As we move through life, growing and hopefully succeeding along the way, it can be easy to forget the fundamentals. Marney Andes reminds us of them in her new book, Start with the Give-Me Shots: 8 Homegrown Lessons for Business and Life.

After seeing how her personal stories helped clients in her performance consulting and leadership development work, Marney decided to glean a book of fundamental advice of life lessons taught to her by her father. On Author Hour today, she talks about why straightforward lessons are so powerful and necessary today, how these lessons have shaped her life and the lives of her clients, and the importance of practicing those give-me shots.

Jane Borden: Hi Author Hour listeners, I’m Jane Borden and I’m here today with Marney Andes, author of Start with the Give-Me Shots: 8 Homegrown Lessons for Business and Life. Marney, thank you so much for being with us today.

Marney Andes: Thanks, Jane, for having me.

Jane Borden: I really enjoyed your book and definitely learned some things. I want to ask you first, how did this book come to be? Why did you decide to write it?

Marney Andes: Well, the book is based on eight homegrown lessons and core lessons that my father taught me. Some of which, he quite frankly probably didn’t even realize that they were core lessons for me in my life. Years ago, even before my dad passed away, I was invited to speak at a women’s luncheon and I used a few of these lessons and tried them out, and what I found out was, it really connected with a lot of the folks that were in the audience.

What I’ve also seen is, just throughout probably the last 10 to 15 years of my life, I’ve really intentionally started to share them, whether it be with folks I work with, or friends and family, and what I found is, again, it really resonates with them. So, when folks ask me, “How have you come to be who you are or the success that you’ve experienced in your life?” It really has come down to these lessons.

Instead of so sharing them sporadically or through conversations with colleagues or friends and family, I decided it was time to write a book. Part of that was really to honor my dad, quite frankly–to be able to put some of these lessons to paper.

It was really an intimate experience for me to go through that writing process and to think about the stories with my dad and what I learned from him. Then, of course, translating that into words and descriptions and context for folks that were reading it, who may have never known my dad and may have never known me.

That was really an incredible experience for me because I got to honor him but also because every time I wrote something, every time I thought of a story, every time I sort of tested it out with others, it just reaffirmed for me how much these lessons not only mean to me and have meant to me in my life, but how much these lessons can mean to others, to share them more broadly.

Jane Borden: Well, this idea that you were able both to honor your father and also help people, speaks to something you discuss in the book, one of your dad’s pieces of advice about making sure that you’re always finding a win/win situation.

Tell us a little bit about what you do and how you’ve applied these lessons with your clients?

Marney Andes: For really my entire career, it’s been summed up in helping other people develop. I started out my career as a secondary middle school teacher so my undergrad is in secondary education, I taught for a few years and then very quickly decided I wanted to go to graduate school and get the skills so that I could do that more in a corporate environment.

I’ve continued to do that throughout my career. I’ve been an instructional designer, I’ve been a coach, I’ve been a facilitator, I’ve led teams that do all of this. What I found is, regardless of what stage the audience or the teammates I was working with or the executives were, whatever stage they were at in their career, these messages have really resonated.

Certainly, it’s because of how I approach the work. I love to be able to share with people that one thing that folks have always said about me is that I really inherited my gift of gab from my dad, so I love to tell stories. It’s how I think through complex problems, it’s how I navigate new experiences, I really think about, “Well you know, what have I already done before or how has somebody else shared their experience with me?”

My dad was a really great storyteller. In fact, I think the community at large absolutely loved him growing up because he was always the storyteller or the joke teller, the person that was just really willing to talk to anyone.

Doing that in a work setting has been really comfortable for me, maybe not so much in my early career. These lessons, even though I learned them very early on, I didn’t really put them into practice until later on in life, which is why part of the book is almost like talking to the younger version of me but also, reminding folks that are at the stage that I’m at now that you can always continue to draw from these lessons. You can always reconnect with these lessons and continue to practice them.

I always found myself telling these stories or framing up the way we might initiate new work for the year with my teams or with other leaders I was working with, and many times, I would come to these stories. I would come to these phrases that my dad would share with me.

You know, when you’re getting feedback from colleagues, peers, but also, CEO’s, some of which are in Fortune 500 companies, and they are saying, “That’s a really great way or that’s a really great analogy for the situation that we’re in right now with the business that we’re doing.” It would put a smile on my face because a little bit of me would be nervous going into it thinking, “Gosh, is this story, from when I was in high school, or is this story with my father from when I was a young adult going to work here?”

I would just go with it and get, again, affirmation from others that it worked for them too, and that was just more of the fuel that I needed to finally decide, “I need to write this book.”

What Are Give-Me Shots?

Jane Borden: I love that. Well, let’s dig into one of the examples, and let’s talk about the one from the title. What are the give-me shots and why should you start with them?

Marney Andes: I love this one and there’s a reason why I also titled the book the title of the second lesson which is, “Start with the give-me shots,” because I can still see it, I can still hear my dad’s voice, I can still almost feel the climate around me and the environment around me, and it really comes back to playing basketball.

Growing up, athletics were a big part of my life, they were a big part of my family’s life. My mom and dad were both athletes, my brother and sister were both athletes and basketball was something that I really connected to. So, it was a time when I was coming out on a weekend. I was coming out the front door of our house and decided to just start launching shots from anywhere across the court and my dad was at the far pens. We raised Angus cattle and my dad farmed corn and wheat. You can imagine this fairly good-sized farmyard and my dad was probably a hundred yards away, down by the far pens by the calves that he was probably throwing in some feed to feed them at the time. I remember him yelling up at me, “You’ve got to start with the give-me shots.”

My dad was a loud guy, so it wasn’t hard for me to hear that and I knew. I knew that he had told me this time and time again and so after a little bit of time, I started dribbling back and forth, I saw my dad walking straight toward me. He had left whatever he was doing down by the far pens and walked up to me and he just looked at me and said, “You have got to start with the give-me shots.”

My dad loved basketball, I grew up watching basketball with him on Sundays, we watched NBA together, it was something we loved to watch and talk about. It wasn’t just playing, it was also studying it, talking about the best players and different plays.

My dad was adamant that if you could just start with the fundamental shots, what he called, the give-me’s or he also called it dink ball, which were the shots that were basically like two feet away from the rim on each side and dead center in front of the rim. What he would tell me is, “You just need to shoot a hundred shots from each of those spots and then once you do that, you can move out. You can shoot shots that are further away from the basket.”

What he was really trying to teach me at the time was, if you do that, one, you will hone your skills, you will hone your shot, you will be unstoppable when you’re that close to the rim, if all you’ve done every single time you come out is practice those and then, extend and go outward from the basket.

The way that I’ve approached that, and I’ve shared this story many times in my current employer, I’ve actually shared that with my team–too many times we were so busy trying to figure out, “What’s the new thing that we can do and how do we innovate?” And, “Gosh, I have this thing over here that I don’t do very well, I really gotta practice that.”

The lesson here isn’t to negate all of that, it isn’t saying just ignore that, don’t work on those things. What it’s saying is, what you are really good at, the things that make you uniquely you or make you really uniquely positioned to do incredible work in your job, or where people seek you to be an employee, people will recruit you to do these certain things. Those fundamental things that you do really well, you have to practice every single day. In order for them to continue to be the give-me’s in your career, the give-me’s in your life, you have to practice them. You can’t just say, “I’ve been able to do that,” and check the box and move on. You have to do those every day and I think people need that reminder. I think about it all the time.

One of the things that I had talked about in the book is that one of my give-me shots is, I love speaking in public. I love telling stories, I like making presentations, but I have to practice those all the time. I’ve had colleagues say to me, “Oh gosh, it was so great to see you on stage, you were so good at that, I wish I was naturally good at that.”

I will tell them, this isn’t because I’m naturally good at it, I enjoy doing it. I like it, it has really helped me in my career without a doubt, which is why it’s one of my give-me shots and one of the things that I constantly practice. When I think about getting ready for a presentation or I think about speaking to a large audience, I am practicing those stories. I’m trying to figure out what’s the right balance for those. I don’t leave it at will for me to do those things.

I don’t know that that’s what my dad thought he was teaching me, of course, when we were on our driveway and he was reminding me that I needed to do that. He was trying to do it for a basketball career and that did benefit me because I was recruited by colleges, I did play college basketball for a division two school.

I ended up ending my career as the fifth all-time leading scorer for girls’ basketball in Nebraska history and I don’t think that was because of chance. It wasn’t because I got lucky, it was because my dad was adamant about me practicing and working on the fundamentals every single day I went out to practice.

Practice Your Fundamentals

Jane Borden: There’s so much good advice in here. I mean, I’m hearing not only the importance of practicing and focusing on your give-me shots, but also remembering to value them and not take those skills for granted, not always be looking for the next way to innovate but to remember what people value in you–your fundamentals.

Marney Andes: Absolutely, I make mention in the book something that I hear a lot of people talk about, and I’m not quite sure that they are really thinking about the meaning behind it. I will hear leaders say things like, “What got you here won’t get you there.” It’s not that I disagree with it, but I think it can be misleading for folks, especially people that are trying to navigate a career and trying to move up or trying to take on more responsibilities. Because the notion of it kind of tells you, “Those things that you were really good at, well, you’re going to have to get this whole new skill set to do something over here,” and I don’t believe that that’s the case.

I believe that you will have to acquire more skills, likely. You will have to learn more information and I absolutely believe in a growth mindset, that we all need to be on this path of continually learning and stretching and trying to expand what information we take in, how we think about that, and how we give that back to our community for the greater good, but to think that things that I’m really good at now won’t serve me later is a fallacy. I think about folks that I know, colleagues that I know that started as analysts and then really proved themselves and became directors and now are on the path to being vice presidents. I know some of the pathways of CEOs that I worked with and many times, they come back to saying, “These were the things I was really good at and that’s what somebody saw in me and they gave me those chances based on that.”

To assume that you have to put those things to the side and create this new tool kit that you will actually pull from, I don’t think that’s setting us up for the reality.

I’m saying you really need to dig in and do those things even more so. Just because you get the promotion or you get more responsibilities, you’re going to have to make more time to practice because you really will have to hone those skills. You’ll have to continue to keep those things really, really sharp. I think that’s the value of coaching and being able to constantly think about, “Well, how am I developing and how am I growing as an individual or as a leader?”

Many times, you’ll want to spend as much time practicing a new skill as you do the skills that you are fundamentally good at.

Jane Borden: You write that the straightforward nature of these lessons is powerful especially because of how most of us live today. What do you mean by that?

Marney Andes: I have found in my adult life that we can get very busy, and I believe we can create a lot of complications in our life that, quite frankly, we could solve for if we were just to think about the very simplistic nature of these lessons.

The lessons from my dad are everything from being the authentic you and connecting with other folks in a very real way because that builds the foundation for all relationships to really grow, to thinking mindfully about your finances, and how you think about what you buy and why you buy it, and how that adds value to your life, and what kind of life are you trying to create for yourself, to how do you navigate relationships?

One of the things that I always appreciated about him, was that he would always tell you the honest opinion that he had. There was no sugar coating anything, which means my dad would be very honest, but he was also really intentional about those things so that they weren’t hurtful. It was to make you better.

One of the first lessons of my book is, “Be proud of where you came from.” That doesn’t mean only be proud of where you came from if you had the most spectacular life. That’s saying the things that you have experienced, the people that you know, the people who have supported you, maybe the people that didn’t support you, all of those experiences have led to who you are today, and it matters that other people know that. When they know that, they will make a connection with you that sets up the pathway for everything else that I’ve written in that book. Relationships were really, really important to my dad. Those were everything from the friends and family that we hung out with every New Year’s Eve day and New Year’s Day, to how he knew who to have business transactions with?

Again, they’re not complicated lessons but they really are lessons that can drive all aspects of your life. I do think about it as relationships, how to navigate the workplace, how to think about family challenges you might have, how to think about your finances, how to think about your life in general, and how you reflect on that as an individual. All of those lessons in this package of the simple way that my dad used to say them to me and how he used to share them with me, and a really simple story of how I learned the lesson.

What I found was, if I was going to take in the information in a very simple and straightforward way that my dad gifted to me, then the way that I was going to help the readers interpret that and really put it into practice with their own lives was also going to be simple.

Then guiding the reader with some questions to think about how they can put those lessons into practice too. It’s the simplicity I saw in my father, and I heard from my father, and I wanted to make sure I honored just as much of his simplicity in the way in which I describe the lessons in this book.

What Did You Do Today?

Jane Borden: That’s how we connect, straightforward storytelling, which is also something you talk a little bit about at the beginning of the book–connecting with people. How did you choose which lessons to include? Presumably, your father gave you more than eight, right?

Marney Andes: Absolutely. It was a process, I actually would ask my mom. It started out as a quasi-research project. I asked my mom what kind of advice she’d been given over the years and what resonated with her. I asked my aunt Karen, who’s my dad’s sister, some advice that resonated with her, and I would write those things down. Friends and family will probably not recall this but I would ask those questions of them too.

What it helped me do was start to identify the lessons that were really, really specific that my dad taught me. I also went through old photographs, which I think is an incredible experience whether you are going through digital photographs or you’re going through hard copies like I was. I started to see stories within the photographs, and I started to hear the sayings that my dad would share with me.

So, I started drafting all of the sayings that he had, all of the lessons that he taught me, and I kept revising those. Finally, one morning after my early morning workout, I went right to the notebook and it was easy for me to see the eight. I knew that collectively there were these eight core lessons, but it was really clear as to the order of the lessons. That was an intentional decision as well, how I actually shared the lessons with everyone.

When I think about it, the first lesson, “Being proud of where you came from,” which I have talked a little bit about–that’s really the value of how you connect with others authentically, how you share your story and invite others to share their stories as well.

The last lesson, lesson eight, was a saying that I absolutely loved that my dad would say to me and many who knew him later in life will recognize this question. He would always ask folks whenever he saw them, “What did you do for the good of the community today?”

He asked me that question when I was driving home, almost every day on my way home from work I would call him and that would be the first question out of his mouth, “What did you do for the good of the community today, Marney?” Sometimes I had a lot to say. Sometimes I didn’t have very much to say at all.

When people hear that question, if you don’t know my dad or you haven’t read the book yet, you’ll think it’s probably fairly philanthropic like, “What have I don’t for the greater world today?” That kind of question, and sometimes it would spark those kinds of answers, but really what my dad was asking me to do was to reflect on my day, to think about what had I done and had I slowed down enough to just even think about that?

In some cases, it might be just to honor it and feel grateful for this incredible day I had. In other cases, it was, were you so busy that you haven’t taken the time to really think about what you did, and realize there’s a pattern there and maybe that isn’t feeling that great and you need to actually do something about it?

This is probably the lesson of the lessons, which is why it ends up being the last lesson in the book and that is if you don’t take time to reflect, if you don’t intentionally slow down and really sit with your own thoughts and think about, “What did I do today and why did that matter and did that make me happy? Did that go against my values or is that not helping me go in the right direction of what I actually aspire to do with my life?”

All of those things can get drummed up and if you don’t take the time to do it, you’ll never know what those feelings are. So, I tell folks, “Don’t get into the cycle of, letting the day go by and then decide, ‘I don’t know, it was really tough. I didn’t like that day but you know what? I got to go to bed. I’m tired. Moving on.’ And then the next day you just rinse and repeat. That’s not good.”

So, going back to what you asked me at the beginning of this, I think people have created a busy-ness in their lives. I think they have created complications that are really unnecessary and if lesson eight does anything, the question every day–What have you done for the good of the community?–stops you, gives you permission, permission for yourself to take time to think through, “Am I doing what I want to be doing? Are the actions that I’m taking putting me on that path? Am I spending the time I want to spend with the right people? Am I spending time with the people that feed me or drain me?”

All those things can start to become more clear if you take time to reflect and it doesn’t have to take long. That’s one thing I share as well. This could be a minute to just slow down, have your own space, and think about what it is that you want to do. In some cases, it could be very profound. In some cases, it’s, “Great, I’m glad I did that. I’m going to do more of that.”

Jane Borden: I imagine you learn so much from the people you teach or advise.

Marney Andes: I do. I have learned the value of asking questions and letting people speak and that is probably one of the big reasons why, at the end of each lesson, I provide guiding questions. Keep in mind, everything that I put in the book, I practice myself.

I’ve shared already that similar sentiment when describing one of the lessons in the book. These are lessons you will practice for the rest of your life. I practice them every day. Some days I do that really well. Some days I struggle with them, and that in and of itself is advice. Advice that I would have, I think the advice that I certainly share with other folks that I work with is, you will have to do the work, but this book makes it really simple for you to see what the work is.

These questions can really help guide you and can help you think through how you want to navigate each of the lessons. I think it is important though Jane, for me to share that I go through these questions too, and I have to in order for me to continue to practice these lessons every day.

Jane Borden: Helpful to know and inspiring as well. There have been so much helpful and inspiring words in our conversation and there’s even more in the book. Marney, it’s been such a pleasure speaking with you. Tell the listeners, in addition to reading the book, where people can go to learn more about you and your work?

Marney Andes: Yes, I have a website, marneyandes.com, where I’ve shared information about the book, but one of the things that I’m really excited to be able to do–it goes back to the first lesson, which is to connect with others–so when folks go to my website and sign up, part of that is signing up for a guided tour if you will, to go through some of these questions but overarching, I’m really, really excited about the opportunity to create a community, a place where we can connect and where we can share stories.

Just as I mentioned at the end of my book, there’s advice that all of us have been handed down over the years and some of it will sound similar to the lessons that I share. Maybe it has a different saying, maybe you heard it from someone different in your life but there is probably advice even outside of that. Going back to your question, “There’s probably a lot of lessons you’ve learned from your dad that you didn’t put in the book,” and that’s right. There’s a lot of lessons that everyone else who will read the book will say, “Oh yeah that’s right. I forgot about that really great piece of advice that was given.”

In order to help us slow down, in order for us to not feel the busyness, for us to make a complicated situation simple, I’m inviting people to be a part of that community.

Jane Borden: Listeners, check that out, and again, the book is Start with the Give-Me Shots: 8 Homegrown Lessons for Business and Life. Marney, thanks so much for being with us.