On Tuesday I spent a great afternoon with Bob Ravener in Nashville, TN, interviewing him for the Apploi Observer. The interviews were centered around his book “Up! The Difference Between Today and Tomorrow Is You,” and advice for veterans re-entering the workforce.
The interviews will be worth watching – and his book (telling his story from childhood to the pinnacle of his profession) is worth reading. It also comes with endorsements from highly accomplished figures in corporate America, the sports world, the military community, and government, including Joe Gibbs, the three time Super Bowl Champion Coach, General Terry “Max” Haston, and Dale Nees, Assistant Dean of the Business School at Notre Dame.
Some readers may pick up the book, looking at where Bob’s career trajectory, curious about the secret of his upbringing. Indeed he’s worked in senior positions at top companies, including PepsiCo, Home Depot, and Starbucks, and Dollar General. He’s got a beautiful family, has been on a presidential commission, volunteered extensively … you get the picture.
But Bob’s childhood was anything but picturesque: By the time he was eight, his family had lived in three different houses in two different towns, and he had attended four different schools. His father was an abusive alcoholic who couldn’t hold down a job – and would take his anger out on his family (he and his brother would step in to block his parents lunging at each other with knives). His accompanying his father on “errands” usually ended with him watching his father get drunk in a bar.
His upbringing was the polar opposite to the type of upbringing that Amy Chua espouses in “Tiger Moms” as being critical to success. And his later experiences were filled with many more challenges and heartbreaks, from the personal (including the tragedy of a lost child) to the professional (the first company he went to work for after leaving the Navy went bankrupt just before he was due to start).
It’s precisely because Bob’s life was filled with more than his fair share of obstacles that this book is so valuable. It’s accessible. It speaks to those both in difficult situations or who have been through them, and shows a better future can be ahead. The book is filled with valuable pieces of advice to get there. Among my favorites:
· Go to bed early, and wake up early (per Benjamin Franklin)
· Stay organized: Make lists and write things down, it’s the surest way.
· Surround yourself with good people and good friends: it’ll help shape and educate you.
· Have a positive attitude: It’s critical to the success of an individual and a company.
· Practice “finish-line thinking”: Know what you want to accomplish, and design a strategy to get there. Don’t live just day-to-day.
Each chapter starts with an inspiring quote, and perhaps the one which is most fitting for Bob’s story is attributed to Marcus Aurelius:
“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
One of Bob’s favorite pieces of advice, while advising people to master their emotions is:
“I can’t control 100 percent of what happens to me, but I can control 100 percent of how I respond to what happens to me.”
And that’s not just good advice for those struggling on the bottom – it’s important for everyone.
You can buy the book here and the interviews will be published on the Apploi Observer here.