Relationship Pine Belt


When you read this, it will be Thursday, January 18. However, I am writing this on Monday, January 15, the day we honor and remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our song, “Fall On Me,” was written by four fellas who met by chance in 1979 in Athens, GA.

Peter Buck got there via California by way of Atlanta when he dropped out of Emory University and enrolled at UGA.

Buck worked at Wuxtry Records which was frequented by a quiet, introverted army brat named Michael Stipe.

They found they had mutual love of the same bands and decided they’d start one themselves and went looking for a rhythm section.

They found it in Macon natives Bill Berry and Mike Mills. They would call themselves R.E.M.

The track comes from my favorite R.E.M. album, the 1986 LP Life’s Rich Pageant, and would start the conversation that they were getting too big for their college radio britches.

Let’s dive in…


There's a problem feathers iron

Bargain buildings,

weights and pulleys

Feathers hit the ground before

the weight can leave the air

Buy the sky and sell the sky and tell the sky and tell the sky


What do you think enhances your ability to succeed or move up in the world?

Is it hard work and training? Formal education? Post-graduate degrees?

I think you’d be on the right track if you had some or all of those things, but those all pale in comparison to one thing.


Now, I don’t mean you should go out like you’re trying to win a popularity contest.

I mean break down any preconceived notions you may have had about groups and organizations. Break down preconceived notions you have about people.

Take a second look at that school for special needs kids you thought you knew about.

Sit down and really do some research on that civic club that you thought was just a bunch of your dad’s old colleagues, and see they really do affect change in your community.

Contact your local chamber of commerce and see if they have any programs for professionals trying to move up in the community.

I give those specific examples because they are both things all things I did that continue to enrich me personally and professionally to this day.

Shameless plug #1: I am fortunate enough to have gone through the Hattiesburg ADP’s Leadership Pinebelt program (Class of 2013, best class EVER), and I color myself lucky to still be on that program’s steering committee.

For me, there has been no development/leadership program I have attended—before or since—that has enhanced my personal and professional trajectory more than Leadership Pinebelt.

I met and engaged business owners, captains of industry, educators, CEO’s, COO’s, and CCO’s.

They not only shared their wisdom but brought us into their network and said they would welcome my call should I need them in the future.

At its most basic essence, isn’t this what Dr. King hoped for us all? To breakdown preconceived notions and learn about one another? To build relationships?


There's the progress

we have found

A way to talk around the problem

Building towered foresight

isn't anything at all

Buy the sky and sell the sky

and bleed the sky and tell the sky


This all seems to fly in stark contrast to the comments allegedly made by our President.

Before I go any further, I hope you, the reader, will please understand that mine is not partisan political opinion, but one based on the values and manners of which I was raised.

It also happens to be one that’s shared on both sides of the political aisle.

Am I happy the economy’s booming?


Am I happy unemployment is low?

Of course.

All of those things are great.

However, you don’t get to call someone else’s country—their home—a “s***hole/s***house.”

It doesn’t matter if it’s with your cabinet or standing at a podium, and if it’s true, it was wrong and an apology is owed to the half of the world that’s already waiting to hear it.

It’s the decent thing to do. It’s the American thing to do. 


Well, I could keep it above

But then it wouldn't be sky anymore

So if I send it to you, you've got to promise to keep it whole


Find a civic club. Engage your chamber. Establish new relationships with people you hadn’t thought to consider before.

It will teach you more than any book could, and it will enrich your personal and professional life beyond measure.

Shameless plug #2: The Leadership Pinebelt Steering Committee is accepting nominations for this year’s class right now.

Please be aware that the window to be nominated closes at 5:00 p.m. this Friday (January 19).

Type this address in your search window to find out more:


When he’s not rocking his socks off, Wes Brooks spends his days as the Development Coordinator at the DuBard School for Language Disorders at The University of Southern Mississippi.  Brooks is a husband, a father, and a guitarist for the local band, The 6550’s.