Day 23 – An Equine Tipping Point

Sean’s Journal: Okay, I’m at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. If there’s a “mecca” for horse lovers, this has got to be it. The Kentucky Derby is my favorite sporting event—not the Super Bowl. It is thrilling just to be at this racetrack to experience its beauty and to feel the power of horse racing. I can hear those thundering hooves in my mind right now. 

I am having what they call an “epiphany moment.” It’s about horses. I know what I want to do with my life in addition to raising a family. It will probably have to do with quarter horses back in Utah and not thoroughbreds here in Kentucky. Thoroughbreds are inspiring, but quarter horses are the workhorses of cowboys and I am a cowboy at heart not a jockey. So, what’s to do with the remainder of my time in Kentucky? I’m going back to Darby Dan to soak up the horse culture that exists all over this glorious State of Kentucky. 

BTW: Did you know that Louisville is the home of Muhammad Ali, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Louisville Cardinals, and Louisville Slugger baseball bats. How many kids in the USA have that etched into their baseball bats? Only a zillion, including me.

Darby Dan. The manager agreed to let me hang out at the farm and to meet members of his staff. Most of all, I got to watch the horses in the stables, in the pasture, and during their training. I could go on and on about horses and the love their owners and keepers have for them. I also realize that I need to do something with my career that gives me the business acumen and financial wherewithal to be able to afford my own horses. 

Vince’s Response: Ok, my friend, Sean. First, I LOVE horses. I did grow up on a small horse ranch in Arizona. Secondly, I have a very good friend named Darby. We were boyhood buddies. Third, I enjoyed watching Muhammad Ali in the ring…used to be a regular KFC customer, and I had a Louisville Slugger baseball bat. Isn’t it great!

Careers. Sean, as you are feeling some inspiration about your career, let me discuss epiphanies. Earlier in my consulting career, I was inspired by a best-selling book entitled The Tipping Point written by Malcolm Gladwell. It was at a time when I had been diagnosed with cancer and was enduring one of those battles of life. A tipping point is that moment when something which may be leaning in one direction suddenly moves definitively in that direction. An epiphany might “just occur,” but a “tipping point” can be brought about deliberately—engineered on purpose.

At that tipping point in my life with cancer, I decided to write a book to explore the idea that we need leverage to make whatever it is we want to have happen in life move forward to become reality. I spoke with Mr. Gladwell by phone and asked if I could use the idea of “Tipping Point” in the title of my book. He gave me his blessing. My book became Leverage: How to Create Your Own “Tipping Points” in Business and in Life. As soon as you return, I will give you a copy. It puts forth many principles that will prove powerful for you as you pursue your “equine / equestrian” dream. I will be anxious to learn what you learn from the folks at the Darby Dan Farm—and from their horses. BTW: Three of my and Marie’s favorite all-time movies are: Sea Biscuit, Secretariat, and Hidalgo

Early V&M Family Memory. As for Kentucky, let me tell you of our first major family vacation. When we were living in Detroit, when our first three children were about 4½ , 3, and probably 1½  years of age, we took them to Mammoth Cave National Park. Marie and I enjoyed touring the magnificent cavern. Our little tykes weren’t so sure, but they would periodically leap out of our arms and scamper where they should not have gone. We spent the day holding them closely when in the cave or chasing them around the campground and parking lot. It was a big adventure for such a young family.

I must remember tomorrow, on your Day 24 when you’re in Tennessee, to tell you about one of my most adventuresome client engagements that took me by helicopter across Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The area is spectacular from the air. 

Bookends: (1) Hold onto your dream. (2) Get leverage—professional skills and financial resources, powered by intellectual and spiritual determination. (3) Always include your family.    

Day 22 – The Land of Bluegrass

Sean’s Journal: I am in Lexington, Kentucky. What a great day. For starters, Vince, my dad wants me to thank you for including excerpts of my journal in your blog and for the way you add to these and share the wisdom we’ve both acquired. He tells me that there are people in the Juniper area who are following us day-by-day as we journey together. Thanks, Vince. You are a most excellent traveling partner.

Bluegrass. Why is it called “bluegrass” when it’s actually green? Well, in the spring the grass produces bluish buds that give it a blue cast when seen across a large field or lawn. Travelers would ask how to obtain the bluish grass from Kentucky to take back home to plant in other parts of the country. It is a popular variety of grass enjoyed around the world. In Latin, it is poa pratensis. Kentucky is green! I love it especially when accentuated by the white fences that surround the pastures where magnificent horses are frolicking. Kentucky is known as the “Horse Capital of the World.”

Today, I believe the core purpose of my journey is beginning to be fulfilled. I headed straight for The International Museum of the Horse. I had been inspired by a PBS special entitled “Equus: Story of the Horse.” Then I visited the world-famous Keeneland Racetrack. There are many sites that celebrate the horse. Nothing does this better than a thoroughbred horse farm. I visited the Darby Dan Farm. This is a coincidence. Vince, isn’t a good friend of yours named Darby? Go to: http://www.darbydan.com/

Something Clicking. Back in Utah, I rode my ATV up the canyons, but every chance I had, I would go horseback riding with my friends who had horses of their own. Vince, I know your family raised quarter horses on your small ranch in Phoenix, Arizona. You have told me about your horse, “Flicka,” and how much you enjoyed riding in the South Mountain Park near your home. Well, things are “clicking” for me here in Lexington. I am so excited to visit Louisville tomorrow. Why two days in Kentucky? I want to also spend time at the Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is run. And I want to end up just hanging out for an afternoon at one of the horse farms to witness their operations and to talk with groomers, trainers, jockeys, vets, and everybody who takes care of horses.

A close look-alike for Flicka

Vince’s Response: Hooray for you, my dear young friend. I can tell you are onto something big. You are so right, I had a quarter horse named Flicka. (Yes, there was a TV show by this name.) My Flicka was a buckskin mare with a black mane and tail. She was so loyal and responsive. After school, I would saddle her up and we’d take a ride through the orange groves of South Phoenix and then up into the hills of the South Mountain Park. Back then, there were no ATV’s or OHV’s or side-by-sides—motorcycles, yes. However, I can tell you after riding my man-made zoom-zoom machines in recent years, there is still nothing to compare with the exhilaration that comes from feeling a horse trot, then lope, then gallop at full speed. That muscular, undulating, stretching movement of a horse is pure power and the rider feels it. My dad had a powerful Arabian stallion named “Frey,” who no one dared to ride except my dad. We had other horses and ponies for the younger children. Oh, how I wish I had been able to give my own children an experience with horses. I have a couple of granddaughters who are into horses. This makes me happy. BTW: Our ranch in Phoenix was called “Happy Acres,” and that’s exactly what they were. I was blessed to have such a place to grow up. 

Bookends: (1) Thanks to your dad for his support. Be sure he knows how we both feel about his goodness and determination. (2) Kentucky bluegrass is lovely, except when you have to mow it. (3) Find your own “happy acres.” During our senior years, Marie and I found our “Owl’s Nest.”