who we are as unique creations, while stretching to become better individuals, requires strength of will and fortitude of disposition.

Up to Me

If it is to be, it is up to me. Partners can be wonderful cheerleaders, of our efforts. If I want to dance, it is up to me, to learn. My thoughts, my feelings, and my feet must all engage together to accomplish what is important, to me. Doesn’t matter what others think, feel, or do, about my efforts to dance. All that matters is my love of music and movement!

Ask

In those moments, when I was out of my league in a workshop and totally confused as to the next step to take, a simple request of a partner, “Please, show me,” always took us beyond frustration to a successful result. Maybe, it wasn’t a perfect performance on my part; yet, it was a movement beyond inertia.

Profound Desire to Share

This is the inherent beauty of humans: we all want and need to offer the best of who we are to another. Some of us have earned the reputation as ministers, because we are full of it and freely offer to any and all. Others are more subdued in approach; yet, when asked, are equally able and willing to share their inherent gifts.

Higher Levels

From novice, to intermediate, to advanced, to all-stars, there is a progression of accomplishment and confidence. Each level provides opportunities to see even greater challenges. At the beginning, we don’t know what we don’t know. As we advance, we come to fully understand that we will never achieve a full understanding of what is possible!

Inconsistency creates Consistency

“Say, what?!” I thought, when the instructor first said it. Then, he reminded us of the imperfect human condition: we can never do the same thing, the same way, every time, perfectly. Variety is the spice of life. Our choice: Be frustrated; or, Wrap our minds and arms around the excitement of something new and different, every time. Our ability and willingness to be flexible in our response will provide a sense of stability.

Connection and Release

It takes both. In the realm of West Coast Swing, connection is strongest just before the release. It is the tension of the connection which produces the pleasure of the release. All tight, all the time, is no better than all loose, all the time. It is the ebb and flow, the up and down, the yin and yang, which creates the harmony of the universe and enhances our interactions with another person.

Partnerships

Every wonderful experience happens because of a connection with another person. In dance, the connection is real: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual. Our being is flooded with the sensation of connection. Yet, even with the separation of time and distance, our relationships motivate us into uncharted waters of discovery, all because of the influence of another person.

Smile

Each partner brings something good and something less than. For four days, I was the beneficiary of a new experience. Smiles were offered when the answer was, “Yes!” Smiles were freely given when the answer was, “No.” Smiles were everywhere! The most moving experience was the emotion flowing from the expression of a cancer survivor, when she said, with a smile, “Always say yes when asked to dance. It might just be your last one.”

More Action

The most appropriate mantra for a student of dance just might be, “A little less talk and a lot more action!” Books are good, videos are insightful, explanations are fine, and the Fun is in the Doing. The only way to learn anything is to do it!

In much the same vein as “The Mind Remembers What The Hands Learn” is “The Soul Experiences What The Feet Teach”. In other words, actions speak louder than words.  In fact, Thoughts become our Words, Words become our Actions, Actions become our Habits, Habits become our Character, and Character becomes our Destiny.

Let’s dance!

www.kimfoard.com

Different Levels

The secret to success is beyond the labels of levels; it is discovered by enlightening, empowering and encouraging the desires of People to grow and build!

Different LevelsArriving home from school, the little girl was deep in thought. The frustration with the day was written all over her face.

As she found a listening ear, the story began to unfold. One of her 4th Grade classmates had an opposing view on an important subject. By explaining the two beliefs, the little girl seemed to find the answer to her dilemma.

With acceptance in her voice, she understood and announced, “People are just on different levels!”

All natural growth occurs through levels of maturation. Whether children into adults, seedlings into plants, or entrepreneurs into companies, there is a logical order: from the bottom, up; and, from the inside, out.

This hierarchy of levels begins with a foundation. All that follows is supported from that beginning.

After thirty years in business and within a span of seven days, I was reminded of the “Levels”.

Two stories, two story-tellers, two very different views, about one CPA:

Level 1:

“A bit of constructive criticism for future successful customer interaction: Don’t assume that your potential clients know exactly what your product is.

You are good at forwarding prepared documents. Might I suggest a single page with bullet points of the steps and actions that your products entail. I wouldn’t purchase a floor machine unless I knew what the pad pressure delivered to the scrubbing pads is, as the wrong machine may deliver undesired results or reduce productivity.

I would want to see a specifications sheet, just as I asked many time from you of your products.”

Level 2:

“I am a young man who has decided to come back to my hometown to manage and run our family ranch. I worked as a counselor for the last 4 years and was very content with my life and career.

As life happens, due to circumstances, I was brought back to my childhood roots and knew that my family needed me. I was not key on the idea at first but then I was introduced to our family’s accountant and he helped me look at the country life in a whole different way.

Since I have known Kim the last four years he has helped me and my family rebuild our financial status. We have purchased more efficient machinery, doubled our commercial Angus line of beef, and in the works is a pivot sprinkler system.

I remember when I met Kim he told me “You Dream it I will help bring your dream to reality”. He has been so helpful in every aspect a person could imagine, very knowledgeable, very dependable and you can access him anytime.

Kim has helped me grow into a business orientated person. He has the tools if you have the ambition and drive. Thanks Kim..”

How can two views about one person be so different?!

Answer: The young man at Level 1 has a Product based view; the young entrepreneur at Level 2 has a Service based view.

The mentality of some people is so limited that they are Product bound; unless they can understand the “tangible”, any inherent benefit is limited. Other people think at higher levels; they acknowledge and want the perceived value from the “intangible” of quality Service.

Gravity, for example, is a very powerful and valuable intangible. It is a real force to the extent of its Cause-and-Effect results. We have a choice to recognize its value by living within the reality of its influence. Depending on the height of the object on which they stand, those who choose to ignore this intangible presence might only get to do so once.

Individually, we are unique. As individuals, we will always perceive the world differently. The secret to success is beyond the labels of levels. It is discovered by enlightening, empowering, and encouraging the desires of People to grow and build.

We learn by doing and the fun is in the doing. As we, individually, choose our next step on the journey to a higher level, let’s have fun learning!

www.kimfoard.com

Open Minds

My goal is to broaden horizons, share stories, and provide feedback, for the express purpose of guiding others on the paths of their choice.

Open MindsA few days after a delightful evening dinner, she strolled into my office and announced, “No one can close me on the first attempt.”

I smiled because nine months earlier, as I was settling into my new office location, it was she who had bounced in with an idea for me and my money.

Appreciative of the exuberance of youth and enamored with the idea of being a good neighbor, I said, “Yes, I’ll listen.”

An agreement was reached on a time for her to make the short trip across the hall from her Life Insurance Company to my CPA Company. As a Shooting Star of her prominent business organization, she was given the opportunity to enter my boutique world of the Hired Gun.

For thirty years, I have focused on the bulls-eye of the targets set by those business people, and my friends, who are intent upon achieving success. Interested in what I might learn from this Quick-draw Artist, my time was offered to her. The, only, caveat (quid pro quo, if you will) was that she and her husband join me for dinner, some evening in the future.

With the benefit of education and experience in running the numbers, I was genuinely curious about what I might have overlooked in regards to the odds of betting against ourselves. Life Insurance is actually Death Insurance. As a financial tool, it has its place in the box.

Having built a little empire in my youth and given it away in middle-age, the idea of buying protection against the capricious hand of fate was laughable. Yet, I was intrigued by the enthusiasm of this young woman on a mission.

Consistent with the beginning of our conversation — at the end of our two hours together, I politely declined her sale of Life Insurance. For the months that followed, I graciously reminded her of my offer for dinner.

Then, right in the middle of Tax Season, I must have been looking a little frazzled. My young — Insurance Agent — neighbor bounced in once again to ask if I might consider Long-term Care Insurance. Again, I laughed and said, “No.”

Imagine my surprise when, after months of avoiding my offer for dinner, she bounces in — yet, one more time — with Calendar in hand to schedule a date.

She had just come from a successful excursion of selling to one of my biggest fans. Some combination of the adrenalin rush of a Contract Closing and Colorful Conversation, emanating from a discovery of this mutual Client Connection, was the catalyst for her new-found want and need to accept my offer.

So, we went to dinner. The three of us — Insurance Agent, Successful Entrepreneur (her husband), and Certified Public Accountant. A pleasant evening it was.

A few days after that time together is when I heard, “No one can close me on the first attempt.”

With the smile, mentioned at the beginning of this story, I responded, “Yes, anything of importance needs time to be decided.”

Later in the week, during an early morning shower, it dawned on me — My passion for “Building Bright Financial Futures” and “Building Dynamic Relationships” can be perceived as Salesmanship. To be blunt, “It ain’t!”

My purpose is not to Close. It is to Open.

In fact, I believe and practice a recently self-minted mantra of the Three-E Formula, which is to: Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage.

My goal is to broaden horizons, share stories, and provide feedback — for the express purpose of guiding others on the paths of their choice. Because each of our worldviews is different, I am very respectful of the unique choices that we, as individuals, make.

I have, absolutely, no desire to “close” anyone, or anything. At this point in my life’s journey, I refer and give away more projects than I accept. In fact, the Projects are of secondary importance. My passion is, all, about the People.

Many have heard me say, many times, “Never let anyone talk you into, or out of, anything. Hold firmly to your beliefs, until you choose to change them.”

That, my dear friends, is another of those fine lines. We fiercely maintain the boundaries of who we are and what we believe, while being open to new ideas. We walk the high-wire between these two realities: We perceive, only, what we believe — yet, infinite learning patiently waits for us.

This tightrope walk is made between the separate philosophies of Selling and Offering. One is competitively pushing customers to a closing — the other is compassionately guiding friends to an opening. One thinks business is about selling — the other believes life is about choices and providing others the opportunity to acquire what is right for themselves.

There is only one thing worthy of being “closed” and that is the Past. I’m passionate about the Present — right here, right now, it’s great to be alive. I believe the brightest Future is possible when we focus on using our financial resources to build dynamic relationships.

www.kimfoard.com

Passion or Prostitution

Money is a tool, nothing more. Equally important is how any relationship feels. It must be mutually beneficial in ways beyond the quid pro quo of a financial arrangement.

Passion ScrabbleOur affair was over when I heard her ask, “Is it about the money?”

Without hesitation, the answer was, simply, “No.”

As a builder of relationships, I knew better.

What begins twisted —
ends twisted.

In the beginning, as a young CPA, I said, “Yes!” to everyone who waltzed through the front door. Thirty years later, I still dance with some of them.

Where did the others go?

They are off to find someone able and willing to be paid to perform.

Those little words: To and For. They are innocent in appearance — powerful in meaning. Many times, professionals exhibit an attitude of doing things to their Clients. I believe in performing acts of service for People.

Knowing something and doing it are two, entirely, different things. My philosophy has, always, been to serve. Yet, at times, my actions have been less than honorable. The rationalization was made that, as a businessman, it was okay to take on projects simply because someone asked me to do it — and, they had the money to pay.

“And,” you ask, “the problem is?!”

My reply, “It didn’t feel right.”

Difficult to put into words. Yet, there was something about their attitude that bothered me. There was not a true meeting of the minds or a connection at the core of word and deed. While I wanted to do something of value for them, they just wanted me to do it for the money. There was going to be a financial exchange — nothing more. And, I agreed.

What begins twisted — ends twisted.

So it was with the woman above. For over a period of ten years, she had money and needed accounting services. I was paid well for my services — very, well. In fact, I asked to be paid more each year in search of a better feeling (commitment) for our arrangement.

Silly me, for believing that people are more important than projects. I offered ideas for building wealth and achieving success — she took them and paid me. Right up until she wanted to believe she owned me — and, that I should be willing to accept her abuse.

You see — she is very gifted in intelligence, charm, and social skills. Yet, rather than grow in maturity of business acumen and ownership of the consequences — of her choices — her approach is to manipulate those around her. And, if that fails, to buy them.

When I said, “No. No, thanks. and, No more.” — she asked, “Why?”

I went on to say, “Because, for the last few years, I have felt dirty working for you. While I want to do things for you, you want me to do it for the money. No more.”

Lest anyone think that I work just for the love of it, let’s take a look at the spectrum between logic and emotion.

Yes, money is important. Those who say it isn’t will lie about other things, too. Money is a tool, nothing more. When managed properly, it allows great businesses to serve great people.

Equally important is how any relationship feels. It must be mutually beneficial in ways beyond the quid pro quo of a financial arrangement.

Those clients with whom I have danced for thirty years are the ones who receive much more than the accounting projects for which they ask. They, in turn, share with me their life stories. We have a connection beyond description. Suffice it to say, we share a similar worldview and an enduring bond of family, friends, and community.

Much more than a professional ‘Accountant ~ Client’ relationship, it is one of friendship. Friends go above and beyond to serve the best interests of each other.

So, when I hear one of my Friends say, “You sure do a lot of work for that amount of money!” I know we have discovered the true potential and passion of a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.

www.kimfoard.com

Between the Ears

All we do begins with a thought. “R U Thinking?!” The secret to pleasant relationships and successful adventures is discovered between our ears.

Palomino HorseClose your eyes and imagine a beautiful horse. Before you do, though, prepare your mind for this action: Imagine yourself walking up to that horse.

OK, now, do it.

Whenever you choose to rejoin us, you will have a story to tell about the trip that you just took:  Color of horse; stallion, gelding, or mare; how many hands high; location of the stables; and, season of the year. Priceless!

With the image and story in your mind, please, tell me: To which part of the horse did you approach?

The odds are good that you walked up to its head. You wanted to feel the warm breath from the nostrils and tickle of the whiskers, as you received a nuzzle and a nip from the lips of your horse expressing its affection for you. Then, you might have returned the love by reaching up to rub and scratch between its ears. The session probably ended with a head pressed against your chest and arms wrapped around a neck, in hugs.

More than a love story, this one is headed for destiny.

As a Certified Public Accountant and builder of bright financial futures, any planning for success involves a consideration for income taxes. Some people become so obsessed with them (Taxes), an appropriate encouragement is: “Never let the tax tail wag the dog!”

The reason you didn’t walk up to the rear of your dream horse is because of the same thought process used when I tease Clients into re-focusing their attention, from the tail, to the body of the dog: Rear-ends are dangerous.

Think about these two scenarios: The best relationship and the greatest professional success. I guarantee that both of them required planning, preparation, rich conversation, time investment and a dynamic commitment to flexibility; all done on the front side, with no “end” in sight.

The choice is ours: We can either manage from the front; or, clean up the mess at the rear.

Consider this: When driving, what are the odds of success if we focus on the rear-view mirror? Isn’t the trip much more fun looking, forward, through the front windows?

One letter is the difference between “ears” and “rears”: R

To honor the simplicity of the Text Generation: “R U Thinking?!”

Or, do you only see the “R U T” and believe that you’re stuck, in a rut?

Seriously, that’s the difference between leaders and lemmings: Thinking. Trailblazers are always dreaming and focusing on what is ahead (pardon the pun). Crowds are always content to follow behind. Unless you’re lead dog, the view never changes.

Lest there are some who believe Lead Dog is out of their reach, please, (R U Thinking?) consider that there is only one of you. YOU are unique in all of the specimens of humanity. Your special gifts of insight and ability do make a difference in the lives of all you touch.

Good, better, best.
Never let it rest;
Until, our good is better,
And, our better, best!

All we do begins with a thought.

The secret to pleasant relationships and successful adventures is discovered between our ears!

www.kimfoard.com

SageTalk Trademark

There are only two ways to make a lasting impression: Dazzle ’em with your Brilliance; or, Baffle ’em with your Bullsh#t!

SageTalk

“There are only two ways to make a lasting impression: Dazzle ’em with your Brilliance; or, Baffle ’em with your Bullsh#t.”

That was my response when a new friend asked, “What the heck is SageTalk?!”

The rest of the story is one of western adventure and philosophical musings. In fact, it is my story. It began on the sagebrush prairies of eastern Montana.

Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer

My dad’s name is James and my mom thought Stuart James would be a cute name for their son, but dad could hear the nickname and didn’t want his son to be a heterogeneous mixture (stew). The folks wanted a name to go with Jim, but didn’t like Junior, Tim, Rim, Bim or Dim. So, they set the bar high with a name of English origin meaning noble and brave, Kim.

Dad had an eighth grade formal education and a PhD in common sense and relationships. Because of the expectations of our society, though, he found certain doors of opportunity locked without the key of higher education to open them. I encourage my children to manage those expectations while nurturing their individuality and creativity.

As I tell “my story”, you’ll see why Montana is home. Although my folks were married in Red Lodge 59 years ago, I’ve only lived here for six years. I have the best of both worlds; I’m in the country with a paved road up to the punchy-button garage door. My view through a set of French doors is a landscape of mountain meadows, trees and deer. This tranquil garden setting of evenings and weekends is the fuel for the passion of helping others from my office in Billings to build their dreams into reality.

My dad grew up on a homestead near Hardin, MT where his dad raised cows and hay. My mom grew up on a farm near Rosebud, MT where her dad raised sugar beets and sheep. I was born in Miles City, MT to this cow-boy and shepherd-girl. Dad was driving truck for Sweetheart Bread Company as a favor for an older brother. Mom had moved to Miles City for her senior year of high school to complete classes towards a career as a traveling secretary. One day her younger sister was visiting at the boarding house and spotted a cute cowboy from their window. Although mom claims she didn’t like cowboys, she was the one invited to go in the truck on those midnight runs.

When I was two, dad decided the City was no place to raise his son. Since he always nurtured a love for horses and cows, a ranch job at Ismay, MT was a logical choice. When I was four, we moved to a ranch at Lavina, MT. After several years of perusing and placing orders from the Sears mail-order catalog, a baby sister was delivered; the real live version was sure different than the picture.

I was almost seven when the new adventure of school beckoned. Within a month of starting first grade at Lavina, we were on the move to a ranch at Big Timber, MT. We were there for six years and then an excursion to the foreign country of East Texas for a four year stint of horizon broadening. My junior year of high school provided the opportunity to be the new kid on three different playgrounds: Long View, TX; New Underwood, SD and Lavina, MT. Because I graduated at Lavina, I can proudly proclaim that I started and finished school there.

After high school, I turned down scholarships to pursue my dream of being a cowboy. Fifteen months later, I knew I didn’t have the same love of cows and horses as my dad. Yet, all of those years living the notion, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” came in handy for a poor kid with a “new dream” of going to college. In the course of managing my fledgling business as a twenty-something entrepreneur, the counsel of an older client friend cut short my whining as he said, “Kim, your problem is not that you were born poor. Your problem is that you were born with ambition. Many are born poor and stay that way.  You want something else!”

I had a childhood of unconditional love from my dad and unrelenting challenge from my mom. The days were spent horseback in a sea of cowhides with a Dad who knew the way to confidence was by doing what others said was impossible. The evenings were spent in epic tales of adventure with a Mom who knew the portal to opportunity was by learning from the stories of others. Although dad worked on ranches for $200 per month and we were poor of money, our little family of four was rich in love. I wanted the richness of family combined with greater resources.

My college years from the fall of 1975 to the spring of 1979 were invested at Eastern Montana College, now known as MSU-Billings. I worked my way through the first two years of college building houses and the last two working for a CPA firm. The last day of my junior year I finished two exams in the morning and began a marriage that afternoon.

After graduation from college, I worked for Husky Oil Company in Cody, WY for six months and realized I liked the rock-n-roll of public accounting better than the politics of a private company. The next year was focused on getting that onerous CPA exam passed and I’ll always remember 8/1/1981 as the day I opened the letter offering congratulations. December 1st of that year, a business checking account in Roundup, MT was opened to deposit the check from my first client.

Both of my children started kindergarten and graduated high school at Roundup. My 27 year old daughter is a May 2008 graduate of MSU-Havre, a Master Certified service advisor, and a wonderful combination of straight-line thinker and creative genius. My 24 year old son spent a year at Northwest College in Powell, invested a couple of years enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks, and is now working on an advanced degree in finance and mineral extraction.

Evidently, they took to heart the line from the movie Silverado, “The world is what you make of it friend; if it doesn’t fit, make alterations.” I’m quite proud of their diligent efforts to be true to their core beliefs while pursuing their individual dreams.

Moving all over creation in my childhood sparked the notion that having roots would be better. The tsunami of a divorce eight years ago brought clarity to my thoughts! Now, I live in the moment. Still building on the foundation of the past and anticipating the future; yet, more focused on enjoying each day!

The Tagline

The mental image of a “Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer” is one of ostensible contradiction. Yet, these four words are a reminder to me that life is best experienced on a spectrum. Think of a sphere and then imagine the axis lines holding it symmetrical from the inside, out. Like the four points of a compass, as far as east is from the west, opposite ends of the axis lines are required for balance.

Growth occurs when we push the artificial limit of where the internal axis lines end at the edge of who we currently are. As we stretch the boundaries, the result is a greater sphere of influence for the benefit of many. These spectrums of life stretch to infinity, if we have the courage to let our minds become open to the vastness of the universe and the unlimited potential of each individual!

The cornerstones of my heritage are “Spurs” and “Books”. What rowels are to spurs; vowels are to words. They are the jingle of rhythm and points of meaning.

A Cowboy is a man of action and defender of principle. The introspection of a Poet tends to cast a soft and mellow hue. Philadelphia is symbolic of friendship and brotherly love. When those attributes are absent in a relationship, a Lawyer uses the rules of the game to discover the facts, and just the facts, ma’am!

The self-proclaimed label of “Cowboy Poet” is to honor the importance of heroes and the power of words. As a kid, I wore a fancy, tied down, two gun rig with which to deal with the bad guys. Now, I rely on the proverb, “Truly, the pen is mightier than the sword”.

The title of “Philadelphia Lawyer” was given by my dad when I was about ten years old. We were unloading sacks of cow salt out of the pickup into the granary one evening and I was doing my twenty-questions routine. Evidently, I lost track of the number and it had been a long day for dad. In exasperation and with a smile, he declared, “Kim, you ask so many questions, I’m sure you’re going to grow up to be a Philadelphia lawyer!”

He didn’t miss the mark by much. When it comes to putting together the conference room deals of our society, attorneys and CPAs are usually sitting side by side. The arena I step into each morning is defined by tax law, which when interpreted within all the statutes is a little bit of black, a little bit of white and a whole lot of gray.

Thus, the framed image, above, containing the SageTalk Trademark continues the tradition of “black, white and gray”.

As we consider the words at the trademark core of SageTalk: The first is representative of the wisdom from the Sages of the Ages; The second is an encouragement for us to, always, boldly Talk and Communicate our ideas, passions and vision for the future with others. The rainbow arc of the spectrum between the two words (Sage ~ Talk) is comprised of the colorful stories that we, all, must share with the Whole Wide World!

www.kimfoard.com

Objective Thinker

By everyone understanding the quadrants of DiSC, communication is guaranteed to be more effective.

Puzzle Quadrants

Have you ever said, or thought, “Why can’t the rest of the people in the world be just like me?!”

And, then paused to consider, “Good thing they’re not!”

Typically, when these thoughts occur, we are experiencing a challenge in communicating with another person. We, all, want to be heard and understood. When that is not happening, we wonder, “Why?”

Maybe, we even re-think the idea and present it again to that other person. They still don’t get it. Then we remember: Communication is what the listener does. So, we choose different words to share the logic of our grand, new, premise for consideration. A positive response still eludes us.

As a ranch kid, growing things was a way of life. In fact, the Farmer Philosophy is inherent in all that we think, and do. For seeds to sprout and develop, they need a properly prepared bed. A bed of soil that has been tilled, leveled, firmed, and made ready to receive a seed for germination is absolutely necessary for abundant harvests.

Farmers use discs to slice and dice the soil. We will use DiSC to do the same in the garden of human relations.

The concept of DiSC is a powerful tool to enhance our relationship with the neighbors.

To understand the foundational premise, picture a map of the United States. Then, divide it into quadrants by drawing a horizontal line and a vertical line, which intersect in the center of the map. Now, look at the location of your home. It is in one of those quadrants. Where are the homes of your friends? Odds are good that one, or more, is in a quadrant other than yours.

Do you expect your friends to always come to you? Or, do you ever visit them? Since the questions are rhetorical, I know the answer — We travel to visit our friends. We expend purposeful physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual effort to get to where they are. Same thing holds true for relationships. At times, we need to get US to where THEY are.

Thus, the magic of DiSC.

D          (Dominance)

I           (Influence)

S          (Steadiness)

C          (Conscientiousness)

By taking the DiSC Behavioral Profile test on April 13, 2008, my results are available for us — with which, to have great sport.

Classical Pattern: Objective Thinker

Conscientiousness (C)

Kim, you are high in the Conscientiousness dimension. As a result, you most likely work steadily within the existing circumstances to ensure quality and accuracy.

Those who are strong in Conscientiousness (“high C’s”) like to be precise and keep their focus on key details, while working in an environment that values quality and accuracy. High C’s like to be accurate and orderly, and they make decisions in an analytical way. They prefer to control factors that affect their performance and seek opportunities to demonstrate their expertise. They also like to be recognized for their skills and accomplishments.

High C’s tend to be analytical thinkers who relish asking, “Why?” It’s probably important for them to understand the parameters of a problem before they tackle it. Once the task is clear, people who are high in Conscientiousness tend to use a systematic approach to solve the problem. In all likelihood, their goal is to achieve superior results.

Clearly defined performance expectations are critical for high C’s, so they may try to avoid surprises and request specific feedback on how they are doing. They may also crave a work atmosphere that is reserved and businesslike, and that gives them the time to do the careful planning that they prefer.

When working with others, those high in Conscientiousness tend to be diplomatic and use an indirect approach to avoid conflict. Developing a higher tolerance for dissension could make them more effective. They may also find it helpful to have colleagues who are able to initiate and facilitate discussions, and to state controversial opinions.

High C’s often want to assure the accuracy of their work. In a fast-paced environment, however, their focus on maintaining such high standards can backfire. In this case, they may need colleagues who can provide quick decisions.

Because those high in Conscientiousness tend to adhere strictly to rules, they may be hampered when compromises become important to a successful outcome. They may benefit from working with those who view policies and procedures as guidelines rather than edicts.

High C’s tend to put a premium on accuracy, so they may often become overly critical when assessing co-workers. They may also be hesitant to delegate important tasks. It may help them to learn to respect others’ personal worth as much as their accomplishments, thereby encouraging an atmosphere of teamwork.

In the introduction, I generously used the pronoun “we” (think me, with a frog in my pocket) and purposely set the stage with Logic. For the high C’s and D’s of the world, that might work. For the high I’s and S’s to hear and understand, they want to feel the Emotion. To reach and touch them, I must get to where they are.

So, let’s take a peek at the emotional aspect of DiSC by using the analogy of target practice with a rifle, the performance of which is best achieved by — Ready, Aim, Fire.

The high C’s (remember, that’s your favorite SageTalk author) will do this — Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim (while considering distance to target, weight of bullet, grain of powder, composition of target, wind velocity, barometric pressure, etc). Somewhere in this sequence, probably after the third Aim, your head is about to explode! Our bad. We — me, a high C — need data, lots of data. Because, we intend to be precise in the result — when we eventually commit to squeezing the trigger.

I have many high D friends. Their approach to our target practice is — Fire! ~ Ready, Aim. In fact, they’re probably using their semi-automatic to blast away. “No worries, mate! Knock ’em all down. We’ll sort out the pieces, later!” Their motto is, “Just get it done and get it done, now!”

Oh, look. Here comes an I, a “High I” at that. Dressed to the nines in his sporting jacket, and puffy pants, fancy cap, and high-top boots, he has a designer shootin’ iron, draped under his elbow and over his forearm. He’s ready for the party, drinks and conversation, after we punch a few holes.

And, yes, that’s a high S standing off to the side making sure all the spent cartridges are gathered and wondering if we, really, need to make this much noise.

Bill Engvall has the right idea for the galactically stupid people of the world — and, expresses it in his comedic routine — Here’s Your Sign. Yet, by considering the insight, above, the question becomes, “Are they (actually) stupid?” Or, are they just doing the best they can, with what they know, and the resources available to them? And, is it possible that their DiSC sign is different from ours and they’re thinking that we’re the “stupid” ones?!

While impossible to buy LOVE, the DiSC results are yours for the asking. Guaranteed, it will be the best investment you can ever make in Building Dynamic Relationships.

www.kimfoard.com