My Hermann Brain Dominance test results say that my thought processes are most dominated by the goals and tasks involved in building holistic systems.
This agrees with the drive I have to align the parts of my life into one harmonious organism. As a result, I strive to integrate family, business, religion and leisure time. To me, it all works together for the good. The Japanese term for this is Zatsing.
I am a Pantheist. I believe that God is not just in all things. It is all things.
I am a Meliorist. I believe that society tends toward improvement, and that human effort can further its improvement.
To me, living "the good life" means living for the ultimate benefit of others while enjoying my stay.
I put that philosophy into my personal purpose and mission, "For my life to have the most meaning, I must enjoy life as I live it, and help build something that lives beyond me to make the world a better place."
If you've read this book already, you might wonder, "Does this guy live and breath goals, missions, directions, and the integration of strategies and plans?"
Like most people, who I am today, how I think and relate to people, grew out of my early experiences as a child. Here's a little bit about my background that might help explain how my personal philosophy developed.
Much of my early childhood was spent on a farm in Oklahoma in a sort of communal environment. There was my foster father, Daddy Red, his wife, Momma Mae, her brother, Homer, his son, Ronnie, an adopted son, Tuffy, a handy man, Scottie, and me.
Red and Mae also owned a café where farmers met for coffee, and town politics were openly discussed. It was a place where truck drivers and preachers alike dined on chicken-fried steaks and fried okra. This was where I was exposed to a real cross-section of lifestyles.
Everyone on the farm worked in the café with the other employees. I, along with the others, cooked, washed dishes and waited on tables. When it wasn't my turn to work at the café, I was back at the farm fixing fences, hauling hay and doing all the things that were needed to be done on a farm. When the "heat of the day," came, we'd have lunch, nap or play dominoes or cards in the cool shade of the house.
Everyone who ever knew Daddy Red loved him. He created a wonderful atmosphere for the people in the café and on the farm. He enjoyed his work. And despite having only an 8th grade education, he managed to create a wonderful, family-like work environment that mirrors what management experts today might say "empowers" employees to be their best.
The natural system he set up integrated all the essential elements – farm, café, family and community – together. This environment, no doubt, influenced the way I envision the integration of business elements.
Like my Daddy Red, I've always enjoyed my work. Other than a couple of summer jobs working on loading docks in Ft. Worth, Texas, I've never really felt like any job I ever had was "work." To me, work has always been more like a playground. How can it not be when you follow your heart and do something you're passionate about?
I liked the thrill of making money as a child. So I did what a lot of kids do. I sold things – door to door. Like White Cloverine Salve for 50 cents a tin. "Great for bee stings, sun burns and scrapes." Next, every paperboy's dream job, delivering "The Grit," a weekly newspaper filled with mostly good news and "feel good" stories, like the one about a man who grew a 200-pound watermelon.
In about the 8th grade I started my first band, appropriately named The HairRaisers. I was the drummer. Our second band, Alley Oop, who subsequently became The Cavemen, actually got paid for playing music! Over the years, the bands I played in got better. I started managing my bands, and then other bands, too.
While attending the University of Arkansas in 1971, I had a company called Video-Acts Entertainment. This company was one of the first to use video tape as a sales tool to book bands. By its third year, the company was keeping up to 20 bands a week busy. Networking (another influence from my days on the farm) led to managing a recording studio for a friend, Ben Jack. The integration of the management, booking and recording of the bands just seemed normal
In 1975, while my partner Mike Martin and I were in Los Angeles at Billboard Magazine's Talent Forum, we got news that the studio had been struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Fortunately, we were insured, and we converted our part of the settlement to cash, sold the goodwill and moved to California.
Shortly after moving to LA, I became disenchanted with the music business, did some soul searching, and decided to put my marketing degree to good use and experience the corporate world. So I got a job at Grey Advertising, a large corporate advertising company.
My mantra those first few years in advertising was, "I will learn the science of moving the masses, meet the people I'll work with and find a cause to promote."
I see now that the "science of moving the masses" in its most sophisticated and powerful state is, in fact, client-team-based, integrated marketing from a full-feedback environment. And not only have those of us at The Phelps Group learned it – we helped invent it. I'm still working with people I met those first years, and the "cause" has become promoting our deserving clients whose products make the world a better place.
Regarding goal orientation: In my junior year of high school, I read three books that really lit a fire within me: "Think and Grow Rich" by Napolean Hill and W. Clement Stone; "Psycho Cybernetics" by Maxwell Maltz; and "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale. I definitely bought into Peale's philosophy of "What you can conceive and believe you can achieve!"
Since then, I've had specific goals for the various chapters in my life, and can still recall them word for word. Why not? I repeated them hundreds of times. While in college, my mantra was, "At the age of 30, I will be the controlling force in a conglomerate corporation, recognized as the leader in entertainment in the Southwest. My income will be $100,000 and I will not slight my family."
In terms of goal setting, a milestone occurred in my life a few years back, when during our holiday party, the agency presented me with an unexpected gift. The group stood in our living room and recited the agency's mission in unison, like a classroom would recite the pledge of allegiance – "We're here at The Phelps Group to do great work for deserving clients, in a healthy working environment to realize our clients' goals and our potentials."
That was a defining moment for me. For the first time, it was clear that my goals were the group's goals. The feeling of camaraderie and alignment for a common cause was rewarding.
It was a feeling I'd wish for every person – to feel that you're part of building something worthwhile, and that the others in your group are with you in your quest to be the best at what you're doing.
And for just a moment that night, I flashed back to the days on Daddy Red's farm and my first memories of "alignment within an organization." It felt good.