New Year – New You

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With the New Year comes a year of new challenges, goals, and desires. Each of these has a common theme – they all start with you. You decide your attitude for the day. You decide how much you’re willing to push and hold yourself accountable. You decide the path you’re going to take.

Let this be the year excuses don’t overrule your accountability. Let 2018 be the year you push yourself on a daily basis to make the most of every possible opportunity. Get out of your comfort zone (I’m talking way out of it). Go try something new. Move forward this year and truly push yourself to grow.

Remember, it is not success that brings your happiness, instead, it is happiness that brings you success!

Happy Holidays

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How can it already be December again? It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone and that the Holidays are upon us. This is the season of spending quality time with friends and family and creating lifelong memories. It’s time to continue with your family traditions or time to create new ones. It’s the season of giving and reflecting on the past 12 months. Although this time of the year can be extremely stressful and work can be more demanding than usual, it’s important to set aside time to truly enjoy special moments with those close to you. Don’t forgo creating memories
and reminiscing because you’re too busy or don’t have the time. Being able to fully enjoy this time of year is important to me and should be to you as well. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, & Happy New Year!

Hurricane Relief

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Over the past 30 days or so our country has experienced two of the worst hurricanes in history, Harvey and Irma. As we all watched these two massive storms unfold, they both left a path of destruction that covered multiple states, affected millions of people, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. The country has pulled together to assist those in need by sending support, supplies, and money to aid in any way possible. If you haven’t already and can find it in your heart and in your budget to help those affected, the need for support is still there. There are several organizations on a local and national level, still accepting cash donations and supplies. Thank you for helping those in need.

Family Traditions

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Each year our family takes a summer vacation. Our vacations have included destinations anywhere from Yellowstone, the Black Hills, and the Hilton Head in the Carolinas, all the way to New York City, Los Angeles, Italy, and France. This is a tradition we started when our kids were young. It was important to us that they see and experience parts of the country and world that Lisa and I never had the opportunity to while growing up.
When we first started these annual trips, it was a true road trip where we would pack up the car and hit the road driving. Sometimes this meant driving up to 12-15 hours at a time. While daunting, it allowed us the time to simply enjoy various parts of the U.S. along the way to our destination. We would take along our cooler of goodies and enjoy roadside picnics to break up the drive. We’d sing songs, play games, watch movies, and just enjoy each other’s company.

This year was no different as we set out for our annual trip – this time heading East to New York City and Washington D.C. We had 7 days of simply being tourists and taking it all in. We enjoyed great food, people watching, a lot of walking, and exposing ourselves to things we hadn’t seen or experienced before. On our last day in D.C., we spent the morning and part of the afternoon visiting Arlington National Cemetery. We were able to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Kennedy’s grave, and walked past thousands of graves that belonged to soldiers who had passed in war or as civilians. This experience, out of everything we did on the entire trip, was the highlight for everyone. We were able to witness first hand, the numerous burials with caskets being paraded to their final resting place by a horse-drawn carriage and a 21-gun salute send-off. It was an entirely humbling experience for all of us as we thought about the lives lost and the freedom we have because of it. Tears were shed that morning not only out of sadness but of thanks as well. Thanks that we have been given the opportunities we have but also for being able to enjoy and experience life together as a family.

I’m sharing this with you for a few reasons. As many of you start your own families, or even if you already have young children, pick up this tradition of family vacations and enjoy the opportunity to create lifelong memories. Go on road trips, have those fun roadside picnics, and enjoy your time together. Go places where your kids can learn, explore, and be humbled. Try experiences beyond the typical theme parks. Instead, take your families places they can learn about other cultures and see the real world. Don’t put it off because the timing isn’t right, the kids are too young, or you can’t afford it. Start creating the memories of a lifetime now!

Unplug & Unwind

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For those of you that don’t know, my family and I spend most of our summers at our lake home in Northern Minnesota and for those who haven’t been to Northern Minnesota – this is heaven! From tall white pines, the amazing lakes, to the wildlife – it is truly an amazing place bursting with natural beauty. Each summer we have the opportunity to host several families to share our home and what this great area has to offer.
So far this summer, we’ve hosted several families and kids ranging from ages 3-19. Regardless of age, everyone has shared an appreciation to simply enjoy what God has created and to take it all in. It is a pure joy to see the smiles on their faces and hear the laughter while playing in the lake. To see their expression when they hear a loon for the first time or when they spot a bald eagle flying overhead is quite memorable. Then there are those guests who are true troopers, staying up until 3:00 am in hopes of seeing a glimpse of the Northern Lights for the first time. Witnessing all of this first hand is such a rewarding and once in a lifetime experience.
In today’s world and environment, if you choose to disconnect from time to time and simply enjoy nature, you will find it is a wonderful experience. Whether you’re enjoying the beauty of Northern Minnesota or someplace else – take the opportunity to simply unplug and enjoy. It is truly one amazing experience you won’t regret!

Reminisce For A Moment

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This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go back to my hometown, Sumner, IA, and attend an all 80’s Class Reunion. This was a decade of classes of which my class, the Class of ’84, fell almost in the middle. Being from a small town you know everyone who’s 5-10 years younger and older than you. Needless to say, I was very excited to go “home” and be reconnected with people I hadn’t seen for a long time (some since I graduated from high school)!
This wasn’t a weekend of “who’s more successful”, “who has the nicest car”, or a popularity contest. Instead, it was a time to reminisce and go back 30-40 years to simply relive those great memories of being a kid with no electronics, no boundaries, and all the freedom in the world. It was a time to really reflect on how fast time flies by and a lesson to truly appreciate each moment in every day. It was a time to thank teachers and faculty for being the mentors they were and for the words of encouragement they gave you along the way. It doesn’t seem possible that 33 years have come and gone since I graduated, but it was amazing how vivid those memories remain in my mind.
I write this simply to remind all of us that life is very short. Enjoy it to the fullest. we often find ourselves caught up in work, meeting deadlines, and the little things that at the end of the day – really don’t matter. I write this to encourage each of you to attend your class reunions and to reconnect with those you haven’t seen for awhile. Do as I did and relive life for a moment!

The Choices We Make

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Over the past week, most of you have already heard of the horrible automobile/tractor accident involving former Bachelor Star, Chris Soules and Kenneth Mosher. This accident took the life of 66 year old Kenneth who was a husband, father, and grandfather. The day of the accident, Chris probably greeted the day with his regular morning routine, which also likely involved strategizing around what the next steps would be in getting the spring crops in on the family farm. Little did he know, within hours, several choices he’d be making would ultimately cost another man his life and will forever change his very own.
The choice (I’m presuming) of having one more drink and getting behind the wheel instead of calling a friend to pick him up. The choice of leaving the scene of the accident. These are all choices he made and right or wrong – will have to live with for the rest of his life. While the investigation continues, there is definite speculation that he was above the legal limit. When Chris left the scene of the accident and refused to come out of his home for over 5 hours until authorities were able to deliver a warrant for his arrest, which indeed has fueled that speculation even further. Choices he made could’ve possibly been prevented and the life of an innocent man saved. Choices that will more than likely put him behind bars for a lengthy period of time and may cost him everything he owns.
This is an important reminder to all of us that every hour, day, week, and month we have choices to make. These choices are both big and small and can affect not only our own lives but the lives of those around us. Please remind yourself that the choices you make today could completely change your life or the life of others forever. As I tell my kids on a daily basis, please make good choices as you never know how a bad choice is going to end.

What Will Your Legacy Be?

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What is your legacy?

How do you want to be remembered vs. how will you be remembered? This is a topic that often comes up amongst my peers both personally and professionally. I put a lot of heart and soul into thinking about my legacy. I feel your legacy begins developing at a young age- whether you are consciously thinking about it or not.

This past week I had the opportunity to meet with one of my oldest daughters friends, Deiondre Hall. Once a UNI Football Player, 21 year old Dieondre, now plays professionally for the Chicago Bears. The premise of our meeting was to share some insight and advice on investment opportunities as well as things to be cautious of to avoid being taken advantage of. Little did he know, it was also a meeting about his legacy and what he wants to be remembered for.

Throughout our 90-minute conversation, we exchanged ideas on businesses to consider, real estate to purchase, franchises to look into, and other general areas to invest. When we dove deeper into the topic of what he’s really passionate about and what his interests are he shared, “Mr. Bradford, I also want to do something really neat for the community and to give back to those less fortunate. I want to help kids in the area who might not have the best upbringing and want to give them a chance”. Keep in mind, this is a kid (and I use that term “kid” loosely and with all respect, but to me he he is still a kid) who just landed a spot on an NFL team. A kid who will more than likely, make millions throughout his career should he stay healthy and invest in his future. Rather than buying high dollar vehicles, a lavish home, expensive clothes and jewelry… he was more interested in what his legacy would be and how he would be remembered. Did he view it as his legacy? Probably not. But it was certainly a conversation around just that. He was already setting the foundation for the great things to come from him throughout his life.

So, I ask you to ask yourself- what is your legacy? How do you want to be remembered? It’s a conversation to have with your spouse, significant other, friends, family, and even your co-workers. Take the first step today towards determining your legacy!

Inspiration Surrounds Us

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Rarely does a day go by that I am not captivated by a quote or motivational video tossed amongst the internet. I find most of them have some kind of meaning to me and they positively impact my thoughts on relationships, work, happiness, leadership, or even life in general. In the spirit of sharing, I hope you too find value in these choice words of wisdom:

“Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you once made. If you want different results, make different choices.”

“Good things don’t come to those who wait. They come to those who work their asses off and never give up.”

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.”

“The world is full of good people. If you can’t find one, be one.” – Mother Teresa

“Don’t ruin other people’s happiness just because you can’t find your own.”

“Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?”

“The time is always right to do what is right.” – MLK

“Don’t fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today.”

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.”

The New Year Brings New Goals

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Now that 2016 is in the history books and we begin thinking towards 2017, it’s time to reflect on each of our own personal and professional goals we all submitted a year ago. What did we achieve that we put on paper last year at this time? What did we fall short on? Lastly, what did we not even attempt to overcome/achieve?

Goals are meant to push you and get you out of your comfort zone. Goals help you to achieve things you desire if you’re putting in the time and hard work necessary. They exist to help you break bad habits or to build relationships that have gone unattended to. Goals help you live a more fulfilling life.

The year of 2017 is your year to accomplish what it is you set out to accomplish, but it’s not going to happen on it’s own. It’s going to take hard work, commitment, dedication, sweat, and possibly even tears to get you there. You have to discipline yourself to achieve it. No goal is ever easy– nor should it be. All goals should be a stretch so it motivates you to strive for more than you have today.

So while preparing your 2017 goals, only allow goals on your list that you are truly willing to devote time, hard work, and effort towards. Set goals that you will hold yourself accountable to and will take to heart if you don’t achieve it!