The Man in the Arena

Here is an excerpt from Teddy Roosevelt’s Citizenship in a Republic address delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910. The quote below is one of his most famous, referred to as “The Man in the Arena”.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

[ Read the entire address at Leadership Now.]

In what arena do you stand each day?

Just Fill Out The Form!

If you are a student or parent of a college-bound student, no doubt you have asked yourself the question about whether or not you should apply for student aid to help pay for the experience of a lifetime.

Odds are, you live in one of two camps: “I will never figure out these forms, so why bother?” or “I/we make to much money, so why even fill out the form?” The answer to either question is: TO GET THE FREE MONEY, THAT’S WHY!

A couple of weeks ago, I was called to a meeting in Dayton, OH for training and certification as a speaker for Monster’s Making It Count (MIC) program for College Financial Planning. As an independent contractor for Monster, I will be delivering presentations in a number of high schools, speaking to parents and students on this very subject. Now, I’m not the end-all-be-all of college financial aid planning gurus, but I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in this area.

Everyone’s situation is different. Best of all, there is no one “right” or “wrong” way to go about the aid process, so with your permission, here are some resources to get you started smart:


If you want a shot at free money (need or merit based), or just make sure you aren’t leaving anything on the table, get to filling out that FAFSA right now! In many cases, the FAFSA is the form that sets up the student for consideration of need-based and merit-based scholarships along with other aspects of financial aid.

So there it is. A few ideas to start the process. There are no failures, only opportunities!

Oh, if you want to have either me or one of the other presenters nationwide (United States & Puerto Rico) deliver Monster’s Making Financial Planning Count at your local high school, email me and I’ll pass it along to the good folks at Monster!

Dave Block Connects with Cooksey

Hello, blog readers! Today, I’m trying something new for your enjoyment. A podcast!

Last week, radio veteran Dave Block and I sat down for a candid interview about the newly published book, Powerful People Overcome Powerful Failures. Click here and check it out! It’s my first attempt at a podcast, so be sure to let me know what you think.

Copies of the book may be ordered now directly from our publisher by clicking here. I’m also working on a special ordering option for anyone who might like an autographed copy for your own personal collection or as a personalized gift for someone in your life who could use a little boost. That option will be added soon, here, along with other recommended books and audio learning resources!

Cooksey Connects With Oklahoma Magazine!

Okay, so I’m in the background, but I was supposed to be there! Look for my noggin on top of the “L” in Oklahoma. You say “background” I say “COVER SHOT”! It’s all a matter of perspective!

Lesson learned: “Always have a clean, dark suit ready to go!”

Keep pushing for your dreams!

From Aug 07

Book Update!

Hey there, readers! Great news!

As we scramble to have the special edition of Powerful People Overcome Powerful Failures for our big book signing at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut on August 29th, the cover art has JUST BEEN APPROVED!

Keep in tune here, for more updates. We’re finally going to print!

UPDATE (8/17/2007): I received copy #1 of the book for physical review and it looks GREAT! I’m proud to announce the Premier Book Signing to be held at the National Indian Child Care Association National Conference on August 29th!

A Cell Phone Salesman?

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of “reality television”, but I do have one weak spot. For some strange reason, each Monday night I am glued to my TV for Hell’s Kitchen. Chef Gordon Ramsay lets his ego fly in what amounts to a boot camp for culinary hopefuls. He has no choice but to be tough, given that the grand prize is a stint as the Executive Chef for a multi-million dollar restaurant at Las Vegas’ Green Valley Ranch. (I still don’t know how Aaron, the “asian-cowboy” ever made it onto the show, but I digress.)

Over the past few of weeks, however, a story has risen which truly caught my attention. It is the story of Paul Potts, a cell phone salesman from south Wales. While I’d caught bits and pieces of Mr. Potts story across the internet, it was an interview on NPR’s Day to Day I had downloaded as a podcast that captured my heart. Truly a story resonating with reason for why no one should ever give up on their dreams.

The story is told here, in this clip from Britain’s Got Talent, a show pop-icon Simon Cowell is involved with across the pond. Be sure to watch his face when Mr. Potts steps to the stage with his awkwardly pudgy body, chipped front tooth, and nervous demeanor. Then watch the reaction, not only from the judges, but the audience as Potts belts out a sound no one on earth would have expected from this fellow. Opera. It was absolutely stunning. In an instant, this cell phone salesman won the hearts of underdogs around the world, catapulting himself onto the world stage. (See his final, winning performance of Nessun Dorma here.)

This week I was reminded that God works “behind the scenes” to make so many things happen in our lives. Call it luck. Call it divine intervention. Call it talent. Simply stated, it is success! Never quit! Ever!

Paul Potts, you have a fan in me!

When did OUR problem become MY problem?

THE BACKSTORY: In the Saturday/Sunday, July 7-8, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal; pg.A3), ran an article that really bothered me: How ERISA May Trip Up Bids To Extend Coverage. In short, this article discussed how recent attempts to enforce action against employers who fail to offer health care benefit plans to employees could be affected by the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

THE RUB: Why are the lawmakers in the United States so bent on making health care for workers the responsibility of employers, when it’s clearly the health care system that appears to be broken, making it difficult for individuals to even afford coverage on their own?

THE RANT: First, allow me to say thanks for living in a country where I can safely visit (nearly) any hospital in a time of urgent need, and obtain a high-level of care. In fact, I’m grateful for my chosen doctor and the relationship we have developed concerning the health needs of a male in his mid-30s.

Currently, I am self-employed and have health care coverage obtained (at a surprisingly affordable level) via COBRA coverage through the employer of my former wife. During the transitional period of starting my own business(es) and returning to bachelorhood, this was a reasonably affordable, temporary solution to my need for health care coverage. While it may not be optimal (money-wise), it has proven responsible.

Is a nationalized health-care system (similar to that in Canada or other countries) the answer for the United States? Likely not. (That’s a topic for another day.) But, neither should a health care system with out of control costs (malpractice insurance, drug costs, technology costs, etc.) be effectively subsidized by other business owners simply because they were successful enough to need to add employees. Let’s remember the problem, here: affordable health care for all who need it.

Simply requiring employers to offer a health care plan to all employees or face stiff penalties (often proposed as dollars per employee or a percentage of total payroll), only means employers could circumvent the penalties by offering up a handful of very expensive choices. Not what the legislators are hoping to achieve. Besides that, many employers may decide to offer health insurance at the expense of a retirement plan of any kind, a fate potentially far worse for employees!

It’s time to take a hard look at the economic failure created by a bloated, inefficient health care (insurance?) system and begin looking for solutions every citizen can afford. Insurance, by definition, is a pooling of risks, where many people pay in for the benefit of the entire group. Theoretically, the larger the group, the more the risk is spread around. If the same insurance company offers benefits to 1,000 customers, why should it matter if that is 1,000 self-employed individuals, 1 company with 1,000 participating employees, or any breakdown in-between. It is the same 1,000 people, for crying out loud!

Something is definitely wrong with the way health insurance companies assess their own amount of risk. Further, why do insurance companies get a discount off of the “rack rates” you and I would pay, if we simply paid cash for all services rendered? (Here’s one take on that issue from Ohioan Rick Smith’s campaign website.-Note: I do not live in Ohio, nor am I familiar with other political stances of Mr. Smith. This link is simply an illustration of my point about health coverage. Thanks for understanding.

On a lighter note, isn’t it funny how many people complain about paying a $20 co-pay for their own doctor’s visit and those very people will drop $500 in a heartbeat on a veterinarian bill to pay for uninsured services on a pet? It’s time to step up as Americans, and take some responsibility for our own medical needs!

Choose to Succeed!

This story was forwarded to me this week from an old friend. It resonated so much with the message shared in my upcoming book, Powerful People Overcome Powerful Failures, it was only fitting that the story be shared here. What a story of resilience!

John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation. Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time How do you do it?”

He replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or … you can choose to be in a bad mood I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or…I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or… I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”

“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.

“Yes, it is,” he said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life.”

I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the communications tower industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins…wanna see my scars?”

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

“The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,” he replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or…I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked

He continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘he’s a dead man’. I knew I needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said John. “She asked if I was allergic to anything ‘Yes, I replied.’ The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Gravity!'”

Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude… I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34.

After all today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

You have two choices now:

01. Keep this story to yourself

02. Forward this blog entry to the people you care about.

Be bold. Be intentional. Be successful!

Blast (of Rust) from the Past

In 1957, the citizens of Tulsa, Oklahoma celebrated their state’s 50th anniversary by burying a 1957 Plymouth Belevedere as part of a time capsule to be opened during Oklahoma’s Centennial Celebration in 2007. On June 15th, 2007, after countless years of rusting away underground (and at times underwater) Miss Belevedere was unearthed to the amazement and wonder of many who gathered in this midwestern city for a nostalgic glimpse of the past.

Much media attention focused on Tulsa and all the hype that has been building since that day in 1957. While some may view the retrieval of rusted-out, shell of a car and somewhat hokey live television production of her “coming out party” as a failure, I would have to argue otherwise. For starters, the time capsule itself was completely in tact. Next time, maybe they’ll weld the car inside a steel tank instead of a concrete bunker to keep out the water!

By today’s media standards, for the cost of simply burying and exhuming a car, I call the attention drawn to Tulsa, even if for a few days quite a success. The buzz created called classic American car fans from around the globe to descend on the city, some even shipping their own Belevedere’s from halfway around the world, just to see what would be found. Hotels thoughout the city were filled. Thousands of dollars of merchandise related to Route 66, Tulsarama, and the Belevedere herself continue to be sold. National and International media buzz generated continues as you read this blog…a humble, yet unique reminder that the city once known as the “Oil Capital of the World” is still alive and kicking!

For now, we wait a week for the official crew to learn and announce who has won the car. It was promised in 1957 to the citizen or their heirs who most closely guessed the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma as of June 1, 2007. I’m personally looking forward to the display of the contents by the Tulsa Historical Society at the museum later this summer. Hopefully, the car, too, will stay there in perpetuity.

If only we could have kept emcee and local radio icon John Erling‘s emotions in check and his bare hands off of the artifacts during the unveiling. Somebody get that man some gloves!

Format Change-Up!

After first launching as a website, I decided it was best served to host this site as a blog. And why not? So, here goes:

The book is coming! For those of you who have been asking (and that’s quite a number of you), we are proceeding forward with the book, only a few months behind schedule. I’ve begun to empathize with expectant mothers and how they must feel when people continually ask “Haven’t you had that kid, yet?” Publishing a book isn’t much different. To all of the mom’s I’ve ever asked the preceeding question, I take it back and apologize profusely.

The first serious round of edits are complete, and I understand the next step is to forward our manuscript to the publisher for their editors to begin their review. It shouldn’t be long, now!

I’m exploring the possibility of a book tour later this year. In consideration are any reasonably sized cities in which I have a guest bed or sofa on which to sleep. Of course, I haven’t asked yet, but I also plan to do a book signing at The Bookseller in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Though it changed ownership hands a few years ago, it was the site of my very first job during my freshman year of high school. Who knew someday I’d actually write a book?