MSG 034: Chris Thomas

I don’t usually get offered my choice of 3 bourbons to enjoy while doing an interview, but that’s just how Chris Thomas welcomed me to his home. Chris is the founder of Made South, a subscription service celebrating Southern brands. You need to check out the website to realize what a cool niche they are carving out. He and his wife started the company after Chris had spent 11 years working for Dave Ramsey’s organization.

Chris talks openly and candidly about a wide range of topics. From growing up without a relationship with his dad to how he’s learned to listen when his wife tries to speak into his life. Chris also has strong feelings about his faith as well as shopping local whenever possible.

Whenever I ask a guy for an interview, I tell him to imagine the kind of conversation we’d have in rocking chairs sipping sweet tea or good bourbon. The kind of conversation that has no agenda but covers real life. That’s what this episode is all about.

You can also check out Chris on Instagram or the Made South Facebook page.

Men of a Certain Age


“Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud— frustrated, discouraged, and angry.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Men of a certain age are cranky because nothing has turned out right.

One day you’re developing your master plan to become the next Big Thing with the bank account, family, house and fame to match. Then you wake up one day and realize you’re a certain age and think “What the hell happened? Where’s the great adventure? What happened to my dreams?” You grab your phone, hit your banking app and your balance is not what you expected. You don’t have 5000 friends on Facebook. The family you hoped for hasn’t exactly worked out either. In other words, nothing has worked out like you planned and it pisses you off.

Whether you’re going to play professional sports, develop the next Facebook, Apple or Google, or cure cancer, most guy’s start out life with big dreams. But what really happens is once a guy gets out of high school or for sure college, he finds himself mired in an endless cycle of wake up, work, come home, eat, veg out in front of the tv, go to bed. Rinse, repeat.

“Men lead quiet lives of desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them” -Thoreau

That’s why most every man of a certain age wakes up one morning cranky.

There’a a great line by Billy Crystal’s character in “City Slickers”: “Have you ever had that feeling that this is the best I’m ever gonna do, this is the best I’m ever gonna feel… and it ain’t that great?” When men get to this point, we quit. We become apathetic. Stuff we used to think was important and even worth fighting for, now we just don’t give a crap.

This is dangerous, because men are hard-wired to give a crap. When we don’t we fall into “good enough”, “close enough” or the most dangerous mode of all, work just hard enough to not get fired (which means getting paid just enough to not quit). When that happens, a dangerous cocktail of incompetency and inefficiency takes over. That’s when companies, families and even countries begin a death spiral.

The bottom line is, when a man loses his “give a crap”, the world loses.

Who Told You To Quit?

But who said it had to be this way? Where is it written that wherever you are in life is where you have to stay forever? There have been tons of men who succeeded later in life:

  • Ray Kroc was a 52 year old milkshake salesman when bought McDonalds.
  • Jack Cover invented the Taser when he was 50 and didn’t sell a single one until he was 60.
  • Sam Walton owned a small chain of discount stores but he didn’t open the first Wal-Mart until 1962, when he was 44.
  • John Newton wrote “Amazing Grace” at the age of 52
  • Mark Twain published “The Adventures of Huckleberry Flynn” when he was 50.
  • Nick Saban won his first National Championship at 52.

Are you getting it men of a certain age? None of us are done unless we allow ourselves to be done. The fact is we’re actually moving into a powerful time of life. We’ve got more time and freedom than we’ve had in a long time. NOW is time to get back in the game. It’s not the time to give up and waste away our most productive years bitching about the election or complaining about our taxes.

Why? The world needs you and every other man of a certain age. We need your experience and your wisdom. So stop sitting in the bleachers watching the game and get back on the field.

The world is depending on you.

MSG 033: Dr. Stephen Graves

stephen graves Instead of trying to summarize Steve Graves and what he does, I’ll let him do it:

“Steve is an organizational strategist, pragmatic theologian and social capitalist. At any given time, he is advising 5-6 executives or business owners, along with 3-4 young energetic social entrepreneurs. He sits on a half dozen boards, holds degrees in multiple subjects, writes often and speaks occasionally. He lives in Northwest Arkansas with his wife Karen, has three adult children and if he doesn’t return your call quickly there is a good chance he snuck off to the river…again”

In this episode Steve talks about:
-How men can and must find their place in this world instead of living a Karaoke life, just copying others.
-Men of faith don’t know what to do with their ambition muscle. Hint, ambition is not a bad thing.
-The concept of a Christian businessman

Steve is guy all men can learn from but especially men of faith.

Click to subscribe to Steve’s weekly email

Best Podcasts of 2015

It’s been a great year on the Modern Southern Gentleman Podcast. I’m continually amazed at the men who are generous with their time and stories. The best part of doing the podcast is I’ve learned something from every man I’ve ever interviewed. I can’t wait to see who all I get to learn from in 2016.

But my big “Thank You” goes to all of the guys who listen. You are the reason I do the podcast. I want to help you be the best you can!

Stephen Mansfield

David Hood

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MSG 032: Ray Johnston

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Got a dream? Always thought about starting a business, writing a book or changing careers? But you just haven’t been able to muster up the courage to take the chance.

If that’s you, then this episode is for you. Ray Johnston is living out the country song, “Live Like You Were Dying”. After being in remission from Leukemia 5 times, he continues to grind away at his dream of making a career in the music business.

Invest an hour of your life listening to Ray’s story and I think you just might find the inspiration and courage you’ve been looking for.
Sorry for the background noise, the hotel lobby was undergoing construction.

MSG 031: Gene Jelks

Gene Jelks

The Gene Jelks story is best summed up in one word: redemption. Redemption from 8 years of being homeless, redemption from bitterness against his former college coach and redemption from making a serious mistake.

But through it all, Gene is still standing and able to talk about how God is rebuilding his life with the help of 2 men mentoring him. He’s also been forgiven and welcomed back into the exclusive club of men who have played football for the University of Alabama.

This conversation is not all gloom and doom, there are funny stories like:

-How Bo Jackson hosted Gene on his official visit to Auburn University and a small disagreement broke out about who was going to wear jersey number 34, which lead to Gene signing with Alabama and outrushing Bo in his first Iron Bowl (192 yards on 18 carries)

-Trying to get off the phone with Walter Lewis, because Gene had a prepaid cell phone and the call was eating up all of his minutes.

Gene also open and honestly answered the question many Alabama fans have about why he would accuse the school of NCAA recruiting violations: Why? Why did he do it?

Gene is on his way back and I’m on the long list of people who are pulling for him.

MSG 030: Lance Cormier

Lance Cormier


Hate to move? Imagine moving 49 times to 17 cities in 10 states over 10 years. That’s what its like to be a MLB pitcher.

Lance Cormier pitched for Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Arizona, Baltimore and LA over his career. Along the way he learned lessons that any man can use to make his life better, like:

-Embrace the grind. Keep at it.
-Take the long term view of situations. Don’t overreact to wins or losses.
-How to be up front with people. Which is how his business, Crossfit Candor, was named

Listen, learn and hear what managers say to pitchers during visits to the mound.

MSG 029: Andy Phillips

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Imagine you’re standing at the plate in Fenway Park wearing New York Yankee pinstripes in your first game in the big leagues. How do you think you’d do?


Imagine you’re told your manager, Joe Torre, wants to see you after the last game of spring training and he says you didn’t make the team.

Andy Phillips has been in both situations and in this episode he tells how he handled massive success and crushing disappointment.

Andy also talks about walking with his wife as she successfully battled cancer.

You can learn more about Andy here and his wife Bethany’s journey here.


Bethany telling her story.

MSG 028: Bob Labbe

bob labbe pic

What’s on your resume? 4.0 GPA? Made your high school football team? Broke 100 on the golf course?

Here’s Bob Labbe’s:
-Held the course record at two different golf courses
-Got in the ring with Muhammad Ali
-Asked the last question to Coach Bear Bryant at the press conference after his last game as coach.

By the way, Bob also owns over 20,000 45 records!

Bob has led an interesting life and in this interview, he shares what he’s learned.

You can also check out Bob’s weekly radio show, Reelin’ in the Years

Don’t forget to leave a rating and review on iTunes!

MSG 027: Rick White

Rick White

Men want to be tough. We work to develop toughness and respect it in other men. Rick White is a genuine tough guy, in a field where you don’t usually expect to find tough guys: he’s a pastor.

Rick is pretty well known in church circles for transitioning First Baptist Church in Franklin Tennessee to the People’s Church. That kind of change doesn’t happen without challenges and opposition. Rick stuck to his beliefs and goals and the result was a church serving multiple thousands every week.

And that is the mark of tough guy.

If you’re a pastor, please listen to this episode. If you know a pastor, get him to listen. Rick is willing to share his experience with anybody who is willing to learn.

You can connect with Rick on Facebook.