Monday, December 31, 2007

New Opportunities

This isn't designed to be the ultimate guide to which opportunities are right for you or me but rather to provide some points to ponder from my most recent read...

When opportunity and passion line up with our prayers it is difficult to have restraint.

The problem is that our emotions can cloud the situation and opportunities must be weighed against something far more objective than just the circumstances. I always think I know how things are going to play out but I have made decisions (100% convinced I knew the outcome) and it turned out I was 100% wrong. An open door is not always a door that requires us to step through it. Don’t believe me? Read 1 Samuel 24. Three factors should be considered.

Think about it:
1. The Law – There are laws we are not and should not break and no matter how great the opportunity, if it violates the's not something we should be doing. In David’s case, you can not kill a king or rebel against the thrown without breaking the law.
2. Principle – Follow the golden rule. Think about how you would want treated in a similar situations because life has this amazing way where we find ourselves in the shoes of those we have authority over.
3. Wisdom – Seek to be the example and listen to the counsel and mentorship around you. David was in a position to take the thrown by killing the king. If he killed the king what kind of an example would he be?

At the end of the day there have been awesome opportunities that Sharon and I thought were a 'God Thing' that once reviewed and weighed began to take us in a different direction. As a leader I have to remember that forward motion and progress will often tempt us to bend the rules and eventually lose our integrity.


Sunday, December 30, 2007


What a fun movie to sit down with the family and watch. Family friendly, non-violent, and filled with life lessons. In the movie, our main character 'Remy' the rat was asked who is he? His answer was, "I know, I know, I am not a human...I'm a rat" to which the response was, "NO, you are a chef!"

I meet new people all the time and had to laugh because every time I ask them, "Who are they?" the response is always what their profession is (what they do). I think the response should be something like this:

I'm a father and husband!

Aren't these who we really are? Or has our work begun to define us?


Thursday, December 27, 2007


No don't turn and run away...I am talking about getting away.

CHANGE in Place +
CHANGE in Pace =

Sharon and I just got back from our 2008 Planning Retreat. Are you thinking that, 'Only companies do that'. Well I think more couples should deliberately try this and see what comes out of it. We left the kids with my parents and went off for a 2 day/1 night get -away to:
1. Strengthen our relationship
2. Have some quiet time
3. Re-charge our batteries
4. Review our 2007 goals
5. Set our goals for 2008

WOW! What a wonderful time. We started the evening off by writing our 50 or more dreams (sky was the limit) and anything goes. We did it seperately and then sat down and shared them with one another. More than 80% of what we wrote was the same but worded differently. It is amazing how much we are on the same page.

BIG DREAMS (just a few of them):
1. Large home on a golf course with an elevator
2. Trip to Isreal
3. Own a professional sports team
4. Attend the World Cup
5. Visit the White House
6. Start a Ministry focused on supporting missionaries & pastors

Before we called it a night we talked about what our priorities are and our plan to detail out our goals for 2008. We reviewed our dream sheets, listed our roles (spouse, parent, student, employee, etc), and then set goals for each of these roles and ties action steps to accomplish these goals. It sounds like a lot of work but the results are worth the investment and so far we have an amazing ability to set and hit big hairy odacious goals 'BHAGs'. are a few of our 2008 Goals:
1. Lose weight (not telling you how much)
2. Get in better shape
3. Family Vacation
4. A specific $ amount in investments and savings
5. A specific $ to give to church and charity
6. 50 books in one year

Hope this helps...if you have questions about setting goals, having a retreat, or want more insight; let us know.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Hurried, Heart Felt, Humbled, or Hurt

If 4 people witness a car accident you will get four different renditions of the facts. The Christmas season is one of those times of the year that if you ask 4 people about the holiday you will get three different responses (or more)...Hurried, Heart Felt, Humbled, or Hurt.

Hurried - Are you one of the last minute hurried shoppers? The whole season starts in a mad dash on Black Friday or worse yet it doesn't happen at all because of work until Christmas Eve.

Heart Felt - The big family gatherings or quiet intimate moments with the immediate family.

Humbled - A season of thankfulness and joy for all the blessing over the past year.

Hurt - We realize that the holidays can stir up emotions and tension with the family.

There are probably other ways to describe the holidays and maybe you experience more than one. We were 80% done before Thanksgiving and the remaining items are really the harder ones. This is really a result of Sharon's organizational skills (I tend to be the hurried shopper). I think the best gifts we give are these last ones we work on because they are truly heart felt, personalized gifts like the albums with a voice recording narration done by the kids, Sharon, and I for each photo.

No matter what you are experiencing this Christmas...take time to experience being humbled by how awesome life is and what amazing things have happened.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thank You in 2007

Today I was enjoying a message from Mark Batterson on 'Joy'...first I loved how engaged the boys were with the message. They usually don't sit with me but being Christmas weekend we had a change in venue. We were talking about how easy it is to come up with 3 things that went wrong; even on the best of days. How often we forget to be thankful and when we are thankful, how quick we are to generalize the great blessings. So I wanted to take two minutes and challenge everyone to make a list of things in 2007 they are grateful for. Make a list of 100 or more so that you are forced to get specific. Here is the start of my list:

1. Help in packing/moving to DC & help unpacking on this end
2. My Honda - 230,000 miles and still going
3. Two new employee hires in DC
4. Grace from those in authority over me
5. My wife's support and understanding in multiple areas
6. Sybella sleeping through the night during the 1st six months
7. The opportunity to visit friends in Kentucky
8. Sharon's new ring and my new car
9. Benign tumors
10. Great elementary school for the boys in Vienna

Remember, our focus determines our reality. J. Todd Ferrier said, "We are what we think; as we desire so do we become! By our thoughts, desires, and habits, we either ascend to the full divine dignity of our nature, or we descend to suffer and learn."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ATS - DC Christmas

Every company has a humble beginning, an owner's vision, and the rest is history. ATS was founded in the early 80's by Rick Leenstra in Silverdale, WA (Seattle Area). In 2006 I joined the Executive Team of ATS as the Director of Business Development. We were 17 strong and Lacy was our only employee in DC. Lacy is the one in the background with glasses and a big smile!
This month as we enjoy the holiday season and a blessed 2007 we are 65 strong and we held our first annual ATS - DC Christmas Part at i Ricchi. Just a quick thank you to Dave Mather, Lacy Dove, and Maresia Johnson for helping make this year special.

A thank you to the Board of ATS for allowing Sharon & I the opportunity to join the team and a thank you to the management and employees of ATS that have made this year so incredible!


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Starfish & Spiders

It sounds like the opening line to a bad joke: What do the Apache Indians, Craigslist, Skype, and Al Qaeda have in common? The answer goes to the heart of my most recent read: They're all decentralized organizations that have survived and even stood in the face of, 'spiders', a rigid hierarchy and top-down leadership of big business organizations who set out to crush these 'starfish'.

A quick teaser for those of you looking for a good were the big ideas I am walking away with from this most incredible research and book:

1. How the Internet has leveled the playing field, what is driving communities, and how to capitalize as an entrepreneur in the same environment.

2. How and why my company and many other companies will have to change in the next 5 to 10 years in order to grow and thrive.

3. A better understanding of the decentralized nature of an terrorist network and how these organizations are best countered against.


Back from the D.R.

Yes they have returned to the states. My folks are back from the Dominican Republic and will be in the states for several weeks as they travel to see family, friends, and those who support their ministry in the DR. It is wonderful to have the family in town for the holidays and even more exciting that the kids get to spend time with their grandparents.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


FSM is a new term I picked up..."Father Son Moment". Sunday night the boys asked me to play BATTLESHIP. You know, the game we all played at some point growing up. As a sidenote, we played on the actual set that my brothers and I played on when we were growing up. It is always fun to watch their mindset, strategy, and how the accept winning and losing. I work very hard to find time every week to sit down and engage one on one with the boys.

I am all for working hard, providing for your family, and putting your time in to be successful; however last time I checked there are 168 hours in the you realize that if we all spent just 1 hour a day with our children that would be less than 1/2 % of our week?

Everyone has time to sit down and engage with children. Take time over the holidays to have quality time with the children.


National Christmas Tree Lighting

This past Thursday (December 6) was one of those great events you see on TV and always wish you could see in person. Well now that we are living in the Nation's Capital and taking time as a family to be part of all of the wonderful events that go on around here. The National Tree Lighting Ceremony began in 1923 with President Calvin Coolidge. Thursday night we took friends and family to join the President and his family as the President lighted the National Christmas Tree. Let me tell you it was COLD! VERY VERY VERY COLD! Just take a look at how we were all dressed...

We arrived around 3:30 in the afternoon and with the sun shining it was comfortable and everyone was smiling. As the sun set the temperature dropped below freezing and with snow on the ground I think all of us lost feeling in our toes. The event is so much more than just pushing a button and turning on a light. Carolers from Washington's National Cathedral and the St. Alban's Christmas Choir opened the annual tree lighting ceremony. Just want to say thank you to Chris and Lora for joining us this year. The singing and celebration lasted about 90 minutes.

The boys and I sang, clapped, and rocked back and forth to the Carols. I am not sure how much was for the purposes of having fun and how much was directed at keeping warm :-) While there, I reflected on just how blessed we as a family and as a nation truly are. I was overcome with happiness and joy for all the many blessings we have had in 2007.

This is definitively a new annual family event!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy Brithday

Yes, today is Sybella's birthday!

No exciting cake photos because we decided to wait until her grandparents return from the Dominican Republic for the 'BIG BASH'. Where has the last year gone? She is clearly her mother's child ;-) She has spunk, personality, and an opinion. I let Sharon have an easy day while Sybella had a pretty focused Father-Daughter Day.

As a final note...she decided to take her first step today! One year old and one step. Who knows, maybe by next year we will have a two year old who takes two steps. Something tells me we will have a little one running around the house for Christmas.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Cards *By: Sharon

It's that time of year again...time to send Christmas Cards. Christmas cards have very little routine at the Simon house, except that at Thanksgiving I start talking about the fact that the cards must go out and that the family needs to get to the mall to take a family picture. David almost inperceptably winces before forcing a smile to his face and asking "When is the picture appointment?"

Once the picture is taken care of, there are other steps to accomplish as well:

1. Make a list of recipiants.

2. Order Picture cards (the ever popular card and picture combination).

3. Get actual Christmas cards for the wallet-size pictures which come with picture packages (we're not wasting any pictures, we had to trade a year of Colin's education to get the picture package......can I say Outrageous?)

4. Buy stamps.

5. Remember how to use mail merge so that I print labels instead of hand-writing all the addresses.

6. Hand-write the addresses for the labels that didn't print correctly or had an incorrect address. I always end up writing about 20% of the labels because I don't print labels well and when cards are returned to sender for incorrect addresses and/or our friends move, I forget to update Microsoft Access.

7. Write a note in the cards.

8. Lick the back of the envelopes to seal them. Why hasn't the stationary industry figured out that we don't want to lick envelopes? I know, there are some some cards with 'peel & stick' closure but I always manage to pick ones that must be licked.

9. Take them to the post office.

The steps above are a clear explanation as to why there is no routine to Christmas cards at the Simon house. They have gone in the mail as early as the day before Thanksgiving and as late as mid-January. In fact, I think there was a year that cards didn't go out at all.

So, this year, I decided to do something just a little different. I bought cards in January '07 during the post-holiday sales. I used a picture of the kids that I took in September '07 so that the timing of our annual family picture was not an issue. I ordered prints and picture cards. I put a limit on the number of cards that would be sent out. I didn't write a note in each card. I enjoyed every minute of this year's Christmas cards.

The moral of the story? Christmas cards don't have to be stressful!

Advice of the day:

*If you didn't get a card from us, don't be offended. We love you, we just knew that you could love us without receiving a Christmas card.

*When you open a Christmas Card this year from anyone, value the effort that it represents. I know I will. Whether someone has 2 cards to send or 200, getting a card to you or me was an effort.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gobble Gobble

Ok...I ate way too much food and enjoyed every minute with the friends & family we invited to be with us. So, I have 2 questions for everyone:

1. What did you do on Black Friday?

I took the boys with their Uncle Phillip down to the Reflection Pool in DC to play football in between the monuments on the lawn and then Sharon & I went to Best Buy later that night to buy her Christmas present. I know, I wife's gift at an electronics store (she asked for it)!

2. Which teams were you cheering for over the weekend?

We watched every game and cheered for any team that might set up the opportunity for Ohio State to play for the National Championship. So we were thrilled to see LSU go down in flames and frustrated to see WV stomp UConn and we are watching MIZZO Univ vs Kansas!

Yes...Sharon actually watches more football than I do :-)


~David & Sharon

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Being a Servant Leader

I met James Hunter back in 2006 and was impressed by his sincerity, candor, and vision. In his book, "The Servant", we read about the life of a business executive John Daily. Hunter does a wonderful job of weaving the timeless principles of servant leadership into the story of John Daily, whose outwardly successful life is spiraling out of control (I been there & felt that)!

If you don't like to read 'teaching' books and looking for a relaxing read, this is great story that incorporates passive learning.

He is failing miserably in each of his leadership roles as boss, husband, father, and coach. To get his life back on track, he reluctantly attends a weeklong leadership retreat at a remote Benedictine monastery. To John's surprise, the monk leading the seminar is a former business executive and Wall Street legend. Taking John under his wing, the monk guides him to a realization that is simple yet profound:

The true foundation of leadership is not power, but authority, which is built upon relationships, love, service, and sacrifice.

The book enumerates the following as the qualities of a servant leader...
1. Patient - showing self-control
2. Kind - giving attention, appreciation, and encouragement
3. Humble - being authentic without pretense or arrogance
4. Respectful - treating others as important people
5. Selfless - meeting the needs of others
6. Forgiving - giving up resentment when wronged
7. Honest - being free from deception
8. Committed - sticking to your choices

All these behaviors will entail you to serve and sacrifice for others. This would mean setting aside your own wants and needs to focus on the legitimate needs of others.


Sunday, November 18, 2007


Sharon and I went to the MLS Cup Final at RFK Stadium. We absolutely loved the diverse culture that attended the game today. There is clearly no defined demographic to who attends a soccer game in America. Families, kids, business leaders, college students, groups of women (this sport is clearly not the male dominated atmosphere), and all kinds of ethnic groups!

An exciting game between New England and Houston...I love to be part of any venue where people are at their best. The competitive match, the MLS Final atmosphere, the high 50's temperature, and a great crowd...the perfect date!

Night at the Museum

Colin and I went to the Baltimore Aquarium on Friday night to ‘Sleep with the Sharks’. Yes that’s right we spent the night in the museum. Now this wasn’t “Night in the Museum” with Ben Stiller, no dinosaurs or exhibits came to life…in fact it was quite the opposite…we saw many a sleeping shark and stingray. Ever seen a stingray sleep? It’s like watching any other lifeless animal lie on the floor only these are underwater.

Now I am not picking on the experience, on the contrary, this was a wonderful event that I recommend for kids’ ages 8 to14. We received a private behind the scenes tour of the entire aquarium and learned all kinds of cool things about the underwater world, rain forest, Australia, and frogs!

As we learned about all the different types of frogs, we of course stopped and hung out at the ‘poisonous frog collection’. Did you know that the most poisonous animal on Earth is the Golden Poison Frog of Columbia? What we found out about most of the poisonous frogs is that the poison toxin is generated based on what they eat and as a result the frogs in the aquarium are not really poisonous because they consume a non-toxic diet. WOW! Talk about “you are what you eat”.

Of course this is a good lesson for all of us. To often our actions, our relationships, and our ability to communicate is based on what we are putting into our minds. I guess it served as yet another subtle reminder to guard what is being pumped into my brain. TV, movies, music, books…they are all forms of media and one has to stop and ask what kind of media are we ingesting and what kind of result is it producing? Over the last 5 years I have substantially increased my reading and decreased my TV time…you know what…my quality of life and income has also increased. I am not the only one who has experienced this phenomenon. Many of my friends have also shared the same experience that by decreasing the TV intake and ingesting more books and CDs focused on personal and professional growth that their incomes have increased.

Colin and I had a blast, this was quality father son time and I was able to hang out with his friends and focus on him for and entire day without the distractions of the job.

I guess we all truly ‘ARE WHAT WE EAT’.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Team Updates

Right now we are focused on personal and professional growth over the holidays. Sharon and I have reflected on the last 5 years and have no misunderstanding that the 45 year plan as an employee does not end in retirement at 65. As such we feel blessed to have met Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady who have helped so many people become financially successful.

On February 22, 2008 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis we will launch our new business. Committed to the concepts of Michael Dell's 3 C's (Content, Commerce, Community) we will be looking to begin building a commmunity after the 1st of the year.

Let me answer some questions that many of you have asked:
1. Registration - to be invovled in the pre-launch you may invest $15 a quarter or $60 annually. This is the standard access fee so that you can have access to the pre-launch planning, website, and professional development materials. The registration form is on under 'Business Forms'. It is a very simple one page form that you can fax to us.

2. Making Money - During pre-launch you can be paid for being part of the Team if you are a qualified Turbo 5 (this means you plus 10 new members on on the training system).

3. Training System - The team training system is an excellent resource for personal and professional growth. I can personal testify to gaining a better perspective about life, increased communication with family & friends, and increased financial success.

4. Building a Community - We will help you track your team and its growth. When someone completes a form and signs up, please fax the form to us and let us know if this is part of Team 1 or Team 2 for you. We will help you continue to grow the two tea,s so that you can achieve Turbo status and get paid based on the number of people on system.

5. FAX - 610.808.2095 - My fax is on 24 hours a day.

6. Our new distributor will be announced in St Louis and is a nationwide sponsor who will pay 30-50% more money than what was previously paid as compensation for being part of the community.

7. Blogging is the best way to reach us.

Happy Holidays
David & Sharon

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Learning to Walk

The last several days have been fun to watch our daughter Sybella learn to stand. Of course every parent is so anxious to see there child stand and then later regret how mobile they are. In the last 2 weeks she has tried to stand several hundred times and each time we clap, cheer, and encourage her (just for trying...she wasn't even standing for 2 or 3 seconds) no wonder she continues to try harder!

Of course, all of this activity has caused me to reflect on and ask the question: How often in life do we criticize our peers, friends, or employees for 'trying' but not being successful? To often we all are quick to criticize, complain, and condemn others actions or lack of results. Make no mistake, I believe in results, over time failure to produce results means something else is wrong. But I wonder if we were quicker to clap, cheer, and much more productive would people be and how much sooner would those around us move to producing results?

Our children remind us daily of life lessons we need to apply. I guess the author was right when he wrote, "Everything I needed to know I learned in Kindergarten".


Monday, November 5, 2007

Hello World

Well it’s official! I am now blogging and will be regularly as a way to communicate with everyone from all over the country and in an attempt to let people know what is going on personally, professionally and in general. Feel free to let me know how this is working for you and if your questions are being answered.

~ David