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PEP Talk From the Grave

My dad taught me countless things. On a daily basis I relate more than a dozen things that I do that came directly from his teachings. He helped me to mold the base of loyalty and creativity that became the grown up me. Among the manifold things he guided me on, he impressed three things into me more than anything else. Those three things were preparation, elbow-grease, and persistence. I do not remember him ever teaching me to combine these powerful tools, but I clearly remember individual lessons based around each one. The ironic thing about life is that after Dad left this life, I came to the epiphany that he had inadvertently taught me the secret to success in life. You see, my father recently died. I had the fortune and good luck of being down in South Carolina visiting him and my step-mom on the day he finally succumbed to lung cancer. Very early in the morning on Sunday, December 4, 2011, my dad passed. I know it sounds final and maybe even morbid, but I believe that it is not the end of my dad. Julien Kim Ripley lives on through me, and he will live on through my children as well. Over the past few months, I have spent time each day thinking about Dad's teachings and the amazing things he shared with me. A few weeks ago I was designing an inspirational speech for my coworkers at Emergent, and I listed the three most important elements Dad taught me. I suddenly realized (literally in an instant) that the three things worked in conjunction with each other. Beyond that, I also found that if setup and performed correctly, these three things would solve ANYTHING! On top of that, I almost jumped out of my skin, when I found that those three things formed the acronym and word, PEP. How fracking cool is that??

Today's blog article is going to briefly breakdown each ingredient and then mix them together to create a recipe for ultimate success.


Be Prepared
—Boy Scout Motto

Dad instilled a sense of planning in me from a very young age. Dad was a land surveyor and engineer, so planning was practically ingrained in him. For Dad, preparation was almost OCD. He planned, mapped, or drew out everything (regardless of how small the task). I can remember the countless hours he and Mom spent mapping out our trip across America. I also remember many pre-planning session before going out on our boat. His fascination for maps and route-planning has rubbed off on me. Along with mapping and general planning, Dad got me and my brothers to join the Boy Scouts. While there, I learned more about preparation and planning than most anything else in my life. There are tons of books on proper planning and preparation. Even better, the web is chock-full of advice and information. Seek and ye shall receive!


"There's plain few problems can't be solved with a little sweat and hard work."
—Preacher from the Pale Rider

When I was eleven years old, my dad asked me to move some chopped wood from our large wood pile to the easy access pile by our side door. I remember moaning and slumping as I dragged my feet toward the log pile. I acted as if Dad had put some terrible burden on my shoulders and it showed in my demeanor. I kicked the ground with each step and when I finally stood before the enormous stack of wood, I almost cried. Picking up a single log and carrying it like it weighed 50 pounds, I sauntered back to our house. I dropped the log and was turning to go back for another single log load. As I turned, I caught my Dad’s eyes. Dad was working on another project. He always worked so hard. I mean HARD. Most of us have no concept of what “hard” really is … Well, if you saw my dad in action, then you would understand what I’m saying. He worked incessantly, with a purpose, and HARD. Dad glared at me momentarily and then he called me over. Even though he was always busy, Dad had time to lecture and teach me. He stooped his sinuous 6 foot 2 inch body down to my level, smoothed the angry look on his face, and then firmly said, “Vaughn, you work harder at getting out of work than doing the actual work.” I honestly didn’t fully grasp the meaning of such a profound statement when I was eleven, but I get it now. And, I’ve gotten it for years. As a matter of fact, it is often my mantra to help boost me in giving an extra push during hard work. My dad and Clint Eastwood were a lot alike, and I can easily see Dad saying the above quote instead of Clint.


"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
—Calvin Coolidge

Out of the three, this one is often the toughest to stick with (no pun intended). Almost any project, goal, or outcome that is worth completing will have a trouble spot (sometimes several) that seems impassable. It is times like that when you must batten down the hatches, lean into the battle, and move forward despite your internal objections.

One my favorite sayings that Dad used on me was, “You gotta keep trying until you get it right.” I know that it is popular these days to say, “There is no try” (usually conveyed in a shoddy Yoda impersonation). But, that is not altogether true. I think that most people mean try as a solution, not as steps along the way. What I mean (and what my dad meant) is that you must try, try, and try again before completing some things. When Yoda said “There is no try” he was talking about the final outcome … Like, “I tried, but failed.” In that meaning, there really is no try, there is only do or do not. But, we do try along our path to success and understanding that will take you leaps and bounds ahead of the curve.

Bottom line: Being persistent is the difference between making something magnificent and failing to make anything.

Each of those above ideas by itself is mighty powerful. But, when combined, they form one of the best known combinations to plan, do, and follow through. I guarantee that you WILL NOT fail, if you properly execute each of these in conjunction with each other. The next time you have a desired result, utilize PEP. Start by sitting down, hashing it out carefully, and outlining a defined plan of how to achieve it. In other words, Prepare! Once the preparation has been completed and you have clear milestones and an action plan, get down to it. I like to call this part Elbow-grease ... Get some! As you are diligently working on completing your project, dig deep and find leverage and other tools to keep you going ... Be Persistent! I know that some of you are saying, ”That can’t possibly be all there is to it.” But I can confidently tell you from experience, that it truly is all there is to it!!!

“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
—Amelia Earhart

Dad may be dead, but his advice and ideals live on through me–and now–through You!

Shared with love,

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Posted by Vaughn Ripley

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