Rivers of Thought

Life, Leadership, Business & Technology

Amplify Your ValueOK, folks! Some shameless self-promotion here!

My new book Amplify Your Value – Leading IT with Strategic Vision will be published on August 13th! The Kindle e-book version is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com. The paperback and audio versions will be available on the 13th!

If you would like to place a bulk order for 10 our more paperback copies (at a 20% discount) email me at Jeff.Ton@TonEnterprisesLLC.com!

Interested in receiving a free two-chapter preview? Click here to download! 

family, baseball, FBA

Today’s post is by my son, Brad Ton. On Father’s Day this year, Brad was asked to share his thought with the congregation at First Baptist Church (the church he grew up in) about his experience with First Baptist Athletics. For those not familiar with FBA, it is a youth sports program developed by First Baptist as community outreach fifty years ago this year. Both my sons, Brad and his older brother Jeremy, participated in baseball, soccer and basketball…and yes, for most of those 15 years, I was coach. 

Good Morning!  It is my honor and privilege to be with you this morning, on this Father’s Day, to share with you my experiences with First Baptist Athletics.

It dawned on me as I was preparing my remarks for this morning that today marks 17 years to the day, June 17th, that my Grandfather, Gene Ton, baptized me here at First Baptist Church.  

family, baseball, FBA

Brad circa a million years ago

Some of you may know me and some of you may not.  I grew up in this church and in the FBA program. As a kid I had the opportunity to participate in sports such as soccer, baseball and of course…basketball.  Throughout my childhood experience at First Baptist Athletics, I learned a lot of valuable lessons.

The importance of working with a team, how to be a good sport (win or lose) and quite possibly the most important lesson of all: as soon as you step foot on the basketball court…you’re open.  Hey, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?

As a kid, I was lucky.  My Dad was my coach. Countless evening practices and Saturday morning games, my Dad was there.  Some say it can be hard being the “coach’s son”, but it never was for us. He always treated me just like everyone else on the team.  There was no extra special praise and I most certainly was not given a pass where others were not. The importance of those lessons has always stuck with me. It was our time together and I truly appreciate all of the time and energy he put in to making it so special.  20 some years later, I can officially relate!

A kid growing up in the First Baptist Athletics program is a lucky one.  I’d be remiss not to mention George Robinson who was the FBA Athletic Director throughout my time in the program.  Looking back, I’m not quite sure how George had the patience and wherewithal to handle hundreds of EXTREMELY energetic, sugar-filled youngsters every weekend.  But somehow, he did and he did it amazingly. I’m extremely grateful for his guidance throughout my youth.

Fast forward SEVERAL years later and our son Jordan was getting to the age where it was time to play ball! There was no doubt in my mind where I wanted him to play.  Thankfully, my wife fully endorses my itch for nostalgia. We immediately signed him up for First Baptist Athletics T-Ball. Initially, I wasn’t going to coach. I had just stared a new job, I was involved in some other things and the timing just was not right.  Then I got an email from FBA Athletic Director Steve Carr, that said the 4 Year Old T-Ball League is still in need of coaches…… I forwarded to my wife, Holly, who said “well… there you go!” It was meant to be.

family, baseball, FBA

Jordan, Brad & Grandpa 2018

Coaching my son Jordan this season is one of the greatest things I have ever done.  He probably would not tell you the same thing today, but that’s okay. Even when the hot summer sun has him tired and rolling in the dirt during the 2nd inning, I know…in that moment…we are truly…truly bonding.  Really though, seeing the smile on his face, interacting with other kids and learning how to be part of a team in the FBA environment has been remarkable.  As a parent, you want your child to learn the lessons of life that they need to properly grow and mature…but…could you also stay wrapped up in this bubble while you do that please??  No, FBA is not a bubble. Trust me, those baseballs can leave a mark if you aren’t paying attention! It is a place where kids are free to succeed. Where they are free to fail. And where they have a tremendous opportunity to learn from both.  

We chose to participle in First Baptist Athletics because, quite honestly, in today’s world, the environment created here is rare.  It is truly about having fun. Every kid, regardless of skill, size, ability, background, every kid gets a chance to play and learn.  I’ve seen some amazing things take place on the fields and courts at First Baptist Athletics. And it is all due to fun and safe environment that has been created and sustained here.  I’m extremely proud to play a small part in continuing the success of the program that has brought me and my family so much joy.

Thank you and Happy Father’s Day.

Brad Ton, June 17, 2018 delivered to First Baptist Church
Amplify Your Value

Amplify Your ValueIt is finished! Just a few short days ago I clicked send on an email submitting my manuscript to my editor. “Amplify Your Value – Leading IT with Strategic Vision” will be published in a few short weeks.

Using stories from my time as a Chief Information Officer for Lauth Property Group and Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana, the book lays out a framework for creating a vision, defining strategies to achieve that vision, and executing on those strategies. As Will Lasalle said in his foreword for the book, it comes complete with the cheesy IT humor you’ve come to expect from me! You can read more about the book at Amplify Your Value.

This is a moment I have been dreaming about for years. In fact, I have started and stopped writing a book about as many times as a smoker starts and stops smoking. What was it that enabled me to break through and actually finish a book? Is there some sort of “patch” for writers?

For me, the breakthrough came from a LinkedIn post last fall. One of my connections, Mike Pritchard, shared his thoughts about a book he had just read titled, “You MUST Write a Book”. His post was so energetic and enthusiastic about the book, I commented on the post thanking Mike for sharing. To which, Mike replied, “Jeff, you SHOULD write a book. You MUST read this book.”

That day I downloaded the audio book, “You MUST Write a Book” by Honorée Corder. I listened to it on my daily commute. In fact, I think I listened to it three or four times. I was so energized! I ended up buying a paperback copy as well so I could refer back to it easily.

One of the things she talks about in the book, is to find a topic you are passionate about, perhaps one that you have spoken about. I decided on Amplify Your Value. I have spoken to numerous audiences, telling the story of the tremendous accomplishments we achieved during my five year tenure at Goodwill. I even had a series of blog posts I had written for Intel on the subject. I began to write!

Since early November I have been getting up at the ungodly hour of 5:15 every day (well, ALMOST everyday) to write. The house is quiet, the coffee is hot, and the daily deluge of email has not yet started.

For Christmas, my wife Carmen, gave me another book by Honorée, “I MUST Write MY Book”. This book is a workbook that follows along with the text from “You MUST Write a Book”. As you complete the exercises in the workbook, you build a plan to develop, write, publish and market a book. Go figure, a career IT geek needed STRUCTURE and a PROCESS to successfully complete a manuscript.

Drawing on my past experience as a hip-hop record mogul (you remember Brad Real and 8729 Records, right?) and Honorée’s approach, I have chosen to take the indie publishing route. Carmen and I have formed a publishing company, I’ve hired a freelance editor, proofreader, and copywriter. I even used crowdsourcing for the cover design.

The book is not yet available for pre-order, however, you can follow along on the journey by subscribing to my newsletter. I promise not to spam your inbox, but if you want the latest on the book, my blog posts, or my speaking appearance, sign up for Jeff Ton – News today!

Here’s what some early readers of Amplify Your Value have said:

“As a seasoned technology leader, Jeff shares his majestic career journey with authentic vulnerability.  It is refreshing to see such a thoughtful and strategic perspective for technology leaders to learn from.  The five business models framework maps tangible steps to take action right way!” Julie Kratz, Founder, CEO of Pivot Point, Author of “One”

“Jeff tells a compelling story of being a CIO in the trenches – taking charge when opportunities present themselves, shoring up operations when required, and evolving strategies that drive business results. IT leaders will relate to his challenges and learn best practices from an experienced leader.”Isaac Sacolick, President and CIO of StarCIO and Author of “Driving Digital”

“Jeff’s right. The CIO is best placed to lead strategically in the face of perpetual transformation. His own journey to a seat at the table won him many battle scars. He has used that experience to craft a must-read book for any CIO that wants to know how to lead IT with strategic vision from a seat at the executive table. It is a blueprint to shift from keeping the lights on to the kind of enterprise that not only avoids disruption but builds a strategic competence of innovation.”Ron J. West, CEO of West Executive Inc and creator of The Chrysalis Program

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