Don't Walk Through Life Alone


Saturday evening I had the privilege of attending a fundraiser for the Navy SEAL Foundation. The Navy SEAL Foundation provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and its families. We had the opportunity to hear from a couple of members of the SEAL community. The first, "Bam" Smith, is a Mt Lebanon product who served 30 years as a SEAL. While sharing a little about the unbelievable deployments and service he has rendered to our country, Bam focused mostly on the support of his family, particularly his wife. He went out of his way to deflect praise from himself and give it to his family as well as those who served with him. It wasn't merely lip service, it was heartfelt and real!

We also heard from a young woman who shared the powerful story of the service and death of her husband, Heath Robinson, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. Not a dry eye in the place. As heartbreaking as her story of loss was, in it was also filled with power and redemption. She spoke of the strength and depth of the support she has received from the SEAL community.

Bam walked with a limp. Mrs. Robinson walked with an ever-present hole in her heart. But a large part of what sustained them is that they didn't walk alone. They had a team. A family. A support structure. A people group, tribe, fellowship, whatever you want to call it, that not only walked with them through horrific times, but at times carried them.

Do you? Some of us may have family, friends, church or other people who do that for us. If so, give thanks for them today! But there are many folks who are surrounded by people but without a "family" to carry them. Don't try to walk through life alone!

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”

– Unknown

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

Jane Howard

Finding Fulfillment in Nonwork Communities


Hi Friends,

It has been two years since I began with the Pittsburgh Experiment. Thanks for being part of making it a great couple of years! Since I began my tenure, I have done a lot of reading on how relationships have been replaced with "connections" or "contacts." We are clearly a more connected world that at the same time has grown more isolated and lonely. Here is another article reinforcing those findings.

"It is essential to invest in meaningful relationships outside of work. Our research has repeatedly shown that people who thrive are anchored in at least one or two nonwork communities. This is more than blowing off steam on a treadmill or reading a book alone at night....Making time for nonwork commitments is not just fulfilling; it also helps sustain your mental and physical energy. Relationships outside work broaden our perspective and tap into aspects of our identity that don’t rise and fall with how well things are going in the office."

I had someone early on tell me that PX groups were struggling and would continue to do so in the future because of social media and the increasingly crazy pace of life. What seems to be more accurate is that PX groups are needed now, more than ever. We provide a warm, welcoming, judgement-free space where all are welcomed into a safe community.

What's preventing you from inviting someone into your group?

What's preventing you from checking out a group yourself this week? Remember, Relationships outside work broaden our perspective and tap into aspects of our identity that don’t rise and fall with how well things are going in the office."

Chris Buda

No One Becomes Great On Their Own


Friday morning I had a chance to attend a men's breakfast where former Steeler player, and current Steeler broadcaster, Tunch Ilkin spoke about football and faith. Tunch is a great and motivational speaker. Everyone I spoke with who attended were pumped up to attack the day. Many of you have attended similar events. They can be very encouraging.

But if you are like me the lift in your positivity level lasts a while then wears off, like your early morning cup of coffee by mid-afternoon. What do you do about it? Wait for the next big event? Hang in there as long as you can until you get another injection of motivation? I would offer there is another way. It's referred to in the following excerpt from Matthew Kelly's book, The Rhythm of Life.

The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. They either help us become the best-version-of-ourselves or encourage us to become lesser-versions-of-ourselves. We become like our friends. No man becomes great on his own. No women becomes great on her own. The people around them help make them great. We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the best-version-of-ourselves.

The best way to stay positive and on top of your game is by spending time regularly with a group of like minded folks who are seeking to be the best-version-of-themselves and want you to be the best-version-of-yourself. People who, "raise our standards," and "remind us of our purpose." People like those you find in your Pittsburgh Experiment groups. If you are not in a group, contact me and I can get you a list of current groups. If you are in a group, consider inviting a co-worker who could use a place and a group of people to help encourage them to grow professionally, personally and spiritually. You don't have to be an ex-NFL star to be a motivation and encouragement. Be yourself. And love your neighbor. That may be the best motivation they get this year! And make sure you are plugged in to a group who builds you. As they say in flight instructions on a plane, in case of loss of cabin pressure, make sure your oxygen mask is secure before helping those around you.

Chris Buda

The people you surround yourself with really matters!

I listened to a Malcolm Gladwell podcast on the drive to town this morning. (link below) He was discussing his thoughts on high performing individuals He did the podcast alongside his friend, Adam Grant, an Organizational Psychologist. They shared the results of a couple of studies to show how impactful being around the right team was to individual success.

Google brought in Grant to study their company and asked him what one thing he would have them change as an organization. Grant noted that all of Google's greatest innovations came about through teams. Grant suggested that he would do "lift outs." Hire whole teams. Promote whole teams. Fire whole teams. Teams outperform individuals. He said he would not focus on high-performing individuals, but on highly successful teams. The people you surround yourself with really matters!

Gladwell referenced a NASA study of airline accidents. 75% of all airline accidents occur when crews are flying together for the first time. Furthermore, the study showed a well rested, freshly trained crew working together for the first time consistently under-performed a tired crew who just pulled an all-nighter, but who had regularly served together. The people you surround yourself with really matters!

Gladwell also referenced a study on cardiac surgeons that found their success rates were tied into which teams the surgeons worked with more than his/her training, experience, or how rested they were. The people you surround yourself with really matters!

So the question is, with whom do you surround yourself? We can't all choose who our companies hire. Most of us can't dictate who is on our work team. But we can choose to intentionally build in time to surround ourselves with positive people. With healthy people. With people who will love us enough to listen to us and speak truth into us. Hopefully those are people in your Pittsburgh Experiment group. But wherever you find those people, find them. The people you surround yourself with really matters!

As Darren Hardy writes in The Compound Effect:

“According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, [the people you habitually associate with] determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.”

Take Notice

I hope your week is off to a good start!  I am re-using an anecdote from last summer with a short update.  It's based on the principle we have been committing to live out as a Board.  It's the principle of noticing.

Have you ever had a similar experience?  Coming into work one morning when my office was in the Oliver Building, I thought I was being gracious holding the elevator for a woman who was running to catch it.  As she hurriedly got on I asked her what floor she wanted me to push for her.  When she replied "12" which was the same floor as me, I asked her who she had an appointment with that morning.  She looked at me quizzically and responded, “I work here, Mr. Buda.”  As the elevator door opened I quickly spit out, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you.”

 I wasn’t lying.  But I would have been more accurate if I had said, “I’ve never noticed you.” Each Monday I email you encouraging us to love our neighbors at work.  To care for them.  To be there for them.  To pray for them.  Perhaps, to even invite them to be part of our PX group. 

None of that happens, unless we first NOTICE them. A precursor of knowing someone, is noticing them.  That means intentionally walking through your office and this world with your eyes up, with them open to your neighbor. On purpose. Intentionally.

If we love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say, like artists, we must see, not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces.  Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.   Frederick Buechner


Since I shared this anecdote last summer, a friend mentioned he has tried to notice people around him more intentionally. He made sure to greet and get to know the two attendants in the garage in which he parks during the week.  A couple of weeks ago as he pulled up he noticed the garage sign said "Full."  As he started to roll by to look for another place to park, he noticed one of the attendants waving him down.  When he rolled down his window the attendant told him to pull in and leave him the keys and he would take care of him.  When my friend said, "I thought you were full," he was told,"There is always room for a friend."

My buddy did not "notice" this man with expectations of any favors.  He did it because it was the right thing to do. And after 6 months of "noticing,"  he had made a friend. Imagine the impact we could have by intentionally noticing people with  whom we work  40 or more hours a week. 

Sit up. Take notice. Be available. Make a positive impact on the world around you.

Be A Leader


As a former wrestler and current coach, this is the time of year where dreams of championships are either fulfilled or crushed. I've been able to celebrate lots of victories and deal with even more losses. Over the years I have noticed how people celebrate victories and handle defeat. I've never seen someone win a championship without, at least, a small contingent of teammates, coaches, friends and family celebrating with them. But for every victor, there is a vanquished opponent. Their corner is often more scarcely populated. Teammates have filtered out to watch the next match. Coaches often give a pat on a back and give them space to deal with the pain.

That's often the case in life. Everybody wants to be part of the victory parade. Less want to be part of picking up the pieces of a crushing defeat. Make sure you have people in your life who will stick by you in hard times. People who will be there after a poor business decision, a moral failure, or an obvious wrong choice. People who stick with you when your stock price is tanking. Have people in your life who will pick you up from in front of the bus, not throw you under it. Want to BE a leader? Be the person to others that you would want in your life when things go south. Be someone's friend when it's no longer popular to be that person's friend. Fair weather friends are a dime a dozen. Be the unique human who is worth more than gold!

Leading Through Humility

Good Monday morning to you all!  I am guessing some of you are off work for President's Day, while others of you are sitting at your desk!  Wherever you are, be the best you, you can be,  And don't be afraid to admit when you haven't been!  I read this interesting excerpt this morning.

What makes someone a strong leader? One characteristic that is often overlooked is humility. The best managers acknowledge their weaknesses and aren’t afraid to show their vulnerabilities. It’s tempting to want colleagues to see you only at your best, but that’s a bad way to lead. For one thing, it’s unsustainable. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Sooner or later, you will, too. For another, leading is about connecting. People will follow you, work hard for you, and sacrifice for you if they feel connected to you. And they won’t feel that way if you only let them see what you think will impress them. So don’t be afraid to own up to the areas where you aren’t perfect. If it helps, think of it this way: You aren’t weak; you have weaknesses. There is a difference

Years ago when I was coaching high school football, we had a rule of no cursing in practice. If a player cursed, he had to run a lap. One day I got a little over-excited and a word slipped out of my lips that shouldn't have.  Immediately a bunch of kids excitedly yelled, "Run a lap, Coach!."  Which I did without comment,  When I finished, another coach grabbed me and was livid.  His reason?  We were adults, and the same rules didn't apply to us.

I've made plenty of mistakes in leadership decisions.  I would contend running that lap was not one of them. You want to be a great leader? Don't be above admitting your mistakes. It will take you a long way down the road to being a respected and effective leader of men and women.