Charlie Adams is also a
Senior National Speaker
for the
National Collegiate Scouting Association of Chicago

Sign up for our free
Motivational eNewsletter


A Guide to Igniting Your life

stoke the fire within book




Click here to order.





Available at the Notre Dame Bookstore and

Archive for November, 2013

Monday, November 25th, 2013

The grateful attitude of Terry Klarich

- by Charlie Adams – Inspirational speaker and author

Terry Klarich spoke after me at a recent conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the Dept. of Rehabilitation Services brought me in to speak on the power of attitude and how it impacts customer service.

Terry is blind. That hasn’t stopped him from raising three girls, being a valuable employee as a system analyst at the energy company ONEOK or from wood working on the side. He just finished a four poster bed for a client. He also has a sail boat.

(photo of Terry and me and his guide dog Virgil)

Like many of the people I have studied over the years who have built and kept a positive attitude, Terry utilizes humor. With his guide dog Virgil by his side, he opened his Talk by saying one time a lady approached both of them and blurted out, “Is that one of those blind dogs?”

Without missing a beat, Terry replied, “Ma’am, if it is, he and I are both in trouble!”

He talked about how he doesn’t have any lights on in his wood shop at night. He joked how a neighbor came over and said there were no lights on. “I’m blind,” Terry said. “Don’t need them.” The neighbor replied: “Well, I am turning them on….because it makes ME feel better!”

Terry actually found humor in making his way to the podium after being introduced. His dog got him close, but as he slowly stepped towards it he bonked into it!

“Found it!” he said with a smile.

Terry was born two months premature back in 1963. He said back then they didn’t know a lot about taking care of premature babies. Babies eyes aren’t meant to be exposed to oxygen until birth. Doctors were so concerned with keeping him alive that by putting him something with oxygen, which damaged his eyes greatly.

He could see to a degree up until his teens when he had to stop doing things his friends could do easily. One of the things I speak about is the solution centered attitude. When Terry realized he wouldn’t be able to drive, his solution was this:

“I got a girlfriend that had a car.”

During his college days they didn’t have books in electronic form, so he would have to hire someone to read for him. He would take a tape recorder to class and hope the batteries would last.

“I owe everything that I am to my mother Mitzie,” he said with conviction. “She didn’t cut me any slack. One time it was my time to clean the bathroom. I said I couldn’t because I was blind. I said it to be lazy.”

He paused.

“I ended up cleaning the bathroom.”

“She made me do my own laundry,” he added. “She would say, ‘I don’t know how, but we will find a way for you to do things.’”

Terry then said something I think is very important.

“Helping someone is good,” he said. “But doing for someone is not, in my opinion.”

She raised me with a find a way attitude,” he said. “We had a pool where the kids would jump from our roof into the pool. I know she cringed when I did it but she didn’t stop me. I know she spent a lot of time on her knees. Another thing she did was say that she didn’t want me to look blind. I had this habit where  since I couldn’t see faces I didn’t see the point of looking at the person speaking to me. If she saw me not looking at them, she would kick me under the table.”

“Of course after being hard with me … now she is a real softy with my kids!”

Terry admitted his first marriage was not good. “I got married in 1990 and had three girls,” he said. “That marriage did not work out. Huge custody battle. I don’t know how many depositions I went to. Imagine, a blind guy getting custody of his girls. I did. The Department of Human Services came out to see if I could take care of them. They saw how I had all the food organized. The guy said, ‘Make them a meal.’ He watched as I made spaghetti, green beans and garlic bread.”

Terry got married again and was very much in love with Cheryl. One day he and his wife were sailing competitively when she became very tired after the first race. Exhausted after the second they forfeited the third. Cheryl went to the car and sat there as Terry broke down the sailboat. When he got to the car she was crying on the phone while talking with his mom, a nurse. Cheryl described her yellowish eyes and skin and was told by Mitzie to get to the hospital. There they found it was pancreatic cancer.

“She lived about a year,” Terry said. “The company I work for, ONEOK, let me work from home for the final two months. We had been saving for awhile for that sailboat. I wanted to name it after her. She said no. She told me I need to get on with my life. So I thought about how we both loved to listen to the blues and we liked the song Misty Blue. I named the boat Misty Blue because blue was her favorite color and that was my way of honoring her without using her name like she wanted … ”

Cheryl has been gone since April of 2012.

Terry talked about searching for and getting jobs over the years.

“I would submit resumes and never mention I was blind,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to apologize for being blind. One thing I do in interviews is explain how I will get to work and get around, even though that is not a legal question for them to ask. I just make sure they know so it will ease their mind. As someone with a disability you have to be better than those with abilities. No one said life would be fair. I have worked hard. The IT world here in Tulsa is pretty small. I have built such a reputation that I could get a job anywhere here in it.”

“I would never have considered disability,” Terry said. “My mother would have killed me.”

After speaking in Tulsa and hearing him speak after me at the conference, I called him up when I got back to my home of South Bend to tell him he would be the subject of my Tuesday newsletter. I then asked how he was able to sail.

“There’s no way I could do it by myself,”  he said. “I need someone to steer but when I am at the wheel I use my iPhone. The compass helps me maintain a course. As far as sail trim I can feel what the boat is doing. I have learned by the way it sounds and feels what needs to be done, but to get that last 10% you have to see the tell tails which are the streamers attached to the sails and I can’t see them, so I need help there.”

Terry Klarich is an amazing person with a positive attitude. He told me we all need to understand how important encouragement is in life.

“The way I look at it is that I have lived a very blessed life,” he said. “I wanted a sailboat and got one. I have a wood shop. If I had gone the disability way I would have spent my life sitting in an apartment with nothing to do.”

What an awesome attitude! No doubt, when I deliver future talks on attitude, one story I will share will be that of Terry. If you know of someone who could benefit from his positive approach to life, take a minute and forward this to them.

Charlie Adams

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Lessons from Chick-Fil-A

- by Charlie Adams – Inspirational speaker

I had the opportunity to deliver a 3 hour form of the important correlation of positive attitude to customer service at the Oklahoma Dept. of  Rehabilitation Services Fall Meeting in Tulsa (photo below). When I asked them of a place that came to mind when they thought of customer service and positive attitudes,  Chick-Fil-A was a frontrunner as well as their QuikTrip convenience stores there.

When I talk with my three children about the ‘working world’ out there there are two things I emphasize that are critical for success: a positive attitude and customer service.

There are many other things, but those two are big. My oldest, son Jack (photo below) is a 20 year old college student who also works 4 nights a week. Because customer service is so important, I encouraged him to work at a local Chick-Fil-A as their organization is known for tremendous customer service.

I recently asked Jack to share some insights, which his manage was fine with (I called him because I wanted to make sure it was okay to reveal some of their philosophies).

“The owner and site manager of the Chick-Fil-A I work at is Edward Endres,” Jack told me. “He has an approach called ‘Think Mike.’ Mike is an older, disabled man who comes in once a week. We take his tray to his table. When families with lots of kids or older or disabled people come in, we ‘think Mike’ and take their tray to their table so they don’t struggle. We don’t ask, which would be emphasizing that they can’t or it’s a struggle for them. We just do. Edward has a slogan of ‘Second Mile Service’ which means going the extra mile.”

Jack shared all kinds of inspirational customer service methods they practice, such as they never ask, ‘How may I help you?’ Instead, it’s, “How may I serve you?’ It is all about service.

“We never say, ‘You’re welcome,’” said Jack. “We always say, ‘My pleasure.’”

Jack sometimes works the register. Other times he moves around the Chick-Fil-A looking for opportunities to serve. “When picking up trays we never say ‘trash,’” said Jack. “We always say something like, ‘May I take your tray.’”

When Jack works the counter he says they always say, “I can serve the next guest.” They always make eye contact. They then get the name so that they can let that person know their order is ready by saying their name rather than saying some number.

“They are never customers,” Jack said. “They are guests.”

Edward is very big about us not being fake, but being genuine,” he said.  I think that’s a great point because I know sometimes when I go in a Jimmy John’s and they all shout out a welcome, it doesn’t seem genuine.

Jack says on the door leading out from where the food is prepared into the dining area are signs with Edward’s philosophies, such as “Think Mike” and “Second Mile Service.”

“Edward is very big about us being ‘relationable’ with customers and not ‘transactional,’” Jack told me. “It’s about building a relationship and not just taking money through a transaction. He wants us to create a tiny memory with that customer so it’s not about getting as many customers through but about being a nice place to eat.”

“We also have an approach of we should do something for them before we ask how their meal is,” he said. “For example I may go out and ask if I can refill their drink. When I bring it back then I will ask how their meal is going?”

He brings up a great point. How many times have you been in a restaurant when the manager or the waiter or waitress flies by and asks how everything is going. Then they zoom off to another station.

“When a customer asks us to do something we always answer with the word ‘absolutely,’” said Jack. “That word has an immediate and positive energy in it and it means we are going to do something immediately.”

My thanks to my son Jack for these valuable contributions. Whenever I speak at colleges I always say that their ability to have positive, solution centered and team oriented attitudes and understand the importance of exceptional customer service will dictate – along with determination and perseverance – how far they go in life.

Last year Farmer’s State Bank had me speak on positive attitude, customer service and peak performance at their off-site meeting. Their leadership had the Chick-Fil-A training video played at the end of the day. There were hardly any dry eyes after watching it. If you have not seen this short 2 minute and 39 second video, I encourage you to watch it below. It is about how every customer has a story. It … is … powerful …

Every Life Has A Story - the powerful Chick-Fil-A training video on Customer Service
Every Life Has A Story – the powerful Chick-Fil-A training video on Customer Service


Thank you for the tremendous response to last Tuesday’s enewsletter on the commitment legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden and his wife Nellie had for each other. For 25 years after she died John wrote her a love letter on the 21st of each month, and laid it on their bed. As a follow up here is a very, very inspiring Wooden did just before he died at age 99…

John Wooden Love Letters
John Wooden Love Letters

Charlie Adams Motivation

Keynotes for conferences, retreats and meetings and seminars designed to be a part of your training events

“How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing!”

This keynote, or 2 or 4 hour seminar is based on the 2013 book of the same title. It equips your people with the attitudes to be more positive, team oriented and solution centered.

* Stoke the Fire Within

This peak performance keynote is ideal for opening or closing conferences, retreats, meetings and off-site days.

* The Spirit of Customer  Service

2 hour seminar often paired with How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing!

Contact information:

Direct line: 574 – 807 – 2279



574-254-0188 || Email Charlie