Every Kind of People

Robert Palmer

Available on iTunes

The past two months, I’ve had the opportunity to be among literally thousands of people every week. Mostly in airports all over America, in huge manufacturing facilities, and a packed major league baseball stadium among countless other venues both urban and rural.

Good Lord willing, that will continue to be the case. Because I am fascinated by the diversity – and yet the essential sameness – of all humanity. What I am seeing every day is everyday people just trying to get by. Whether just making ends meet, or getting to the next airline gate, getting healed from a sickness, or raising a child, everyone is trying to get to some destination either mentally, physically or both.

I can’t let go of a song.

“Every Kinda People” is a an older popular song by the late great Robert Palmer. It’s arguably the best song he had in his career. Over the years I’ve had different moods on it. When it first came out it was the coolest thing I had heard. Then later, sometimes I thought it was a bit sappy, but I still loved it.

Today, I love it even more than ever and it is so not sappy.

The song talks about how people of all races and creeds want to protect what they feel is right and fight what they believe is wrong. “Love’s the only goal that can bring peace to any soul” and “every man’s the same.”

“It takes every kind of people to make what life’s about,” the chorus concludes.

Today as shocking events unfold around the world, still it happens that everyday people must make it through this life. It’s essential to embrace the humanity of all people and not let our minds and pride trick us into thinking we are above – or beneath – anyone else.

It takes every kind of people. Let’s help each other.

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Thoughts on Leaving Lakeshore


The last Friday afternoon at 600 University Park Place for o2ideas.

This story has zero shelf life. It’s a Friday afternoon. It’s also the last Friday afternoon that my company, o2ideas, will do business at 600 University Park Place in Homewood, Alabama.

Monday morning, this won’t be a story at all. We’ll be in dazzling new digs in downtown Birmingham. And I couldn’t be more excited!

But for today, just for today, I want to reflect on our ten years here.

o2 was 40 years old when we moved the business from Birmingham’s Southside to the more pastoral suburban surroundings of Homewood. Sweet Homewood, the place where I graduated high school and made lifelong friends.

Sweet Homewood, where 82 years ago our Founder, Shelley Stewart, was brought home to the servant’s quarters of a local residence. Five years later, he became a homeless and abused child, only to wander on foot for miles and happen upon the same Crestline horse stable where his older brother worked, ate and slept. He returned here to Lakeshore in 2007 where our offices sit on the very lake site where he and his brothers fished and hunted for food to survive.

Our ten years on Lakeshore have been amazing. We’ve reinvented ourselves during that time, just like o2 did in its first four decades before that.

Being just across the street from beautiful Samford University has been tremendous for us. Our relationships with Samford people, from Dr. Westmoreland to the countless others in the Samford Nation, are cherished forever.

And the Lakeshore Trail. This idyllic path along Shades Creek has been a delight to the soul and to the body. Jogging on it during the relentless Homewood summers and chilly winter evenings has brought healthier hearts to me and many other o2’ers.

The seasons changed over and over again. Each had their own beauty but the same rhythmic cycle of change. The people of o2 came and went. We enjoyed great triumphs, some challenges, some disappointments, but all of it has been great learning and it’s a wonderful life.

It’s hard to be so pumped about going to a new place on a new journey, and yet fully express the joy and amazement over having been a witness to the last ten years.

On to the next!

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Right here, right new

FullSizeRender 8Today doesn’t have to be done the old way.

It’s a new day with new promise. You can have a fresh look at yourself. You can see the sun rise on a new world of opportunities.

You can look at the things you’ve looked at a thousand times before – and see them in a new way.

We get used to things. That’s just being human. But being truly human is to be awake to new sounds, new ways of seeing. New ways of seeing your job.  Your co-workers.  Your family members.

I’ve seen this jar a hundred times before. But today, with the new sun of a new day painting its sides, it strikes me that it’s a new day. To see things new. To appreciate and love the life we have been given.

We’ve only got so many of these sunrises. So many of these relationships and situations. Right here, right “new.”

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Getting Where You Need To Go

FullSizeRender 6Our agency’s offices used to be on Highland Avenue in Birmingham’s 5 Points South area. One of the things I really enjoyed was walking to lunch. There were so many cool places nearby and you could be back in an hour even if you walked.

One day in 2006 I decided to walk to Al’s Mediterranean Grill near the UAB campus. Every other month or so I would treat myself to their incredible cheeseburger. So that day, I set off on foot down Highland Avenue.

Within the next hour, three things happened that would change the way I viewed my place in the world.

The first happened less than 5 minutes after starting my walk down the street.  Waiting for a stop signal at 20th Street South, a young man and his female companion approached me. The young man asked me where to catch the bus that could take them to another particular part of town. I simply pointed across the street to the bus stop, and something compelled me to give them a dollar for some fare. The young woman who was with the young man started crying. Oh well, I thought.  I moved on to Al’s.

The second thing happened as I had just finished Al’s amazing cheeseburger, complete with fries and a 50/50 mix of strawberry soda and cola.  I was putting my tray away when a businessman stopped and asked me how to get to the Lakeview district. “Oh that’s simple,” I said. “You just go down this street two blocks and you’ll be on University. Go right and stay straight until you get past the Red Mountain Expressway and St. Vincent’s Hospital, and you’ll be in Lakeview.”

The third thing happened walking back to the office. A middle-aged man in a car rolled down his window and asked me “can you tell me where Ramsay High School is, please?” I smiled and pointed right above his head. “It’s at the very top of this hill next to this street. Just turn the corner.” The man was sincerely appreciative and drove off.

As I turned to head back toward Highland Avenue, a literal vision came to me. It was like God showing me a satellite view of Birmingham, with every person I had spoken to as a place on that map. “You were put here to help people find their way” was the distinct message that came to me. All of a sudden, all the memories of teaching Sunday School over the years, the recollections of some of the greatest businesspeople in the country asking my advice on matters, all of it came into focus.

I still believe that’s my purpose on the Earth. To help people get where they need to go.

There’s a little book I wrote called No Ordinary Joe. It’s there in case you want to hear how you can overcome adversity in your life and reach your destination.

Please let me know if you need my help in getting to where you need to go.







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Perfect Peace

Yesterday I spoke to a group of college students in a university class.  The topic was a business-related one:  how to build and maintain your own personal brand.  I relayed how that large companies depend on having brands that are consistent with their mission and purpose.  Similarly, we as employees are ambassadors of not only a company’s brand, but also our own personal brand.

What moved me was afterwards, a young lady came up to me with tears in her eyes.  She was thanking me for speaking success into her life.  She said “I really needed this.  I’ve had some crazy stuff happen in my life lately.”

We need peace in our lives.  We crave it.  Even if we are having an overall positive life experience, we as humans are more comfortable and free when we have internal peace.

Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep him [her] in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he [she] trusts in You.”

I speak this peace into your life today.  It applies to you because this scripture applies to anyone who will hear or read it.  As you go through your life today and this evening, stay in peace.  Live in this peace.  It is yours.  It comes through a trust in the God who backs it up.  It stays by your mind staying on God.  Not on the things that are troubling you, which are fleeting and temporary.  Today is your day to live in this peace.

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The 4 Most Effective Ways Leaders Solve Problems – Forbes

The 4 Most Effective Ways Leaders Solve Problems – Forbes.

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What Inspiring Leaders Do – Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman – Harvard Business Review

What Inspiring Leaders Do – Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman – Harvard Business Review.

Posted in Articles
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