All the Talk on the Traits of a Real Man

Note: I first posted this on my old blog back in October 2014. I’m in the process of phasing that blog out. This is the last of my favorite posts from that blog. I once worked in a group home with 6 young women. This subject came up a lot so when I heard a podcast on the same subject, I had to write something.


dreamstime-personal-trainer-at-the-gymOne of the podcasts I subscribe to is the Slate’s Daily Podcast. It’s a collection of podcasts from Slate Magazine. Some of my favorites from the collection are The Political Gabfest, The Culture Gabfest, The DoubleX Gabfest, Slate Money,Lexicon Valley and The Gist.

I listened to the September 18, 2014 episode of The DoubleX Gabfest. One of the topics was a discussion on an article in BuzzFeed. The article was “28 Ways to Spot a Real Man.” This got me thinking … What are the standards for a ‘real man’? I did a simple Google search for “real man” and found a bunch of articles on the subject:


  1. Traits of A Real Man (
  2. The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man (Elite Daily)
  3. 10 Ways to Know You’re Dating a Real Man (Huffington Post)
  4. 4 Qualities That Make A Real Man (
  5. 20 Characteristics of a Real Man (

My favorites straits from all the articles include:

  • “He knows how to show his son that it’s OK to be different.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “A guy who knows his way around the kitchen. (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man) – I would add … “or can afford a really good restaurant.”
  • “A real man knows that doing good is its own reward.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “And isn’t afraid to admit when he is wrong.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “A real man knows how to be a good winner…but an even better runner-up.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “A real man knows how important it is to make a girl feel like a princess.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “A real man is a good father…” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man) – This goes with the saying, “Anyone Can Be A Father But It Takes A Real Man To Be A Dad.”
  • “A real man looks out for others…” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “…and always keeps his word.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man) – Another way to put it … “A Real Man’s Word Is His Bond” (Traits of A Real Man)
  • “A Real Man Can Defend Himself” (Traits of A Real Man) – Another way to put it … “A man doesn’t need to be able to fight or to protect himself and his family physically. But it helps. He does however need to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family safe and happy.” (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • “A Real Man Keeps His House In Order” (Traits of A Real Man)
  • “A Real Man Takes Care Of His Appearance” (Traits of A Real Man)
  • “A Real Man Doesn’t Gossip” (Traits of A Real Man) – Another way to put it … “When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.” ~ Louis Nizer (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • “Real men are passionate about something — and it’s not just weed or their new Nikes.” (The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man) –Another way to put it … “Men have a cause.” (4 Qualities That Make A Real Man)
  • “Real men don’t need to make fun of other guys to boost their own self-confidence, but they can definitely make fun of themselves.” (The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man)
  • “Real men have goals; they might seem lofty or completely absurd, but they’re working toward something, and that’s what matters.” (The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man)
  • Men take action. (The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man)
  • A man treats women with respect. If you don’t respect women, you’re not a man. Period. (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • A man can laugh at himself. (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • A man has fears, but he isn’t ruled by them. (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • A man learns from his mistakes. Although he might take a few cracks at it. (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)

Well, that’s my list from the articles above. What would you add or remove?

Thank you for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson

I’m a Proud Member of the “Swoop In” Club

Note: I first posted this on my old blog back in June 2014. I’m in the process of phasing that blog out. I edited it a little and re-posted here. It has nothing to do with travel but it explains an important moment in my life.


dreamstime_m_128365221 - People Lifting a WomanLet me start by explaining what the “Swoop In” Club is. I was a member of Toastmasters International. As a toastmaster, you have to give speeches in front of the club. The first speech all new toastmasters give is called “The Icebreaker.” It’s one of the easiest speeches because it’s short and you talk about yourself.

A woman joined the club. She talked about her divorce for her icebreaker. She described how she survived divorce because her friends “swooped in.” I remember thinking that was powerful! No one wants to go through a divorce, a death in the family or any other crisis. Unfortunately, crisis happen to all of us at some point. Will your family “swoop in” to support you during a crisis? Will your friends?

A little more than 3 years ago, my wife and I were living and working in a group home. It was hard work but we enjoyed it. The crisis came when we lost our jobs. It’s risky to live and work in the same place. If you lose your job, you lose your home at the same time. That’s what happened to us. We lost our jobs and had to move within three days. That’s short notice when you have a house full of furniture and personal belongings.

My wife and I got the news on a Thursday afternoon and had to be out of the house by Sunday night. We sat in the house for about an hour recovering from the shock. Once the shock was over, we started making calls. I called my parents and friends. She called her grandmother, brothers and friends. It was the same story told over and over. “We lost our jobs. We lost our home. We’re not sure what we’re going to do. We’re not sure where we’re going to go. We have to be out by Sunday night.” It could have been really bad but something else happened … PEOPLE SWOOPED IN! Our family and friends said over and over, “I’ll be there!” It was wonderful!

We spent the next day arranging for a storage unit,  renting a moving van, buying moving supplies and getting the house as ready as possible. Saturday morning, with almost no notice, people showed up. We had a crew of family and friends helping us pack the house and get us moved out. One friend canceled a planned weekend vacation to help. By Sunday morning, most of our stuff was in storage and we were living with a relative.

My point is not the story of our crisis. My point is I’m now a member of the “Swoop In” Club. A proud member of the club. I no longer have to wonder about my family and friends in a crisis. I know if a crisis hits, they come running … and that’s an awesome feeling!!! Are you a member of the “Swoop In” Club? I’d love to here about it if you are.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson

Ask Yourself; How Much Time, Money and Energy?

time-money-energyAre you thinking about starting a new project, joining a new club or learning a new skill?  Are you constantly being asked to serve as a volunteer, on a board or committee? The first question you should ask yourself is how much time, money, and energy will this cost?  Make sure you have a good idea of the costs before you say yes.

How much time?  How much time does the commitment require?  Are there meetings to attend (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)? How long are the meetings?  Are the meetings during the workday, after hours or on the weekend?  In addition to meetings, how much time will you spend working on tasks between meetings?  You want to make sure you have a complete count of the time needs vs. your availability. Time is valuable. You only get 24 hours in a day and you still need to sleep. Protect it! Say no if it requires too much time.

How much money?  Are you required to pay dues, fees, make donations or buy equipment? Will you have to buy tickets to anything (an annual gala, conferences, concerts, shows or games, etc.)? Are there other expenses?  Do you have to contribute to a soup kitchen, food drive, supply closet, or team uniforms? Will you have to travel at your expense? Small costs can add up quickly. Can you afford it all?

I served on a nonprofit board once that served a lite meal at each board meeting.  The committees took turns providing the food.  If it was my committee’s turn, I had to share in the cost.  In addition, I had to make an annual donation ($500 or more) plus the cost of tickets to two events each year. Bottom line … it put a big hole in my wallet each year. Try to get a realistic idea of the financial costs for the commitment.  I have seen good people forced to quit volunteering or give up a new hobby due to the financial burden. Say no if it requires too much money.

How much energy?  This is the hardest one of all.  Most people don’t think about energy cost.  Have you heard the saying, “A meeting of the minds but the minds didn’t show.”  Well each of us has a finite amount of mental energy to spend each day.  All commitments require mental energy. Sometimes, a lot of mental energy!  It’s important to show up to commitments with a clear, well-rested mind. When you take on a new project, you want to do more than just keep the chair warm.

Stress counts too. Stress counts more on the scale than mental energy. Why? Stress has both a mental and physical cost! Too much stress over time and you’ll pay the costs in doctor’s bills … which adds to money costs. Say no if the mental (or stress) score is too high.

Note: I first posted this on my old blog back in June 2014. I’m in the process of phasing that blog out. I edited it a little a re-posted here. It has nothing to do with travel but I like the wisdom.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson

It’s Not the Kite, It’s the Air

I love the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams! I can’t help dancing every time I hear it! I like it so much, I bought the song for my iPod and the video for my iPad. Once, the song came over the intercom while I was eating dinner with three friends in a restaurant. All four of us started dancing in our chairs. The song just makes you, well … happy.

I watched an interview with Pharrell Williams on CBS Sunday Morning. During the interview, Pharrell said something I’ve been thinking about a lot. He was asked, “Are you afraid if you give yourself too much credit, it would all go away?”

Pharrell’s answer, “For sure. You see people spin out of control like that all the time. I mean, those are the most tragic stories, the most gifted people who start to believe it’s really all them. It’s not all you. It can’t be all you. Just like you need air to fly a kite, it’s not the kite. It’s the air.”

What a perfe??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????ct metaphor …“It’s not the kite, it’s the air.” Ego check. Happiness and success are rarely achieved alone. Each is achieved with the help, support and patience of the people around you. You should thank them for it from time to time.

I launched a business with a partner about three months ago. I can honestly said I’m happy and making progress toward success. Let me say to my wife, family, friends and business partner … THANK YOU!!! … for your help, support and bountiful patience! If I’m a kite … they’re the air. Thank you to my readers as well. If this blog is a kite, you’re the air!

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

The Underpinnings of Integrity (Quote)

“There are three important underpinnings of integrity; authenticity and honesty, delivering on ones commitments, and refusing to violate the trust others have extended to us.”

— From the book, ‘The Power of Professionalism’ by Bill Wiersma

This is another favorite quote of mine. There are more cool quotes in Bill Wiersma‘s book – Power of Professionalism : The Seven Mind-Sets That Drive Performance and Build Trust.

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Do You Know Your VP’s?

V.I.P. / V.T.P. / V.N.P. / V.D.P.
V.I.P. / V.T.P. / V.N.P. / V.D.P.

A very long time ago, I worked in the Accounting Department of a hotel. I was given a chance to attend a training class called “How to Set Priorities.” It was a one day class (seminar really), held in a ballroom with 100 or 150 people. It was one of the best classes I ever attended!!!

The speaker covered a number of concepts. I think the most powerful concept was the VP’s. This idea made such an impression on me that I still talk about it to this day! The speaker said that everyone you meet in your career and in your life will fit into one or more of four types (or VP’s). The VP’s are VIPVTPVNP and VDP.

VIP = Very Important Person – In this context, a VIP is not necessarily the president of your company or a celebrity. A VIP is anyone that is helping you in life. It is anyone that supports you or gives you good advice. The VIP has your best interests at heart. Your family and your closest friends are VIP’s. The professionals that back you in life (your coach, accountant, lawyer, and the head of your church) are all VIP’s to you. These are your supporters when trouble hits or your rescuers when you get into trouble.

At work, VIP’s are all the people who help with your career, such as your business advisor or mentor. Any boss that will send you to training or other professional development is a VIP. Anyone that is “in the know” and can supply you with good information. After all, information is power in business and your career. All these people are VIP’s.

My point is this … find and keep as many VIP’s as possible in your life! Your happiness, success and ability to deal with problems are enhanced by the number of VIP’s you have in your life.

VTP = Very Teachable Person – To be a good leader, you must learn to delegate. To be a successful leader, you must learn to delegate to the right people! The right people are the VTP’s. VTP’s are people who are good at getting things done. VTP’s are fast learners, keep their promises and need little supervision. VTP’s are the people you recruit to your team when you get a promotion or call to help get tasks done for a project. Always be on the lookout for more VTP’s.

VNP = Very Nice Person – Everyone has nice neighbors and nice co-workers. Everyone has nice friends you see once a month for lunch. The person who serves coffee at the coffee shop maybe a nice person. These people make life more enjoyable. You need people to talk to about last night’s football game or play card games with or go to the movies. Nice people are good to have around.

The thing to remember is you must have a balance. Most people in life are nice. As a result, nice people can easily take up all your time. If you’re retired, that’s OK. If you’re trying to build a career, be careful here! At work, you can damage a promising career this way. If you spend too much time at the water cooler talking to nice people, you can get labeled as a slacker. Remember, VIP’s and VTP’s get it done and get promoted. VNP’s do not.

VDP = Very Depressing (or Draining) Person – These are the complainers, the drama queens and angry people. Life is negative for them. They come in several forms. The VDP is sad. The VDP is rude. The VDP always has a new problem and wants to talk about it for hours. There is always DRAMA! The real danger is a VDP wants to recruit you as a VDP as well! They want you to be negative WITH THEM. Don’t let this happen! You must wish them well, hope they someday find true happiness and let them go. To live a successful and happy life, you must keep the number of people in this category VERY small. Don’t let negative people rent space in your head. Their negative energy will bring you down and cause you stress! Stay away from VDP’s!

Well that’s it … the VP’s. VIP (Very Important Person) / VTP (Very Teachable Person) / VNP (Very Nice Person) / VDP (Very Draining Person)

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Wheel Life Thinking – The Repost

ID 46000662 © Kiosea39 | Dreamstime.comMy last blog was called “Wheel Life Thinking“. (It’s a long story.) I still have the domain but I have not posted to that blog in some time. This last year has been transformational for me. I decided to go in a different direction so I started “Maryland Travel Stories“.

I’m having fun with this blog. It’s helping me develop my writing skills. It’s giving me a path to explore the state I grew up in. I’m discovering the profession and mechanics of travel blogging. Lastly, it’s forcing me to travel more. (I could write a book on the benefits I’m getting from traveling along.) Frankly, I wish I knew about all this ten years ago.

I have a few posts on Wheel Life Thinking I really like. I plan to refer to them in future posts for this blog. This created a question for me. Should I link to a non-active blog? My thought is no, it’s not a good idea to link to a blog that’s no longer active. As a result, I’m going to re-post my favorite content onto this blog. This way, when I link to them, I’m linking to an active blog. I maybe wrong. People may think I’m crazy. But, here I am, stepping out on a ledge! My next few posts will be from my old blog.

Is this a good or bad idea?

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Restaurants and the Bathroom Test

RestaurantI eat in restaurants often. I like trying new restaurants, especially when brunch is served. I never worried about sanitation in the kitchen or if my server washed their hands. I just enjoyed the food.

TV shows change all that. Try watching shows like Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network,  Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel or Bar Rescue on Spike TV. I was shocked at all the unsanitary hotels, bars and restaurants out there. I always knew there are unsanitary places but seeing it on TV brings it to life. How can you tell when you walk into one of these places?

I got up to use the bathroom on one of my restaurant visits. It was really bad. The floors were dirty, the paper-towels had run out and the soap was empty. It hit me, if I can’t wash my hands, my server can’t wash his hands either. Then I realized, if a restaurant does not take the time to clean and re-stock the bathroom, why would I think they clean the kitchen? If I see roaches or other critters in the bathroom (and I have), I bet there are critters in the kitchen as well. I decided a really bad bathroom is a good sign I should get out of there BEFORE I eat a meal.

Why worry about a restaurants’ bathroom? Bathrooms are used by customers. Some restaurant managers don’t care or are too busy to make sure the bathroom is clean and stocked. If a place customers see is a low priority for cleanliness, what’s the priority for places NOT SEEN by customers? It’s a red flag at least!

My sister-in-law works in the restaurant industry. She has another test. Look up at the air vents in the dining room. If they’re dirty, so is the kitchen. Do you have a test? If so, please share …

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!