My Grandma, Esther Norbert Warner — later known to me as Betty Cleveland (or Grandma) was my father’s mother and she could fly!  In this favorite family photo, she stands tall at age 16, one of the first licensed female pilots in the State of California and certainly the youngest when she earned her wings.  Imagine how much of a renegade she was in her day!

Years ago, the family collected her goggles, flight boots, that cool jacket and other memorabilia as a donation to the new Museum of Flight being developed at the College of Pacific.  I believe that institution was the pioneer in flight training in the early period of the age of flight and that’s also where my Grandma and other relatives got their wings.  The School, flight historians and others in California have taken up a project to make this part of flight history come to life.  

In 2009 when I moved into my office at Hobby-Lobby International, Inc. (now Hobby Express) this was the mysterious photo I hung on the wall.  I should not have been surprised when the staff overlooked my grandma at the center of the photograph, and asked me what I knew about the air plane.  I was stumped!

Honestly, I had no idea what she flew until my great Aunt Marj broke the story… not one other person has ever had the answer until then: you’re looking at an Alexander Eaglerock. 

For all you flight historians, this aircraft was used in the College of Pacific Flight Training School where my Grandma took flying lessons from her uncle, the school’s only instructor.  I still think it would be a blast to introduce this airplane, something with a family tie, as one of our new Pilot-1 Golden Age Civilian series.   That’s in the skunk works now!

This bi-plane reportedly flew like a dream. The one pictured was crashed a few times and rebuilt. At Hobby Express we look for “under-modeled” airplanes because, at least it seems to me, everyone is copying everyone.  We want to deliver quality, but also something really different and interesting you WANT to bring to the local R/C flying field. 

I just wish I could go back in time and watch my Grandma fly!

Growing up in Eugene, there was only one professional team to follow in Oregon – the Portland Trail Blazers.  In 1976, the year they won the NBA title, fans poured into the streets like it was Mardi Gras.  I recall the entire city of Portland celebrating with the players.

Bill Walton was a center piece on that team (no pun intended).  A phenomenon at UCLA in their legendary championship run, he was famous for following his unique path.  The player hippie, someone a west coast fan base could easily identify with.  Over his great career, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, recognized as a league MVP and played a key role for the Celtics in Boston’s their Championship days — his enthusiasm and competitive nature remain electric to this day.  Bill’s medical challenges are widely known, from ankle fusions to back surgery, but it’s how he persevered through it all that has always been awe inspiring to me.

When we developed the VALOR amputee sock at Swiftwick, our paths crossed and soon, our compression socks were his favorite.  Compression socks are important, and much more so, to a seven foot tall guy with size 16 shoes and fused ankles.   It’s wonderful to be able to help people, but if you are a fan of someone who later becomes “your fan” the story will wind up in your blog… Today, I consider Bill a friend and enjoy talking on the phone as we stay in touch. 
Ultimately, the team at Swiftwick made a special edition Swiftwick XXL sock, just for Bill. Check out the comparison photo, with his custom sock dwarfing the standard XL size.  At his request, I coordinated the development of a made to fit cycling shoe cover.  They were proudly hand crafted in the USA, just for Bill.  
That’s where Robert Sandoval from Bike Sport Radio caught up to Bill to capture this brief interview. Of course, I appreciate his positive and kind words — and can’t help but blush — however, I also know that he feels this way and expresses love for other people that he considers friends.  BIll says “..I forgot to listen to the music..” when reflecting on his more arduous and painful moments on the path to recovering his health.  

Music is the language of healing, but equally as important is positive thinking.  You can’t help but love the positive language that Bill uses in every exchange with his friends.  I’m honored to be counted among his friends.   Bill loves his bike.  He has two (REALLY BIG) custom made bikes that are themselves, works of art.  His contributions to charity are often centered around long distance fund raising rides.

A few of my favorite memories come from a few days I spent as a guest at his house. Just walking around in Bill Walton’s home is like Alice in Wonderland, set in a musical world with athletic memorabilia, art and collectibles celebrating Bob Dylan, JIm Morrison, Bruce — and of course, the Grateful Dead.  The two of us lifted weights in his garage and talked about business, cycling, health, philosophy and music.   We enjoyed lunch with a group of very smart guys looking to be disruptive in the prosthetic business.  It felt like I was his wing man that day, supporting of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in San Diego.  We drank Tequila in his tee pee (yes, a full size, permanently installed, classic plains indian style tee pee).  His home felt like home.

When I started to compile notes for a book that’s inside me (but can’t get out) his coaching was invaluable. He contributed my first interview, the content of that amazing conversation still on my hard drive.  During his visits to Nashville or mine to San Diego, we’ve found time to get together.  Bill was the featured speaker to open the Interbike 2014 trade show.  He came to our booth for a couple hours to talk with Swiftwick dealers and caused quite a stir. CEO, Mark Cleveland sent his comments on the Amazon Drone Express announcement:

I was traveling to Texas when the Charlie Rose segment on ’60 Minutes’ featuring Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ PrimeAir, drone delivery vision caused a sensation. I found this, together with subsequent coverage by mainstream media to be entertaining. Offensive, but entertaining.

Why is this news? Drones could add $13.6 Billion to to the US economy in three years? Ridiculous.

One critical story in USA Today by Rem Rieder was appropriately sarcastic of Rose for his fawning all over the fantasy of Drone Express. Unfortunately, it was buried on page 5B, while the front page highlighted the illegal use of drones as an entrepreneurial opportunity, and oversimplified (if not ignored) issues worth exploring.

As the CEO and owner of Hobby Lobby International, my company has been a pioneer in radio control aircraft. For 50 years, this company set new standards for electric flight. We are happy to be in the multi-rotor “drone” business, but the idea that a network of drones could be the foundation for a delivery network at Amazon is comical. We sell the propellers and manufacture the eRC brand motors, servos and electronic speed controllers preferred by multi-rotor hobbyists and commercial clients. As a service, we build and train operators of multi-rotor platforms for movie producers mentioned in the article. We sell electronics and parts to government contractors who build public safety drones.

Next time Charlie Rose, call for some expert commentary.

The media is silent about the basis for the FAA rules that prohibit the very commercial, for-hire entrepreneurship featured and glamorized by these stories. There is no basis for a $13.6 billion dollar economic impact from drones and no reason to believe drone delivery is practical at all? Where is the story about the FAA and AMA (American Modeling Association) working with industry professionals to protect the sport of flying recreational model aircraft, supporting education in the face of terrorism concerns, safety issues and obvious practical obstacles to a sky filled with drones?

Before I bought Hobby Lobby, I enjoyed a career in transportation and logistics services. America’s largest trucking fleets and truck stop operators bought a wide range of products and support services from the organizations I was proud to be part of. From freight matching to safety and compliance programs, from liability and cargo insurance to expedited document imaging and information processing. From that perspective, as a transportation professional, the Amazon Drone Express story and its treatment is appalling. I am offended for my friends in that industry whose contribution to the economy is diminished by the shallow treatment of this drone topic. These are the companies who actually deliver products for Amazon! Billions of economic value contributed daily…

I helped launch a marine transportation company that was honestly innovative and disruptive, it was honestly news worthy. Where was “60 Minutes” when SeaBridge was trying to change the world? I’m offended.

Yes, now I’m mad. Charlie, don’t bother calling. Maybe I’m testy because I’m still in Texas as I write this. Stuck in Dallas in an ice storm. No delivery drone could get me out of here, but I have a few friends in transportation who could.

December 9, 2013
Media contact information below
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Buys Brand Names from Hobby Lobby International OKLAHOMA CITY — Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a privately held retail chain with more than 550 arts and crafts stores in 46 states, today announced it has acquired from Family Time Hobbies, LLC, the holding company for Hobby Lobby International, Inc., all of Hobby Lobby International’s  interest in the trademarks and brand names “Hobby Lobby” and “Hobby Lobby International.”

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Hobby Lobby International have co-existed and simultaneously used the brand “Hobby Lobby” amicably for more than 40 years. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.’s decision to acquire Hobby Lobby International’s interest in the “Hobby Lobby” and “Hobby Lobby International” brand names follows many years of growth of both parties and a desire to further distinguish the brands as e-commerce and social media continue to expand. 

Hobby Lobby International operates a 50-year-old hobby store in Nashville, Tennessee and an e-commerce site that sells radio control airplanes, helicopters, cars, boats and other hobby products.

As a result of the acquisition, Hobby Lobby International will continue doing business as Hobby Express”.

“As my company celebrates our golden anniversary of the brand’s founding in 1964, we’re excited to continue the tradition of providing innovative products and exemplary service to the tens of thousands of customers who have shopped our store,” said Mark Cleveland, CEO of Hobby Express (formerly Hobby Lobby International). “We’ll be the same company with a new name as we move boldly into the future.”

“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of Hobby Lobby International’s interest in the ‘Hobby Lobby’ and ‘Hobby Lobby International’ brands, and we enthusiastically support their transition to the ‘Hobby Express’ brand name,” said David Green, CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. “We admire their 50 years of exemplary customer service and are excited for the continued growth and success of Hobby Express.”

Hobby Express will continue operating its store located in Nashville and selling radio control airplanes, helicopters, cars, boats and other hobby products online at the new URL of

To learn more about Hobby Lobby, visit

To learn more about Hobby Express, visit

About Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
Based in Oklahoma City, Hobby Lobby and its affiliate Hemispheres employ more than 22,900 individuals nationwide. Hobby Lobby was founded by David Green in 1972. The company has grown from one 700-square-foot store to more than 550 locations in 46 states. Hobby Lobby carries no long-term debt, is open only 66 hours per week and is closed on Sundays. For more information, visit

Mark Cleveland, HLI (Left) and David Green, HLS (Right)
About Hobby Express

For 50 years, Hobby Express has delivered the best model hobby products, from radio control airplanes, helicopters, cars and boats, trains and track landscaping, together with tools, paints and accessories, to customers around the world. Our catalog, website and store in Nashville, Tenn., offer any hobby enthusiast the information and technical support needed with top quality products delivered at very competitive prices. For more information, visit


Media Contacts:
Anthony Triana (Saxum for Hobby Lobby) – 405.605.2003 or

Nikki Trojanowski (Dittoe PR for Hobby Express) – 317.202.2280 x.25 or


I walked the trade show floor at the iHobby Expo in Chicago last week. The show opened on October 21st and because it was my second year attending, I couldn’t help but notice how different my experience was this year compared to last. 

Naturally, a couple of years in the hot fire and brimstone of this economy, working inside a little hobby distribution company, trying to reinvent yourself in a fast moving market… can teach a guy a thing or two. 

Don’t get me wrong, I was the same old “kid in a candy store” walking the show floor packed with trains, slot cars, cool toys and “stuff” — but this year I had a lot better eye for good candy, and the BAD CANDY just jumped out at me… like the freaky lady handing out carmel covered apples for Halloween, it’s bad candy — and like bad hobby products — just not worth it. 

Last year the industry was down. This year, hobby shop owners and managers were definitely in a better mood and we are all looking forward to what’s next. Not that we have a choice – we’re entrepreneurs – that’s what we do, but I love optimistic people nonetheless.

Last year there were a lot of companies from China demonstrating new and untested product. This year there were a lot of new and untested “distributors” demonstrating still unproven products from China. 

Last year, every RC car looked awesome and cool. This year I could see and appreciate quality. You could see it in new RC car product from Traxxas, the new Electrix Truck and an awesome rock crawler from Red Racing. Everything else looked like a collection of unimaginative, copy cat cars from China; a parts supply nightmare looking for a place to happen. I started out as a consumer. I joined a team of experts and hired a few more. Together we moved mountains, redeveloped our retail store, opened an RC car race track and birthday event center, created the eRC product line and a lot more. In that transition and with that experience, I there is no question the American consumer needs a hobby shop to help them sort through small mountains of “good looking” stuff. Helping a customer purchase the honestly good stuff — is an honorable thing to do with your time. 

Last year we had just launched the revolution in thrust vectoring EDF jets with the SU 34 and RC pilots wanted to fly our multi-award winning jets. Last year, our new eRC product line was still “top secret” and with awesome products in the pipeline it drove us crazy to keep that under wraps. A few select, specialty hobby shops carry these products now, because their walk-in customer is asking for it. We have been demonstrating, promoting and shipping the all new Micro Stik, a beautiful B-25 Apache Princess, a line of entirely new eRC motors — and now the F/A 18 E Super Hornet is flying out our dock doors. These products deliver on our quality promise — so this hobby shop owner feels a lot better about business this year too.

This year, hobby shop owners were alarmed and concerned about the loss of yet another vendor; old line hobby products distributor, ACE Hobby, which recently closed their doors. Maybe it was a wake up call. Dealers are apparently going through a mental calculation and growing uneasy about how limited their options are for sourcing new and imaginative products. I heard someone say, “… There goes one more line, consumed by Hobbico…” commenting on the immediate price increase for Thunder Tiger products. I found myself thinking, as a hobby shop owner, that Hobbico does a good job for my little retail store — we just don’t do that much business with them. 

On Thursday night in the hotel sports bar, a dozen hobby shop owners, Debra Love and others on my team watched my Alma Mater, the University of Oregon (GO DUCKS) put on a clinic for a national television audience. It was an offensive show and general beat down of UCLA. We all had a blast, we all cheered (for a team few knew existed) and I felt like a part of the industry. These are wonderful people. Things are looking up. We can all have fun doing what we do. Yes indeed, this year, the iHobby Show was a lot better than last year.

I’m related to a pioneer pilot (and considered in his time to be one of the most daring of professionals) Archibald “Arch” Hoxsey. At one time, Arch set the world’s altitude record when he rose to over 11,000 feet. He had the American record for sustained flight across country, making the non-stop 190 mile flight from Springfield Illinois to Clayton, Missouri on October 6th 1910, and there he took ex-President Roosevelt for a flight in St. Louis. The event is recorded in a silent movie you can watch below.
Imagine the technology 100 years ago when you watch this barnstorming video. I wonder if Roosevelt blew chunks?  Arch was a celebrity in airshows and traveled extensively with the Wright brothers. Four of the early aviators (John Moisant, Ralph Johnstone, Charles Hamilton and Arch Hoxsey) were among the celebrities pictured on “tobacco cards” that were distributed with packs of cigarettes in 1910 and 1911. These cards were called “Champion Athletes and Prizefighters” and they competed with baseball cards of the day. Archie Hoxsey flew most often with Ralph Johnston; together they were known as “The Stardust Twins” — filling newspapers with race reports, contests and adventure.

In the words of my Aunt Marj, “Arch was my grandmother’s (your great granny’s) 2d cousin several times removed. He was one of the Wright brothers’ first 5 students. If you Google him on the internet you will find many articles and photos about Archie, including several with president Theodore Roosevelt. Incidentally, Teddy R. was the first president to fly in an airplane, and his pilot was Archie.” This photo says it all…

You might say Arch was the first pilot of Air Force One. Archibald Hoxsey died on December 31, 1910 “..when returning to earth in a series of perilous glides.”

My Grandma, Esther Norbert Warner — and later known to me as Betty Cleveland (or just Grandma) was one of the first licensed and certainly the youngest female pilot in the State of California when she earned her wings at the age of 16. 

The family is collecting her goggles, flight boots, that cool jacket and other memorabilia as a donation to the new Flight Museum being developed at the College of Pacific. That institution was the pioneer in flight training in the early part of this last century and it’s where my Grandma and other relatives got their wings. When I moved into my new office at Hobby-Lobby, I hung only one family photo. Of course, everyone asked me about the air plane… Honestly, I had no idea what she flew until my great Aunt Marj broke the story… not one other person has ever had the answer until then.

You’re looking at an Alexander Eaglerock.  For all you flight historians, this aircraft was used in the College of Pacific flight training school where my Grandma took lessons from her uncle, the school’s flight instructor. It struck to me that it would be a blast to introduce this airplane, something with a family tie, as one of our new Pilot-1 Golden Age Civilian series. What do you think? 

This bi-plane reportedly flew like a dream. The one pictured was crashed a few times and rebuilt. At Hobby-Lobby we are looking for “undermodeled” airplanes because, at least it seems to me, everyone is copying everyone. We want to deliver quality, but also something really different and interesting you WANT to bring to the local R/C flying field.  Back to Grandma… I am told that the School, flight historians and others in California are taking up a project that will include collection of memoribilia to set up a new Museum of Flight. 

People always ask me why I bought Hobby-Lobby. I’m having as much fun as my Grandma was in this photo.. imagine how much of a renegade she was in her day!

My Great Aunt Marj is awesome! She is gathering old family photos and helping me better understand our rather distinguished family heritage in aviation. Sharing these notes with friends, interested scale pilots and our R/C customers who have been in the Hobby-Lobby family for over 44 years is a real bonus! 

While I was asking about the several different fantastic airplanes Aunt Marj owned and flew, I learned she owned a Citabria stunt airplane! How about that? 

Knowing her as I do, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Even still, I was amazed…”It’s airbatic spelled backwards,” she said, and then went on to describe the rolls and maneuvers she pulled over the criss crossing, perfectly straight California farm roads, far below. Marj’s stunt flying days were limited (who knows, it may not have been exciting enough for her) and eventually, she sold that airplane and acquired several other mouthwatering sky charriots. 

I hope I live to be 83 and I would kill to be in the kind of razor sharp condition she is in… she is an inspiration for me and my daughters for sure.

I wanted to thank the Williamson County Chamber for including me in the First Friday panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities for using Social Media in business today.  As the conversation was about to close, I suggested to my fellow panelists that we might publish a list of resources that we find helpful in our own social media efforts.

Below find a listing and comments about great resources you can draw from, and the twitter personalities that I follow.  In the process of assembling this list, I found myself thinking about the concept of measuring social media “results” – a topic we discussed on the panel at length, which tends to dominate concerns any business owner who is exploring social media might focus on.  I’ve been thinking about results vs. the idea that social media is about learning.

The universe of “social media” tools available to help the creative mind make better connections with others is expanding so fast that it’s hard to determine which tool is right for your business.

It requires a real effort to gain a certain minimal level of mastery of that tool, so when you’re participating in the social media experience, you’re using it effectively.

Social media tools are themselves evolving rapidly.  If you don’t have the expertise yourself, you must invest time, money and effort to assess and develop a strategy, then measure the results.  We are compelled to measure results because we are consuming resources to service the social media experience.

The “results” are not easy to measure because relationships are not easy to measure.  How do you  judge the quality of the relationship you have with a customer?   When you are face to face, or even on the phone with a customer, think of all the inputs available to you to “measure” the experience.  When the customer is online, you are still in a relationship, but operating at a sensory deficit.

“It’s hard enough to be successful without believing you can’t do it in the first place.”

If you’re like me, you don’t measure the quality of a relationship based on simple inputs like the number of interactions, or the dollar sales you make to that customer, or the fact they did or did not complain about something.  The depth and quality of a relationship is a very complex determination.  We all make that determination as we “measure” and “judge” friendships, people and outcomes.

But in social media, the business professional is questioning and seeking the right metric to measure it.

Key metrics exist.  My fellow panelist Kate O’Neill (@kateo) is an expert in this area, she gave attendees great advice and her company [meta]marketer can give you more ideas.  My point here is that social awareness, or social IQ is developed over time, with experience and effort.  It’s called learning.  People with low social IQ make a lot of mistakes and easily offend.  They have a lot to learn, and people with no social experiences are pretty obvious.

If you have no social media experience, it follows that your Social Media IQ is low, and it’s pretty obvious.

The “online” customer is connecting with you and you are developing a relationship.  I’m less interested in measuring it than I am in learning from it.  The following list of resources are some of the sources of learning that I value.  It’s a short list of publishers and people who have helped me develop some competencies, so that I could raise my Social Media IQ — just a little bit.  I’ll get better results, by having more experiences.

SUBSCRIBE OR READ: Learn how to put employee engagement at the forefront with John Bernard’s book and subscribe to his blog.  You know you can’t do it all yourself in business.  The same is true in social media.  If you want your company to grow, you have to build an organization and empower.  The same is true in branding.  You must allow the company to speak, your people are its voice.  Social Media tools are the megaphone.  Seth Godin has a great voice.   Read him and you’ll see.  The Social Media Examiner will help you learn how to “do” social media.  My Emma offers a practical set of tools and, as a local company, you simply must visit their NASHVILLE office to see a culture of connection – building a business of connection.

The three winners from the chamber event: @joshbowling, @HMGsmg & @RobWestIII. Your copies are waiting at the Swiftwick office.


These are various examples of individuals and organizations that do an outstanding job building brand and relationships with Twitter.  If you have a son or daughter Tweeting – Follow them.

Finally, you can only raise your Social Media IQ by participating and, while there is no reason not to measure your efforts, just imagine these relationships are a long term investment, like any other valued relationship, and stay active in it.

The most difficult part of the Be Healthy Challenge for me is turning the work out time into my time.  Carving out the time.  I honestly don’t believe I would have gone this far in my fitness experiment unless I had a team to experience the workout with.

As a paying member of the YMCA, why do I never go?  


It’s great to have a personal trainer like Jason – to have an appointment.  It probably isn’t enough for me.  As I look forward, I wonder how I will maintain these young habits == what is my plan for the rest of my life?
I hate working out, but I love the pain after a work out.  I hate getting up early, but I love it when I do.  I hate  spending money, but I love to see I’m getting my money’s worth.  Is this a love hate relationship with fitness?

Within Team Red we have talked about continuing to work out together.  I’m experimenting with Jason in one on one work outs, where I know I get a different level of attention, but any hour so dedicated to cross training is a good hour….  

So what I plan to do is:
  1. Redefine time..  I’ll let you know when I figure that out.
  2. Find a work out class at the YMCA… hot yoga?  Sounds fun.
  3. Budget for a trainer… but get a better handle on fitness goals first
  4. Set some longer term goals… find more than one work out buddy
  5. Join the Mountain High Outfitters e-mail list and participate in their activities
In these last five weeks, I’ve reminded myself why I was fit when I was younger.  First, I was younger.  Second,  it was always about team sports, working out with friends and competition.  The BHC introduced competition, friends and mutual commitments to a fitness experience that I don’t think I would have pursued or remained dedicated to — without it.  

I work at Swiftwick with a lot of guys who can run 100 miles and train for that.  I don’t understand that goal, I respect and admire it for sure, but  …not enough to put that in my plan.