Happy Birthday Dad!

Geno, Geezer & Mike

My Dad in the middle, with his high-school buddy Geno on the left, and me on the right!

Happy Birthday Dad!

My Dad is truly a one of a kind guy.  He sacrificed a lot when Robin and I were kids so that we could do things that we ordinarily wouldn’t be able to do.  Whenever we would go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Mom and Dad would take us, then Dad would usually drive back home later on would drive back and pick us up, or if needed, we would fly home.  The point here is that most of the time the only vacation my dad ever got was one away from his punky kids! :)

My dad worked most of his life as a self-employed cabinetmaker.  He was very reputable, and word spread for him only by way of word of mouth.  My dad did many incredible projects, all out of our single car garage at my parents home in Northern Virginia, and my sister and I would help him out sometimes when he needed help.

As I said, Dad was a reputable man, based on his upbringing, so he would only take 1/2 of the pay first in order to get the supplies he needed, and then take the rest of the money at delivery.  He also had lower overhead then a lot of big cabinet firms did, so as a result he would charge less — less then he probably should have charged, because he did excellent work, and he didn’t charge enough for the pieces he created.

I know that this will probably sound weird to my dad, because in all honesty, I had no great desire to follow in my Dad’s footsteps and become a cabinetmaker, but some of the best moments we had as father and son were in those times when I was helping him deliver and install the cabinets and other works that his clients asked of him.

I’ll never forget the many times that we rode out to Mr. & Mrs. Boyd’s house near Georgetown.  Mr. Boyd had worked for the DC Police Department before retirement, and he and his wife had a very eclectic house, that was high up on a vista, and had a backyard that sloped pretty steeply right down to the water of the Potomac River.  I loved visiting their house with Dad, and helping him out, because inevitably Dad would let me take a break and walk around outside for a few minutes, examining all of the incredible nooks and crannies of the Boyd homestead.

My Dad did a lot of work that he took pride in, some of it big, and some of it small, and some of it, even that ended up being used around the country and even ended up being featured in publications!  My dad was commissioned once to make a gavel for a lawyer publication, if memory serves me correctly, and the gavel he mad was used on the cover photo of the magazine.

Dad also did some work for United Airlines, who my Grandpa worked for before he retired from the company.  Dad created some special kiosk type cabinets that we transported to the Newark Airport in Newark, NJ, and were used in the main terminal for many years of reliable operation.

After I moved to North Carolina, my dad and I did a few trips together while I was in my single days.  One trip we took to visit my Aunt Ginny in Missouri, stopping along the way and visiting with my Great Aunt in Dayton, Ohio, and having lunch with one of my Dad’s cousins (I know, my cousin too) in Illinois before reaching the St. Louis area.  That was a memorable trip, and one that I haven’t forgotten, all these many years later.

Another trip that I took with Dad was when we went camping down the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway.  Dad was so excited, he read all up on it about how to tie up your food to keep it from bears, where we should stop, and so forth.  We spent three nights camping.  The first night, after we entered the Skyline Drive, we checked in so they knew we were camping, and the first words out of Dad’s mouth were “How far down is Bear Den Mountain?”  He wanted to camp there in case we might meet up with a bear!  Needless to say, we never saw a bear at all…

However, when we got there, we took our gear out of the car and started hiking along the trail to find a spot to camp, and not paying attention, we probably hiked a mile downhill until we stopped to setup camp.  Of course, the next day, we had to hike a mile uphill with all of our gear!  That was not so much fun for us!

The second day we stopped at a spot near the end of the day, and hiked uphill to a spot — but no where near the mile we hiked the first day.  We setup camp on a slightly uneven spot, which ended up being a problem for me because it rained that night — and the rain just happened to drip on my head!  Lucky for me I had my old man there to nag until he fixed it…

On the third night, I think we were both getting sick of camping, so we found a spot that had campsites right next to where you park your car!  That worked for me, so that’s what we did!  Do you spot a trend here?

During our travels, though, we experienced some incredible moments — such as the time we had to stop right in the middle of the road because there were literally dozens of wild turkeys just standing in the middle of the road.  I would guess that there were easily 30 or 40 turkeys!

We also ate a great meal in Linville Falls, NC, at a local restaurant there that had the distinction of having signs up in the restaurant telling you when you were entering a different county, because 3 counties intersect in Linville Falls!

Now that I’m married, my travels with my dad are fewer and more spaced out, but we are still able to enjoy some time together.  One time when my parents came down, Dad and I spent some time and went on a photo shoot together.  Dad has recaptured his love of photography, and takes some wonderful photos that have even been awarded ribbons at contests before!  I have an affinity for trains, so I’ll close with this picture Dad took of this wonderful train.  Enjoy!

734 Coming out of Ridgely

Thank you all for reading my long post — I’m sorry that it was so long, but I’ve only got one Dad, and I wanted him to know how much wisdom he has imparted on me over the years. It’s not always easy to write about your loved ones, but Dad, I love you, and I hope you enjoyed your post — and your photo in the post as well!  Happy Birthday Dad!


The Customer Rules by Lee Cockerell {Giveaway}

This review for The Customer Rules by Lee Cockerell is part of a Magical Blogorail sponsored campaign. Copies of the book were received free of charge for a review. Opinions are those of the reviewer and do not represent those of the author.  Your opinion may vary.

About the Book…

The Customer Rules
The Customer Rules – The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service is a book written by Lee Cockerell.  In this book, Mr. Cockerell describes to us his list of 39 essential rules that he has honed over the years as a way to deliver sensational service — or, if you do it wrong, ways that you can truly drive your customers away.  Some of his list of rules are very pertinent in the Internet connected environment that we live in today, and it’s vital that those of us that rely on good customer service skills deliver that product, or we may fall victim to some of the pitfalls just like some of the companies that Mr. Cockerell refers too in his book.

About Lee Cockerell…

Lee and the Boss

Lee Cockerell, as you may or may not know, is the former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort, where he led for 10 years.  During his time, he had 40,000 Cast Members under him, and spent countless hours honing and refining his customer service techniques.  Before that, he held various executive positions at both Hilton Hotels and Marriott Corporation, and spent his career working on improving customer service wherever he was at.  It is my pleasure to be reviewing his book for you today.

My Thoughts…

In February 2013, I became a Travel Agent for Pixie Vacations.  My initial thought was to give it a try and see if it was a viable part-time occupation for me.  As a travel agent, I became immersed in thoughts about how I could best serve my clients while at the same time staying true to all that I believed in.  The answer I came to was that — and I know that this is a common sense answer — I had to treat my clients the way that I expected to be treated should I be the customer and they the agent.  As a result, Rule #5 “Ask Yourself: What Would Mom Do?” is a very big rule in my life.  My Mom gave me much the same advice that Mr. Cockerell’s Mom did — to be successful, you must make sure you work hard at all you do, and also, you need to treat others exactly how you want to be treated.  This rule has served me well both in my life as a travel agent and also in my full time job as a network security manager.  I think Mr. Cockerell summed it up very well in this quote: Don’t do anything you would not want Mom to know about.”  With the way the world has shrunk because of the advent of the internet, that rule is especially useful when you think about Rule #2: “You Win Customers One at a time, and lose them a Thousand at a time.”  With the Internet dialing us all into a global media circus, it isn’t hard to make a mistake that will be noticed by your Mom, even if she barely touches Facebook and has never heard of Twitter.  These two rules are but a drop in the bucket in this book — you have 37 other rules to dig into and learn so you don’t make the mistake that could cost you so much hard work.


In summary, I think that “The Customer Rules” is a book that every business person should read, regardless of the industry they are working in, regardless of the customer clientele that they serve.  As Mr. Cockerell so aptly put in Rule #1, “Customer Service is not a Department,” the sooner we all learn this, the better off we will all be.  In many ways, Customer Service is a forgotten term, especially in this dog-eat-dog world.  The customers are getting fed up with that kind of attitude in the marketplace, and the company that succeeds the most will be the one that truly embraces Customer Service, excels at it, owns up to the mistakes that they make, and in doing so, retains a loyal customer base that will refer them time and time again to their friends.

The Customer Rules by Lee Cockerell, Former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World

This review of The Customer Rules by Lee Cockerell is part of a Magical Blogorail sponsored campaign.

Former Executive Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort, Lee Cockerell, shares his 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service in his latest book  The Customer Rules. And if you want more from Lee Cockerell check out his first book Creating The Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney.

Purchase the Book Here 

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