Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

King Auto Group, Rich Knowlton and Your Work

When my neighbor and former work colleague, Larry Homenick, wanted to purchase a 2011 GMC Terrain he researched for some time and based on vehicle availability and price, went to King Auto Group in Longmont, Colorado. I went along for the fun of watching someone else spend money. By the end of the day Larry got an excellent deal on a GMC Terrain (Merlot Jewel color) with all the features–and I got to watch the outstanding people at King Auto Group in action. I also saw something that reminded me of how we all ought to do our work.

Good Work After the Sale Was Done

The sale was completed, detailing had been done and I was thinking the car looked shiny, clean and ready to go when Sales Manager, Rich Knowlton walked around the car, saw a bit of dust and tire shine over-spray, and said, “Don’t go yet. I see something I want to wipe off.” Within seconds he was inside and back outside with a towel and cleaner to make the car look perfect.  As he moved around the car, doing a last bit of polish and shine, I saw his smiling reflection on the door panel and thought about how he was reinforcing that our work reflects the real us more than anything we say. That is a recurring theme in everything I present and write about (as you may have noticed!) but someone like Rich Knowlton gives a visual image to prove the point.

The King Auto Group Lesson

I had a fun time at King Auto Group. Really! I got cards from Troy Haury, Brad Bohling, Ray France and Ken Paris (the sales associate who helped Larry) and listened to their conversations with customers and each other. I could tell they like working for the King Auto company and that they admire the family who owns it. The company has apparently built a culture that encourages employees to do great work and help people get the kind of car they want for a fair price. Then came the best part–when Rich put the final touches on the car and the transaction.   

Your Name, Face and Spirit Are Reflected In Your Work

The next time you have a job do to—whether it is a written project, a call for service, an investigation, an email, a meeting, working with employees or clients–remember the long-standing-but-still-true advice to think of it as being a reflection of the kind of person you are, your ethics and the way you can be trusted to do your work and live your life. While you’re at it, be like Rich Knowlton and smile while you are perfecting your reflection!

February 21st, 2011 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | 8 comments

Nambe And You–Polishing Away The Damage

“Can you make this ruined platter look like new?”

That question is one that I’m sure Lenore, the very helpful representative for Nambé Mills, is asked quite often.The Nambé company is headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but their award-winning, beautiful aluminum alloy products and other artisanware is sold all over the world and even displayed in museums. 

As with any shiny metal, things can happen to harm the finish and that is when people call Lenore. She provides the information for how you can use Nambé’s repolishing service and have your platter or other item looking like new in a few weeks.

When you wish you could make things new again

Many of us wish we could send our lives, our work, our relationships, our choices, a specific event or just the last week, day or hour back to the repolishing factory. We sometimes desperately wish we could have things back the way they used to be or better. 

Instead of that analogy, some people may prefer to be more self-accepting and talk about enjoying the luster that comes with age and the one about being useful in spite of not looking very good or the advice to look at the marks and remember the happy times that caused them.

Whatever our perspective, a metal platter isn’t a good analogy for human lives. Life, death and the sometimes joyous-sometimes tragic events that come between those two points can’t be reduced to such glib comparisons. Nevertheless, perhaps there are a few thoughts we can apply.

1. It’s easier to avoid damage than to repair it.
2. At least you can stop adding new gouges.
3. You can make the decision to damage yourself but you don’t have the right to damage others.
4. Even if improvements don’t show right away the process can be working.  
5. No matter how bad things are now, it can be made better if you search for the right way to do it–and do what it takes to make it happen. 

Some of you could add to or improve that list with humorous, profound or faith-based thoughts. The point is this: We can’t, in the human world, go back, do over or make anything new. What we can do is stop doing the things that have left the marks we wish we could polish away. We can be more and do more to have value to ourselves and others. We can also whole-heartedly accept and appreciate the opportunities we are given to renew, renovate and recommit. We get that opportunity every day. Like, right now.


Thank you, Lenore and Nambe!


January 29th, 2011 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work | 14 comments

The Perpetual State Of Things

Just in case you were thinking things
are worse than ever.

This issue of Life magazine in 1969 lamented high taxes, high prices and the national debt.

Time magazine in 1992 had articles about the same things.

  This 1972 Time magazine talked about the national debt and the cost of our international efforts.


This 1977 magazine featured stories on the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 181, the murder of its pilot and the terrorizing of its 86 passengers by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.  This terrorist group has been responsible for hijackings and suicide bombings since 1967.


This 1971 Time Magazine featured the Irish Republican Army, later called the Irish National Liberation Army. They used bombs, murders and kidnappings to advance their cause of a socialist, independent country, both within Ireland in sectarian violence (Catholics against Protestants and vice versa) and in England. On October 11, 2009 the IRA/INLA formally ended its use of campaigns of violence and terrorism to advance their cause, saying they would rely on political efforts.

Life magazine in 1931. Some things are always good ideas.



January 25th, 2011 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work | 3 comments

Colleagues, Co-Workers Or Fellow Inmates?

Who is most like you and least like you at work?  

Think about the people who work with you directly or indirectly and do a bit of an analysis. Don’t take the time to worry about the why of your responses, just put faces and names to these questions.

  1. Who do you most look forward to seeing when you come back from time away? 
  2. Who do you most dread seeing?
  3. Who works about the same way you do? (Time management, communication style, attitude, skill level, etc.) Is that helpful to you or not?
  4. Who works in an almost completely different way than you do? Is that a problem or not?
  5. If you were given an office to share with someone, who would you choose?
  6. Who has helped you the most in the last six months?
  7. Who has purposely or inadvertently hindered you from getting your work done effectively? 
  8. Who have you complained, griped or grumbled the most about while at work?  
  9. Who do you think of as a strong ally?  
  10. Who is the person with whom you can share thoughts when you want to discuss improving work or being more effective?  
  11. Who is an unknown quantity to you?
  12. Who do you think understands you and your motivations and concerns the best?

Answering those questions may only reinforce what you already know about who you like and who you don’t. Or, the answers may encourage you to reach out more, build a bridge or repair one and say thank you to the person or people who have supported you over time.

Look around at work and you’ll realize that most are co-workers, although not particularly close ones. A few seem like inmates in a particularly bizarre asylum. A very few are colleagues who will watch your back and make your time at work better.  Have you said thanks to those (or that one) lately?

January 13th, 2011 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 7 comments

Flavor Of The Month Or Tried And True?

Make Up Your Mind

One of the most frequently heard criticisms about decision-makers in organizations is that they won’t change something because, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  I have five books about that concept.

Another common criticism, aimed at decision-makers who have instituted a new process or program, is something like, (Heavy sigh) “That’s the new flavor of the month.”  (Rolled eyes.)  I just finished reading three books with “flavor of the month” in their titles, and all were focused on that issue.

Both criticisms may be justified. However, for some people they are merely generic gripes that are appealing because of their succinct mockery.  Many people do not attempt to understand what might be behind a decision and they assume the worst possible motivation for it. They don’t consider any perspective but their own, even though there are usually several valid perspectives.

• If a procedure doesn’t work as well as expected, should it be retained to avoid the impression it was a flavor of the month?
• If a procedure has been working well, should it be changed to avoid seeming to be stuck in the past?
• Should we routinely revise or replace a successful process to show we’re open to change?
• Should we stick with a new process that is not working well, so we don’t seem to be changing things too often?
• Should we reject something as being a fad, even though it might be a helpful new method?
• Should we replace a long-standing, successful method because we want to be on the cutting edge of change?

The bottom line: Sometimes the flavor of the month is a good one and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we should stop doing what we’ve always done and sometimes we should steadfastly stick with it. Whatever we do, we should analyze the totality of the situation before we make a decision–or before we make a hackneyed, unreasoning criticism.

November 24th, 2010 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 3 comments

Personal and Professional Growth–Quiet Rather Than Dramatic

Growth doesn’t necessarily involve moving.

It is easy to assume that personal and professional development involves action and motion. When we read about the topic it is nearly always about doing something. Nothing I’ve read–or taught–on the subject says, “First, stop working at it and just relax.”

However, there is a lot to be said for quiet concentration, calm confidence and gaining wisdom through waiting and watching. Have you noticed that most of the unpleasant situations at work are the result of too much activity? Busybodies are called that for reason! Hyper, obsessive, over-the-top, stirring the pot, out of control, bulldoze, frantichectic, running around, bouncing off the walls, are all words and phrases we use to describe people and situations that involve negative activity.

Dag Hammarskjold, the remarkable statesman who was the second Secretary General of the United Nations, was noted for his humility and quiet but strong convictions. He once said that his goal was simply not to encumber the earth.

After much prompting by friends and colleagues he decided to allow his journal of meditations to be published as a way to help others. It was aptly titled, Markings. It was not only his personal markings in a journal, it has left a mark on millions of readers around the world.

One of Dag Hammarskjold’s prayers was, “If only I may grow: Firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer.”  That is the English translation, by Auden, of the Swedish text.  Another version is this:

With all my heart I want to grow: To be more calm, more steady, more at peace and more caring of others. 

A worthy goal for all of us.

October 5th, 2010 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 6 comments

The Art Of Getting Along Hasn’t Changed Since 1949–And Long Before That

September 23rd, 2010 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | 9 comments

An OlyO’s List For Your Work

There used to be a fantastic pizza place on Highway 101 in Encinitas, California: OlyO’s. (It’s been a wine bistro since 2006.) The small space had casual tables and wooden benches that were always crowded but fun. There was noisy conversation, laughter and a beach within walking distance. Dave and Sue Olsen were the owners and when Dave chatted with me briefly one time when I visited, I felt very special because he had a role in making OlyO’s the perfect California beach town pizzeria. (And, the pizza was spectacular!)

There was a sign at the front, “If there is time to lean, it is time to clean.” Dave told me he had been given that advice early in his career. He and the employees apparently followed the advice, because they were constantly wiping, washing, tidying and putting away. For a hectically busy, small pizza kitchen, it looked very clean.

Since then I’ve heard bartenders and store managers say that adage–and I’ve said it to myself! I have a mental OlyO’s list of things to do–recurring tasks, now and then chores and things to start even if I don’t get them done right away. It’s been useful for keeping me energized, productive and caught up with tasks I might normally procrastinate about.

Create An OlyO’s List

If you’re supervising, managing or working with a group, enlist their assistance in developing a list of things that can be done instead of killing time in the afternoon, before lunch, the days before vacation or when the schedule has some free time–even five minutes. Or, make a list just for yourself.

  1. Clean the break room or coffee area.
  2. Clean around the copier or in the supply room.
  3. Clean your desk top or get rid of clutter.
  4. Contact someone who could be a good resource.
  5. Do something on a project that always needs work (Research, organize, file, shred, replace, stock, clean, inventory or whatever ongoing work is required.)
  6. Delete old emails or old files or organize them more conveniently.
  7. If you’re going to talk with coworkers anyway, talk about work in a positive way or focus on solving problems not just complaining about them.
  8. Pick three recurring problems and write them on a card to place where you can see it. Now and then use your less-busy times to think of solutions to those problems. Put a due date and swear you’ll have at least one option to consider or to present to the group.
  9. Leave your work area if you can and go to another area to say hello–without being disruptive there and without taking more than a few minutes at most.
  10. Make a list of the people who have helped you recently and send a thank you note. It doesn’t have to be mushy, just sincerely appreciative.
  11. Put something on your calendar and get it started as a way to force yourself to take action.
  12. Scan some material you want to save or can share.
  13. Get started on something you’ve been stalling about.
  14. Produce some work in advance of when you need it, so it will be ready to go.
  15. Freshen a PowerPoint presentation or edit a document you use but haven’t evaluated in awhile.
  16. Use some of the ideas in my article on Time To Tidy Your Work Area.

Make a list that fits your situation or have your group make a combined list, then distribute it or have it in your desk drawer, billfold or workspace. Use it to provide a push when the temptation is to lean instead of clean!


September 17th, 2010 Posted by | Food, Fitness, Fun, Keeping On!, Life and Work, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers | 10 comments

It’s Easier Said Than Done? Of Course It Is. Do It Anyway

Garage decor by Casey McCorison. (Only for his own garage!) Much easier said than done, but he did it and it looks great!

Not long ago, when I suggested to a complaining supervisor that he should tell an employee to stop behaving inappropriately and start doing the work he was assigned, the supervisor said, with a sigh,”I know. I know. But, that’s easier said than done.” 

A few days later, someone wrote to me about some dietary advice her doctor gave her–advice that could potentially save her from surgery and even save her life.  She said, “I know I should follow his advice, but it would require me to change a lot of my eating habits and that’s easier said than done.”

Last week I was talking to a friend about a challenging situation and what action I knew I needed to take. I said, echoing those “other people” who avoided the tough tasks: “I’ve told myself this a dozen times, so I know what to do. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than……” I stopped myself, appalled that I would fall back on the idea that if it isn’t easy I should be excused for not doing it!

The truth is that it’s always easier to talk than to do.  That’s why someone once commented, “When all is said and done, more is said than done.”

That’s also one reason the 1988 Nike campaign, “Just do it.” was named one of the last century’s TopTenTag-lines by Advertising Age. It acknowledges our human tendency to put off doing things that are difficult, uncomfortable, challenging or not as appealing as something less worthwhile. The people at Nike headquarters say they have heard from people all over the world thanking them for that motivating line, eight letters long.

What is it that you need to stop talking about and just do it? If you’re like most of us you probably have a list of things you know you need to do, want to do or intend to do, but haven’t done. Why don’t you do one of the things on that list right now or at least start it today? Whatever it is, it will undoubtedly be easier said than done because talk doesn’t take much effort. On the other hand, talk without action doesn’t result in much accomplishment.

Do you know something you need to do about work, a relationship, a habit, a task or a challenge, but it’s easier said than done?


August 28th, 2010 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 4 comments

Enjoy The Good Old Days!



These aren’t the worst of times, just as they are not the best of times. Without diminishing the severity of national and international problems, perhaps we can take some comfort–and gain some hope–from the fact that we have not only endured similar crises, we have survived and eventually thrived again. It is true that every crisis has the potential for weakening individuals and governments, but there is also an opportunity to gain strength, correct mistakes and build on successes.

Apply it to your life. The same concept applies to your workplace, community, church and family. There will be problems. The big test is how you respond to the problems. You can keep doing the same things as always, without being willing to adjust to changes. You can go the same heedless way you have in the past, hoping for a magical solution from someone else. Or, you can take control of your own fate as much as possible.

Do what you can do: Build your skills, eliminate harmful habits, gain influence, increase your credibility, use your time and energy more wisely, improve your health and fitness, enjoy life more and help others find happiness and success as well.



You probably have very little control over many things that have an effect on your life, but you do have control over your behavior. You may not be able to make major changes at work but you can improve your own performance. You can’t make the whole world better but you can make your part of the world better. That’s not just a saccharine thought, it’s a truth you can depend upon–and one that will accomplish more than complaining, venting, or feeling helpless or morose.

In 2040 there will be magazine covers deploring the condition of the economy, uncovering a recent scandal in the White House, and announcing the high cost of health care, the lamentable status of education and the challenges of new technologies. (The desktop holographic images will be distracting at work and managers will discuss times past when employees were much more productive with those funny-looking devices called cellular telephones.)

2010 will soon be the good old days. Enjoy them while you can!



July 23rd, 2010 Posted by | Keeping On!, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 9 comments

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