All posts by LeeFromFargo

I am the creator and host of the podcast "Five Things To Do Today" as well as the owner of the event planning company "Event CEO".

Five Things To Do Today: The Third One

The third episode has ideas how to save more money, how to measure anything, and how to show gratitude.

Submit your own great ideas or be part of the podcast by following us and submitting ideas on Twitter at @FiveThingsToday.

Five Things To Do Today: The One With Tim Flakoll

Today’s guest is a former North Dakota State Senator, former minor-league baseball General Manager and current university provost Tim Flakoll. Tim gives us great tips on forgiveness, networking, and buying gifts.

Five Things To Do Today: The First One

The first episode has great ideas for how to choose a restaurant, travel advice, and how to look at life just a little differently–all delivered in less than 15 minutes.

Submit your own great ideas and follow our Twitter page at @FiveThingsToday.

My Annual Advice to Young Husbands

Holiday Gift Giving For Women

  1. Don’t pretend you have a clue about women’s fashion. You don’t. Buy her something nice–something you think would look good on her—but be sure to include the gift receipt because she’ll probably return it. But get her something and wrap it (not a gift card) because—don’t forget this—we all still want to actually open something at Christmas.
  2. God help you if you get the size wrong. Do some research before you buy, and don’t get her something a size smaller “just to be safe” or because you think that compliments her—because all you’ll be doing is reminding her that she used to be that size, and isn’t any longer. Christmas Thud.
  3. If you think a new appliance is something she wants or needs, don’t ever ever ever give it as a Christmas gift. Buy it before Christmas, bring it home, assemble it and start cleaning/cooking with it yourself to make sure it works. Appliances are necessities. Necessities make terrible gifts.
  4. If she loves a sports team or loves to golf? How cool is that? (plus, there’s nothing cuter than a girl in a jersey) She has little time for fun and hobbies—support what she loves to do.
  5. Life’s about making memories. Spa treatments or “bed and bath” gifts aren’t bad ideas, but a little overdone? Create a unique experience for her (or for the two of you)—something to pamper you both, something you’ll talk about forever. Travel. Stay someplace she’d never expect. Do something only the locals know about. Show her you did your research and gave her gift some real thought.
  6. She deserves a break, because, guess what? Being married to you isn’t as wonderful as you think it is. Try this: Offer to cook supper every night in December so she can shop, work late, or celebrate with friends without being rushed.

The National Anthem Is Not Donald Trump

Should everyone stand for the National Anthem? As a matter of patriotism and those who died for those stars, yes. The National Anthem is not Donald Trump. The National Anthem is not white supremacy. The National Anthem is not police brutality.

Do I respect the right to protest in any legal manner? Absolutely. In many cases I encourage it. The National Anthem was written during what was essentially a protest.

If my church pastor inserted his political beliefs into every sermon, I would respect his right to do so. But eventually I would go somewhere else. That’s not a place I want to hear someone’s political opinion.

If my grocery store had protesters I had to pass every time the kids and I shopped there, I would respect their right to do so. But eventually I would go somewhere else. That’s not the place for politics.

In many cases, I agree with the NFL players’ reasons for protesting. There are real problems out there and a dearth of leadership.

I just don’t want politics inserting itself into one of the last-remaining places that I can still escape it. Pro athletes have more platforms to make their opinions public than any time in history.

Protesting before NFL games is not a slap in the face to America, it’s just f’ing annoying. It’s not that I don’t support their message, I just don’t want to hear that message in the context of a sporting event.

14 Songs: My Final Mixtape

Morbid much? Actually, no. I’m actually so optimistic I don’t even have a will, despite having a book about “how to write your will” sitting in my living room for almost a year now. It’s too bad I can’t just blog out my will, or it would have been done months ago.

That being said–and being of sound mind and body (both debatable)–here are my wishes for my funeral. Be warned–it might seem like I’m kidding, but I’m not. My entire life has been a contrast of “took the road less-taken” and “really never left Fargo,” so why not change the rules on my final day here?

In lieu of flowers, buy roses and give them to each other. 

Pets Welcome. 

And will someone please return the “How To Write Your Will” book to my sister, Tari? It’s sitting in my living room.

Funeral Start Time: 4:00pm 

Location: The Sanctuary. Duh. 

Why 4pm? Because it’s Happy Hour. No long sermons. No sad stories. I thought a Taco Bar would be appropriate but blasphemous–and now is not the time to laugh at God, unless you’re Regina Spektor.

4:00-4:05 “My Town” by Montgomery Gentry

Where I was born, where I was raised, where I keep all my yesterdays…

Quite possibly my lasting legacy to the advertising world. This was the theme song to a commercial for the RedHawks that literally came to me in my sleep, brought to life by Dr. Jim Heilman and the good folks at Sundog.

It still lives on here: My Town RedHawks Commercial

4:05-4:09 “Love, Me” by Collin Raye

If you get there before I do, don’t give up on me.
I’ll meet you when my chores are through;
I don’t know how long I’ll be.
But I’m not gonna let you down, darling wait and see.
And between now and then, till I see you again,
I’ll be loving you. Love, me.

I want this to be the happiest of gatherings, but if you get through this song without shedding a tear, you’re a better man than I am. Many of these songs are simply great life lessons, and reminders to love each other.

4:09-4:13 “Just The Two Of Us” by Will Smith

‘Cause I know I loved you more than life itself
Then to my knees, and I begged the Lord please
Let me be a good daddy, all he needs
Love, knowledge, discipline too
I pledge my life to you

Thus starts the four-song tribute to my kids, packed full of wisdom I hope they never forget, and pass onto their own families.

4:13-4:17 “Bella” by Angus & Julia Stone

So you took her hand and she gave a look
That sent you to the moon
And there you spoke the words of a gentleman
Can I have this dance with you?
Can I share this dance with you?
For most of her life, she’s been my only dance partner. And to quote another tune, “If I had known that would be our last dance, I’d have asked the band to play on and on and on…”
4:17-4:22 “Every Time I Think Of You” by The Babys
Every time I think of you
It always turns out good
Every time I’ve held you
I thought you understood
People say a love like ours
Will surely pass
But I know a love like ours
Will last and last
I know most parents sing lullabies to their children about things like cradles and sheep and stars, but this was the song I sang to Hunter and Bella–pretty much every night for two years–including the backup vocals. Every. Single. Time.
4:22-4:25 “Love Without End, Amen” by George Strait
Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.
He said, “Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then…
It’s a love without end, amen. It’s a love without end, amen.”
Life lessons from a guy who married his high school sweetheart, Norma, back in 1971.
4:25-4:29 “The Walk” by Sawyer Brown
Daddy took me by the hand
He said, “I know where we’re going, and I understand…
Don’t worry, boy–it’ll be all right”
There should be more songs about having amazing parents. I owe them more than I could possibly repay–except by passing what they taught me on to my own kids.
Legacies are the greatest gifts of all.
4:29-4:34 “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won
This one’s for my closest friends, especially those who have helped me through my struggle and whom I hopefully was lucky enough to help through theirs. That lyric gets me every time. Rooting for you all, always.
4:34-4:38 “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” by Alicia Keys 
I don’t wanna forget the present is a gift
And I don’t wanna take for granted the time you may have here with me
‘Cause Lord only knows another day is not really guaranteed
So every time you hold me
Hold me like this is the last time
Every time you kiss me
Kiss me like you’ll never see me again
I’ve failed at so many things. Thousands. But I think I’ve succeeded in making the most of every day. Some songs are great reminders to take nothing for granted.
4:38-4:42 “Say” by John Mayer 
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open
Say what you need to say.
I will leave this world with everyone I care about knowing exactly how I feel about them…because I lived by this song. Say what you need to say.
And don’t wait to say it tomorrow, because…
4:42-4:46 “If Tomorrow Never Comes” by Garth Brooks
‘Cause if tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That she’s my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face this world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes?
I’ve said before, “I think the world would be a better place if we all had to attend one funeral a week.” I also think the world would be a better place if we all listened to this song every morning.
Perspective is a wonderful thing.
4:46-4:50 “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
I see friends shaking hands.
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying,
“I love you.”
Every great concert has that one song everyone sings along to–at my funeral, let it be this one. A) It’s a great song with so much appreciation for life, and B) How much fun would it be to hear everyone trying to sing like Louis Armstrong?
4:50-4:55 “Keep Me In Your Heart” by Warren Zevon
Shadows are falling and I’m running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while
If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for a while.
I thought this song was about lovers being temporarily apart, but the more I listened to it I realized it was a forever-farewell. And it’s Warren Zevon.
4:55-5:00 “Peace” by O.A.R. 
I just wanna make you laugh
I just wanna see that smile
Babe, we’re only here, oh…for a little while
I just wanna hold you till we fall asleep…
I want love, I want us, I want you, I want me, I want peace.
We finish with my favorite word.
My favorite salutation.
Sung by my favorite band.
And then everyone (including me) leaves, smiling.
With 60 minutes of Happy Hour to be continued somewhere close by.
Cheers.
And peace.
 14

This One’s For The Girls

Last Friday afternoon was one of those great parent moments…when taking your daughter to Sandy’s on “National Donut Day” (what I thought was just the two of us) turns into four of her friends joining in and two hours later you’re driving them all home–including one bike in the back—on your afternoon off. 

After dropping the last girls off, I asked Bella their names, thinking I might remember them for next time. She said most of them already follow me on Instagram—and that they even read the stuff on my website. 

I laughed, because I barely remembered I had a website. 

So it turns out my core demographic is 14 year old girls. Odd, since I admittedly know nearly nothing about them except what they like to eat. But if nearly my entire audience IS 14-year old girls, here is what I want them to know: 

  1. Own your space. Defend your space. You belong on that team. You belong in that school. You belong in that circle of friends. You belong anywhere you choose to go…just as much as the famous, the rich, and the haters. Act like you belong, and you will belong. “You can’t lead a cavalry if you think you look funny on a horse.” (That quote has gotten me through…well…my entire career?)
  2. Stop saying you’re sorry every time you second-guess yourself. Why? See #9.  
  3. Before all else, be a good human being. Over time, you’ll be healthier, sleep better and be so much happier by simply doing one thing every day—being nice to everyone. Everyone. Without exception. Being nice to 90% of the people you meet still doesn’t make you a nice person. 
  4. Never turn kindness into something less. There are very few ways for boys (or anyone) to show chivalry these days, so when it happens? Be polite and thank them. Even if you don’t know them. Even if you don’t want to date them. Even if you don’t like them. “I can open my own door,” is obviously true…but don’t crush anyone’s spirit of giving or helping. Accept acts of kindness with kindness returned, and never immediately question the giver’s motivation. 
  5. The percent of the world’s population who cares about you is almost zero. When someone takes the time to reach out to you and asks how you’re doing, you owe more to them than just, “fine”, or worse–lashing out or questioning why they would ask. Love those people who think of you without wanting something from you. Friends who simply ask “How are you?” are few. Thank them for asking, and return the courtesy as often as you can. 
  6. You’re Beautiful. Never leave the house doubting that. Your look might be different, but different is so good. Different is what makes people famous. Only be friends with people who think you’re beautiful. Only date people who think you’re beautiful. Those are the only people with whom you’ll be able to have healthy relationships…and (don’t forget this part) healthy relationships are the meaning of life. 
  7. During your career, there will always be “one more thing to do.” Go home anyway. 
  8. Find your “thing.” We all need a creative outlet. Don’t let your only creative outlet be your use of emojis x 100. Please please please please—never let your phone be your “thing.” Your phone (and someday, your job) are there to free up enough time to really do your “thing.” We all have a talent. Some are less-obvious than others. Find yours. 
  9. None of us really know what we’re doing. So much of life–at any age–is just solving whatever problems come up, doing your best to prevent them from happening in the first place, and trying to find a little joy in each day. You think you aren’t prepared? You’re really nervous about trying something new, or meeting new people? Annoying little things keep popping up? Welcome to the party. If you’re often nervous or confused or feel over-matched, you’re fitting in better than you think.
  10. Listen to your parents. There will come a day when you realize your parents aren’t as smart as you thought they were. There will also come a day when you realize your parents still gave you the best advice of anyone.

This blog page was inspired by someone else’s daughter, a 19-year old artist who reminded me that art is important. Thank you, Tessa.

And thank you, Bella Grace. You’ve already taught me more than I could ever teach you.

I can’t wait for what you’ll teach me tomorrow.

Refugees

This is a world we live in, not a neighborhood.

Why do we accept refugees? Because we can.

And if we can, we should. Four homeless people in a crowded shelter would welcome a fifth homeless person, not turn them away. And then they would make due with what they have.

If a woman is being attacked in a street outside your home, do you help? Or lock your door? If 10,000 refugees are subject to genocide in their own country, do you lock your borders?

Am I happy with everything immigration brings to my community? No. But if you know anything about what they’ve been through–and continue to endure–you’ll make due with what you have.

We live privileged lives. We can help. So we should.

My Hometown

There are very few moments I ever think quoting Jason Aldean isn’t literary suicide, but this is one of those moments. 

There ain’t a corner of this hallowed ground

That we ain’t laughed or cried on

It’s where we loved, lived, learned real life stuff

It’s everything we’re made of

This past week I’ve been continually reminded why I stayed here, and why I’m more proud than ever to call Fargo, “home.” 

It’s the way my hometown pulls together to support one of its own.  The way the local bank creates something called “Pay It Forward” to foster a spirit of giving. The way the folks at Anne Carlsen Center and the local detox do so much behind the scenes (with so little recognition). The way local businessmen rebuild downtown and the way a local foundation creates Giving Hearts Day and inspires hundreds to give millions to thousands in need. 

It’s the way my workplace learned yesterday we would be hosting the funeral for Officer Moszer. Doing so would be no small undertaking—it would be our 12th event day in a row, would require everyone coming in on a Sunday to cover the ice, build the stage, place over 1400 chairs, and clean every room. It would likely take most of the night. 

And not one person in the room thought twice about doing whatever it would take to exceed every expectation of the family and friends of one of our own. 

Proud of you all. Proud to be here. Proud to follow your example.