Tie Your Shoes And Say Thank You


Where It Began

Among other things, my brother Dan is a high school soccer coach for a group of young men at Bishop LeBlond High School in St. Joseph, Missouri. And if you’re wondering why St. Joseph, Missouri sounds familiar, it’s because that’s where the Pony Express started in April of 1860.

I often think of the oath taken by the young men who rode for the Pony Express and the impact it must have had on their life and the lives of those who entrusted them with their most private thoughts. At the same time, it saddens me to think that a mere 150 years later, many employees don’t hold themselves to the same standards as did those who rode for the Pony Express.

The Oath Of  Office

“I do hereby swear before the great and living God that during my engagement with Russell, Majors and Waddell, I will under no circumstances use profane language, that I will drink no intoxicating liquors, that I will not quarrel or fight with other employees of the firm, and that in every respect I will conduct myself honestly, be faithful in my duties, and so direct all my acts as to win the confidence of my employers. So help me God.”

Imagine A World …

Imagine living in a community where every employee and elected official took an oath stating that they will be “faithful to their duties and direct all of their acts to win the confidence of their employer.” Where has that work ethic gone? Why is it that so many young people entering the workforce feel they are entitled to a job and that showing up to work and actually working is an option? Is this the work ethic that we baby boomers are responsible for teaching our children?

Passions and Gifts

As I mentioned earlier, my brother Dan is the soccer coach for a group of boys in St. Joseph, Missouri. He has a passion for the sport and he still plays competitively at 50 years old. Soccer is his passion, but teaching is his gift.

My brother is a great dad and wonderful coach. The kids love him and they get a kick out of his humorous and unorthodox way of teaching soccer skills. But this is not how they’re going to remember him when they become dads. No, they will describe Coach Sommers to their children as the man who taught them how to tie their shoes and say, “thank you.”

We Were Like Brothers. Wait, We Are Brothers!

Dan and I were very close when we were children. I was one year older and he was five years wiser. Life has taken us in different directions. He lives in St. Joseph with his family, and I live 4,000 miles away in Hawaii with mine. So when we have an opportunity to talk on the phone, I cherish every minute.

Picture 2When we last spoke, he told me that he just finished his first soccer practice of the season with the new boys at Bishop LeBlond High School. When I asked him what skills he taught, his answer surprised me. He said he taught the boys how to tie their shoes and say, “thank you.”

This Is Frustrating

He went on to explain that one of his greatest frustrations as a coach was having to watch one of his players stop and tie his shoe while the game continued on around him. “When a player loses his shoe during a game,” he said, “It shows me and the rest of the team that they’re not prepared. And if they aren’t prepared, I can’t count on them to do the job they were entrusted to do.”

“My other great frustration,” he said, “Is when a coach or a parent from the other team chases down a ball that goes out of bounds and gives it back to one of my players, and he doesn’t say, “thank you.” His lack of respect is not only embarrassing, but it casts a dark shadow over the entire team. If they don’t respect others, others won’t respect them. If they don’t appreciate others, they won’t be appreciated by others … no matter how skilled they are at what you do.”

Life Skills

According to Dan, the two most important skills his players must possess if they want to play soccer on his team are to be prepared to do the job they were entrusted to do, and to do it in such a way that everyone wants to see them succeed. And it starts with tying your shoes and saying, thank you. Those are the skills that will serve my players for a lifetime.” Dan said. “Everything else is just kicking a ball around a field with your friends.”

Coach Dan Sommers is teaching these young men how to become the next generation of proud riders for the Pony Express. Or, maybe he’s teaching them how to ride for Apple or General Electric or Google or fill in the blank. He’s instilling a skill they will benefit from for the rest of their lives and he’s disguising it as soccer practice. Genius!

I love you Dan. You’re my inspiration!

Dan Sommers
Financial Consultant
Nodaway Valley Investment Services
402 N. Belt Highway at Faraon
St.Joseph, MO 64506

[email protected]

Make Me Laugh Out Loud

funnysign3Everyone Loves To Laugh

Everyone loves to laugh and we like the people who make us laugh. We can’t help ourselves; it’s one of the laws of likeability. We like people who enhance our mood, and laughing is certainly a mood enhancer.

My father-in-law is the king of email jokes. I’ve asked him to stop sending them to me a million times, but it doesn’t seem to matter, he sends them anyway.

Every time I get an email from him I open it, laugh out loud, associate him with my enhanced mood and secretly look forward to the next message he sends.  The cycle of life and laughter continues.

It struck me recently just how powerful this law of likeability really is. I know how much I enjoy being around funny people and how my mood improves with just the mention of their name. I like me better when I’m in a good mood, and I like the person responsible for helping me get there.

Who’s Responsible For This?


My father-in-law is a very nice guy, but I wouldn’t consider him to be a stand-up comedian. And even though he’s not the one who makes me laugh, he’s responsible for me laughing when I open and read his email. Because of that, I associate him with my good feelings and I like him even more. Read more »

The Anatomy of an Apology


It Was A Busy Time

Years ago I was responsible for running the largest customer service training company in the country, Sommers Communication, Inc.  We were presenting thousands of workshops every year throughout the country and in order to keep up with demand, I had to quickly evaluate, hire and train dozens of professional speakers.

Our workshops were extremely successful, thanks to the quality of our speakers and our evaluation process. After each program, the audience filled out an evaluation, and the speaker was responsible for immediately sending the evaluations back to our office in Atlanta using overnight mail.


With over two dozens professional speakers on staff, and 2,000 seminars evaluated, their scores averaged 4.92 on a scale of 1-5. If you know anything about the public speaking business, you know that these numbers are phenomenal.

We also paid each speaker a substantial bonus for every program where they received an evaluation score of 4.8 or better. This is where the trouble began.

After each program I made it a point to talk to the person responsible for hiring us to speak to their staff. Almost without exception they would go on and on about how funny and inspirational the speaker was, and how impressed they were with the quality of the material presented. The problem was it happened, “almost without exception.” Let me explain. Read more »

Are You Happy To Hear From Me?

telephoneHi Mom

Every time I call my mom she answers the telephone as if she doesn’t know it’s me calling.  I know she knows it’s me because she has caller ID. And now, she knows that I know that she knows it’s me calling. Are you still following me?

Even that doesn’t stop her from pretending that she doesn’t know who I am when I call. She does this with everyone.

When she picks up the telephone she’ll answers in a very pleasant voice and introduce herself. “Hi, this is Rose.”

Then, as soon as I identify myself by saying, “Hi mom, it’s your favorite son.” She’ll light up and kick her enthusiasm up a full notch or two.

“Hi honey, how are you?”

It makes me feel good to know that my mom enjoys hearing from me. She makes me feel special.

And mom if you’re reading this, it would make me feel even more special if you said, “Hi Bob, how are you?” Just so I know that you know I’m your favorite 😉

What I find really interesting, is that when I visit my mom I notice that she does this with everyone who calls, even my sister 🙂 Just kidding sis.

This Was A Big Mistakegrantwoodrose

Throughout my life as a customer service speaker, trainer and coach, I taught people to answer the telephone with a big smile on their face. Looking back, I wish I had not done that, and here’s why.

If you always answer the telephone with a great big smile on your face and a song in your heart, that might leave a favorable first impression, but it’s not going to leave a lasting impression.

The way to make each and every caller feel better about themselves, and better about you, is to perk-up and sound excited as soon as you identify who’s calling.  And just for good measure, do it with everyone who calls. Bankers are people too! Aren’t they?

Thanks for the lesson on likeability mom. It’s served me well.

I love you,

Your favorite son, Bob

Trash Your Competition Bad Idea

angry womanI tend to follow marketing people on Facebook, and for the most part they do a great job promoting themselves as experts in their field. Every once in a while however, someone uploads a post that does more harm to their reputation than good. Let me give you an example.

Talk Trash

Recently, one of the marketing people I follow uploaded a post trashing a competitor. She didn’t name the competitor, but she made a big deal as to how unqualified this individual was with respect to teaching a certain subject. It was clear that her intent was to promote her credibility as the expert while trashing the expertise of her competition. Bad idea. In doing so, she lowered herself in the eyes of many of her followers.

This Was My Intent … Really

I’m certain that if you asked her what her intent was with the post, she would tell you that she wanted to warn people not to fall pray to unqualified service providers. Problem was, that’s not how the post came across to me or to most of her readers. It read as though she had an axe to grind with this individual and this was her way of trashing them while promoting herself as the guru.

Now, if you were to read the comments her followers made concerning her post, you would think that she is a goddess who can do no wrong. Unfortunately, the only people who commented on her post where her acolytes who gave here a false sense that what she did was OK. It wasn’t, and here’s why. Read more »

Are You Avoiding Me?

avoiding telephone callNews Flash!

If you’ve ever asked someone if they’ve been avoiding you, they have!”  Most people won’t tell you that of course because they’re trying to be polite. They’ll tell you that they’ve been busy or that they didn’t receive your message or some other white lie, but they won’t tell you the truth. And the truth is, “Yes,” they have been avoiding you and here’s why.

Avoidance Mode

We go into avoidance mode when we anticipate an unpleasant experience. We put off seeing the dentist in anticipation of physical pain. We avoid firing an unproductive employee because we don’t want to deal with the emotional issues and guilt. We ignore telephone calls from certain people because we don’t enjoy talking to them. We’re a community of people who would rather avoid and lie when we get caught, than have to deal with an unpleasant experience.

We like people who make us feel good about ourselves and we don’t like people who make us feel bad. When you ask someone if they’ve been avoiding you, they’re going to lie. It’s easier for them to make a lame excuse and spare your feelings, than it is for them to confront you with the truth. Unfortunately, in doing so, they will feel bad about themselves for lying, and like you less in the process.

Help Me Feel Good About Myself

If you want people to like you, you must help them feel good about themselves and you can’t do that by putting them in a no-win position of either having to lie to you or hurt your feelings. Here’s the solution. Read more »

Generating Likeability Through The Mail

Thank You Note

You’ve Got Mail

I fully intended to sit down this morning and write an article on likeability when my day was interrupted by the mailman. Up until that time, everything was perfect. The article was titled and mind mapped (which is a right brained way to do an outline) and anxiously awaiting to be organized into an entertaining piece of classical literature. But as I mentioned above, the mailman interrupted my day.

Among the bills, marketing postcards and fan mail was a note addressed to me from Darbee Fisher. Darbee is a real estate agent for Keller Williams here on Maui. I met her for the first time ten days ago when my son Josh and I went to their office to teach the agents how to generate leads using advanced blogging techniques. Knowing that Josh was a full time Internet marketer and computer repair technician, Darbee hired him to repair her computer.

Here’s the note I received which was addressed to Bob and Susan Sommers Read more »

Five Star Review System

The Likeability Guy 821 Kumulani Drive Kihei HI 96753 808-891-0449