1000 Marbles

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the backyard patio with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other.

What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it.

I turned the dial up to listen to a Saturday morning talk show I heard an older sounding gentleman, with a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business.

He was telling whoever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles”.

I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say…

“Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital.”

He continued, “Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.”

And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.” “You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic.
The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.”

“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.

Now stick with me Tom, I’m getting to the important part.”

“It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.”

“So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.”

“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”

“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.”

“It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again.

You could have heard a pin drop on the radio when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work that morning. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”

“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a while since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”

Source: Anonymous – received by email in mid 90’s.

Thanks Chris Gagnon for sharing this with me.

Pictured is my 500 marbles (1000 just seemed like too many) at my desk at home.  In 500 Saturdays my kids will be 21, 19, and my youngest will just have recieved his license.  My life will have changed a lot, I won’t be needed like I am now.   500 doesn’t look like a lot sitting on my desk…I threw the first one a way this week.


– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of other’s happpiness.  I hope this little post did just that.

The Stress of the Holidays

A lot of us get pretty stressed out around the holidays.  This is one couple’s story…

A young couple in their early 20s had a pretty difficult 9 months prior to the holidays.  It’s been a whirlwind to say the least.  You see the couple were unwed yet pregnant.  And now on top of all of that, they had to travel about 68 miles via a donkey to a town Mary had never been.

That’s where things get a little dicey. You see Joe was a carpenter and had promised to finish two jobs by the end of the week.  A new kitchen for a neighbor and a new window for an older client.  So he had been working late, and well, this didn’t leave a lot of extra time for their journey.

Now Mary, you see, was REALLY pregnant.  The girl could give birth at any moment and was not looking forward to the trip on the donkey.  In fact, this whole pregnancy thing has her pretty confused.  She even visited her older cousin Betty, and while Betty assured here things would work out, Mary wasn’t so so sure.

Joe got home late after finishing both jobs and they were on their way.  Being a young and busy couple they had forgotten to make reservations anywhere, but Joe assured Mary that it wouldn’t be a problem.

But what was a problem… was Mary.  She was so uncomfortable they had to stop often to take a break, go to the bathroom or stop and get some food or drink.  The chaffing on the donkey sure didn’t help.

By the time they arrived the town was packed.  You see it was census season,  the busiest time of the year in town.  No vacancy, not today or tomorrow…. Mary was in tears and Joe was frustrated as all hell.  Joe finally begged a guy to let them stay.  The  guy said sure, but you have to stay in my barn.  Mary couldn’t take it anymore and said fine, as she held back the tears.  Joe never felt so embarrassed.  You see, he had been told, and had a feeling, Mary was going to have a very special child very soon.  If they could just make it past tonight, they surely could find a room tomorrow

And just as Joe was starting to feel better and more at ease as he settled in for the night, being assured tomorrow would be a better day, Mary turned to him with a scared yet determined face, “Joe I think it’s time…”

And as they say… the rest is history.

So no matter how stressed your Christmas Eve is… Mary and Joseph have been through it… let them help you through yours.

Merry Christmas.


– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of other’s happpiness.  I hope this little post did just that.











TGIM- This is Christmas Week! 



I still have to buy a few more Gift Cards people won’t use…. just a few more gifts.. a few more presents to wrap perfectly that no one will appreciate.  A Busier time… if I just had more time….I could do so much more…  So much to do, the Tree has to be perfect for no one that cares… traditions without meaning that must be observed!  I just don’t have the time this week!

Man what a busy time of the year… we are WAY too busy to take…


60 minutes to have a neighbor over to catch up with them.


30 minutes to play a board game with a child.


20 minutes to just sit by yourself and think of all your Christmases past.


15 minutes to read the nativity story of Luke in the Bible on your own or to a child.

(((( 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night. 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
2:10 And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

That’s my FAVORITE PART.  I would of freaked out!  Just sitting there being shephards and then BAM!

Fear not?  Yeah Right! ))))


14 minutes to write a handwritten letter to 3 customers on how much they mean to you and mail them.  They do pay for your salary!…and I don’t just mean salespeople and store leaders!


13 minutes to call an old friend to wish them a Merry Christmas.


9 minutes to talk to a relative you tend to avoid at the Christmas celebration.  (You know the one!)


5 minutes to count your blessings.  YOU CAN’T BE BLESSED AND STRESSED!


1 minute to buy that person in the drive through behind you their meal or coffee.  Make their day!


20 seconds to tell people MERRY CHRISTMAS and do it with enthusiasm and passion.




10 seconds to hold a door for someone and wish them a Merry Christmas.


We are so “caught up in the Christmas Spirit” we don’t have time to do any of that.

Ironic ain’t it?


– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of other’s happpiness.  I hope this little post did just that.






Last week we had Ken Wilbanks here.  He made a big impact on who we are.  As he says, his job is to move us about 1-5% in trajectory.

Doesn’t seem like much, but trajectory is parabolic over time.

Over time, a 1% change in the way we do things will set us off on a great path.


Here’s one easy takeaway we can implement right away:

Some of us might be spending up to 15 hours A WEEK on internal (Drexel to Drexel) e-mails.  That is like two full days of staff meetings!

Let’s challenge ourselves to clean up the internal emails and be more efficient if possible.   Think about how often, and when you send them, and if they are needed, could they be done less, or could be better done on the phone or face to face?

This is not about “less communication” but BETTER, 1% BETTER COMMUNICATION.





Please remind everyone at the weekly pep rallies.


Anyone sending one Friday will be fined heavily!

(Yes, I do realize the irony of informing you of this via my blog on an e-mail.)


– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of other’s happpiness.  I hope this little post did just that.




Be the change that you want to see.  Drexel can influence a change in the world.  Every time you connect with someone at Drexel… you have a choice.  We can create an amazing experiences well beyond anywhere else…. Or we are just about the same as everyone else.  YOU control that experience. Every time.

We can do it… if you just BELIEVE you can.


“Don’t wait for a title. Nearly every great sports team will include a discussion of an unsung hero, or sparkplug, or someone who was the prototypical “leader” yet propelled the team. Every social setting has this — be someone who sees the good in others, the possibility for connection and exploration. A title won’t help you find this vision, and a lack of title won’t stop you from having an influence.” – James DaSilva



– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of other’s happpiness.  I hope this little post did just that.




About a year ago we put out a challenge to all of you.  If we hit a lofty goal…which some said was not possible… I optimistically presumed it might take years to achieve the goal… well… this goal…


I am so eager to celebrate and host our first scholarship award dinner next fall!

Team going forward Drexel children will have the opportunity for a Drexel Scholarship. 100% of their tuition paid for.

A real jump start to their future.  If they want to be a farmer, a nurse, a salesperson, a welder, a teacher, an accountant… we will help them!

Since 1985, we’ve been spreading happiness…and we have had many moments to celebrate.  This is certainly near the top.

YOUR work has done this.

Your positive contagious energy and optimism has put this dream into a reality.

ALL of you as a team made this happen.  Your personal impact spread like wildfire.  You did this.

Pat yourself on the back today, and more importantly pat someone else’s.

Even if you have no children or your children do not qualify it certainly is still a day to celebrate… for all of us are on the same team.

Scott Rosenthal reminded me yesterday of some great lines in the book Fish.

On page 89 of the book is a statement about “Our Workplace”.  It says the following:

As you enter this place of work please choose to make today a great day. Your colleagues, customers, team members, and you yourself will be thankful. Find ways to play. We can be serious about our work without being serious about ourselves. Stay focused in order to be there when your customers and team members most need you. And should you feel your energy lapsing, try this surefire remedy: Find someone who needs a helping hand, a word of support, or a good ear….and make their day.


Special thanks to Bryan Rice and his team at Knecht Home Center as well as Ken Wilbanks and Rick Davis who pushed us to have BIGGER dreams!


Here’s all the details if you want to dig deeper in the rabbit hole.   (This is still in final draft mode, but 98.9% close to completion!)  Thank you Caitlin Stoll for working so hard on it.

Drexel has set up a scholarship program that will provide scholarships to the children of Drexel Team Members.

A scholarship is defined as a financial grant to an applied post-secondary undergraduate tuition at a qualified institution. A “Qualified Post-secondary Institution” shall include any accredited two or four year post-secondary educational institution. All Internet (on-line) degrees if are accredited are included.

The scholarship is for tuition costs only (fees excluded). Scholarships will be awarded for the the full tuition amount if attending a Wisconsin state institution. Private and/or
out-of-state institution scholarships will be the average Wisconsin state tuition for that year.

Candidates must meet the following criteria:

Candidates must be a dependent of a full-time team member. For purposes of this program, “full-time” shall be defined as a team member who has been employed for a minimum of 5 years and regularly works 40 hours or more per week during the immediately preceding five-year period.

Natural born or legally adopted. Stepchildren, unless legally adopted and living with the team member, shall not be eligible.

Candidates must be 24 years or younger and at the beginning of the academic term.

Candidates must plan to enroll as a full-time student (min. 12 credits)

Candidates who are incoming freshman must have a cumulative GPA 2.5 or higher for high school courses taken.

Candidates who have completed one or more years of college must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher for all courses taken.

Candidates must show extra curricular or community involvement.


Candidates must fill out an application form and submit to Drexel Building Supply by April 1st of each year.

After candidates are notified that they have met all initial qualifications they will participate in a personal interview with Joel and the Happier People Department as part of the application process.

On or before May 1st candidates will be notified if scholarship is awarded. Payment of scholarship will be made in equal installments for each semester and shall be paid to the college. If the student is not enrolled or has withdrawn as of the payment date, the scholarship shall be revoked.

Student must contact HPD department by January 1st with intention of continuing with second semester to ensure scholarship installment can be sent to college.

Tuition invoice will be paid within 30 days of receiving current report card/transcripts and tuition invoice. Invoice will be paid directly to the institution.

After candidates have received notification of being awarded scholarship, recipient and parents will be invited to the Drexel Awards Dinner. This awards dinner will be scheduled prior to academic year. Team Blue highly encourages both student and parents attend this ceremony to receive scholarship.

Scholarships are for one academic year and may be renewed if the student continues to meet all criteria. Scholarships may be renewed up to 4 years or a Bachelor’s degree is achieved, which ever is first.

This scholarship is a taxable fringe benefit to the team member.

Drexel reserves the right to review the program and inform the team of any changes. Team Member must be currently employed for reimbursement.


– Joel Fleischman.  Joel is Head Coach of the solution providers for Drexel Building Supply.  (drexelteam).   You can follow him on twitter:  @JoelmFleischman.   Our mission is to be a supplier of other’s happpiness.  I hope this little post did just that.