Posts Tagged ‘Charlie “Tremendous” Jones



19
Jun
14

Carpe Dogum

Mr. Blue gives his last speech June 12, 2014.

Mr. Blue gives his last speech June 12, 2014.

Last week was a week filled with unbelievable highs and lows. I had three very important speeches. One was just me, one with our Chief Excitement Officer (CEO) Ruby Red, and one with our Chief Motivational Hound, Mr. Blue. In the middle of the week Mr. Blue had an oncology appointment to get another chemo treatment. Unfortunately the doctor determined that his blood count was too low and postponed the treatment to the following Monday. Mr. Blue never made it to that appointment.

Determined to fill his prior speaking engagement, Mr. Blue mustered up the strength the very next day to go and share with a group of tremendous seniors at the Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries’ Cumberland Crossings Senior Living Community, sharing pawsome hound wisdom such as Stop Playing Dead and Old Dogs Must Learn New Tricks.

As the senior citizen in the group, in his 90s by human years, Mr. Blue was received with great respect and warmth by this group of seasoned humans. They understood exactly where he was coming from. They were excited about continuing to hear, learn, and think new things, just like Mr. Blue! They spent time petting and talking with my soul dog despite the fact that he was not feeling his best and couldn’t dispense his world-famous kisses.

Growing up, my father, the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, told me upon crossing each milestone birthday that the current decade was far better than the previous one. And he didn’t just say it, he lived it. This is one of the main reasons that I embrace growing bolder, not older, and wiser with each passing day. After all, the more seasoning you have, the more you can flavor the earth.

Whenever someone would tell my father they had retired he would tell them “Don’t talk so stupid!” His reasoning was that if we are still on this earth, there’s a purpose we are meant to fulfill that goes way above and beyond a life lived solely for leisure.  I watched him on his hospice death bed, so frail from the ravages of cancer, yet scribbling notes for me to send to people and calling for friends to come and read to him. You see, we are all terminal, and if that doesn’t amp up your urgency to live life to the fullest, your spirit is already dead. We ought to go to our graves like prunes: spent, wrinkled, and shriveled.

So as I came down from the high of three amazing speeches, I ended the week with Mr. Blue taking a very pronounced and rapid turn for the worse. Friday night his legs gave out and by Saturday morning his breathing was labored and his awareness gone. And just like my father had done over five years ago, Mr. Blue finished the race strong, right up to the last minute. I held him in my arms for one last kiss, and he dispensed four of his powerful licks as if to say, “Thank you for finishing this with me!” before slipping away.

My father always told me he wanted to pass to Heaven while he was on the stage speaking. While the setting was different—a hospice bed and a cancer-ravaged shell of a body instead of a stage with a physical presence larger than life—what he was doing was not. He shared and enriched the lives of others right up to his last breath. And I am humbled and thankful, and not in the least bit surprised, that his granddog would triumphantly bound onto the other side just as victorious!

Carpe Diem; Carpe Dogum. Drink deeply from the water bowl of life right up until your last pant!

13
Jun
14

Father Knows Best: Top Ten Tremendous Tips

DadTinceMy father was a humorist and a motivator whose outlook on life was exuberant beyond description, yet he was also one of the most pragmatic, contrarian thinkers I have ever encountered. With his wit and wisdom, he had a way of putting my angst and complaining in check in just a few, well-chosen words. This Father’s Day, I pay tribute to the top ten Tremendousisms he shared with me over the years. To this day I can still hear him saying these!

 

On Finding the Right Man: Find something with pants on and pray!

On Quitting: You can’t quit; you ain’t done nothin’ yet!

On Self-Pity: Is what you’re going through any worse than what Jesus suffered?

On Disliking Your Boss: You can either work for yourself or you can work for someone else. As long as you work for someone else, this will always happen.

On Asking “Why Me?”: Things go wrong for you so that you can be a blessing to someone in the future when they are going through the same thing. This isn’t about you!

On Cold Calling: If you can knock on a door and make a sale, you can do anything in life.

On Keeping the Customer’s Interest: Put your head through the door, not your foot. That way you can keep on talking when they go to close the door on you.

On Making Decisions: Make it, Make it yours, die by it.

On Expectations: Expect everything to go wrong; that way, when things don’t, you are pleasantly surprised!

On What’s Important in Life: In all your life you’ll only make three truly important decisions: Who will you live your life with? What will you live your life doing? Who will you live your life for?

25
Mar
14

Your “A” Game is useless without your “Be” Atitudes

Ben CarsonOur “A” Game refers to what we bring to the table displayed in our outward performance. Our “Be” Atitudes are derived from the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5 and convey a series of blessedness based on our inward characteristics. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “Knowing how let’s you drive it; knowing why drives you.” Our outward accomplishments are meaningless without the right inward intentions.

Last Friday I had the pleasure and honor of not only meeting, but dining alongside Dr. Ben Carson. We talked about everything from parents who made us read and write book reports growing up, to publishing, to speaking, to marketing, to mentors, to retirements and, yes, even to future callings. But what stood out most to me was how genuinely brilliant, yet humble, this man is.  He was not boastful, he displayed no hint of ego or hubris, and he exhibited extreme control, not only of the facts, but more importantly, of his emotions.

Dr. Carson is blessed because he is poor in spirit. He acknowledges his spiritual condition and the influence of God in his destiny. When I asked him about running for President, he replied, “If it’s God’s will.” He is aware of his God-given talents and places all of the decisions for their use in the hands of God.

Dr. Carson is blessed because he is meek.  Meekness is all about self-control and a quiet friendly composure which does not become embittered or angry under any circumstances.  It is an active attitude and a deliberate acceptance. “Angry people are selfish people” he said.  “It’s not about you; stay out of their slime pool.”

Dr. Carson is blessed because he is pure of heart. When I asked him about how he maintains his composure when untruths are levied against him, he shared how God dealt with his bad temper when he was a teen, healing him of a flaw which nearly put him on the road to prison.  He commented, “When God fixes a problem He doesn’t just do a paint job. He fixes it.”

When we look at leaders we tend to remember the visionary earth-movers, the fiery orators, the discerning decision-makers. But let us not forget the brilliant leaders who have changed the world through their inward spirit of humility and servitude: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, and the greatest role model of all, Jesus Christ. And in my book, I count Dr. Ben Carson as one of them.

 

09
Jan
14

Put Success in Succession Planning

ImageFive years ago today, I left my previous life and came home to run the publishing business my father started 49 years ago. I still remember the anxiety as I pulled onto the Carlisle Pike and drove by my high school. It was surreal, as if everything I went through during the 27 years since I left home had been a dream. I felt the twinge of a panic attack coming on.

Walter Lippmann said, “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.” Perpetuity is the tie that binds across time. I heard a tremendous acronym last year that was right on the money: A.L.I.V.E.—Always Live In View of Eternity. But how exactly does a mere mortal do that?

Taking over a second-generation family publishing business was uncharted territory for me in all respects. But here I am five years later happier and more settled than in any other career I’ve worked. People stress a lot over succession planning. Here’s a few of the things that got me through my succession process that will hopefully put some success in yours.

Take it easy. Don’t spoil the time you have left with your predecessor by stressing about the future. This is especially true if you are dealing with someone who is suffering from a terminal illness. As long as they are alive and in charge, the whole shootin’ match is theirs. Don’t be obsessed with fixing everything before you’re even at the helm. In my case, there was very little planning involved. I spent the last three months flying from Missouri to Pennsylvania to be by my father’s side while he was in home hospice. We did not talk about the future direction of the company or its financials. We shared precious time together, I recorded his memoires for a book, and we watched TV.

You’ve got to truly want it. My father never once, during that time, asked me to come home and run the business. He knew it had to be my own decision and so, one week before he passed, I told him I was leaving my current world and coming home to take the reins. He squeezed my hand and told me that I would take it places he never could. That one moment, that one sentence, was all I needed to propel me forward to carry on the legacy. Just because you’re the son/daughter/heir apparent doesn’t mean you’re automatically the one to carry the torch. You have to want it more than anything. If you don’t, be honest with the founder so they can make other plans.

Keep the DNA, but put your individual stamp on it. I left home at 18 to literally earn my own stripes. Growing up with a powerful parent you have two choices: you can stay in their shadow or you can forge your own path. The more powerful the personality, the more impossible it will be for anyone to recreate it. So I spent decades filling my own experience bag knowing that sometime in the future I might get the opportunity to carry on a legacy. It’s like the Seinfeld episode where Kramer sells his life stories to J. Peterman and then can no longer use them. The stories are most meaningful if you’ve lived them yourself; otherwise you’re just a storyteller or an actor. The second bit of advice I read about when I returned home was the importance of rebranding at the one year point. Although this will sound heretical to many who know you under the original name, it is essential that you let the world know that someone new is at the helm and that the company is on a sure course. By changing our name from Executive Books to Tremendous Life Books, but keeping my father’s “kicking man” silhouette as our symbol, we kept our DNA yet opened it up to any type of material that promoted not just an executive life but a tremendous life.

In government, in churches, in businesses, in life, smaller is always better. Hitler had millions of followers, Jesus had only twelve. Be careful of surrounding yourself with too many advisors, board members, trustees, or family members. Too many cooks spoil the broth. I was blessed in that I could make the decisions affecting the company quickly and blessed with a board that loved my father, but most importantly, trusted me. Therefore we were not constantly bogged down in minutia and personalities.  Big is nice, profitable is better. I can remember how I was constantly comparing my father’s numbers to mine when a dear friend and VERY successful speaker pointed out to me that because we were lean we actually were more profitable than his business was. The light bulb lit up! My expertise is in operations, so although I didn’t yet have my father’s reach, I did have the means to create profit. Bring your particular business acumen to the forefront. It will undoubtedly be different from your predecessors so you’ll be able to deal with issues they couldn’t.

My father left me with a company that had a sterling reputation, no debt, unlimited content, and a host of contacts with the conviction to help me carry on what he had started. That is perhaps the most important portion of succession planning:  Although I was optimistic about the opportunity to carry on what my father started, I had no idea it would still be in existence and continuing to evolve five years later. No one can do it on their own so don’t sweat finding that one special person who will take it to infinity and beyond! Focus on sowing seeds across a myriad of years and locations so that when the next crop begins to grow there’s plenty of it.

12
Dec
13

All I Want for Christmas is Humility

C_S_-Lewis-Humility-is-not-thinking-less-of-yourself-but-thinking-of-yourself-less_I’ve been a huge advocate of acronyms since my time in the military. I came across one years ago that has been one of my favorites:  SLICC—self-licking ice cream cone; n. a process, department, institution, or other thing that offers few benefits and exists primarily to justify or perpetuate its own existence.

When I refer to someone as SLICC, it’s not a compliment although, true to form, that person or institution probably thinks that it is. SLICCs aren’t just found in the bureaucracy of the military, they exist everywhere! And the more downtrodden our sense of respect for hard work and humility, the more this trait takes root. The amount of self-aggrandizement throughout the media and everyday life is staggering. I feel like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers as I seek to find one truly authentic and humble soul.

When I was a little girl my older sister caught me looking at myself in the mirror and called me conceited. I was mortified and vowed to never spend an inordinate amount of time fixated upon myself. And perhaps this remembrance irritates me the most around Christmas time because self-absorption is the antithesis of the Lord’s arrival.

Christ was born in a manger, an actual feeding trough. He was gentle, he was approachable, he was worthy of all the entitlement and adoration in the universe, yet demanded none. Here’s how you can get your “Christ” on this holiday season and stop considering yourself God’s Christmas Gift to the Universe. That blessed event already took place in Bethlehem several millennia ago.

Stop Quoting Yourself: This includes taking pictures of yourself, otherwise known as selfies. These are a definite no-no in professional settings but equally weird in personal settings. If your LinkedIn profile pic is a selfie, take it down now. I find it strange when people put their own quotes on memes and then put their name on them and then put them on their Facebook page. I can understand if a third-party fan page does this, but for someone to do it on their own seems a bit braggadocious to me.

The Narcissus Syndrome: This egocentrism manifests itself in many forms, but beware of giving one of these birds a microphone unless you’ve got a hook handy and are prepared to use it. If it’s all about you, then just start a cult and hang out with your own special weirdos. Please don’t assume I’m one of them.  I was once at an event where someone was asked to give a two-minute presentation. When the time came, he delivered his assigned talk, and at then proceeded to speak for 15 minutes about his pet project—a topic that was not on the agenda. He finished and the meeting got back on track, but everyone in that room will remember his inappropriate display of self-importance.

My father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, was a world-renowned author, speaker, and motivator. If anyone had reason to be a little big for their britches it was him. But his humility was a huge part of his attraction. He knew what Christ had done for him and it was woven through every word he spoke. One of my favorite lines of his is about men who would come up to him and proclaim, “I’m a self made man!” To which he’d retort, “Well, good for you! That relieves God of that responsibility!”

But perhaps the best illustration of humility comes in the form of this anecdote from his speech The Price of Leadership:

Remember the young minister writing his first sermon, spending his time in seminary preparing for that great day when he would stand before the congregation and lower the boom, telling them how to start living. He polished the sermon. He refined it. It was really getting better, week after week, month after month, and then the great day came. After two or three minutes, he realized he was in deep trouble. He began to feel around on the podium for a button he could push that would open the trap door and let him slip out of sight. But there wasn’t any push button. Within five minutes he realized he was whipped and that things were different in real life than they were in seminary. He said a hasty benediction and went down off the platform beaten, broken, and dejected. As he departed the podium, one of the old gray-headed warhorses slipped his arm over the young minister’s shoulder and whispered in his ear, “Son, if you’d have gone up like you came down, you could have come down like you went up.”

Here’s wishing everyone a gloriously blessed Christmas this year. May we all find our stockings and hearts so filled with humility that they overflow far into 2014!

16
Oct
13

you’ll be the same person five years from now….

IMAG3735 (1)

Five years ago today my father triumphantly entered the gates of Heaven.  My mother and sisters and I all were with him when his soul left his body.  As C.S. Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” And although my father lived each day as if it was the greatest adventure in the world, it was all because of his commitment to his faith in the absolute saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. His real joy came from the fact that he never, ever got over how God could love a wretch like him.

He always told me that I would be the same person five years from now except for the people I met and the books I read. With his return home, I was given the amazing opportunity to test this quote in a way I never had before. I can say with absolute conviction, that I am a completely different person than when I said my final goodbye to my father five years ago.

They say comparison is the thief of joy, so I knew that trying to “fill his shoes” would be an insult to both my earthly and heavenly fathers. I turned to 2 Kings 2 for my direction where Elisha picks up the mantel of ministry of Elijah and prayed for double the blessing; double the spirit of faith, obedience, and courage. I had no idea the transformation that was in store, nor did I have any idea of the ceaseless support of our friends and business colleagues.

Your constant encouragement, referrals, purchases and prayers enable us to donate money to 8 tremendous organizations: Bethesda Mission, Word of Life Ministries, Mennonite Disaster Service, Central Penn College, Lancaster Bible College, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region, Dayspring Christian Academy, and the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism.

Your constant prayers and support are what built the Charlie “T” Jones Conference Center. It is my prayer and hope that there are countless more interactions and books read in the years to come so that we, too, can leave a tremendous legacy. I smile whenever I walk into this facility because I could just imagine my father calling each of you all day long and holding marathon reading sessions in here.

This plaque allows everyone coming through these doors to know about the adventure upon which they are about to embark. Thank you for continuing to be such an integral part of this tremendous journey. It means more to me and my family and team members than words can say and we could not have carried on this mantle without you. People constantly cry out, “Where have all the great leaders gone?” and I answer with a tremendous shout, “They’re right here in front of me!”

03
Oct
13

I need a seriously uplifting transfusion

booktranfusionI may be tired of being happy, but I am tired nonetheless. I am tired emotionally because I am dealing with a sister and a dog who are both battling cancer. I am tired because of the vitriolic polarization of our own nation. I am tired of no one accepting any kind of responsibility for their own actions or the actions of their children. I am tired of the pronounced evil I see across the globe. I am tired, tired, tired.

I’ve been emotionally and mentally drained the past month. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t been unbelievably blessed during that time frame; it just means my spirit is running low. I just can’t get my thoughts focused on what I’m trying to say. And then it hits me. It’s time for me to be quiet and receive, not transmit. My mind typically sees so many different things in just one moment or in a single flicker, so it’s nice to be able to drift for a while. I need replenishing. We all do. Our strength comes from outside of ourselves. We are not self-sustaining ecosystems like a terrarium. We need input to grow.

Put down the pen, the telephone, the laptop, the remote, and pick up a book.  As the Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” When I am tired, it’s because I’ve depleted myself. I need to refill in order to keep going. And the higher the pace, the more resources are needed. Many times after hearing my father, the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, speak, people would ask me if he was always like that. For those of you who have not heard him, he was quite the energetic force of nature on and off stage. People were amazed and envious of his boundless energy and unbridled enthusiasm.

The answer is ‘yes’. Growing up I used to think it’s just because he was strong or had a resilient temperament. And while both are true, the reason behind his ability to never be tired was his constant drinking from the well of words of others. People often cry out that they wish God would speak to them, or that they wish they had a few more words to exchange with a loved one. Well, the next best thing to hearing someone speak is to read their words. And in the case of someone no longer with us on this Earth, it’s the first best thing.

So I’m writing to you today, dear reader, because I started reading again. I was stuck; I was tired; I was in a rut. But now that I’m reading I slowly feel the life force flowing again through my veins. I’ve got some really tough and tiring times ahead. I better make sure my blood bank of a library has an endless supply of Be Positive. Luckily….it does.




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

Join Me On:

February 2020
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
242526272829  

%d bloggers like this: