Relationships


It’s been a long, long time (OK….it’s been an eternity) since I last took the time to blog. I’m still not exactly sure if I’m going to keep this up, but here’s what has been going on lately.

The last few months have been nothing short of a HUGE TRANSITION. Just about everything I knew as “normal” one year ago has now changed. Here is the short list (in no particular order) – new job, new house, new city, new child, new church (sorta)…and on and one and on. I’m sure you will eventually hear about them all in one way or another. I’m tired just thinking about it, but I can tell you that I learned more about life in the last 6 months than I probably ever have before. God’s been faithful through it all and we are still loving life and enjoying every moment. At the advice of a good friend, I took the time to journal about this transition and I am going to share some of it with you, in the hope that it may inspire someone.

Let me know if you are still out there (leave me a comment)….and I will try to be more consistent with my posts. As I re-enter the blogasphere, I’m probably going to share a little less legal theory, a little more personal/family info and mix in a bunch of random thoughts about daily living and what I’m learning on this journey we call life.   

Striving for The Best!-mwr

I recently received an inquiry from a law school classmate that prompted a great discussion topic. The gist of the note was twofold – 1) how did you go from being an aspiring trial law student to an in-house contract lawyer and 2) how do you continue to stay passionate about your work. With permission, I thought the best way to respond was to use those questions as blog entries.

A little bit of history…While at the FSU College of Law, I was a member of the Mock Trial Team and fortunate to serve as president of the team my last year. We entered trial competitions and advocated against other law school students. It was a close nit group, a lot of work, a ton of fun and the best preparation for a career as a trial lawyer one could get while still in law school. After a few competitions, I just knew I was cut out for trial work! When it came time to enter the “real world,” I quickly found out that while many people sue, few actually go to trial. As a baby lawyer who wants to try cases, you either go to a government job handling criminal cases (state attorney/public defender) or carry a seasoned lawyers briefcase, learn the ropes, and pray you get a shot one day. Neither one of those options really appealed to me, so I began looking elsewhere.

I landed my current position right out of law school in a manner that most of the time doesn’t work…I sent in a blind resume to a company and hoped for the best. For a variety of reasons, I wanted to return home, but just knew that the legal market in Daytona Beach, FL would probably not allow that to happen. I can honestly say that many years of hard work, prayer and Divine Intervention landed me with a job I enjoy. While I had offers from traditional firms, many lawyers I spoke with wanted to get out of a firm and go in house, and there were few in house folks who wanted to go back to a firm. I figured I would skip the firm experience and land in a place where many hope to finish. My background synced up perfectly with an open position and 9 years later, here I am!

The boardroom is now my courtroom. Preparation for a successful negotiation is similar to how one would prepare to try a case – know the issues, know the parties and try to masterfully convince others to see a set of facts the was you view them.  While trail law and contract law seem to be polar opposites, there are many similarities – both sides have clients; both sides have different perspectives; both sides want successful outcomes.

Staying passionate about my work is a topic for the next post….that one could take a while.

Striving for The Best!-mwr

 My blogger friend, Charlie, left a comment on a recent post that stirred some attention. My wife and I discussed it at length and I even had a few friends ask me about Charlie (look man, you are now famous!). Seriously, his post made me intently think and it has not left my mind. I am going to do my very best but please forgive me in advance for this woefully inadequate answer to some very tough questions.

 Daily, I am humbled by the amazing opportunities that have been placed before me. God has truly blessed my life beyond measure and His grace is the foremost reason for the any perceived success. I can say, without hesitation, that my personal relationship with Jesus is the foundation for my life and provides direction for every step I take. A true relationship, not religious experience or ritual, is my compass for life. While this is THE critical component, I’ll expound on a few other personal reasons to which I can credit.  


Pondering this journey of life that has brought me where I stand today, several things stick out to me. In no particular order, here are some of those other pieces of the puzzle that contribute to my life’s journey – Relationships , Hard Work, Education, A Life of Giving. I could expound exponentially on these and other topics, so lets explore them over the next few posts.

 

Life has not always been a bed of roses and it never will be. Life gets in the way and presents challenges, problems and even heart ache. I believe the key to overcoming life’s obstacles is attitude and determination. You must always remember that “this too shall pass.”

 

This part is for Charlie, but I hope others will benefit as well. I know you think you are stuck in “middle management” and can’t see a way out of that shopping plaza, but I want to share a personal story with you. I have a very good friend who was working as a bank teller (less than middle management) for several years. She was determined to rise above her situation, but with only a HS education she did not know what to do. So, she purposed to be the best bank teller she could be and one thing she did was learn the name of each customer, so that she could properly greet them each time they came into the bank. One of her customers was a man I know well, who ran a very successful business in town. He noticed her commitment, drive and excellent way she performed her work. This man eventually hired her from the bank and she worked for him over 10 years. While there, she completed her college business degree. She was eventually awarded her own franchise and was so successful the company asked her to become a regional manager. Today, this very successful lady owns her own business, makes a VERY comfortable 6 figure income and is genuinely happy with her success.

 

I share this with you to let you know that anything is possible. Sometimes you have to “grind it out” and other times it may come quicker and easier, but it certainly can happen.

 

Striving for The Best! -mwr

The search for significance is a lifelong journey. No matter what your background, socio economic status, political leaning or any other factor, every person, on some level searches for significance in their life.  Countless books, sermons, speeches and other materials have been prepared on this subject alone. My favorite definition is “the quality of being significant or having a meaning.” We all want to live a life that is more than a meaningless existence. The exact answer is a very personal one and will be different for every person, but I believe you must fulfill the following 3 areas to personally accomplish your lifelong exploration for significance:

 

Spiritual Significance – Every person has a “God shaped hole” in their being. There are countless religions and beliefs looking to a higher power and answers to this life. There are even “unbeliefs,” but in and of themselves they are acknowledging the presence of something or someone. The search for significance begins and ends with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. All the other factors revolve around this critical threshold.

Emotional Significance – Being tied to others on an emotional level will complete your search. I thought my life was complete before my girls….and then they arrived. Your marriage, your parental bond (both with your parents or figures and with your own children), and those very special friendship bonds reserved for only the closest friends are some of the areas where we develop emotional significance.

Physical Significance – Humans crave touch. As babies we are immediately cradled and held. As kids, a hug and kiss from a parent means the world. As teenagers, a high 5 from your coach, hug from your parents or even holding the hand of your “first love” are important. As adults, touch usually means comfort, welcome and safety. Physical significance is also achieved via accomplishments such as contests, sports, accolades, raising your family, education and professional development.

 

The success of your life will ultimately be determined by how your resolve these three important areas. My daily walk is consumed by becoming a WORLDSHAKER. For me that means i) being the best husband, father, son, brother and person I can be; ii) working with others (especially teenagers) to help them realize their full potential; iii) making a professional impact through opportunity, drive, training and skill; iv) leaving an indelible positive mark on this earth; and v) doing something that is bigger than me!

 

Striving for The Best! –mwr

 

Ed. Note – This may be my most difficult post to date. It literally took weeks to develop these seemingly simple thoughts. I hope it will begin a string of comments below for our readers to exchange thoughts and ideas.

I’ve tried to live my life in such a way that I am respectful to all people, regardless of if the world sees them a significant or insignificant. My job affords me the opportunity to work with celebrities like Kevin James, Kevin Costner, Trisha Yearwood, and James Caan during our race events as a “celebrity escort.” It sounds more glamorous than it really is; as my primary focus is to see that they (and their entourage) get many to places at the speedway on time, while negotiating crowds of over 250,000 people. It is a logistical nightmare to say the least, but I enjoy being in the mix of putting on the worlds greatest racing show!

 

Several years ago, Nicholas Cage came to the 500 as the Grand Marshal to promote his movie “Ghost Rider.” His agency flew in a private security person from New York to accompany us. I hit it off with the security guy and we talked often throughout the day. (He was a NASCAR novice, but very interested.) After Cage was gone, he told me he was impressed with the job we did with the schedule, transport, planning, logistics and the Daytona 500.  We parted ways, exchanged info and that was it!

 

Fast forward 3 years…..December 2009 – Amanda and I are in NYC, shopping at the Time Warner Center. I walk out of a store to see this very familiar person, but I can not place a name, context or anything….I just know that I know this guy! So after minutes of “pretend shopping,” I figure out who it is and walk up to him. (My wife thinks I am completely nuts at this point.)  Sure enough, it’s the security guy – nameless on purpose. CRAZY!!! I run into him in NYC of all places. After talking for a few minutes, Amanda runs up to me and within earshot of my newly reconnected friend utters “Hey Matt, there is Suri Cruise.” He replies “Well, I’m doing work for Katie lately.” I had kinda figured that out…..but next thing I know, we are walking along the mall with this crew! Amanda proceeds to fall in line right next to Katie Holmes and strike up a conversation – mostly about kids. It was a crazy encounter, but one predicated on the fact I was fortunate to meet, know and remember the guy who is suppose to be seen and not heard.

 

My friend gave us a dinner recommendation and we texted back a forth during the week, always getting good advice on places to see in NYC. The encounter just reminded me that it is important to value everyone. Not that the celebrity meeting was so incredible (although my friends think it was neat), but this world is a very small place! You never know when you will see someone again and it is always nice to reconnect with great people.

 

Striving for The Best! -mwr

Six years ago today, I was blessed with the greatest gift a man could ever receive – an incredible wife. Meant just for me and me for her, our relationship is my most valuable earthly asset. I joke that after six years of marriage all I have to show for it is two kids and a mini van, but that could not be farther from the truth!While the list could expand indefinitely, here are six things that I appreciate and love about my wife (in no particular order):

 

Selfless – Putting others first and perceiving their needs and hurts over her own. She goes out of her way to help others, sometimes to her own detriment. Our family receives the royal treatment from this selfless woman.

Beauty – Both inside and out, my wife is incredibly gorgeous. To know my wife’s heart is to find her true radiance. She is the most beautiful person I know.

Love – She loves me unconditionally, even when I do not deserve it. I’m not the easiest person to deal with at times, but somehow her love for me tears down walls otherwise impenetrable. Her love shines through in every action and word.

Care – Always caring for our family is something that I take for granted. Looking out for the best interests of our girls and me is at the forefront of her mind on a daily basis.

Spiritual – Her dedication to God is an inspiration to me, our girls and others. She desires to be more like Jesus each day and spends time daily studying, reading praying and living a life worthy of duplication. I pray my girls know the Lord the way my wife does.

Strength – The majority of successful men have a strong and supportive wife. Amanda’s quiet and resolute strength is critical to our success. While it is not often vocal (at least with others), she stands beside me in every situation and  

 

Amanda – My world would not be complete without you. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and making me the person I am today. You are my greatest treasure and I value you above all others. I love you with all I have.

 

Striving for the Best! -mwr

 

Guys – even if it isn’t your anniversary today, take some time to tell your wives how special they are and what they mean to you.

With Thanksgiving now past and the turkey, stuffing, gravy, corn, mac & cheese, broccoli, cheese & rice casserole, sweet potato, pumpkin pie, peanut butter pie, and on and on and on… induced coma subsiding, it seemed appropriate to pick up this blog again by listing a few things for which I am thankful. The last few days have been spent with family and a lot less of the internet, computer, Blackberry and even cell phone. The virtual “radio silence” is always a welcome time for me. It gives me a chance to clear my head and re-focus my life objectives towards the things that really matter. With that said, some of the things I am most thankful for are:

1) Wife – An awesome woman who stands beside me no matter what. I clearly “married up” and appreciate her more than I could ever express!
2) Children – I thought life was great until heaven greeted us with 2 bundles of joy. Now 3 and 1, my girls are the love of my life and always remind me that this world is full of endless possibilities!
3) Family – Having the support of 2 families is an invaluable asset to my wife and I. They are always there for love, support, encouragement, advice and when needed, a swift kick to the rear!
4) Health – A most valuable possession.
5) Faith – My ultimate source of strength and guidance. My life would not be what it is today absent the hand of God protecting, preparing and guiding.
6) Friends – Life would be an unbearable journey if unable to share it with people who truly care and love you. I cherish the relationships established and future connections to be made.
7) Country – I’ve always been proud to be an American. The greatest country on Earth. The best place to be – land of the Free and home of the Brave.
8) Provision – Not the things we like, but the things we need – food, shelter and love. If all we had were these three, we could still make it just fine.

The list could continue for pages and pages until it got down to the things that I merely like and want, but I will stop with my thankfulness for the things I truly need. Hope your Thanksgiving was a good as mine.

Striving for the Best! -mwr

Note: My attempt to post this on Friday failed, but I was literally in a place with no WiFi. My Sprint air card would not even work… on Thanksgiving morning, I had to make a run to the closest Starbucks (20 mi.) to use their WiFi and pull a contract for review (yes, in-house lawyers even work on holidays). At least the “WiFi run” allowed me to sip a Venti Carmel Macchiato while plugging away on the laptop. At 10am, we were only the 4th car through the drive-thru.

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