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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

There are moments in our lives that become etched into eternal memory. No time, space or circumstance removes the feeling and the intensity that something has in fact touched our soul.

It was on this day in 2001 that I could see the twin towers in the distance burning as I tried frantically to call my wife to tell her I was alright. I became angry and frustrated that I couldn't get a call out since the network was flooded.Then something rather profound happened. I looked at the towers and came to the realization that at that very moment, someone else was trying to make a very important call too. One to say "I love you" for the last time and to say goodbye. I can't begin to describe what that felt like, but I remember grabbing onto to a railing so I didn't faint.

So let me say it for you. What in the hell does this have to do with sales? Absolutely nothing and neither does this next part.

I was stuck in NJ because of the attacks and couldn't get back home again until the next evening. My wife suggested that we divide and conquer and that she would sleep in with my daughter and I would bunk in with the boys. Before going to bed that night my son Nicholas who was 5 at the time asked if we could say a prayer for those in the towers. He began to systematically ask that not only everyone in the towers be blessed, their families, their pets, their neighbors, their ancestors, their future lineage and went on for what seemed to be an endless loop until my son Paul hit his boiling point and said "NICKY! . . . God's got the point! Call it nerves, tension or simply part of the grieving process, but we were able to laugh and I remember how good it felt to be able to do that again!

I think it was what happened after 9/11 that had the biggest impact.

We all seemed to slow down a bit and stopped taking ourselves so seriously
We tried to sit down more as a family at meal time
Get back to church
Lots of flags proudly displayed even as lapel pins
We remembered to tell people how we felt about them and to remind them that we love them
We looked at Police Officers and Firefighters differently

And let us not forget those who continually fight for our freedom and who have paid the ultimate price for us! We started thanking them for their service more than ever!

We began, if even for a brief moment, to balance and understand the fragility of this thing we call life!

So I'm sorry to say that today's blog is NOT about sales. It's simply a wake up call for all of us to appreciate, respect, reflect and learn from the journey we have all taken since September 11th.

Do one thing today that really matters and doesn't make a damn bit of business sense!

With respect and appreciation to all my readers
Paul Castain


  1. A beautiful post out of the blue ! A true wake up call to pay attention to things more important than numbers - Thanks Paul

  2. Thank you Paul. I'll remember that day forever. It made me realize that working my butt off for 80 hours a week, earlier in my career - made NO difference to my family. They want my time as a dad - not a workaholic. This moment made me pause and reflect on many things.

    Make a difference in someone's day today amigo. I'll do the same!
    Neil Wood - Hingham, Massachusetts

  3. I was stuck in traffic on the Allston/Cambridge exit ramp off the Mass Pike when the first tower came down. I went into Cambridge to visit my client, Funk Software, and watched the second tower come down. And yes Paul, the world did stop turning that day for the briefest of moments. Thanks for this remembrance!

  4. Beautifully said - and the best advice any of us will receive today! And if you haven't heard it lately, thank you for all that you do to motivate and encourage and teach us out in the virtual world. - Marta /Dallas

  5. Nice job capturing the beauty of the moment and day Paul.

    Another aftermath of 9/11 was how important our homes became. We began looking at our homes as more than just an investment but as a place of safty and refuge. Where else could we experience the beauty and peace of a child's endless prayer but at home, in our bedrooms and family rooms.

    As important as our jobs are the work we do within the walls of our home maintaining our marriages and raising our kids is what really matters.

  6. This was a breeze of fresh air into our memories that we sometimes try to suppress, I know that it is not said enough the further away the date gets but we all need to keep everyone in our prayers. Paul thank you for the great thoughts.

  7. Great sentiment, Paul. Thanks for taking the time to say what so many of us feel.

  8. Great post Paul. Made me think of where I was then and how fortunate I have been since then. We should all take a moment to slow down and enjoy what we have.

  9. Thanks for sharing Paul. I remember being on vacation in Orlando, and I had just turned the TV on as the first tower was struck...I ran into the bedroom to wake my husband. He must have sensed something was wrong because he immediately got up (it usually takes a moment to rouse him) he got up, the second tower was struck...we were in shock...the thought of knowing that everyone could not make it out the buildings at the rate of collapse, was horrifying...what could you do but pray...

  10. Thank you, Paul. Perspective is refreshing.

    The usually pithy,
    John A. Hudson

  11. Hello Paul,
    And first of all, thank you very much for such a beautiful, and sad at the same time, message.
    Second, I do apologise to all of you who have English as mother language, because I am not sure I can express myself correctly and maybe I am not able to transmit my words in the way I would like to, but believe me, I am going to do my best, but if any misunderstanding, please contact me, do not blame me for it please...I take this matter (11Sept01) as serious as it is.
    I was in Chicago exhibiting at Print01 show. We (my colleague and me) had rented an appartment. That morning I woke up and first thing I did (as I used to do), was to switch on TV but with volume to minimum to allow an extra rest to my colleague. So as I was passing by the TV, I saw the Towers and some fumes going out of one of them... but I thought it was a movie (not real)...until I went by again and saw the same image. I could not believe it was real. I put up the volume to nearly maximum to try to understand. And suddenly the second plane crashed into the other tower... Horrible! I woke my colleague up... we had breakfast and dressed up and went down the street to take the bus for the show... police everywhere, main buildings closed, Print01 was nearly empty, only exhibitors and a few visitors... most of us in front of a huge TV screen following up the terrorist attack... some exhibitors had gone and left a message "I am an ex-fireman, sorry but I went to NY to help" ... I think most of us were not even realizing of what had happened and what was really happening …
    I can not remember if the same day or following day, there was a (human) concentration in one of the main squares (sorry to everyone, I can not remember the name of it)in Chicago. We felt we should go so we went there to be one more in thousands and thousands of people there ... we were given a flag and we proudly took it ... we talked to several people and some people talked to us... there were many many people there that came from other countries (living in Chicago but born in different countries all around the world) and all, ALL, felt NorthAmerican that day. The whole USA was ONE that day (... even people from Texas!... sorry for the joke). It really showed the greatness (not the size) of YOU as a country.
    I felt we all should have learnt something from YOU during those days...
    If you ask me what I think about the US... for sure I can make a list of things which I do not like from you (most of them coming from the fact of being a country with the power ... so, this means the same list of things would be there no matter which other country would be in your position ... not from the fact of just being the US); however, I prefer to remember the list of positive things, things which have made of you the country you are, the UNITED States of America, where the greatest and most important word is the first one, UNITED. Congratulations for that.
    I still have got that flag that YOU gave me that day.
    Sincerely and honestly from Spain,
    PS: I hope I have not offended anyone, and I do apologise if I have (unwillingly) done that.

  12. Paul
    May the Good Lord Bless and keep you strong for the man you are and the little things we need to remember, That we are all just people trying to get Home to the ones we Love and care about. I was touched by your appreciation for Love, Life and the Simple prayers of a child.

    Ron Andre

  13. Wonderful post, Paul.
    May God care for all the souls who were lost eight years ago.
    May God protect our troops who so valiantly stand up for what is right.
    May God watch over all our first responders who risk their lives each day to save another.
    May God continue to bless America, and those throughout the world who strive for the things we may sometimes take for granted.
    Never forget...
    - Rich Parr

  14. As I read your post, it brought back that feeling of nausea I felt, knowing you were in NJ (and hopefully not NYC). Trying to get through and finally when I did, I was relieved. Many others never got through, or if they did it was for the last time. There is so much we all feel and remember about that day. I know that you have so much more to say, as we all do, but you said it beautifully and thank you for the chance to yet again say a prayer for those who were lost, those who were affected personally by it and those who continue to fight for us.

  15. Thank you, Paul, for those wonderful words. We all remember where we were and what we felt at that awful time eight years ago. Your words make us stop and think "what's really important in life?" Our lives go on, but we must remember the families of those who were lost, those who helped and those who continue to serve our great nation to ensure that never happens again!

  16. Thanks Paul,
    A very thought provoking post.

    Eight years ago, I was huddled around a conference room table with the rest of my office watching CNN. It was really quiet; imagine a room full of Sales People and no one was talking. A bit later the report of the plane hitting the Pentagon came in and I got up, excused myself and told my Sales Manager I needed to be with my wife. Her brother is a Major in the US Army, stationed at the Pentagon. I drove home and sat with my wife while we waited for any information about him. Not that all the other people in danger were less important, but that "now it's about me" attitude kicked in.
    It was a good 24 hours before we got word that he was alive and working with the others to rescue anyone they could.
    This morning I was rushing to get my 7&9 year olds ready and off to school, barking orders and making threats of privileges to be taken away when I looked at the TV and saw the planes hitting the towers. Immediately my mind went back to my car driving down the long winding hill towards my old house where my wife was waiting for me eight years ago.
    Suddenly the book bags and untied shoes true relevance took over my conscience. I looked at the boys and said "Dad's sorry for being so bossy; we'll make it to school on time".
    I realized that I was starting their day off really negatively. That these were the same two boys I had missed so deeply for the last four days while I was away at sales training in Houston. Perspective, why do I need a tragedy to make me realize it some times?
    My Brother-in-law still serves this country, like hundreds of thousands of others do. And don't forget the families of our Military that make sacrifices, like the kids who's Dad can't drop them off at school because he's in Afghanistan this morning.

    Thanks for all you do.

    Barrie C @ Spangler Graphics

  17. Poignant words Paul.

    I didn't sleep the night before and I got an IM from my nephew, home from school sick saying hello. After talking to him a bit, I went to sleep. Within an hour, I remember my best friend calling me saying, "I know you are normally sleeping, but wake up and turn on the TV." The rest of the day blurs into one long chaotic sad day. Trying to find out where you, my brother and others in the city were. Hearing my brother-in-law, a police officer, was now missing. Took most of the day before he was finally heard from, which we are thankful for, but he still has health problems to this day. Each year is another year our family got to spend with our loved ones. Not everyone can say the same.

    We remember the heroes of Flight 93, DC and NY. My nephew joined the army and fought. I was recently reminded of the losses many are still dealing with when at my thirtieth high school reunion I learned of two classmates who had died that day. I don't think there is anyone I know who was not affected by the loss in one way or another, but the families of those who lost someone are in my prayers every day, as well as our military and their families.

    Thank you Paul for such eloquently stated thoughts.


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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Paul Castain's Sales Play Book is blog dedicated to strengthening our sales game, supporting rock star development and developing jedi like skills. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a sick sense of humor!

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