Rusty's Corner: The Paradox of Freedom

As Americans, we get to experience something that few others enjoy - Freedom. We get the freedom to choose our home, employer, spouse, religious practice (or lack thereof), and even how to spend our resources.

Freedom of choice, as great as it is though, doesn't give us the freedom from consequences. Consequences can be penalties or rewards, but your choices are what determine the consequences.

If I choose to focus on my health by working out and eating healthy, I will reap the consequences of strength and endurance. I may also have a consequence of being sore and a higher grocery bill. If I choose to work 70 hours a week, I will reap the positive consequences of career and financial growth, but I may also reap the negative consequences of the toll on my marriage.

When it comes right down to it, our future is determined by the sum of our choices we make today. The old saying is "You are free to...

Rusty’s Corner: Be known by what you're for; not what you're against

For some reason, it's become increasingly popular for organizations to be known more by what they're against; rather than what they're for. This is most notable in politics and religion.

We are constantly hearing ‘the Republicans are against this policy,’ and ‘the Democrats are against that one.’ This religious group is against this, and another is against that, and so on.

Rarely are organizations known by what cause they rally around to support, and that’s truly sad.

The reason is simple: You can raise more money, gain a bigger following, and turnout more votes by having an enemy - but does it ever accomplish anything significant?

Let me be clear - I have deeply held personal religious and political beliefs, so this is not about disengaging with any group. Quite the contrary.

I’m asking you to engage further, but rather than merely following - I'm asking you to speak out. These organizations are just groups of individuals, and the issue isn’t the...

Rusty’s Corner: Is ignorance bliss?

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Some people say ignorance is bliss. Certainly being plugged into every breaking story can have some ill-effects. Regardless of your preferred news source, they are all full of anxiety-inducing and polarizing stories. oil shortages, immigration challenges, inflation, new COVID variants, increasing interest rates, etc.

The news media - yes, even your preferred...

Rusty’s Corner: Fences Make Good Neighbors

Robert Frost had a famous quote, “Good fences make good neighbors,” which to me is about so much more than fences. I am convinced that one of the most overlooked skillsets for creating a happy life is setting healthy boundaries.

I was reminded of this quote recently as a close friend went through some challenges in his family he discussed with me - challenges of which all grew from him not setting clear boundaries with a family member. Although he couldn’t see it in the middle of the circumstances, it was really clear from a few steps back.

Although the details of my friends’ situation are private, some of the “fences” needing to be built are common for all of us. We all need to set boundaries on our time, our values, our finances, and even our work. Most of all, we need boundaries around our health - whether it’s emotional or physical.

The challenge for most isn’t knowing what your boundaries are - you know exactly when they’re...

Rusty’s Corner: 5 Books to Add to Your Reading List

When this idea for an article came up, I had no idea how hard it would be to name the 5 most influential books I’ve ever read. There are so many more books that should make this list, yet making a list beyond 5 books just means less people will read through the list.

Although media has changed dramatically over the past few decades, one thing we know will never change is the value of a great book. Literally, for the price of a cheap dinner, you can get a book that may literally change your life.

Each one of these books has shifted the trajectory of my life. I hope one, or a few of them, can do the same for you.

#5 - The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant - Terry Felber
Although it is a fiction book, it teaches twelve of the most timeless and fundamental life principles to successful living. Not only is it an easy and quick read, the story keeps you reeled in as you wait for the next lesson Antonio...

Rusty’s Corner: Finding the Win/Win in Business

“Clients do not come first. The staff come first. If you take care of your staff, they will take care of the clients.” - Richard Branson

This seems like an obvious approach to running a solid business, however it was not my vision early on. Starting out young in business, I had studied some basic economic principles and thought I had it all figured out. The fundamental idea was that you pay as little as you can for something, and then sell as much of it as you can to make a profit. 

This short-sighted outlook on business led to a culture of underequipped, overworked, and underpaid employees serving a client base that perpetually wanted (and deserved) more. For me as a young entrepreneur, every day held a new equipment, client, or employee issue - and most days had all 3.

As I looked around for someone to blame - I kept coming back to one person to blame. Myself.

Just over a decade ago now, that all changed. The intersection of an opportunity to...

Rusty’s Corner: A Dose of Reality

I was just leaving the parking lot of GRACE Marketplace (a homeless shelter near the airport), and I certainly didn't expect to see anyone I knew as a guest there. After I got my truck started, I heard, "Hey Rusty! Please roll down your window." I looked out to see a roughly-dressed man, in his mid-40s, with a dirty ball cap and a gnarly beard looking in my window at me.

As I rolled down my window, he seemed excited to see an old friend, and asked how I had been.

It took a moment, but shortly I recognized Jeff. Jeff had been my manager almost 2 decades ago when I was fresh out of college in one of my first jobs. He had recognized me walking out to my vehicle and was excited to see an old friend. Of course, more questions than I could ask raced through my mind.

Before I could ask anything, he caught me up on his story and I was literally shaken. I learned that he had lost his wife in a tragic car...

Rusty’s Corner: Prioritize Shopping Local

When you shop locally, you do far more than getting the items that you want quickly and conveniently. Buying local actually stimulates the economy in our community, helps benefit local schools and charities and it even helps the environment!

As we go into the shopping season for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, make sure to remember Small Business Saturday (November 27th). Many local businesses have been hit hard with the trifecta of COVID shutdowns, supply chain issues and the rising use of Amazon and other large online retailers.

Small Business Saturday is an annual holiday that celebrates small businesses and encourages consumers to shop locally at the start of the holiday shopping season. This holiday aids small businesses by drawing attention to their importance in our economy. It also helps customers who want access to unique products and experiences in their community and local economies that benefit from successful small...

Rusty’s Corner: Knowing ‘why’ gives ‘what’ more impact

I once read a tale by John Maxwell of someone who came across 3 bricklayers working. The man asked the first bricklayer what he was doing. "I'm setting bricks," the worker replied.
He then asked the second bricklayer the same question. "I'm putting up a wall," he said.
The passerby then asked the question one more time, this time to the third bricklayer.
The response: "I'm building a cathedral."

As this story illustrates, 3 different workers can do the exact same task, but with widely varying reasons. The first sounds to have worked primarily for the paycheck. He saw his work as a task that needed to be completed, regardless of the outcome. When 5 pm came, he was on the way out.

The second was likely motivated by a sense of completion and was proud that his bricklaying would result in the construction of a wall. Perhaps he would add a few extra minutes here and there in order to see the goal to completion.

However, the third had a larger...

Rusty’s Corner: What is a weed anyway?

Several years ago, we planted a beautiful Elm tree in our yard that would grow up to provide great shade for our backyard.

The challenge is that this tree puts out a lot of seeds and volunteer trees pop up throughout our landscape. I am not exaggerating to say that every time I work in the yard, I find several tiny elm trees in random places. It's a shame that they don't appear in an appealing location, because I know they come from good stock and I would love to have another tree of that caliber. But invariably, they sprout in a rose, or next to my foundation, or any...