Thursday, July 5, 2018

Lead Worship Like Rudy Sarzo Plays Bass (5 Things Worship Leaders Can Learn from a Bass Legend)

So when I heard The Guess Who (American Woman, No Time, These Eyes) were performing at Kokomo IN's Haynes Apperson Festival, I googled to see who the lineup was for a band whose heyday was the '60-70's.

The drummer (Garry Peterson) is an original member, but, what?? Rudy Sarzo's playing bass?!

You're saying to yourself, if you're not a musician or an '80's music maven, "Rudy who?"

Rudy Sarzo is one of THE rock/heavy metal bassists of this era. He's played with Ozzie, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot, Dio, to name a few. He's been in more huge, monster MTV videos than most musicians, played to packed-out stadiums, been on plenty of musician magazine covers. He's a big deal.

I'd known about him since back in the '80s but had never seen him play live (uh, heavy metal isn't exactly my cup of musical tea).

So Sandra and I settled in for the Foster Park free concert and from the first note to the last, I could not stop watching this guy!

He played every note like it was the only one that mattered. His body language, facial expressions, musicianship was super-dialed-in the whole time!

And I'm thinking,

"This is a free gig in Kokomo IN. The crowd is ok--they're not like on-their-feet into it or anything. It's sweltering out here. But this guy--this guy is going for it like it's a sold out stadium show!"

I did not catch this guy coasting for a second during their entire show!

As I kept replaying their concert in my mind, it made me start to think about worship leaders and musicians. I mean Rudy Sarzo was killing a clinic on the whole "audience of One" concept!

So for my friends who take the stage every weekend in a church, whether you're the worship leader, back-up singer, bass, guitar, drummer or keyboard player, here are five tips inspired by Rudy Sarzo:

Play/Sing Every Note with Everything You've Got

Don't pace yourself. Be in the moment every moment. When you're on stage someone is looking at you every second. So every moment is an opportunity to inspire and point someone to Jesus. Because Sarzo plays that way, in musician speak, we call that being a pro. Being a pro translates into being disciplined. Working hard every day, every gig, every song, every note. In church speak, we call this living for Jesus.

Dress for the Times and the Gig

Sarzo has been around since the '80s and was playing with a band famous decades ago, but he looked like it was 2018 and like he was at a rock gig now. Clothes matter. If you're not dressed for the times, the place and the style of music you're presenting, you will distract people.

Clothes and fashion are not a deal until you're out-of-step with them. There will always be people in your audience who are fashion-conscious, and to those people, fashion-misses, make them think about your wardrobe instead of what you want them to focus on. Clothes matter. If clothes and fashion aren't your deal, find a friend who can help you.

Or here's a scary idea. Approach someone in your church who consistently has a good sense of today's fashion and ask them what they think of what you wear. Told you it was scary ;-)

Be Expressive

We all love the old joke:
"Are you happy?"
"Then tell your face!" ;-)

It doesn't make sense to sing about joy with serious angst on your face. And it doesn't make sense to sing about hard times with a Cheshire Cat grin on your puss. When I was watching Sarzo last week he ran the gamut of emotions throughout the gig. He didn't just have a "bass face," he had a variety of emotions just like the songs and like the complex human being that he is.

Odds are you probably don't know what you look like when you're performing. Ask a friend to record you on your phone the next time you perform and then watch it. One of the best disciplines for me as a communicator has been watching all of my talks that I can. There's almost always a void between what I intended and how I actually came across.

Know When to Focus on Others on Stage

When the light shined on others in the band, Rudy was looking at or moving towards them. That's a pro move. That told us as the audience to do the same. Know where the focus is and help point the audience in that direction by your body language. Simple and effective.

Have Other Interests

So Rudy Sarzo is an author, a podcaster and takes a serious interest in animal rights. It's such a healthy discipline to have a variety of interests or hobbies. They are a way for us to refuel, to jettison our worship thoughts for a while as we allow ourselves (our mind, body, soul) to engage with other things.

I think of it in the same way that athletes never work their same muscles all the time. Working other muscles is healthy--so work your non-worship muscles. Worship is amazing; if you're reading this, you were probably made to help lead others in it. But God put other things in you too. What are they? Don't know? Go exploring!

Thanks, Rudy Sarzo, for the inspiration!

Peace ;-)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Key West Eats

This is by no means anything close to an exhaustive review of Key West cuisine. This is simply our experience in June 2018.

My wife Sandra and I are foodies from way back. We met in the restaurant industry as managers in the 90's and we own and operate Main Street Café in Kokomo IN.

Every meal with us is like a real time restaurant review from aesthetics, branding, wait staff, presentation etc. Don't worry--we aren't snobby--we have fun with it. Here's where we stopped in Key West:

Islamorada Fish Co.

If you're driving through the Keys vs flying into Key West, do yourself a favor and hit up Islamorada Fish Co to get your seafood juices flowing. It's right on the water, the view and the food are top-notch. And one of the first things you'll notice at more successful restaurants in the Keys is that the live entertainment (usually a guy with a guitar and a mic) are better than you're expecting.

Like every place we went to: best to hit it at it's off-peak hours to avoid waiting.

Salute! (sa-loo-TAY)

This is on the opposite side of Key West from Mallory Square so you won't watch the sun set, but the view is still amazing. (And by the way, Key West is small--going from one side to the other is no big deal.)

Below is my Seared Ahi Tuna Salad, which was wonderful. (Funny how Fl oranges make a salad better and not just a garnish.) Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meal.

By the way, we ordered Key Lime Pie at every evening meal and kept a scorecard. This was fine, but not in our top two--still worth ordering though ;-)

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville

This was my biggest surprise because I'm usually not a "chain" guy on vacation, but my brother-in-law, Mitch, is a huge Buffet fan, so it was one of our first stops. Let me just say, we LOVED IT!

It did not feel like a chain at all from décor, wait staff and food. Everything was delightful from cocktail to Key Lime Pie--probably the best pie of the trip! (Close runner-up: Key Lime Pie Bakery close to Mallory Square.)


Blue Heaven

Their breakfast specialty is their Lobster Benedict...amazing! Like so many restaurants in Key West, the dining room is virtually a back yard with tarps or sails overhead, or trees, to create a nice shaded paradise.

The White Tarpon

Thanks to a tip from a local we met, this is a great spot to take a break from the usual high dinner prices and enjoy their happy hour specials. From 4-7 their beers are discounted and they have great low-priced, yet great $5 appetizers, which we made a meal of ;-) Their Key Lime Martini (below) was yummy.

This is right on the water not far from Mallory Square, the place where everyone converges to watch the sunset.

TIP: if you park in the lot right next to it--if you're out in under 2 hours, they'll validate and give your parking fee back!

(Parking is a thing in Key West: virtually no street parking. You have to find these little parking lots and pay--they're automated. We definitely spent some money on parking that week!

Eaton Street Seafood Market

This is one of the few places that actually has a few parking spaces in front of it. It's both a fish market and restaurant, so if you want to pick up some seafood and grill yourself, this is the place.

They're known for Stone Crab and Lobster Roll. The dipping sauce for the crab was amazing as was the Stone Crab. Sandra and I were surprised that we both thought the Lobster Roll was the winner, though.

Hogfish Bar and Grill

Another tip from a local: as you drive in to this (it's technically on Stock Island, just next door to Key West) you think it looks a bit sketchy, but relax--this place is amazing! We ate more seafood here than anywhere--we wolfed it down so fast, no pics! It's right on the water and is cozy and very "Key Westy" ;-) So good!

Sloppy Joe's

So you kinda have to go here, right? The place Hemingway made famous (or better yet, we made famous in his absence).

The fish tacos were legit and some good friends of ours swear by the Greek Salad. Honestly, we didn't stay long. Even in the middle of the afternoon it was packed and the drinks seemed "modest." But you have to stop in Sloppy Joe's, right? It's cool, historic and has good live music.

Captain Tony's

So this is the oldest bar in Key West and it's late owner, Tony Terraciano is a Key West legend. We went because Mitch and I were not going to go to Key West without "Going down to Captain Tony's to get out of the heat..." (lyric: Last Mango in Paradise -J Buffet)

Croissants DeFrance

I ordered best! Yes, that's my plate: smoked salmon, scrambled eggs on a croissant. Their potatoes are amazing. Yes, you read that right. I've never raved about a breakfast potato before--they're amazing. This place has an enchanting setting. They also have a take-out bakery next door.


This is the view from Amigos. Directly across the street (not pictured) is Captain Tony's. They have some amazing Cuban Coffee at a ridiculous price.

Onlywood Pizzeria Trotteria

One night we just wanted to stay in and eat pizza. So Sandra "yelped" us to this place to pick it up. Amazing wood fired pizza!

I would say this place is known more for their sit down experience and it looked like an amazing place to dine. It's a bit hard to find: you have to walk down a sidewalk mid-block (too narrow to be an alley) to get to it. And man, do I have respect for the guys working the wood-fired oven with no air-conditioning!

(Few places are air-conditioned in Key West. Dress light and go with the flow.)


So you have to try the Key Lime Pie on-a-stick, right? This place dunks an entire piece of pie in chocolate and freezes it--what?! So many cool and sweet treats made on the premises. Take a break, get something cool--it's hot in Key West ;-)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Thing No One is Talking About

We all know something is wrong in our country. The list is probably long, in fact. Where to start?

I've heard the phrase "Christian Nation" my whole life. In recent months it seems I've heard it more, often in the context of doing things in the name of "protecting our Christian Nation."

Often these attempts to protect are done in less than polite ways. Often absent are Christian hallmarks like love, respect, inclusivity, building relational bridges, putting others first and the like.

And the heart of the faith that Jesus died for is grace. That's not a cultural term, so allow me to define it.

Grace is relational things like: offering people what they don't deserve, the absence of judgment, no-strings-attached forgiveness, seeking to understand and above all else, love.

But those grace descriptors are not the images in our headlines. We are not offering these things to Kaepernick, kneelers, owners, Trump supporters, Trump detractors, Trump himself, protesters of all kinds.

Here's what's going on:

We're functioning as if patriotism, politics and the Way of Jesus (Christianity) are interlocking puzzle pieces--all on equal footing. In fact, in many cases, we're elevating our patriotism and politics above the Way of Jesus.

By example, when we hate, wish ill, disparage Kaepernick because of his behavior, we elevate patriotism over the Way of Jesus. We say in essence,

"It's ok if I take a pass on loving my neighbor (the greatest commandment) when he/she doesn't honor our flag the way I think they should."

Whenever we put Jesus on the same level or below things like politics and patriotism--guess what? We're not behaving as a Christian Nation. We're not following Jesus.

The essence of identifying one's self with Jesus (eg "I'm a Christian, we're a Christian Nation, etc.") hinges on the fact that you've made one thing the most important Thing in your life: Jesus.

Not politics.
Not patriotism.
Not your spouse.
Not your kid(s).
Not your boy/girl friend.
Not your dog.
Not your desire for safety.
Not your desire for comfort.
Not your desire for a world that fits your paradigm.
Not your desire for a cell phone company that's both amazing & affordable ;-)

If you self identify as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, this is what that looks like:

(Yes, I know. These drawings are amazing--Banksy is so jealous)

The good news is that as a Christ follower, you can still love things like politics and patriotism; there's just one catch:

If you can't love in the midst of whatever you're doing or thinking, even if what you're doing is amazing, God says you're just a noisy, annoying, rusty gate.

I'll be candid. I hated it when Kaepernick started the kneeling thing. My dad fought in Europe in the late part of WWII. He made sure we always stood whenever the color guard appeared in a parade. We flew the flag at our house then and we do now.

But when I started seeing us as a country turn on this QB. When I heard the person in highest office calling on NFL owners to fire players and we all jeered along. When we as a country were hoping for, calling for, misfortune for people because of their beliefs.

It hit me: that's not the response of a Christian Nation.
That's neither the response of grace nor love.

That's the response of a legalistic patriotic nation, where Jesus doesn't rule -- He's just one of the puzzle pieces.

Whenever we elevate anything in our life over Jesus, we are saying,

"Jesus, you are not the leader of my life. I love you. I appreciate you saving me. But, you're not the most important thing in my life. How I feel about this issue or this person or these people, or this cause--this is more important than You are in my life right now."

"Ok Morgan--can I put Jesus first in my life and still not like Kaepernick or whoever kneeling?"

Yes. As long as you can love the kneeler. If you can't, you don't have a kneeling problem, you have a you problem.

For me, I go after issues like this in prayer:

"God, I love our country but I love You, more. I don't like what Kaepernick is doing and I'm pulled toward anger to him. Help me die to myself in this, Lord, and help me love him. Right now, Lord, I want to pray for him, for his best, for his career, for his family..."

(Lifehack: I've found it hard to dislike or wish ill for someone when I'm praying to God on their behalf.)

And again, here's the cool part:

You can be liberal, moderate, conservative, a-political; you can love guns, hate guns, love, loathe or be indifferent about patriotism, have opinions on God-knows-what.

But it all has to be subjected to Jesus and His ways.
Jesus first.
Jesus above all else.
Jesus isn't a puzzle piece.
Jesus is the umbrella over all the puzzle pieces in your life.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Life After a Smoking Ban

We are all susceptible to a silly myth:

Things will always stay the same.

We see this in moments when:

Our spouse does something unpredictable.
Our child makes a jarring decision.
Someone gets elected we never thought would.
A beloved business closes-up.
Gas prices shoot up. Again.

Or when a city like Kokomo, that’s always had a healthy number of blue-collar smokers, passes a smoking ban.

I’m writing this specifically with the local bar owners in mind. But, let me refer to them as they really are: entrepreneurs.

Every business owner is an entrepreneur, a person risking the comfort of working for someone else in exchange for being his or her own “man.”

And so here’s the reality for every entrepreneur:


If there ever was a mantra to put on a plaque in your office, this may be it. It’s the one constant for every business owner. You may be lucky and your segment of the market hasn’t changed in years or even decades, but change is always coming. It’s just a matter of when.

Minimum wage goes up. 
Utility costs spike. 
Gas prices skyrocket. 
Big banks make hideous decisions that result in a recession. 
A huge chain comes to town. 
Road construction pulls into your neighborhood and stays way too long. 
Your competitors start manufacturing where labor’s cheaper. 
Electric cars start becoming viable. 
People become more health-conscious. 
Sin, sugar taxes become law. 
Or a smoking ban becomes the new reality.

The market always changes.

Maybe it’s someone’s fault. Maybe there were people driving it. But that doesn’t really matter. It happened. The market changed, just like it has for business owners before you. And so at this point, you have one of two options:

Get out or figure it out.

Get out because you don’t like the new reality. You don’t like how the market has changed.

Or figure it out; how can you change your strategy—how can you change how you do what you do to be successful in this new reality?

The worst thing you can do when the market changes, is complain about it. Play the victim card. Blame it on someone or some group of people. 

It’s not helpful. And the more you fight it and just complain to your friends and Facebook, the more you buy in to the myth:  Things will always stay the same

Getting Personal

Right now, if you’re one of the little neighborhood bars that’s being affected by the smoking ban, you’re probably saying to yourself,

Yeah, easy for you to say, mister; try living in my shoes. It’s not that easy.”

You’re right. It’s not that easy. It rarely is. When the market changes and affects our business, it’s almost always gut check time, a time to see what we’re made of. A time to see if we’re really ready to make some tough, hard and even risky decisions.

I changed to pronouns in that last paragraph like we and our because I have been there.
When the market changes, it does feel personal and it has been some of the hardest seasons of my careers.

At one point I was the local store manager of a regional fast food chain when a substantial national minimum wage hike became law. The kind of wage hike that seriously jeopardized profitability, since the restaurant business always runs on thin margins. 

It wasn’t fun categorizing the employees into “who you could lose” and “who you need to keep” because there weren’t enough raises to go around. It was personal. It wasn’t fun. I didn’t want to do it.

And in recent years there was the great recession. I am part of a senior leadership team of a large local church. The recession affected the market. Greatly. Staff salaries was one of our biggest line items.

Congregants suddenly had less money, some lost jobs. Those people represented the church’s income. Therefore, because of reduced cash flow, our operating budget was in trouble.

Complaining about the recession, the market, would have been useless and fruitless.

We had to make drastic staffing decisions. We had to re-envision how we could get things done. We had to deliver the same high standards “product,” even though we had less money to do it. 

We got creative. We basically changed our paradigm of how our church would function. We wrestled with gut-wrenching decisions. We took pay cuts.

And we realized these changes probably weren’t just for a season; this was the new reality for how our church (and churches in general) would function going forward.

It wasn’t fun. It was hard. It affected employees’ lives. Let me re-phrase: it affected me and my friends’ lives. But we had two options: get out or figure it out.

Today, our church is functioning healthily in ways it hadn’t in the past. And our “product” never suffered in the process.

“That’s cool, but I own a bar that’s now non-smoking.”

Recently, a good friend gave me a stern encouragement by way of a social media post, “Ok, all you non-smokers who said you’d now support these bars, where are you?

Even though I was never on record for saying that, I was indeed for the ban and felt my friend’s chiding. So I’ve been to The Elbow Room twice in recent weeks. (And heading there as soon as I post this.)

First of all, the place was incredibly clean, the food was good, made-to-order and ridiculously affordable. In short, this is what I saw: opportunity.

The Elbow Room is a half mile, a handful of blocks, 2-3 minutes from hundreds of downtown Mon-Fri consumers.

The opportunity is to target that downtown consumer market who never before would’ve considered the Elbow Room as a lunchtime option. My hunch is they have the opportunity to do more Mon-Fri lunch business than they’ve ever done before. Opportunity.

Time to Reassess

What it took to start your business was entrepreneurial spirit: showing people that you could indeed, do it. Sometimes after a while, we unintentionally swap out our entrepreneurial hat for a maintenance hat. We’re just managing, just maintaining; we've stopped gaining ground.

When the market shifts, it can awaken the entrepreneurial spirit that got you in the game in the first place; it can re-envision you. 

Or it can be a wake-up call that it’s time to get out.

And guess what: it’s ok to transition out of your business. Life is made up of seasons. Seasons of raising children. Seasons of running a business. No business lasts forever. (Ok, so these are close.) Businesses have seasons too. If you’re not up to figuring out how to readjust to the ever-changing market, that’s ok.

Parting shot

If you’re struggling as a business owner, I am sorry. My wife and I own Main Street Cafe and it hasn’t been easy nor without struggle and sacrifice. Buy my wife, Sandra, a drink in your bar and she’ll be glad to commiserate.

But, I wrote this with you in mind because I want you to be encouraged

If this is still your season to own a bar, there are ways to re-envision it and go after new ways of doing what you do. Kokomo is full of successful business people who are happy to give advice, share best practices and help you figure it out. One of the best assets of Kokomo is its great people who love to help each other succeed.

So if you’re bitter, consider trading your bitterness for optimism and the willingness to seek help. Because if you keep doing what you’re doing, you will keep getting what you’re getting (Stephen Covey).

And remember those prophetic words from the late Sonny Bono, “The beat goes on.” And you can too.

Peace and profits, my friend!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jesus is Offensive

So, a lot of people who profess Christianity are behaving in ways where we're elevating our politics and patriotism over the way of Jesus. So if you'd say you're a Christian, this is for you. 

If you wouldn't call yourself one, I'd hope that maybe, some of the values below would seem attractive to you. If on the whole, we haven't modeled them for you in the culture, I'm so sorry. This little post is my small attempt to help us do better. If you click on the links it will take you to some specific Bible verses. Peace.

Jesus is offensive to people who want to marginalize others.

Jesus is offensive to people who want to divide people into groups.

Jesus is offensive to people who don’t want to care for the poor.

Jesus is offensive to people who just want to acquire more stuff for themselves.

Jesus is offensive to people who dislike people who don’t share their values.

Jesus is offensive to people who don’t value diversity.

Jesus is offensive to people who can’t value people in the other political party.

Jesus is offensive to people who put walls above bridges.

Jesus is offensive to people who want to speak their mind more than they want to listen.

Jesus is offensive to people who think God loves the US more than other nations.

Jesus is offensive to people who don’t want to help people they dislike.

Jesus is offensive to people who think that writing their convictions on social media is enough.

Jesus is offensive to any of us when we elevate anything in our life over Jesus.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

The 500 and Me

Memorial Weekend Sunday

I live an hour from Indianapolis. That means since as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to the Indy 500 on the radio. When I was young, it was WIBC AM radio. Now it’s a Bluetooth speaker that looks something like a lime green grenade via my cell phone and WIBC online.
We’re currently under caution that followed an extensive red due to a crash featuring Scott Dixon among others.
I’ve just enjoyed some grilled brats, hotdogs, some quac and a delightful Spanish-influenced salad. And I’ve just cracked my third lo-cal longneck.
I’m on the front porch, a cool breeze lingering; Sandra is catering and Alyssa & Slater are inside finally delving into The Godfather. That leaves me alone. With my thoughts. And the 500.
No one gets excited like the radio crew at the Indy 500. They’re yelling. It’s exciting. And also, as anyone knows who’s seen the Greatest Spectacle live, it’s flippin’ loud!
Rossi still in the lead, now to turn four!!
I’m at the 500 but I’m also in the world of 500’s past. I can’t help but think of my parents cranking it up on our hi-fi in the living room on Washington St circa 1972. Even then it was the television era, but not on Memorial Day Sunday. We all dialed it in and listened to the radio much like (I can only imagine) people did before the 1950s ushered in the TV.
And so my mind is in the past now. I don’t remember my parents grilling, seemingly like every Hoosier feels obliged to do during the race. But the soundtrack in our house on that day in the ‘70s was never anything but the race.
Then later, just out of high school, I was never too far away from my friend, Eric Foust and if you were close to Eric, that meant you were close to his incredible parent, Jack & Carmen. Both of them are now passed, but their memories remain.
The race is back under green and those AM radio-sounding DJs are yelling at us through every corner. And if I close my eyes, I’m in Jack & Carmen’s backyard.
Carmen always cooked up a storm (she was the kind of grandma everyone would long for) and Jack would man the grill. Oh, and there was always ample amounts of ice cold cans of domestic beer either in an icy cooler or the garage fridge.
Carmen would be keeping score: Who’s out, who’s leading, what’s happening. And even though I’d never call Carmen a race fan any other weekend of the year, she seemed so sincerely concerned.
Even though they lived in the middle of the city, “THEY GO THREE WIDE INTO THE TURN!!
Even though they lived in the middle of the city, their garage was in essence, a barn. The huge door facing the house, slid open. Some years we stood inside the garage watching the drizzle enjoy food and brew. Other years, we were in hiding from the sun. But the food was always inside under cute little bug screen food covers. And Carmen always delivered.
The best thing about the race at Jack & Carmen’s was that you felt loved just for being there. Carmen & Jack had a way of making you feel so welcomed. They did everything short of thanking you for eating their food and drinking their beer.
I wonder how many 20-somethings would want to have had their own hang-out; they’d want to create their own thing, apart from their parents. But Jack & Carmen’s was always the best picture of two generations doing life together. They loved us and we knew it. We felt it. And we liked it.
What a great word for me know, as I creep up in age. If more than anything, my kids and their friends knew that I loved them. More than my so-called wisdom or experience, these younger people crave my love. Love trumps everything and love paves the way for anything else I could ever hope to pass along.
Simon Pagenaud comes into pit road!
I love the Indy 500 and I suspect I always will, for the backdrop of one’s youth is always sacred. And people like Jack & Carmen and the crew I ran with then, Eric, George & Lisa and so many others, are part of a golden time.
Now back to the race.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Sky Isn't Falling (Thoughts on Retail Closings in America)

Sears recently closed in Kokomo. So did MC Sports. JC Penney has announced more store closings in recent days. And now the negative chatter about America's retail economy escalates. According to who you've overheard or whose posts you've read, "The sky is falling."

For the record, when stores close, it isn't always the economy's fault.

Take Sears for instance. They've been Sears (or Sears & Roebuck) since 1893! They were the original one-stop shop for everything, including: mail order houses, tombstones, minibikes, live chickens, clothing, tools and about anything you can name that we use in and around a home.

If the economy is guilty of killing Sears then the accomplice is Sears itself. You see, the culture keeps changing; it's a moving target. And business models that don't figure out how to adapt to the economy, I suppose, succumb to it.

Sears' business model of being the place for everything hardly fits into a culture that goes to Lowes/HomeDepot for tools, (insert clothing store of your choice) for clothes, Best Buy for appliances and to a Carnival for shoes.

A while back I noticed old-timers saying, "Craftsman tools ain't what they used to be." And at the same time I noticed Lowes lifetime warranty on their Kobalt Tools. At that point, I knew the jig was up for Sears. When you're no longer the industry standard in a market you owned, you're in trouble.

The economy didn't kill Sears. Sears closed because it failed to remain attractive to the market.

And MC Sports...When they rolled into town, was I the only one who wondered why we needed two 10,000+ sq ft sporting goods retailers in Kokomo? Sometimes the economy is fine, but we cut the pie into too many pieces. Sometimes, two big dogs is one too many.

And you'd better sit down: Malls. Are. Dying.

2006 was the last time an indoor shopping mall was built in America. Do you know why? Culture changes and the economy goes along for the ride.

In the 1960s the culture shifted. People started to move away from the center of towns, toward the periphery and to the suburbs. Downtown businesses across America started slowly closing up. Why?

Because they could drive to this super-cool new mall, have boat-loads of parking and shop at scads of stores all under one roof! No more trying to find street parking downtown and feeding the parking meter. No more getting wet, chilled or sweaty going from store to store. The mall was the answer. And it was cool.

And the mall will have had a 60+ year run in America, which is pretty amazing! But people are tired of the mall, which is normal, because the culture naturally and seemingly autonomously, seeks change. And this change has been slowly happening--it's just starting to become painfully obvious.

Pardon my cheesy metaphor: Change often comes from deep below the surface of the water, slowly ascending, often taking years. But then one day, it breaches the surface and we're all aghast, "My word, where did this come from?" Change comes slowly over time, yet there comes a moment when we actually see it.

Have you been to Clay Terrace? They basically built a "mall" that looks like what? A downtown!

Guess where millennials are seeking to live in record numbers: downtown. They're migrating from the burbs to the center of the city. And cities like Kokomo are trying to lure businesses downtown because that's the latest cultural trend.

"But Morgan, we'll never have enough businesses downtown to satisfy everyone's demands!"

Since you and I are buying so much of everything-we-need online these days, a downtown doesn't need every kind of store to be a great downtown. Because we don't buy everything from brick and mortar stores any more, a downtown needs some cool shops, a great coffee shop, some cool restaurants--it needs cool spaces that people can connect in. And the reason the spaces need to be cool is because the culture has always liked what's cool. And the downtown needs housing, which isn't available at the mall that people are tiring of trekking to.

The sky isn't falling; the culture is changing. And as culture changes, how retail looks and functions will change along with it. Sometimes a closing is a sign of change. It's a sign that there are new paradigms afoot and new ways of doing things. When we look back at these moments, we call this progress. In real time, it can feel more like growing pains.

One last word to my friends who are in the last half of their life: When we become tired of change, we become old. When we want things to stay just the way they are, we become grumpy, because things are always changing. Young people love and welcome change--the same way that we did. As mentors and elders, we best serve younger people when we help navigate change rather than complain about it.

Peace, my friends.

(editor's note: To those who have lost jobs as stores have closed, my heart goes out to you, and I hope you are able to find gainful employment. As I wrote about business and cultural change, I never wanted you to feel slighted or disrespected. The American worker is the backbone of so much that is great in America. All my respect and best wishes to you.)