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Professor Stephen Hawking, PhD, has died at the age of 76.

If you missed “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” published in 1988, you might have been exposed to Dr. Hawking through his “appearances” on “The Simpsons” or “Futurama,” or his real appearances on “The Big Bang Theory.”

And if not those things, you might have seen the 2014 movie, “The Theory of Everything,” a movie about his amazing life.

Even his doctoral dissertation, which I’m planning to plagiarize in my own dissertation, is available online: PDF – PR-PHD-05437_CUDL2017-reduced.pdf

I love physics and science, but I don’t have much of an aptitude for them. Much like my appreciation of music, but with no ability to play beyond rank beginner. I tested out of one semester of physics in college, but I couldn’t test out of the second semester. And I didn’t make straight A’s in the two years of college physics I took. But I did okay. But I loved it nonetheless.

The title of the movie, “The Theory of Everything,” comes from the hypothesis, famously put forward by Albert Einstein, that there is a theory of everything (ToE) that ties quantum mechanics with astrophysics with cosmology with every other physical aspect of the universe and explains it all.

I’ve been in a PhD program for almost two years working on a doctorate in leadership. I attended my first official leadership training in 1977. I graduated first in my class in that Non-Commissioned Officer’s Leadership School. (On a side-note, Scot Bearup’s father was my primary instructor and the Senior Staff NCO of the school!) I’ve attended some form of leadership training about every 3 years since.

I said all of that to say this: there is a theory of everything where leadership is concerned. And I think it’s summarized in one word.


Good leaders formulate good relationships with those they lead.

Tubby Smith has been fired as University of Memphis Men’s Basketball Head Coach. When he signed to come to Memphis 2 years ago, I was excited! Coach Smith came with an impressive resume as a college basketball coach. He led the University of Kentucky to a National Championship in 1998. (But as one disgruntled U of M student said yesterday, “Yes, he won a championship in 1998 … but I wasn’t even BORN in 1998!”) Her comment sort of echoes the “But what have you done for me lately?” mentality. Tubby couldn’t ride his own coattails and fill the seats at the FedEx Forum.


Still, I was excited and hopeful when he came, and wanted our Basketball Tigers to match our Football Tigers! The Memphis faithful will know that for decades the reputation of the U of M has been just the opposite. We were always considered a basketball school. But that has changed in recent years! The football program increased as the basketball program decreased. It was like “Stranger Things” and the upside down!

But my excitement started to cool almost from the beginning.

Coach Smith seemed low energy. His television interviews were lacking in the kind of spirit and enthusiasm I had remembered. Still, I didn’t worry too much. That is, until he failed to connect with the University and the community. It looked like he had no relationships with either. I feared he was just “phoning it in.” Like Memphis was just another stop in his coaching career. I wondered if he and his wife had actually unpacked from their move from Texas Tech, where Smith coached for only 3 years.

College coaches moving around from school to school isn’t unusual. But the best programs across the country have a strong tradition and have had few coaches over the years. Since 1961, North Carolina has had only 2 coaches! Coach Mike Krzyzewski, “Coach K,” has been at Duke for 38 years. Rick Byrd has been at Belmont for 32 years. Coach Jim Boeheim has been at Syracuse for 42 years. Tom Izzo has been at Michigan State for 23 years. I could go on. And that’s just a few in NCAA Division 1.

High turnover in any institution or organization is a sign of things wrong, not things right.

Did Coach Smith make a valiant effort to connect with Memphis and build solid relationships here within the community? I can’t answer that. But it doesn’t look like he did. John Calipari, love him or hate him, connected with Memphis. He formed relationships here. He even had a restaurant, “Cal’s Steakhouse,” in the Doubletree Hotel. The place was covered in Cal’s coaching memorabilia. It was his connection here that made his departure so hard to swallow for many. That, and the recruits he took with him to UK.

I had other complaints about Tubby that aren’t germane to this essay, but there seemed to be a shallow relationship between the coach and his players. There was certainly a visible lack of respect on the part of some of the players towards their head coach.

It’s a shame, really. I had high hopes.

If relationships are the theory of everything for leadership, then “Ask better questions” is at the heart of building those relationships. It’s not a matter of asking yes and no questions. It’s all about asking better questions. Open ended questions. Questions that indicate a sincere interest in the other person.

A long time ago, I started evaluating my relationships with people based on something I call the “Question Quotient.” Simply stated, does that person know as much about me as I know about them, based on the kind and quality of the questions we asked one another?” Stated another way, “Are they as interested in me as I am in them?”

I have a friend about whom I know a TON! I can tell you where they went to high school and college. I can tell you where their spouse went to high school and college and what both of their majors were. I can tell you their children’s names and their children’s hobbies and habits. I can tell you which of those children are doing well and which ones aren’t. I can tell you where they vacation and why they go there. I can tell you their pet’s names. I can tell you the names of their parents and things about them. I could easily write a 10-page essay on this friend and their life.
This friend could not tell you how many children I have, much less their names. Actually, I think they could tell you how many children I have only because, like most parents, I’ve talked about my kids without being asked!

As it relates to what my friend knows about me through the questions they’ve asked, very little. What they know from what they’ve asked could fit on one side of a 3×5 card with plenty of space for doodles and cartoons!

I suspect we all have friends like this. And you know the depth of the relationship based on how little interest they seem to have in you. The Question Quotient is below zero. Only when the QQ value is a positive number is that relationship thought of as significant.

A long time ago, I was fixed up on a blind date. I hadn’t been in the States from Japan for more than a couple of years. She seemed nice enough and pretty enough. But when I mentioned that I didn’t know about something that had happened 5 years earlier because I was in Japan. She never asked a single question about that. WHO WOULDN’T ASK A QUESTION ABOUT THAT? “Oh, really? Japan?” “What were you doing in Japan?” “Where did you live in Japan?” “What was it like in Japan?” “Oh, I’ve always wanted to visit Japan! Tell me about living there.”


I thought maybe she didn’t hear me, so later in the conversation I mentioned again that I’d just moved back 2 years earlier from Japan.

Cricket noises.

QQ value of less than zero.

If relationships are the key, then better questions turn the key.

Good questions are better than no questions at all.

But better questions will have a lasting effect on the depth and significance of your relationships. And if you’re in a position of leadership—and who isn’t leading someone, irrespective of our roles?—then being a better leader by asking better questions will make an enormous difference!

Want to be a better friend? Ask better questions!

Want to be a better parent? Ask better questions!

Want to ask better questions? Look beyond the surface. Look beyond the interrogation questions. Look beyond yes and no and the resume. Think in terms of feelings, emotions, motivations, reactions … touch the shared humanity you have with that other person.

Maybe I should write some examples of those kinds of questions.




Through the years, people have been super supportive of USMC Fitness Boot Camp and all that I do through it. Almost weekly, I’ll hear from some former boot camper who’s moved away. They write saying how significant the program was to them and how much they enjoy getting these newsletters.

Some of those folks still live in Memphis but life and circumstances have “providentially” hindered them from coming back to the Quarterdeck. (This sounds better than “they got lazy and got out of the habit.”)

Sometimes, those who’ve moved away send money because they want to be helpful and to support the program. This happened just a few days ago. Sometimes these folks know that at any point in time, there are about half a dozen boot campers coming for free because they lost their job, or there’s been some other detrimental change in their finances and situation and would otherwise have to drop out boot camp.

I support different causes and organizations, like you do. But last year I started supporting two different people on a site called Patreon. It’s a way to support artists, musicians, writers, and others who produce content of a broad nature, but might not be able to continue without financial support from patrons … like how educators, artists, musicians, and others were supported by patrons back in the day.

Today, the work produced by members of Patreon is found in printed materials, blog posts, YouTube videos, face to face instruction, consultation, reviews, lectures, and any number of outlets. I support the two I mentioned because I like what they do and want to help.

I’ve been encouraged to join Patreon myself, giving folks who aren’t actively in the program (or even those who are), an opportunity to support the program in small automatic monthly amounts.

More about that later!



by First Sergeant Ashley Holloway, Registered Dietitian, LDN, MS.

(A Registered Dietitian has a BS in Food Science, followed by a one-year internship through an accredited university, and then with the recommendation of the internship program’s supervisor, a national examination is required. After that, an RD must have continuing education units annually in order to remain active and registered. An RD is an expert, not a hobbyist or a “food enthusiast.”)

Nutritional Science 101- Muscle Mania

In order to have the best physical health, we need to make sure that our bodies are packed with muscle. Muscle makes up about 75 percent of our lean body mass. Lean body mass also includes our organs, bones, tissue, and skin. It generates heat, and it serves as a pool of protein for our muscles and vital organs, and tissues. Muscle gives us mobility and balance and allows us to get up from a sitting position, to walk across the room, and to do all activities that we do in our daily lives.

The bad news is, the amount of muscle mass we have will decrease as we get older! And by older, I mean around 25-30 years of age. The reason we begin to lose muscle as we age is due to the slowdown of how our body uses the protein we eat to build muscle, called protein synthesis. By age 40, we can lose up to 8% of our muscle mass every ten years, and then around 70 years of age, this muscle loss can almost double to a 15% loss every ten years. That is a lot of muscle loss!


Another way we lose muscle is if we become ill or injured in some way. If our bodies are trying to fight off an illness or repair from an injury, it increases our need for calories and protein. And if we are unable to eat or consume enough protein for the healing process, our bodies will actually break our muscles down so that the protein can be used for healing. This muscle loss can happen very quickly and rapidly! If we are younger and have plenty of muscle, breaking down a little of our muscle may not be a big deal. But if we are older and are already losing muscle due to aging, the consequences can be devastating, and could also be life ending!

Losing just 10% of our muscle mass leads to decreased immunity and increased risk of infection. The more muscle mass we lose, the worse it is.

Losing muscle and lean body mass leads to:
♣ the inability to heal and recover from surgery, illness or disease
♣ Decreased strength and energy
♣ Loss of independence
♣ Increased risk of falls and fractures
♣ Weakened immune system and increased risk of infections
♣ Impaired healing
♣ Weakness/fatigue
♣ Increased susceptibility to illness
♣ Decreased quality of life

Sadly, when our body loses 40% or more of lean mass, it is incompatible with life, we die. Our body has become so weak, that it just can’t sustain itself any longer.

A person’s weight on the scale is not always a good indicator of muscle loss, especially in people who are overweight and obese. And obese person can be a skinny frail person on the inside, with just a lot of cushion on the outside. One of the best indicators for muscle loss is to look for changes in functional status, strength, and energy. Think about someone older in your life that you have known for a long time. Has their strength, stamina, energy level, or their ability to get around decreased? Is this YOU?

Now that I have sufficiently depressed you, let me tell you the good news! There are things we can do to counteract the natural loss of lean body mass as we age. We can’t slow down the loss completely, but we can slow it down considerably. We can avoid losing our independence, our functionality, our strength, and stamina by doing two key things.

The first key thing we can do (and should do) to maintain muscle mass is to do strength training exercises. You have probably heard the saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Well, research shows that performing weight bearing exercises a minimum of 2-3 days a week does help to prevent muscle loss and build our muscle mass. These exercises don’t have to include heavy weights or even joining a gym, but each session should cover all the major muscle groups. Push-ups, sit-ups, wall squats, planks, lunges, and many other body weight exercises can be done to accomplish this goal.

The second thing we can/should do to prevent age-related muscle loss, it is recommended that we eat protein at least three to four times a day, consuming 20-30 grams at a time, for the highest muscle building rate. An average three-ounce portion of meat (about the size and thickness as the palm of your hand) contains a little over 20 grams of protein. The type of protein should be high-quality protein such as meat, milk, poultry, and fish. Nuts, seeds, legumes, and many other foods also contain protein to meet that 20-30 gram per meal goal.

Consuming plenty of protein is usually no problem at all when we are younger. But as we age, we typically eat a lot less protein. Why? The reasons can be numerous: taste changes, digestion issues, chewing problems, difficulty preparing meals, living solo, and many more reasons. As we age, we need to pay close attention to the amount of protein we eat and strive to take in enough to prevent the loss of our muscle and decreases in functionality, strength, and energy.

As you can see, muscle mass is extremely important and is vital for life. Strength training exercises and good nutrition play a key role in helping maintain and build lean body mass. Having healthy muscles equals a healthier, stronger, independent you!

Have you ever wondered how the protein we eat turns into muscle? When we eat eggs, turkey, beef, pork, and other sources of protein, your body uses about 8% of the calories from protein for muscle building and repair. Here is a simplified tutorial adapted from Men’s Health on how it all works.

Step 1-Digestion: When we eat protein, enzymes from your stomach and small intestine break down protein into smaller pieces called amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and peptides (which are chains of at least two or three amino acids.) More enzymes in the small intestine further breakdown the peptides into amino acids for use throughout the body.

Step 2-Transport: Once the protein is broken down completely into amino acids, they travel to the liver through a vein called the hepatic (liver) portal vein. One of the jobs the liver has is to send out amino acids back into our bloodstream to be used by our muscles.

Step 3-Response: Our muscles are made up of woven bundles of muscle fibers. When we perform weight bearing exercises, we develop small micro-tears in the muscle fibers. When this happens our body signals to your immune system that muscle repair is needed. Growth hormones, stem cells, and amino acids are all called in to help repair the damage.

Step 4-Construction: Amino acids are then weaved together to form myofibrils which are bundles of protein threads to be used for muscle building and repair.

Step 5-Repair and Growth: These bundles of protein threads are then fused with the damaged areas of our muscles to repair the micro-tears that were caused by exercise. These myofibrils not only repair the damage, but also help to make your muscles bigger and stronger.



I’ve recently signed up for the messaging app called Remind. Designed with schools in mind, it is easily adaptable for groups and organizations like ours.

Signing up is free and easy. Your privacy is ensured and there will be no group text situations that makes us all crazy! I’m the only one who can reply to everyone. Any messages from you will only go to me, not to the whole group.

I’ll only utilize this messaging service to inform you of any changes to venue or times. Likewise, I’ll use it, in addition to Facebook, to announce any weather-related cancellations or changes.

Just copy and paste this link into your browser to sign up: remind.com/join/usmcfi


What would you do if money was not an issue, fear was not a factor, and failure was not an option?
To your optimum health and fitness!



Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145

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