Ryan Cantrell

“Never Forget”

I remember when…

The first words of self-reflection or first-person historical accounts typically begin with similar words. For example, I remember when $15 filled up my 1987 Honda Accord. I remember what life was like without a cell phone. I remember when we all thought 2008 would correspond with flying cars.

I also remember when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City, along with the Pentagon and a rural field in Pennsylvania. I remember the day at work, watching events transpire on television, and knee-jerk reactions from people buying up all the water and food at local Wal-Mart stores. I also remember the phrase, slogan, and signs on 75% of America’s vehicles with the phrase, “Never Forget“. I was alive to experience it. I saw it. Many of you did too, and can recall your own reactions and feelings of that day.

I’m not here to personally reflect though. I don’t like “Chicken Soup for the Soul” moments shoved down my throat anymore than you do.

Instead, I’m here to regretfully say, one of this nation’s biggest tragedies and source of heartache, frustration, and anger…has indeed…been forgotten. No, not to those who remember it, but for the generation that followed; for the 4, 5, and 6 year olds who now attend my 6th grade classroom. This week was the 7th anniversary of “9-11“. A moment of silence was observed in most school’s, right at the time (8:46 EST) the first tower was directly hit. While the majority of students (ranging in ages 11-12) recalled what their parents had told them, or programs they had watched about that day, several mentioned last Thursday was the first time they had heard about “9-11”.

How did we forget? How does this happen? Does it take seven (7) years to forget something?

Now obviously, I’m not in the homes of my students…I don’t know what they’re taught, told, or reminded of. I understand the diversity and differences in culture, I even understand America may not be the “homeland” for thousands of today’s students. But I can’t comprehend an 11 or 12 year old living in America NOT knowing about September 11th.

I guess it’s not too unbelievable. I’m sure those Americans in the early 60’s never imagined a generation that didn’t know where Kennedy was shot, or what impact a man named Martin Luther King had on our society. Certainly, humans are prone to forgetfulness…especially if not reminded. We all choose to remember the things we want to and the the things we’re forced to. And maybe that’s just it…in seven years, a generation hasn’t been forced to remember what our country said we’ll NEVER FORGET.

The Return of Sport?

While the blades won’t hit the ice till early October, the nights of pure baseball on SportsCenter are about over. For me, that’s good enough for now. Sure, we had the Olympics distracting us for a few weeks, but football is what we’ve all been waiting for, right? This Thursday begins the 08-09 season, and as the baseball season comes to a finale (the best part mind you), most sports fans eagerly await what Favre will do with the Jets, how the Cowboys hype will pan out, and who’s going to shock us all.

Statistically speaking, July and August are fairly slow “Sports Months”, after the NBA and NHL crown their champions, and baseball passes it’s honeymoon stages following an April start. Tiger is gone for the year…and that hurts a little. Federer lost his #1 spot to Nadal…but that can make for some good drama. If you think about it (in this day and age), is there ever really an off-season? Can we still call Mid June to late August slow sports months anymore?

Most of us have the sports world at our fingertips. Sound too cliche? Name a phone that doesn’t allow you access to the scores of your favorite team. It’s no longer the “Big 4” of Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Hockey. Poker, X Games, and NASCAR are staples on the ESPN website, and have entire stations/broadcasts available for their fans. Down time?…it’s a thing of the past. If you like sport (not just sports), and enjoy competition, you can find it anytime in forms you never thought possible. From arm-wrestling to beach volleyball, and bowling to cycling, it’s there for the viewing.

For those of us who choose to write off a few of these previously mentioned sports as games/hobbies/activities, I guess we’ll always have the “down months” when we wait for the next season to start. But the landscape has changed, as the media, youth, and technology have created a new audience of sports fans. It’s also created more sports programming than ever before. 2am…and you can’t sleep? Read the ticker to find everything you missed and then some. While the die-hards wait for football to finally get started, others have been getting their fill with various other competitions that do the same thing…separate the best from the not-so-best, and give us a little bit of real life drama we so desperately seek.

Thinking Outside the Box

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple; that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus

I’m so cliche I can’t even think up an original title. Creativity has never been a strength of mine. In grade school and junior high, when given a reading assignment, I always chose non-fiction. I remember book reports that were assigned. Bobby Orr, Muhammad Ali, and Jimi Hendrix were a few I presented. Other kids would report their stories, telling us about a boy who lived in a peach (maybe he ate a Giant Peach?), while I told them about a boy who taught himself to play left-handed guitar on a right-handed instrument.

I suppose you can’t change what interests you, but you should always be willing to work on your weaknesses. Creativity requires bravery. There’s a fine line between greatness and idiocy when it comes to creativity, but you have to be willing to put yourself out there. Try finding ways to think outside the normal ways of operation. Don’t be lazy. You can’t go wrong with what you know to be true, or what you’ve read will work, but don’t believe there’s not an alternative. Who can argue with doing something good that’s already been established? No one. But we’d all rather be copied than to copy, wouldn’t we?

I start teaching soon, and can foresee necessary creativity. It may be tactics, strategy, or just learning ideas. Somewhere along the way, a new idea needs to be presented for better effectiveness. In almost every area of life, there’s a need for creative thinking. I’m not looking to change the world or teaching profession by some break-through strategy or development, just a moment or two, creating something worthwhile and beneficial. And somehow, in some way, I suppose we’re all after that.

This is your one opportunity to do something that no one has ever done before and that no one will copy throughout human existence. And if nothing else, you will be remembered as the one guy who ever did this. This one thing.” – Sam (Natalie Portman) in “Garden State

Death of a Salesman

My name isn’t Willy Loman, and I’m not suicidal. I am however, leaving behind a chapter in life that’s taught me a few things I can use in the future. Account Executive is the title found on the bottom of my emails, but lets be real…I’m a sales-guy. I spend my days talking with HR managers and recruiters about their hiring/recruiting needs. I share our features & benefits, convincing them they’ll find no better place to fill those needs than at one of our career fairs! Some take part, but the majority don’t. Sales is a a numbers game. Still, it has it’s rewards. After all, who doesn’t feel good after you’ve just talked with someone for 5 minutes and now paid your cell phone bill for the month.

(Photo by Dave Caudil) 

But back to the whole death thing. This is my final week at Ineedajob.com, before she gets a kiss on the cheek and a, “Welp, see ya later!” When I think about it though, I’m really just embarking on a new kind of sales position. My new email tag will simply read, Teacher. I’ll have to prove and convince a new boss and co-workers I know what I’m doing, and more importantly, sell a portion of America’s youth on world geography and historical events. And as with any “sales” job, we’re all in search of the best way to market and advertise our product/service. As a first year teacher, my marketing campaign will have to be great! 

Below are a few lessons I’ve learned that I plan on taking into the classroom on my new “sales job”…

Reward Your Target Audience – The kids that show they appreciate your service and efforts deserve recognition, don’t they? Without playing favorites, you can surely find a way to keep your customers wanting more and later becoming your best refferals. They’re great resources to convince non-buyers.

It’s a Numbers Game – The #1 cliche of sales is certainly true. Not everyone will buy into, or be interested in what you have to say/offer. That doesn’t mean you quit or give up though. That doesn’t mean a “NO” stops you in your tracks. It may often be a moment of bad timing, or perhaps just a cost they can’t factor into their budget. Some will buy, and you’re always looking to raise that number!

Out of Sight, Out of Mind – In my mind, I remember our conversations and those moments I almost made the sale. That same knowledge isn’t always shared by the other end. You’re easily forgotten. To resolve this, it’s necessary to keep in front of people/students, and always be on their radar. 

Call Reluctance Kills! – It’s easy to get discouraged and back away. It’s never real difficult to retreat. The seed will die if it isn’t cultivated…always. A follow up is required for growth, and a “NO” can’t change your attitude or overall objective. You’re there for the sale, and again, to have as many buyers as possible. There’s never enough.

Ask For the Sale – Sure, the features and benefits might be great, but not everyone will say, “sign me up.” It may take different approaches or a little push to get the results you want. Be careful to not be over-bearing, but it should be known…I want your business!


Wish me luck!


The benchmark for intelligence has long been measured by what we know as our “IQ”, or Intelligence Quotient. I’ve never known it to be much of a standard, and it’s far less notorious than your SAT, ACT, and GPA scores. IQ registers a person’s reasoning ability rather than education or knowledge. But before 1912 and German pychologist, William Stern, how did we know Plato, Aristotle, Da Vinci (est. IQ score of 220), or a host of other so-called geniuses were THAT intelligent? Certainly, they’re accomplishments speak for themselves, but I wonder how well they’d do on our modern “standardized” tests?

I was curious, so I took my own IQ Test online. In my research (10 minutes), I found that you can accomplish whatever score you’d like based on what that given site is selling! There doesn’t seem to be a standard “IQ Test”, but instead, a litany of promotional marketing sites that front their sales-pitch with a free test. I didn’t take any of these. I can’t honestly believe an accurate IQ score goes hand-in-hand with 5 DVD’s for $5.

My score on www.iqtest.com was 137, which I feel fairly good about. After all, that number fits into the “very superior intelligence” category. But still, I’m not quite sure of it’s overall legitimatecy.

I had always been told a score of 160 = Genius. I think Albert Einstein receives credit for this. This made me double-y curious, so I looked to the wide world of Google to find more answers (they’re always credible, right?). Below are just a few names you might like to compare yourself to:

  • Madonna = 140
  • Hugh Hefner = 152
  • Bill Gates = 160 (Wonder if they factor in “Biz Smarts”?)
  • Tony Romo = 124 (30 on the “Wonderlick”)
  • George Bush Sr. = 98
  • George Bush Jr. = 125 (Yes, that’s Junior…not Senior)
  • Kim Ung Yong = 210 (highest in the world)
  • Muhammad Ali = 78 (taken by the U.S. Army…hmmm??)
  • Lee Harvey Oswald = 118
  • James Woods = 180
  • Stephen Hawking = 160 (Yeah, but can he do a pull-up?)
  • Quinton Tarantino = 160 (“Kill Bill” equals E=mc squared)

As with everything else in life, you can always find someone worse off (dumber) or better off (smarter) than yourself. I’m sure my score went directly to the heads at MENSA for my opportunity to join the ranks of comedian Steve Martin and actress Goldie Hawn (yes, Goldie Hawn). I might even use it as a resume builder and provide a comparison chart to show I’m a better “reasoner” than President Bush and Tony Romo. Look for my name in headlines somewhere, doing something greater than these two hacks. : )