9 Out of 10 Reasons to Avoid Politics

Sprinkles hit the ceiling of the old great room of the home built in 1850, as rain is tapping on the tin roof above my head. I sit here in silence as my eyes gaze around the room in awe of the craftsmanship of intertwined decorative slats, a massive stone fireplace, and a carved star mounted to the ceiling to designate where to find the North Star.  Rich History Worn red antique rugs cover the wooden floors. Kerosene lanterns are mounted to the walls, never removed when newfangled electricity was added. An old fringe-shaded Victorian lamp stands at attention in the corner by the diamond-paned windows, surrounded by furniture made from twigs, an antique chessboard, a stuffed hawk, and a scale model of a classic wooden boat.  This old lake home and its contents have not changed much since the place was built, other than plumbing and electricity added. The long dining room that could seat 20 was once alive with the conversations of the six families who have lived here in the past 170 years and their guests, and it’s my desire to have multiple generations of my family carry on the tradition.  In Search of the ‘Golden Pond’


When Tribes Gather

After several days of open windows and fans blazing during hot, sleepless nights, this morning I’ve awakened to cool temperatures and a sunrise that’s a giant orange ball in the sky, reflecting into the cool blue waters. Red squirrels are chattering, and as I sit sipping my coffee on the old screened porch overlooking the lake, songbirds are playing an orchestral suite accompanied by an occasional loon call.  Whew Finally, I’ve had a chance to relax. I’ve been on the go constantly since March, when I took a group of artists to Japan for almost two weeks, returned home, then off to a family funeral for a few days, then home again in time to host the Plein Air Convention in North Carolina, then home again briefly before a drive cross-country to the Adirondacks, where I hosted 91 painters for a week. That ended a week ago yesterday, and it’s taken me this long to finally get some rest. Even the Energizer Bunny occasionally needs to let its batteries run down.  How Do You Recharge? They say different personality types recharge their batteries in different ways. For me, typically, it’s being social and having lots of contact with others. My


The Biggest Monument in the Graveyard

The loons are calling out with their soothing cry as they float by on the calm, glass-like waters that reflect the brilliant pink sunrise and the tall pines surrounding the lake. Baby hummingbirds the size of quarters flit about, frolicking in the air and diving from the nest as they try to pass their flying test.  I’m once again perched on my dock on a hidden lake, deep in the wilderness of the Adirondacks. My home here, built in 1848, is only accessible by boat, and hasn’t changed much since it was built. This is my happy place. Each day here is a gift, and I know summer will fly by fast, just like this year has.  Road Trip The drive from Texas was long, lots of sitting, and as the passenger, my three days of travel were filled with impromptu naps from high-carb fast food along the way. It’s cathartic. I didn’t work much other than an occasional e-mail. I never “just sit.” But I didn’t even try to be efficient with my time, like every other moment in my insanely busy life. But on this trip, I don’t even listen to audiobooks, I simply stare and think as


How to Make a Spectacular Life

I’m yawning. I’m groggy. It’s very early, the sun is not up, and the house is shaking from a thunderstorm overhead. I made my way out to the coffee machine, and here we are together this morning, warm cup in my hands, trying to wake up.   When I was a child, I would sit in the garage with the door open, watching the rain and the thunderstorms. I felt safe inside, but I loved the sound of rain and storms. When I was a young adult, I used to dream of one day sitting on my porch with a tin roof, listening to the rain. Today, I’m sitting safely on that porch, watching the rain come in sheets, feeling the ground shake with the thunder, and listening to the pellets of water hitting the tin roof. Sheets of water are pouring down the hill toward the river in the gully. Yet I’m dry, safe, and happy as a clam. At least till I have to load up the car and head to the airport.  Lightning Strike One time I went to Tennessee to see my grandfather’s sister Aunt Maxine, who lived on a farm in Armathwaite. I sat in the


Being the Glue

Slam! Crunch! A 1950s-style ceramic bowl went crashing to the floor, spreading milk and Cheerios all over the red-and-white speckled linoleum. Suddenly laughter broke out. It’s hard to know if I really recall my first memories, or if they come from family stories or old photos. My first memory of my mom has me sitting in a high chair as an infant, grabbing my bowl of cereal and putting it on my head like a hat. I can still remember my mom laughing.  My second memory is of us standing in front of our house, me being held in my mom’s arms, and watching our garage burn to the ground. I can still feel Mom’s tears. Life is about the dash. In my mom’s case, the dash came between 1927 and 2019. My mom passed five years ago this past week, on May 7. I miss her every day. What you do with the dash is what matters. The dash is all about moments and memories. Last week, I attended the funeral of my Aunt Phyllis, my dad’s sister and my last aunt, and though it was somber, the memories that flooded back with the stories told by my cousins


Take a Bow

Fields of trees filled with pink and white blossoms lined the walkways through Sakuragaoka Park, which is like Central Park for Tokyo. Massive crowds of people treated blossoming cherry trees like movie stars, flooding around to take photos and selfies. Women were wearing colorful spring kimonos; it’s a tradition around graduation time to be photographed with the legendary blossoms, and in some areas men too were dressed in traditional robes. It was like a scene out of a movie. Unfortunately, the blossoms had not reached their peak, and our group of 35 artists hit them a little early, so the trees that were in blossom got more attention than those that were still bare. A return to the same park on our last day was a different story. Everything was in full bloom, and the scene was one of the most beautiful I have ever encountered. It was what I imagine a walk through heaven to be … walls of color against flowing streams and beautiful temples.  Transformation We went to see Japan to visit its temples, see its iconic sign-filled streets, and experience the colorful scenery, but we left transformed, and mesmerized by the culture. Before going, everyone I


Memories in a Mini

If this were a reality show and there was a camera on my face in the car, you would see every possible emotion. One minute I tear up, the next minute I’ve got a look of joy on my face, while another moment shows disappointment or disgust. I flew into my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, yesterday to attend the Monday memorial for my Aunt Phyllis, who left us recently. And I’m driving all around town in my best friend’s Mini Cooper, going to places where memories were created. Ouch. I still remember the pain. That’s the spot where I ran into a tree limb while playing football with my friends. It punctured right below my eye and came close to blinding me. That corner is where a mean kid beat me up and stole all my Halloween candy. I wish I knew then what I know now. I would have dealt with it a lot differently. On the same corner, I also get a big grin because it’s where I set up my lemonade stand every summer to raise money for muscular dystrophy. It was a half mile from my house, because I figured a busy street and a


When Pushing Backfires

Mourning doves are cooing to greet the red sun rising over the horizon of water that reflects the pink sky. My morning greeting is never the same, and it’s one I never tire of. The doves play their flutes, providing music as I sit in my Adirondack chair on the dock.  If you’re new, my routine is to write from my soul each Sunday. “You need to tell the world about Sunday Coffee. Why aren’t you marketing it more? After all, you’re a marketing guy,” said an acquaintance of mine who suggested I could grow Sunday Coffee much bigger by being promotional. “I’m trying something different this time,” I said. “I’ve spent my whole life marketing things, and I decided that since this is very personal, I’m just gonna see what happens.” I think he muttered something like “Fool!” under his breath, or at least it seemed he was thinking it. Giving In to Growth Now this might sound very unlike me, but I stopped keeping track of subscribers when I hit 150,000 a few years ago. I decided that I did not want to know anymore because my ego might get in the way, and that might change my


Bringing Spring Into Winter Relationships

The sound of strong winds blowing is kinda eerie, like something out of a horror movie. Winds are causing a slight bend in the poetic palm trees, and the water is splashing against the dock as whitecaps fill the choppy water in our view. A morning walk on the dock felt like hurricane force against my wet jacket. Spring really is roaring in like a lion.  I can remember spring days growing up. We would go out in short sleeves at the first sign of warmth, even though it was still very cold. But we didn’t care, because we were so tired of the frigid temps. The first sunny day was an invitation to pretend it was summer. I was always ready for winter to end — but of course it would get cold again and often snow as late as May or June.  Last week, when I was in Austin, the bluebonnets were already thick and lining the roadways with a carpet of blue, while orange “Indian paintbrushes” were adding color against the blue. Pink trees were in full blossom, and bright green buds were already coming out. Seasons have always been a metaphor for life. Spring is a


If I Were King of the World

Gray-blue silhouettes of mountains and trees fill my vast view, as fog accumulates like piles of snow, cresting layer after layer of mountains against the pink sky in the distance. The morning is silent, and the mighty scrub oaks are completely still, paused like a dancer at rest once the winds of music stop.  Being in this empty Texas house alone for a week is a gift. Not because I don’t miss my wife and family, I do, but because silence truly is golden. I’d returned to Austin a week ago to host my most recent virtual learning event for artists, leaving my wife and daughter to go off on their own for spring break, providing another gift … Mommy-daughter time.  Pumped Up I’m feeling invigorated, not only from the high of having helped tens of thousands learn to paint and gain new confidence in themselves, but from thinking time alone with no clanging pots and pans, no barking dogs or barking newscasters.  How did I choose to fill my free evenings after long, exhausting days? Play Like No One Is Watching I played my guitar and sang out loud at the top of my voice, as if no one


Stop Living Like a Zombie! Stop It!

Each morning, as the sun blasts through our east-facing window, I’m treated to a colorful sunrise over the water, with the silhouettes of palm trees. It’s better than any alarm; it tends to get me up a little earlier than normal, and boosts my dopamine immediately.  Upon waking, I walk out to the deck of our bedroom just to take in the beauty of the morning, marveling over the sun sparkling on the water, the warm breeze, the foggy blue distant islands, and the warm air kissing my skin. I’m feeling inspired.  The Hunt for Inspiration One of the reasons I travel so much is because I’m always on the hunt for beauty and inspiration. To me there is nothing quite as wonderful as getting out of my comfort zone, walking on cobblestone streets, changing foreign money, eating local and regional foods, and being unable to understand the language fully. It’s not only a vacation, it’s a mental break and a chance to feel invigorated.  Last October, after our annual fall Fine Art Trip, I was totally inspired. Though this is a collectors’ trip, visiting lots of museums behind the scenes, artist studios, and collector homes, in my free time


Stunned by My Bias

The flags on the dock are blowing sideways as a strong wind pushes the waves into whitecaps. The birds overhead are doing acrobatics with the wind, diving in for fish and hovering in place. Schools of fish are scurrying to avoid becoming bird food. It’s wonderful to wake up to a flurry of activity. Going Deep One of the joys of my life is having deep conversations with friends, especially smart ones. Over the past five years I’ve become close to a doctor I was going to who is one of the smartest and most tuned-in people I know. Not just tuned in to medicine, but tuned into the latest research and trends, and also very aware of trends in business and in marketing. We’ve had some amazing conversations over the years. This week he and his wonderful family visited us for a couple of days and we had the opportunity to sit up late at night to pontificate about all of our interests. A Shocking Moment During our conversation, I was talking about some of the frustrations or roadblocks I experienced in my business. Then he asked me a very point-blank question: “What is the very best way to


The Cure for Selfishness

Cake everywhere!  It was in their hair, in their ears, and all over their clothes.  Laurie and I decided to celebrate the first birthday of our triplets, Grace, Brady, and Berkeley, by laying a plastic sheet on the floor and letting the kids dig into a birthday cake. It was a giant mess as they grabbed handfuls and stuffed cake into their mouths. It was their first real exposure to sugar, so they got very wired very fast. Afterward, the bathtub had a ring of grease that took lots of scrubbing to clean up. Though it was really a bad idea, it was a lot of fun to watch and made for great photos (I’ll post some on my social media). This past Friday, our little babies turned 22. So Laurie and I flew from Florida to Austin to celebrate with them. This time the cake went on a plate and had 22 candles.  Now that our kids are working and/or in college, we don’t get to see much of them and each moment is precious, which is why we went to the trouble to fly in for the special day. Once they have their own lives and families, it


Are You a Dream Weaver?

Coming to a dead stop in her flight across the sky, an eagle dives straight down to the water and scores a sizable fish with her massive golden talons. She has no fear. She does not think about what might happen if she fails, if she hits the water wrong and crashes. She is focused on her sole purpose. Getting food.  “Do the thing you fear to do, and keep on doing it. That is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.” —  Dale Carnegie Some of us are born with no fear.  That’s not me. I have fear of a lot of things. But I never have feared starting a business, even from a young age when I made lemonade stands and sold candles, and over decades of business startups. The Gift of Youth When you’re young and naive, you don’t fear life as much. You have not yet seen the repercussions of doing doughnuts in the parking lot, racing down the highway at top speeds, or daring to dart in front of a speeding train just before it hits the crossing. I did all those things. I was strong, confident, and I could never


Eric Rhoads
Entrepreneur, writer, artist, marketer, and speaker.
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