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.

MSG 026: Stewart Mann

This episode is a conversation with singer/songwriter Stewart Mann of the Texas band The Statesboro Revue. Stewart and the band are living the road dog life. Playing music, traveling and enjoying life.

The best thing about Stewart’s story is he decided at a young age to be true to himself and let the chips fall where they may.

It’s My Job

“In the middle of late last night I was sittin’ on a curb
I didn’t know what about but I was feeling quite disturbed
A street sweeper came whistlin’ by
He was bouncin’ every step
It seemed strange how good he felt
So I asked him while he swept

He said “It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the rest
And that makes the day for me”

Got an uncle who owns a bank he’s a self made millionaire
He never had anyone to love never had no one to care
He always to seemed kind of sad to me
So I asked him why that was
And he told me it’s because in my contract there’s a clause
That says “It’s my job to worried half to death
And that’s the thing people respect in me
It’s a job but without it I’d be less
Than what I expect from me”

I’ve been lazy most all of my life
Writing songs and sleeping late
Any manual labor I’ve done purely by mistake
If street sweepers can smile then
I’ve got no right to feel upset
But sometimes I still forget
Till the lights go on and the stage is set
And the song hits home and you feel that sweat

It’s my job to be different than the rest
and that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the best
and that’s a tough break for me
It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
and that’s enough reason to go for me

It’s my job to be better than the best
and that makes the day for me”

A buddy of mine introduced me to Jimmy Buffett music when I was a teenager. The first record of his I ever heard was “Coconut Telegraph” and my favorite song turned out to be “It’s My Job”. When I was driving around Athens, Alabama singing along with Jimmy at the top of my lungs, I never thought one day I’d get to interview the writer of the song, Mac McAnally.

During the interview I asked Mac about the background of the song. Turns out Mac got the idea for the song while working on a road crew spreading asphalt. If you’ve never done it, just image walking beside a dump truck while you shovel 300 degree gravel all day long in the middle of a Mississippi summer. Mike Rowe would call that a dirty job. Turns out the job was also a great incentive for Mac to trade a shovel for a musical instrument.

What I love about the song is it doesn’t put down manual labor or any job for that matter. It’s about the dignity of a job well done for no other reason than that’s what real men do. It’s about having an attitude of being the best you can possibly be.

There’s a sense of satisfaction that no paycheck or job title can replace when a man can look in the mirror at night and know he exchanged a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. The type of job doesn’t matter. He could be a bank president, street sweeper, road crew worker, or a doctor. It’s all about the satisfaction of knowing deep down, you did the best you could.

So the next time you’re tempted to phone it in because the boss isn’t looking or you think your job isn’t important in the grand scheme of things, just remember:

“It’s my job to be better than the best
and that makes the day for me”


Video of when Mac McAnally performed the song in the Florida Keys. The quality is not great but worth it. Notice the amazing guitar playing.

MSG 025: Charlie Monk

The Mayor of Music Row

Charlie Monk

Charlie Monk


Charlie Monk is what the Modern Southern Gentleman show is all about: Successful Southern Men. His journey started in the cotton fields of Geneva Alabama and ended up on on Music Row. Along the way he’s been a songwriter, record producer, talent manager, music publisher and more. Ask anyone in the music business in Nashville, chances are they know Charlie, which is why he’s known as the Mayor of Music Row.

Charlie has always had an eye for new talent, he signed Kenny Chesney and Randy Travis to their first song writing contracts.

When most men are retiring and taking it easy, Charlie is doing a SiriusXM radio show SEVEN days a week.

Through it all Charlie is still doing what he does best, helping other people accomplish their dreams.


monk mom

Charlie’s Motivation Picture

MSG 024: Stephen Mansfield

Drinking From A Firehose

Stephen Mansfield


An hour with Stephen Mansfield is like drinking from a fire hose. He’s full of energy and is most definitely a guy who’s actually accomplished goals in his life instead behind like so many who just talk about it. I get tired just reading his resume:

  • Pastor for 20 years
  • New York Times Best Selling Author of  “The Faith of George W. Bush”
  • Author of 19 books
  • Founder and President of The Mansfield Group, a consulting and communications company
  • Owner of Chartwell Literary group, which manages and creates literary projects
  • Husband
  • Dad
  • Member of a Band of Brothers

Hanging out with Stephen will inspire, educate and challenge you.

To learn more about Stephen, go to his website.


If you’re pastor thinking about quitting, please listen to Stephen talking about leaving church work.

MSG 023: Andy Traub

digital entrepreneur


Andy Traub

Digital Entrepreneur is a job description that didn’t even exist a few years ago and now there are people everywhere making a living and a difference in the world strictly via the internet.

There’s a community of these guys in the historic town of Franklin, TN, 20 minutes south of Nashville: Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins, Jon Acuff and the guy in this episode, Andy Traub.

Andy has made the journey from his childhood home in Indiana, to Sioux Falls, SD and now he’s living in Franklin with his family.

In this episode Andy talks about how he got where he is and most importantly, all of the people who have helped him along the way.

Andy writes on faith and family at and on digital media at You can also check out Andy on periscope at @andytraub

How Southern Gentleman Take Care of Their Community

There’s a tradition in the south of men taking care of problems in the community. They would just get together and figure out the best way to deal with the issue. No press. No social media. Just serious men, taking care of the community they cared about.

This story is one of the best examples of that process I’ve ever seen.

The integration of Marshall Space Flight Center

How Sen. John Sparkman, Milton Cummings and Woody Anderson helped save Huntsville’s space industry

By Bob Ward

A telephone call in 1964, or a pair of calls, may have played a crucial role in saving NASA‟s beleaguered Marshall Space Flight Center for Huntsville, and for Alabama.

Government leaders all the way from the White House to NASA Headquarters to Marshall Center at the time were alarmed and frustrated that the field center was unable to attract minority engineers and other such technical applicants to come for job interviews.

One important reason: Fifty years ago it was impossible for visiting blacks – or any blacks, for that matter – to get a decent hotel or motel room or dine at a first-rate restaurant in town because racial segregation ruled.

In a detailed 1997 book interview just now being made public, prominent local automobile dealer C.W. “Woody” Anderson recalled that he received a phone call one day in early 1964 from Huntsville cotton broker-turned-aerospace magnate Milton Cummings. The then-chairman of the board at Brown Engineering Co. – and later the namesake of Huntsville‟s sprawling Cummings Research Park — wanted to see Anderson right away on “some things.”

Anderson and Cummings were well-acquainted. They served for years together on the board of directors of the then-First National Bank, and both were active in Democratic Party affairs. “Milton and I had bumped shoulders,” Anderson said, “and I had a hell of a lot of respect for him.”

Two of Cummings‟ closest friends were Congressman Bob Jones of Scottsboro and Huntsville‟s U.S. Sen. John Sparkman, the national party‟s 1952 vice-presidential nominee on the ticket with Adlai Stevenson. Anderson in 1964 was the chief North Alabama confidant and political patronage contact of George C. Wallace, who was governor at the time.

The wealthy Cummings had called Anderson from the Huntsville Country Club and asked him to come out and meet with him that day. Upon arriving, the Woody Anderson Ford dealership owner and development investor asked, “Well, what you got on your mind?”

“I just got a call from John Sparkman,” Cummings replied, according to Anderson. “We got a serious problem in Huntsville, Alabama – one that, the way it is handled, is going to chart the growth of Huntsville.”

Cummings said Sparkman had just left Lyndon Johnson‟s office and had said the nation‟s new president “is madder than hell because they (Marshall Center) can‟t get anybody to come to Huntsville (for employment interviews) other than lily-white males, mostly.”

According to Anderson, Cummings also quoted Sparkman as saying that “Johnson is sincere enough about this thing, (that) unless we can find some way to bring some black people into the community to work at (Marshall), it is going to cease to be.”

The three Alabamians were well aware that Johnson, as vice president, had headed the National Space Council. They knew he insisted on seeing Texas get its fair share – or more – of the U.S. space pie. Marshall Center, although in a growth mode with the Project Apollo moon- landing effort fully under way, had been in existence just four years. And it didn‟t help matters that George Wallace was railing against the federal government at every turn.

Johnson, in the wake of President John Kennedy‟s assassination, was the prime mover for enactment by Congress of the 1964 Civil Rights bill. Johnson signed the act into law in July of that year. It included measures barring “places of public accommodation” – such as hotels and restaurants – from turning away racial minorities. And federal installations were required to have a percentage of minority employees that approximated that of their communities or areas.

About the same time, both NASA boss James Webb and Marshall Center Director Wernher von Braun were carrying the message of equal employment opportunity in speeches to North Alabamians.

Anderson said he asked Cummings, Why me? The Brown Engineering chief replied that he “didn‟t want to call somebody that couldn‟t or wouldn‟t do something about” the situation at hand. “I know you can help and I think you will help,” Cummings added.

Personally, Milton Cummings was known to take a liberal position in most matters of race. When his church board voted to deny membership to minorities, Cummings had resigned from the board. He championed several causes to help the community‟s poor, including blacks. He went on to lead the creation of a private local organization to promote the recruitment and hiring of minorities by missile and space contractors, and saw to it that a highly regarded black executive was hired to run it.

When Cummings pointed out to Anderson that the only place a visiting African-American could get a room in the Huntsville area, aside from a private residence or boarding house or two, was a barebones, 14-room, black-owned motel, Anderson said he began to get the full message.

The car dealer was a substantial stockholder and president of the corporation that owned the new Kings Inn, a 180-room hotel – segregated, of course — on busy North Memorial Parkway, and its fine, popular, 150-seat restaurant. Anderson in the interview proudly described the property as “THE hotel in Alabama” at the time. (He also revealed that when a black person appeared at the registration desk, the clerk on duty would covertly press a button that turned on the “No Vacancy” sign outside. The clerk would then say, “I‟m sorry, but didn‟t you see our „No Vacancy‟ sign? We just don‟t have any [rooms].”)

Anderson said Cummings got explicit with his request: “I want you to make a number of rooms at the hotel available to the black community” and to any blacks from African countries such as Nigeria.

An incredulous Anderson responded, “Do you know what you‟re asking me to do?” And Cummings answered, “Yeah, I know it is going to be tough but in years to come, it will be looked at as a major decision for our total community,” for Alabama and for “the whole wide world,” given the international reach of Marshall Center and U.S. Army missile work at Redstone Arsenal.

“Woody, it is important that we do this,” Cummings implored. Thousands of jobs in Huntsville hung in the balance.

If the Kings Inn is desegregated, what happens if white people boycott the hotel and its restaurant? Anderson said he asked Cummings. “He said, „They possibly will but we can handle that.‟ I said, „Well, how are we going to handle it? What are the stockholders going to say if it starts to lose money?‟ He said, „You and I will buy it.‟ He would put his money where his mouth was.”

Anderson recalled telling Cummings that he couldn‟t give him an immediate answer, that he‟d have to sleep on it, get his partners together, and get back to him in a day or two.

But Anderson didn‟t wait. He called a meeting of the Kings Inn board members and shareholders for 4 o‟clock that afternoon. He and a building contractor each held 28 or 29 percent of the stock. The other director/shareholders were local businessmen in commercial development, lumber, real estate, insurance and other fields. All were Southerners.

Anderson said he gathered the group in “executive session” in his office at the hotel. He laid out Cummings‟ urgent request and its background. He told them what was at stake. He told them that both he and Cummings knew not to take the Texan LBJ lightly.

“Of course, Lyndon Johnson was a dictator within a democracy,” Anderson observed in the interview. “I don‟t mean that to be critical. He was a doer, and when he said something, he wanted it to happen. And when he shook his fist, he wanted the forest to fall.”

In the closed session of the Kings Inn partners, arguments pro and con were made. The men spoke their minds. Practically all strongly opposed desegregation of the hotel. Some of the language got rough, Anderson remembered. He said the “heated discussion and hard bargaining” continued into the evening – and beyond.

“We stayed there all night long and I could not get a majority vote to do it,” recalled Anderson. Then, at last, shareholder Vance Thornton, an insurance and realty agency owner and a past president of the Huntsville City Council, broke the ice, making the motion in favor of the proposal, Anderson said. “We finally got the resolution passed whereby we would integrate the hotel….”

Then the delicate task of carrying out that momentous change without fanfare began, with Anderson taking the lead. The plan was to avert publicity, avert a rush of blacks on the hotel, avert noisy celebrations and any other disruption there. It was a time of lunch-counter sit-ins and other civil rights demonstrations in the city, Anderson recalled, even if they were fairly low-key, nonviolent events.

The plan for gradual, no-fuss implementation of the change called for a number of steps to be taken.

One was to quietly contact several of the community‟s black leaders – including some like Dr. John Cashin who were openly supportive of the sit-ins and demonstrations – share the decision with them, and secure their cooperation.

Another step was for Anderson to meet with a key official at the then-Alabama A&M College, Leander R. Patton, the traditionally black institution‟s widely respected business manager. The purpose was to ask his help in discreetly getting out the word there but making sure that 50 black students didn‟t descend at once on the Kings Inn wanting rooms.

Anderson also called George Wallace and informed him. The governor, he said, was supportive. The fact that “Alabama was getting a pretty bad thrashing” in the news media at that time was probably a factor, Anderson noted.

He said Wallace offered to help in any way he could – including calling out the Alabama National Guard to keep the peace lest major “problems” erupt … problems like the Klan showing up to protest, problems like violence.

(The Huntsville power broker took pains in the interview to defend his good friend Wallace. He claimed Wallace‟s main race-related concern was forced school busing. Despite the governor‟s “Segregation forever!” image, “he never hated one person in his life,” Anderson insisted. “…George Wallace was never, ever, ever a racist. He was an opportunist and he took whatever opportunity was at hand to be elected…. You do whatever it takes to win. Then, after you win, you can do something about things.”)Another action Anderson took involved breaking the color barrier at the Kings Inn Restaurant. He called a black funeral home director, R.E. Nelms, explained the situation, and invited him to be the first African-American to dine there. Anderson met beforehand with the restaurant‟s manager and staff to ensure that things went smoothly.

But things didn‟t go smoothly.

On the chosen day, Anderson escorted the mortician into the restaurant, selected a seat for him, and seated himself across the room where he could observe. A waitress took the special customer‟s order. When the meal was served, it was a disaster, the steak inedible. The diner gave Anderson a signal they had agreed upon in case any trouble arose.

Anderson said he went into the kitchen, ordered that another, proper plate be prepared for his guest, and threatened to cancel the restaurant‟s lease if anything like that ever happened again. It didn‟t.

From then on, everything at the hotel and restaurant went well, Anderson said. Several days after the restaurant incident, “a (black) couple came in and another came in, and on and on. Pretty soon the restaurant was serving everybody….”

The week after Nelms had dined, blacks began registering at the hotel. “We opened the doors and started … accepting all comers – blacks, whites, Indians, whatever – without advertising,” Anderson recalled. “There was no fuss, no bother, no nothing, it just went off. You wouldn‟t believe in a hundred years that it could happen in Alabama in 1964 and not have a lot of bloodshed.”

The news media knew nothing about it, he remembered. It took about a week or so before townspeople began learning of the changes taking place at the Kings Inn. The most powerful banker in the city, Beirne Spragins, chairman of First National – on whose board of directors Anderson and Cummings sat — “heard about it, and he called me and said, „God bless you. I am glad that you did this.‟ ”

Others from the business community “finally started calling and (saying), „By golly, things are going all right.‟ … Strangely enough, I got more calls from people complimenting me for it than I did against it.”

Of the hotel director/stockholders at the all-night meeting, Anderson recalled, the most outspoken, roughest-talking one came by the auto dealer‟s office and apologized, even if it was six months later.

So the big step was taken. Cummings had believed it could happen, believed it must happen, and Anderson had led the way to making it happen. Other local hotels, motels and restaurants, sooner or later, followed suit.

Minority job interviews and recruitment increased at Marshall Center and at its contractors‟ facilities. The crisis had passed.

“I am totally convinced that Milton Cummings – I give him all the credit for it, because if he had not thought it, it would not have happened,” said Anderson. “I just happened to be in the right seat, or the wrong seat – whichever people want to judge – at that time.” … “I felt like, for the good of the community, what Milton and I did was the right thing to do.”

In the end, Anderson was inclined to give some credit to another source.

“I‟m not as religious as I ought to be, but I will guarantee you one thing: Somebody,

somewhere was out there holding my hand as we went through that…. I guess God was just looking down on us.”

It had all been worth it, he said.

“In my honest opinion, if that (Kings Inn desegregation) had not been done, (Marshall Center) would have been moved to Houston, Texas. No doubt about it.”

Woody Anderson, whose Ford dealership still bears his name, died in July 2003. Cummings had died in March 1973, Sparkman in November 1985, and Wallace in September 1998.

Bob Ward is a former editor of The Huntsville Times and the author of the 2005 biography “Dr. Space: The Life of Wernher von Braun.” The material above was part of his research for a planned biography of Milton Cummings, which was not completed

I Love Being From The South

I really do love the fact I grew up and have lived all of my life in the South.

Great heritage. Great People. Great Food.

I love how you can drive 10 minutes out from any city and the clock gets turned back 30 years. Or I can stay in a city like where I live, Huntsville, and can hear 15 different languages and accents in 30 minute of people watching at Starbucks.

The South is where stories are still important. I think it’s because we were one of the last places to get electricity. People had to make their own entertainment and knew there were facts and skills that needed to be passed on to future generations. No tv, battery powered radios, meant you had to talk. Tell stories about the past so the next generation was prepared for the future.

If you asked me to name just one image that best represents the South I’d say front porches. Rocking chairs squeaking against porch floors are sometimes the only sound needed. True southerners know and understand the value of just being in the same space with other humans. No words. Just the occasional sip of sweet tea or good bourbon.

Our House in Tuscaloosa. I miss my porch

Our House in Tuscaloosa. I miss my porch

Another great thing about living in the South is manners. Not just common “please” and “thank you’s”, but treating people like people, not servants. I hate seeing men treating young women like pieces of meat. Modern Southern Gentleman treat older women like their mother and younger women the way he wants his sister treated. Don’t be that weirdo who tries to pick up the waitress, bartender or golf course beverage cart girl. And damn sure don’t do it if you’re over 40. That’s just creepy.

I love the fact some of the smartest men I’ve ever met did not have much in the way of formal education. They may not have been able to use the proper term but they could fix anything. They didn’t have a degree in finance but they knew you couldn’t spend more than you made for too many years before you went broke.

I also love the southern men I know who have tons of letters after their name: PhD, MD, JD, etc. None of them think this sets them apart. It’s just what they wanted to do. Most of them are also very teachable. They know how little they know.

I love living in the South.