the old man, a boy and a donkey

An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked. As they went along they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later, they passed some people that remarked: “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.” They then decided they both would walk!

Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey.

Now they passed some people that shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey. The boy and man said they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.

The moral of the story? if you try to please everyone, you might as well… Kiss your ass good-bye.

The 3 Legs of a Modern Southern Gentleman

Three legged stools are the ultimate in simplicity. It doesn’t have anything it doesn’t need. But it needs everything it has. Remove just one leg, any leg, and everything falls apart.

The same thing is true in this installment of The 3’s.

When it comes to being, living and behaving like a true modern southern gentleman there are 3 simple components. But all three are necessary. Remove any one and everything falls apart. 

The legs that make a modern southern gentleman are

Moral Code
Work Ethic
Common Sense

3 simple components that will empower ANY man to:

  • Get and keep a job
  • Stay out of bankruptcy court
  • Get a woman to marry you
  • Raise great kids

And  maybe the most important, leave the world better than you found it.

Moral Code

Every man has to decide how he’s going to live his life. How will he treat women? How will he raise his kids? Church? If yes which one? What level of dishonesty will he be comfortable with? What things will be on his list of non-negotiables?

All of these and more are based on a moral code.

I know what mine is based on but here are some guidelines to help you develop yours:

Can you find people in history who have adopted the same moral code? How did their lives work out? (read about dead guys)

What do people you know and respect base their lives on? How has it worked for them?

But in the end, every modern southern gentleman has to decide what the foundation of his life is going to be.

Work Ethic

Life is hard so you better know how to work. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s making a movie, recording a song or building a house, it’s all just work. Just showing up and grinding through it. 

It’s not sexy or easy but the sense of satisfaction a guy gets when he knows deep down he’s put in a good day’s work, can’t be achieved any other way.

Common Sense

I’m not talking about how many degrees you have or how long you spent in school. I’m talking about knowing how to survive life. 

Call it knowledge of the obvious.

Like knowing you can’t spend more than you earn without eventually going broke. 

There are only two ways to get common sense: experience or the experience of others. Trust me, take advantage any time you have the chance to learn from the other experience of others.

That’s the 3 legs of a modern southern gentleman. Learn and apply them and you’ll be on course to a having a life any man would want to live.

Flags, History and Censorship 

There’s no way a blog called The Modern Southern Gentleman could stay silent on the issue of what flags should fly over what government buildings. So here’s my thoughts.

Why Did We Fight A War?

If the main reason for the Civil War was state’s rights as many say, the fact remains the cause will always be overshadowed by the specific issue people chose to rally around: the owning of another human being. I have a hard time believing the folks who wanted less interference from the federal government back then, couldn’t find a better hot button issue to fuel their cause.

As proof slavery was the driving force in the secessionist movement, let’s look at the designers of two of the flags for the Confederate States of America, including the one on the General Lee.

William T. Thompson

The first is Savannah newspaper editor, William T. Thompson.

Thompson was the main designer of the second flag for the Confederacy. Here’s what he had to say about the flag and the cause it represented.

second flag

“As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause.”

—William T. Thompson


“As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals.”

—William T. Thompson

Not much question on where Thompson stood on the issue of owning another human being and if it was worth going to war over.

William Porcher Miles

The other flag designer, William Porcher Miles of South Carolina, was an interesting guy. Miles was an attorney who also served as mayor of Charleston, where the Civil War started.

In a nutshell, Miles was a Fire Eater, a group of extreme secessionists who not only supported slavery but wished to resume the slave trade with Africa. He said slave trading laws should be left to individual states and the federal ban on owning another human being was an insult to southern honor.

His personal philosophy was summed up when he said he wanted to protect and preserve:

“southern rights, the equality of the states under the Constitution, and the honor of a slaveholding people.”

and then he said this about his perception of the North’s intentions:

“They are not contending for an abstract principle — they are not influenced by a mere spirit of fanatical opposition to slavery … they are deliberately, intentionally, and advisedly aiming a deadly blow at the South. It is intended as a blow. It is intended to repress her energies — to check her development — to diminish and eventually destroy her political weight and influence in this confederacy.”

It seems clear to me the main reason William Porcher Miles became a secessionist, was he wanted the owning of another human being to be legal. He wanted this because he believed in white superiority.

This is the same man who designed the flag that was originally rejected, but would later be adopted as the battle flag for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Otherwise known as The Stars and Bars.

stars and bars

So the roots of the flag are the owning of another human being. No matter how many men who didn’t own another human being died defending that flag.

States Rights

States rights is a just cause. A cause we should be taking up today because the tenth ammendmant to the Constitution makes it very clear the founding fathers never intended for the federal government to ever be as large and overpowering as it is today:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Let’s just choose a better issue to rally around than the owning of another human being.

Slippery Slope

I hate the phrase “slippery slope”. Mainly because it’s used by hysterical liberals and conservatives to oppose an idea when they have run out of logical reasons. But the idea of removing all flags, statues or other reminders of our past worries me.

Because it’s censorship.

And that’s a path we do not want to go down as a country.

One of my favorite movies is “The American President” and there’s a great line in it about censorship and free speech.

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

It may be dialogue from a movie, but it’s still true.

What I’m saying is if we truly believe in freedom, then we can’t censor our past. Instead we need to learn about it and then learn from it.

The debate over race relations, flags and states rights won’t be solved easily or quickly. We need serious people willing to engage in frank discussions with the goal of finding solutions. Not race-baiters, white trash thugs and professional agitators looking to line their pockets and perpetuate their existence.

Accidental Racist

Brad Paisley and LL Cool J are an unlikely pair to collaborate on a song. But somehow it worked and they have given us song to frame this discussion and force all of us to confront our past and what we want our future to look like.

MSG 021: Spike McRoy

spike mcroy

Every guy who’s ever picked up a golf club knows how hard and frustrating the game can be. But it’s still fun even if most guys can’t break 95. We all imagine what it would be like to play on the PGA Tour. What it would be like to be able to shoot under par by yourself. What it would be like to win a tournament.

Spike McRoy did just that.

To help put that into perspective you need to know that if you played every tournament on the PGA tour in 2002, you would have teed it up 49 times.

But nobody plays every tournament. So that means you probably only had 30-35 chances to beat the best 125 golfers in the world. And Spike McRoy did just that. Winning the B.C. Open.

Spike is more than a talented golfer, he’s a husband, dad and businessman.

He has a great laugh and outlook on life. Plus he’s got a ton of hard earned wisdom that he was willing to share with all of us.

Plus in the last 6 minutes he gives the greatest answer to yet to what he would tell 18 year old Spike.

Hey Dad

It’s Father’s Day. The holiday marked by ties, Old Spice and whatever hand made sculptures kids make these days instead of ashtrays in these politically correct times.
There are a lot of folks saying you’re not that important. As long as there are willing sperm donors, the women will handle the rest. And better. 

But that’s not really the case. Fathers matter. 

Your kids are going to have a massive head start in life because of you. 

Your daughters are less likely to get pregnant as a teenager. Your son is more likely to finish high school and less likely to assault a woman.

Your wife’s feel more secure when she see’s being a dad. 

So don’t listen the next time someone says you’re expendable. Don’t listen the next time somebody says its a fact you’ll run away. 

It’s not. And you won’t 

3 Blue Bins That Can Organize Any Man’s Life


photo credit: Susan Lauderdale

I loved poking around my father-in-law’s shop. It was full of wood working tools, hand tools, and enough bolts, screws, and nuts to stock a hardware store.

Whenever I needed something, I’d just walk next door before going to Lowe’s. I usually found what I needed. 

Now it might take me a while, because over the years things had gotten mixed together. You really had to dig around if you needed more than one of something. So sometimes a simple task would take longer than it should have.

And sometimes I’d give up looking for that bolt and nut combo and head to Lowe’s. I don’t know how many times I’ve found what I was looking for 3 weeks later. Which meant I spent money I didn’t need to.

There’s a lot of my life that used to be the same way. I had lots of bins. Work. Church. Kids. Wife. Golf. Parents. Yard work. House projects. Friends. Reading. Vacation. Pay bills. And on and on.

Stuff spilled over from one to bin to another. Just like looking for the right nut and bolt, simple tasks took longer than they should and I kept spending money I didn’t need to.

Eventually I broke my life down into 3 blue bins. 3 big buckets to pour all of the stuff of my life into.


photo credit:Susan Lauderdale

Now I can keep on top of things. Use my time and money more efficiently. Not feel overwhelmed. Fewer things fall through the cracks.

In today’s installment of learning how to organize a modern southern gentleman’s life by 3’s, I’m going to teach you my blue bins.


My 3 blue bins are:

     Personal         Relationships             Work

Then every part of my life goes into one of the bins.

In Personal I put parts of my life like:

  • Health
  • Financial
  • Spiritual

Then in Relationships I put:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Friends

And finally in the Work blue bin I put in things like:

  • Finding a job
  • Keeping a job
  • Quitting a job

That’s not everything that might go in your blue bin, but I think most guys will at least have all of these.

I like having 3 blue bins. It’s easy for me. I know those are my big three to monitor. To focus on improving. To do mid-course corrections. My blue bins save me time and money.

If you feel like your life is out of control and is overwhelming you, then use three blue bins to organize your life.

MSG 020: David Hood

David Hood


“Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers/And they’ve been known to pick a song or two.”

Once upon a time in a sleepy, southern town on the banks of the Tennessee River, 4 guys sat down in a recording studio and lightning struck. The result was a style of music all its own, that most people call the Muscle Shoals sound.

David Hood was the bass player in that group and he’s recorded some of the most recognizable bass lines in history.

The list of artists David has played with is long. Really long. Names like:

  • Aretha Franklin
  • Percy Sledge
  • Paul Simon
  • Rod Stewart
  • Wilson Pickett
  • Duane Allman
  • Clarence Carter
  • Sheryl Crow
  • His Son Patterson Hood and his band The Drive by Truckers

And more

Plus my personal favorite and one of the best bass lines ever, “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers.

But there’s way more to David Hood than David Hood the musician. At his core, he’s a guy who discovered early in life what he really enjoyed doing and then figured out a way to make a living doing it. David is modest about his musical abilities and says he’s simply a guy who was willing to work hard to become good at his job.

If you’re a R&B music fan or just a fan of good music, you’ll listening to this interview.

As bonus you’ll also hear the REAL story of why Lynyrd Skynyrd included that famous verse in “Sweet Home Alabama”


If you enjoyed David’s story, check out the movie, Muscle Shoals on Netflix


The Rule of 3



One key part of growing up in the South was going to church. When I was kid there weren’t cool services just for kids. So I ended up going to the main service and tried to pass the time. No offense to the pastor, Bro. Fred, but it’s hard for a 10 year old to understand why its so critical to understand the difference between Abram and Abraham.

So I was left to come up with ways to entertain myself. Like count the lights or imagining what it would be like for the baptistry to overflow onto the back row of the choir. Which I did get to see happen one time. Seems the baptism committee failed to do the math of what happens when a 350 pound  man is dunked in an overfilled baptistry.

Anyway, at some point every Sunday I’d start trying to guess when the sermon would be over. This was pretty easy to do because most sermons back then followed the same format: 3 points, a poem and a prayer. I aways wondered if there was a class in seminary called that.

I got pretty good at guessing the right time until we’d have a guest preacher who’d doublecross me by adding 2 extra points in his closing prayer. This was and still is clearly a foul.

There were tons of jokes about preachers and their 3 points but it turns out there is some very sound science behind the format. The main one being the human brain can process three or, at most, four points of information in short term memory. That’s why 3 is the perfect number of points in a sermon, a speech or a book.

  • Three little pigs
  • Goldilocks and the three bears
  • Three blind mice

Turns out there’s even a name for this:

The Rule of 3

The Rule of 3 is everywhere.

Steve Jobs used the Rule of 3, when he introduced the iPad 2. He said it was thinner, lighter, faster.

Even the Marines leverage the Rule of 3. In a nutshell, each Marine has three things to worry about. Which is why the basic organizational structure is:

  • Three men to a fire team commanded by a Corporal.
  • Three fire teams to a rifle squad commanded by a sergeant.
  • Three rifle squads to a platoon commanded by a Lt..
  • Three rifle platoons to a company commanded by a Capt.
  • Three companies to a battalion commanded by a Lt Col. etc.

If the rule of 3 is powerful enough for Steve Jobs and the Marines, it can handle your life.

So What?

Breaking down your life into 3’s will make life simplier for you. Which is good because life is much easier to live successfully when you keep it simple. Simple works. Simple keeps you from getting overwhelmed, which makes it easier for you to stay focused and avoid time sucking, distractions.

Now What?

Over the next few days/weeks I’m going to be giving you a series of 3’s to help you live your life. They’re easy to remember but have the power to change your life.

I’ll cover topics like

  • 3 Buckets of Every Man’s Life
  • How to do a performance review
  • 3 C’s to Hiring Great People

And more.

When we get done, you’ll have a collection of Rules of 3 to use to manage and organize your life.


BTW, did you notice this post used a rule of 3? I organized it around 3 questions:

  • What?
  • So What?
  • Now What?

This is a great way to organize your thoughts when you’re writing a paper, sales presentaiton or putting together a speech. A great bonus to using this rule of 3 is it make any speech easy to remember without notes.