Unsung Heroes

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Unsung Heroes dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (275x320)

The world is full of unsung heroes.  They seem to be everywhere, on every continent.  The ones that immediately come to mind here in the U.S.:

  • The Policemen and Firemen who put their lives on the line to protect us daily.
  • The Teachers who selflessly give of their time and talents to educate our children.
  • The Military which protects our freedoms both here and abroad.

Those are the obvious ones, but there are others that come to mind that should be recognized:

  • The Dads who work hard to provide for their families, and are faithful to their spouse, and still make time to go to the kid’s school and sporting events after an exhausting day at work.
  • The Moms who work hard as homemakers to nurture the kids, clean the house, be the taxi driver, participate in the PTA, be a part-time nurse, be an excellent cook, and be the soul-mate of her husband.  She also works outside the home in many instances to provide additional income to the family.
  • The Single Dads and Moms who raise kids without the benefit of the other spouse.
  • The Pastors and Clergy who give of themselves daily to serve their congregation.  Being a Preacher’s kid, I know firsthand how much work they do that never gets noticed and is rarely appreciated.  The smaller the church, the more the pastor has to do himself.
  • The Coaches that teach our youth how to compete, and that winning and losing are both part of the game…and part of life itself.
  • Nurses who tirelessly give of themselves to serve the patients and the Dr. at the same time.
  • People who Volunteer.  Many organizations, including most non-profits have Volunteers who give unselfishly of their time, talents, and energy to serve their fellow man.
  • People who work behind the scenes that get things done and rarely are recognized for all they do to help the organization succeed (think camera men, stage crew, I.T. people).

This is not an all-inclusive list obviously.  You may think of individuals you know that are unsung heroes.  Next time you come across one, let them know how much you appreciate what they do.  A simple act of acknowledging their contribution can make their day, and energize them to serve another day.  If you really want to make their day, send them a letter letting them know how much what they do means to you.  A verbal thank you will energize them for a day.  A letter will help fuel them for a lifetime.  Everyone wants to be affirmed that what they do matters.


Dan Skognes

Good Better Best

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

Good Better Best dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (309x320)

Shopping has become easier since marketers have taken the liberty of telling us which one is good, which one is better, and which one is best.  This easily applies to appliances and electronics.  Price usually is a pretty good indicator, but not always accurate depending on how hot the item is (like a new I Phone).  Those categories may be indicative of some great value, but it always boils down to price, doesn’t it?  We always have to reconcile the budget to the purchase to figure out what is best for us.

But what about people?  What happens in our heads when we are setting goals for ourselves?  We go through the thought process and analyze the probability of us attaining our goals based on our past performance and what we “think” is attainable. We also count the cost. How much time and effort is this going to take? Don’t we do this pretty consistently?

What if the value we place on our abilities is warped by our perception of what we think?  What if we are allowing past failures or even successes to taint our current performance and thus settle in to a comfort zone that we “feel” is attainable?  What if we let our fear of the future keep us from setting higher goals?

What a tragedy if we think that “Good” is as good as it gets.  We have to put things in perspective.

  • While past performance is an indicator of future performance, it is not the only indicator. Past performance is something that is best left in the past, whether good or bad.  Don’t live on past glories or past failures if you expect to progress past the point of being “Good.”
  • Better is better than Good, but still falls short of excellence, so there is room to grow even when you are better.
  • When you have attained “Best” in any category….sports, sales, politics, creativity…whatever it might be…even then you have room for continual self-improvement.  Best is subjective at best….and is always subject to being better.  We never reach our full potential because of the ability we have to improve our mind, our body, our vision, our passion.  We have an infinite capacity to improve as long as we admit we have not “arrived.” There is always another mountain to climb, army to conquer, game to win, sale to be made. The truth is….we attain “Best” for a brief fleeting moment, and then we have to keep pursuing it from that moment forward.  Think Super Bowl Champions, Salesman of the Year, President.

There was a movie some years ago with Jack Nicholson called “As Good As It Gets.”  It was a very good movie about someone who was really flawed in his perceptions…but got better and better as he realized the value of other people…especially the lady he fell in love with.  He had a line in the movie that was classic.  “You make me want to be a better man.”  I like that line.  Wish I had thought of it.  But you know what?  That applies to my wife.  She does make me want to be a better man.  She makes me want to be a man that she will respect…and I do all I can not to disappoint her in that arena.

Sure…I still have a long way to go, but I am continually striving to be the best.  The best husband, her best friend, the best dad, the best insurance and finance guy on the planet, and the best motivational blogger ever.  Needless to say…that is a TALL list and I have a long way to go in my quest for the best, but those are my goals.  You have to think big if you want to be the best. With God’s help and hard work, why can’t I? Why can’t YOU?


Dan Skognes

Is There Anything That Duct Tape And WD40 Can’t Fix?

Posted in General

Is There Anything That Duct Tape And WD40 Cant Fix dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur

There is a joke in my house that I am “Mr. Fix-it.”  I have a talent for taking something apart and not knowing how to put it together again, or putting it together and it working worse than before….or not at all.  I call it a “gift.”  LOL

If you have this gift, you will be smart to remember that a call to the plumber or electrician is much cheaper and a lot less frustrating in the end.

I learned a long time ago what my limitations were.  I just am not mechanically minded.  I don’t do plumbing, electrical work, or handle large equipment.  I really tested fate when I used a chain saw to chop up some tree limbs we cut down.  Thank God I still have all MY limbs.

I love Duct Tape and WD40.  They are two multipurpose products that just beg to be tried for something you need bound together or loosened apart.  One binds, one loosens.  How simple is that? Depending on what state you are from, you just might be using Duct Tape for about everything from holding on your bumper to taping your commode in place.

Now personally, that is where I draw the line.  I am not going to have tape on my bumper or my commode, I won’t wear a costume of duct tape, and I won’t be wrapping gifts with it.

Many years ago I bought my parents an expensive clock from Germany for their home.  It finally quit running, so my dad got the WD40 out and doused the insides of the clock.  I was MORTIFIED that he would do that.  I would have taken it to a clock store and had someone look at it to see what was wrong, but you know what?  It worked.  All I could do was laugh about it after the fact.

I have since used the tape to hold more than a few things that were in need of repair, and the WD40 is simply amazing at what it will loosen.  I found out it even takes off the tar that gets on my car when going over recently repaired roads.  How cool is that?

I also found out that there are Duct Tape and WD40 in Heaven. Matthew 18:18 says:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

You gotta love that!  Even God uses Duct Tape and WD40!  LOL.

P.S.  IMPORTANT NOTE: You are not supposed to put WD40 on your wife.

1st Corinthians 7:27 says:

“Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed.”  Apparently the Duct Tape is OK.

If she balks at the tape, don’t call me.  Take it up with God.


Dan Skognes

When Is Right Wrong?

Posted in General, Relationships

When Is Right Wrong dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x200)

If you are left-handed, you know that the world was not made for you. It first dawned on me in grade school when I sat at my desk.  It was obviously made for a right-handed person.  Then the spiral on the notebook was on the wrong side.  And when I wrote left to right, I always got ink or pencil marks on the bottom of my hand!

We lefties have a joke that says, “At least we are in our right mind,” which technically is true.  That kind of irritates me though.  The right side of my brain controls my left side.  I can’t get away from it. Sheesh!

They say that left-handed people are more creative, and that is probably true.  We HAVE to be. We drive on the left side of the road, but we yield RIGHT of way. GRRRRR.

If you are a conservative, guess which side you are on? Right!  When you say the Pledge of Allegiance, which hand do you place over your heart? Right!  If you think outside the box, they say you are “Out in left field.”  And that is not a compliment.

Even in the Bible the left symbolized the dark side.  When God separates the good from the bad, guess which side the bad ones go on??? Left! Guess which side of God Jesus sits on?  Right!

We are “left” out, but it is “right” on.

Historically, the left side, and subsequently left-handedness, was considered negative. The word “left” itself derives from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, meaning “weak.”

The Latin adjective sinister/sinistra/sinistrum originally meant “left” but took on meanings of “evil” or “unlucky” by the classical Latin era, and this double meaning survives today, and in the English word “sinister”.

Even the word “ambidexterity” reflects the bias. Its intended meaning is “skillful on both sides”. However, since it keeps the Latin root dexter, which means “right”, it ends up conveying the idea of being “right-handed at both sides”.

In Sanskrit, the word “वाम” (waama) stands for both “left” and “wicked.

A “left-handed compliment” is considered one that is unflattering or dismissive in meaning.

I remember stories of people not much older than me that had to learn to be right-handed!  Their teachers thought that being left-handed was wrong and they were doing them a favor by teaching them the “right way.”  At least I was spared that.

About 15% of the population is estimated to be left-handed.  I am not sure what causes it.  I had two brothers, both left-handed, and my sister and parents right-handed.  Go figure.

I am not really complaining about the biases against lefties.  It is what it is.  Unfortunately, when someone says “It is what it is,” it is never a good thing….but apparently it is the “right” thing.


Dan Skognes

Climbing The Corporate Ladder

Posted in Business, Motivational

Climbing the Corporate Ladder dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x213)

When I first graduated from college many years ago, all I could think about was getting my first job.  You know what was the deciding factor for me to take the job?  Any guesses?  Yes, like most people, the thing that drove me to accept an offer was money.  How much were they going to pay me?

I did consider the quality of the company and where I would be working, but the overwhelming driving force in deciding who I was going to work with was the paycheck.  That is pretty ridiculous when you look at it that way.  If I had to do it all over again, I would change that.   Alas, youth is wasted on the young.

The funny thing is, as I progressed in my career, money always seemed to drive my decisions…money and benefits.  I remember early in my career one of my first jobs was with Johnson Wax.  Great company, great products, and competitive pay.  They had excellent training too.  I quickly proved myself in the field and got two promotions and found myself working in the home office in Racine, Wisconsin as a field recruiter for two divisions of the company.

You have to remember, I am a native Texan.  I had never seen a snow shovel.  I had never experienced winters that lasted for 9 months.  It was a great experience for me business-wise and yet caused a lot of personal problems.  My marriage fell apart partly because I insisted on moving my family to Wisconsin for my promotion.  I was so busy climbing the corporate ladder I lost my identity.  I lost sight of why I was working in the first place.  I wonder how many families have been destroyed over such foolish, self-centered behavior.

My career eventually turned to the medical field where I spent 22 years selling medical equipment.  I was successful in that field, but I had to travel a lot.  So, I was gone 3-5 days a week for most of the 22 years.  That finally took its toll on me as well.  My marriage was rocky at best, and while I was making a lot of money, earning top sales awards and traveling the world for fun, I knew there had to be something better.  I left the job at the peak of my career, but lost my family in the process.

From there I transitioned to the banking industry.  Got some great training with Chase bank…but never achieved the level of success that I was accustomed to.  That career abruptly ended when Chase and Bank One merged and let go of my whole division.   I found myself over 50 looking for a job.  Not a good place to be.  I did a lot of soul searching and trying to figure out what I was going to be when I grew up.  I finally got into the insurance world out of desperation.  I had to get a pay check and this was one industry that did not discriminate against me because of my age.

The funny thing is I actually like what I do now, and have been doing this for many years.  I especially like the investment side of the business, and enjoy helping safeguard people’s future.

I learned the lesson late in life that the ladder you climb better be against the right wall.  It is not all about the money, and it is not all about ME. You may be on that ladder for quite a while, so think long and hard before you take the first step.  Pretty tragic when you get to the top and find it was the wrong wall to begin with. The moral of the story is, choose your ladder and your wall wisely.  If you decide to climb the corporate ladder, count the cost and make sure it is against the wall that you truly love.


Dan Skognes

What Makes You Mad?

Posted in Motivational, Relationships

What Makes You Mad dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (320x214)

I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of things that can make me mad.

  • Traffic jams
  • Car problems
  • People who don’t keep their word
  • Health problems
  • Money problems
  • Friends who don’t stay in touch
  • Family (LOL…do I need to explain this one?)
  • People who stand me up for confirmed appointments
  • People who lie to me
  • People who are rude or disrespectful
  • People who are nasty
  • People who are crude
  • OK…people
  • When my plans that have been well thought out fall apart
  • Not having enough money
  • Not having enough time
  • Not having enough patience
  • Not believing in myself enough
  • Not trusting in God
  • Trusting people too much
  • The government
  • Bullying
  • Unkindness
  • Lack of empathy
  • Racism
  • Pride
  • Arrogance
  • The love of money
  • Self-centered people
  • Evil
  • Unforgiveness
  • Negativity
  • Abusing someone that is helpless
  • Abusing animals

Did that hit a few things that you are mad about too?  Let’s change this list.  I would love to cross them all off and say I was pleased about all of these things that now bug me.  One step at a time.  It begins with standing up for what is right, and taking a stand against evil.  I am committed to change.  How about you?


Dan Skognes

Fear No

Posted in Poetry, Spiritual

Fear No dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur

Fear no woman, and fear no man

Fear no object, and fear no plan

Fear no success, and fear no loss

Fear no burden, and fear no cross

Fear no evil, and fear no war

Fear not less, just fear no more

Fear only God but don’t be afraid

For in His image you and I were made

He made the sky, the earth, the seas

He made the animals, birds, and bees

He made for us to enjoy and tend

We do not own, God only lends

Fear no love, love conquers fear

God is love, to Him draw near

Fear no past or what’s to come

With God on your side, the victory’s won!


Dan Skognes


Posted in Business, Motivational

BYOB dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur

No, I am not telling you to bring the booze….LOL.  This stands for Be Your Own Boss. Whether you are self-employed like I am or you work for someone else, you need to be your own boss.  How do you do that?

We are all leaders, albeit reluctant at times.  Obviously some leaders are excellent, and some are poor.  Some are even absentee.  Lead from the front. Engage with your family, your team, your community, your troops. Get out from behind the desk or out of the easy chair and engage with those that are in your path.

Accept responsibility.  Everybody makes mistakes.  There is an old joke when 2 people were discussing being wrong.  One guy admitted to being wrong a lot of times in his life.  The other guy said, “I was wrong once, but that was when I THOUGHT I was wrong.”  We have all known folks like the second guy.  Never wrong.  Never able to admit mistakes.  Slow to apologize.  Quick to judge.  Don’t be one of those people.  They are difficult if not impossible to have relationship with.

Be willing to make decisions.  Fear keeps people from making decisions, and fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.  Most of what we fear never takes place.  Don’t have paralysis by analysis.  Make a decision, for Pete’s sake.  It is ok to analyze things, but some folks seem to revel in analysis and nothing ever gets done because there is always another way to analyze it.  Set a deadline for making the decision and stick to it.

Be a servant leader.  Put the needs of others ahead of your own needs.  People will respect you and your relationships will have an opportunity to be authentic, not just superficial.

Zig Ziglar has some very profound and timeless pieces of advice:

1) “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

2) “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

3) “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

4) “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”

5) “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.”

6) “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”

7) “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”

8) “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

9) “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

10) “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

Enough said.


Dan Skognes

Are You Teachable?

Posted in Business, Motivational, Relationships

A very old school house chalk board

One of the key things I look for when I am interviewing someone is whether they are teachable and coachable.  Most people will answer that question with a “Yes, of course I am.”  The only problem is, their history and their actions speak to the contrary.

Why is it that someone who has been struggling in their life in a particular area won’t listen to someone who has been there and done that and have come through the other side?

Why is it that people who claim to want to change just give lip service and then do what they have always done?  That is kind of crazy, right?  But it happens every day all over the world.

Here are some common problems to being teachable and coachable:

  • You have let your pride get the best of you and you won’t listen because you think you know it all.
  • You have believed the lies that have been told to you.  You are not “good enough, smart enough, strong enough.”  Or, “You will never amount to anything good.”  Or, “You are a loser!” If you have bought into the lies about yourself, you will never be able to accept the truth about yourself.
  • You have a problem being taught by a certain gender, a certain aged person, or a certain race.  You are prejudice and won’t allow yourself to learn from them because you have prejudged them as inferior or someone you can’t trust because you’ve been burned in the past.  That is pretty sad, because we can learn something from everyone.  The greatest lessons we learn may be from those we have the least in common with.
  • You have believed the flattery of others.  “You are the greatest.”  Or “You are the best thing since the dawn of time.”  Or, “You have no equal.”  You may be indeed very gifted and great at what you do, but if you don’t swallow that with a glass of humility, you could lose your future opportunities by alienating those who hold the keys to the kingdom…your kingdom.  It goes beyond the “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” mentality.  You need to respect and love them…even when they don’t deserve it.  That is the essence of being teachable. It is submitting your will to someone else and being willing to learn from everyone.
  • You simply talk too much.  You can’t learn if you refuse to take time to listen.

My hope is that we all remain teachable and coachable.  This is healthy and will make for a lot less stress in life for everyone.  Being teachable and coachable is like being a Willow tree…able to bend.  You can insist on being the Oak, but if you break, you just might not be able to recover from it, and who knows what damage will be done to others at the same time?


Dan Skognes

Remote Control

Posted in Spiritual

Remote Control dan skognes insurance finance investments motivation blogger speaker entrepreneur (219x320)

There was a funny movie some years ago with Adam Sandler called “Click.”  It was about a guy that had the ability to use his remote controller to control time.  How cool would that be?  Hit the back button if you need to go back and fix something?  Hmmm…I would have to go way back and fix a lot of stuff.

As intriguing as that is to think about, unfortunately, we have to live in the moment and cannot undo those things that have taken place.  But what if there WAS a remote control that could fix the things we messed up?  What if there WAS a way to make something positive come out of our bad choices?

Well, there is such a thing, but we don’t control it, God does.  He has the remote control for our lives.  He has the ability to fix the worst things we have done.  He has the ability to transcend time.

The problem for many people is they have lost the remote control.  They can’t let God do His work in their lives because they can’t find Him or they simply choose not to find Him.  Some people don’t believe there is a God, and so they don’t concern themselves with having Him involved in their lives.

I heard a guy on YouTube this morning telling everyone that they did not need a God or Savior.  They just needed to believe in themselves.  They themselves were the very thing they needed to come alive.  All I could think was, “Wow.”

People are looking for the answers to life.  They are looking for solutions to the problems they face.  They are seeking peace and meaning for the ultimate question, “Why are we here?”

If you listen to the guy on YouTube, it is all about you.  Somehow, I find that hard to swallow.  If we are all there is, then this is indeed a pretty sad situation.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I make a very good god.

As good as I try to be, I still make a lot of dumb decisions.  The difference for me is that I know that God has the remote control.  He loves me and guides me, giving me hope and direction for each day that I face.  When I make a dumb decision, He does not smack me on the head, but graciously helps me though the situation.  Yes, there are consequences to dumb decisions, but He helps me through them.  Nothing I do (either good or bad) can change His love for me.  That gives me hope and courage.  It strengthens my faith as I see Him work in my life and the lives of others.

I realize that some people will read this and roll their eyes, thinking, “Poor Dan.  He has bought into the myth of the Bible and the story of Jesus.”  And to the naysayers I simply say, “You are right to a degree.  I HAVE bought into the Bible and the story of Jesus, but it is not a myth.  I have personally experienced God’s work and intervention in my life.  I have experienced the grace of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  I know that Jesus is the answer. Nobody can take that from me.”

I would encourage you to put down your remote control, and let God have it.  It makes all the difference in the world. By the way, the remote control of God is within your reach. You just have to accept it.


Dan Skognes