Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer
My dad’s name is James and my mom thought Stuart James would be a cute name for their son. However, dad could hear the shortened version. He didn’t want his son to be a heterogeneous mixture (stew).
The folks wanted a name to complement Jim but didn’t like Junior, Tim, Rim, Bim, or Dim. So, they set the bar high with a name of English origin, defined as noble and brave, Kim Burnett Foard.
Dad had an eighth-grade formal education and a Ph.D. in common sense and relationships. Yet, because of the expectations of our society, he found certain doors of opportunity locked. He was without the key of higher education to open them.
I encourage my children to manage those expectations — while nurturing their individuality and creativity.
As I tell my Story, you’ll see why Montana is home. My parents married in Red Lodge 66 years ago. I completed the Family Circle in 2004 by purchasing a house in a Red Lodge neighborhood. It was near Fishtail — home of the first Foards to settle in Montana, three generations ago.
Dad grew up on a homestead near Hardin, MT, where his dad raised cows and hay. Mom grew up on a farm near Rosebud, MT, where her dad raised sugar beets and sheep. I was born in Miles City, MT, to this cow-boy and shepherd-girl.
As a favor for an older brother, Dad was driving a truck for Sweetheart Bread Company. For her senior year of high school, Mom had moved to Miles City, to complete classes towards a career as a traveling secretary. One day her younger sister was visiting at the boarding house and spotted a cute cowboy from their window.
Mom claims she didn’t like cowboys. Yet, she was the one invited to go in the truck on those midnight runs.
When I was two, Dad decided the City was no place to raise his son. Since he always nurtured a love for horses and cows, a ranch job at Ismay, MT, was a logical choice. When I was four, we moved to a ranch at Lavina, MT.
For several years, I watched Mom do her shopping from the Sears mail-order catalog. After thoughtfully making my choice, a baby sister was delivered. Wow! The real live version was surely different than the picture.
I was almost seven when the new adventure of school beckoned. Within a month of starting first grade at Lavina, we were on the move to a ranch at Big Timber, MT. We were there for six years. Then, we began an adventure in the foreign country of East Texas. That was a four-year stint of horizon broadening.
My junior year of high school provided the opportunity to be the new kid on three different playgrounds: Long View, TX; New Underwood, SD; and Lavina, MT. Since I graduated from high school at Lavina, I can proudly proclaim that I started and finished school there.
The Problem (Opportunity in Disguise)
Then, as Salutatorian at graduation, I turned down a full-ride four-year college scholarship to pursue my dream of being a cowboy. Fifteen months later, I knew I didn’t have the same love of horses and cows as my dad. Although all of those years living the notion, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” came in handy. Because, this poor kid had a new dream of going to college.
In the course of managing my fledgling business as a twenty-something entrepreneur, the counsel of an older client friend cut short my whining. Expressively, he said, “Kim, your problem is not that you were born poor. Your problem is that you were born with ambition. Many are born poor and stay that way. You want something else.”
I had a childhood of unconditional love from my dad and unrelenting challenge from my mom. The days were spent horseback in a sea of cowhides with a Dad who knew the way to confidence was by doing what others said was impossible. The evenings were spent reading epic tales of adventure with a Mom who knew the portal to opportunity was by learning from the stories of others.
Although dad worked on ranches for $200 per month and we were poor of money, our little family of four was rich in love. I wanted the richness of family combined with greater resources.
My college years, from the fall of 1975 to the spring of 1979, were invested at Eastern Montana College. Now, the campus is known as MSU-Billings. I worked my way through the first two years of college building houses. For the final two years, I worked for a CPA firm.
The last day of my junior year I finished two exams in the morning and began a marriage that afternoon.
After graduation from college, I worked for Husky Oil Company in Cody, WY, for six months. Quickly, I discovered I liked the rock-n-roll of public accounting better than the corporate bureaucracy of a private company. The next year was focused on getting that onerous CPA Exam passed.
I’ll always remember 8/1/1981 as the day I opened the letter offering congratulations on passing the CPA Exam. Later in December of that year, a business checking account in Roundup, MT, was opened — and I deposited the check from my first Client.
Both of my children started kindergarten and graduated high school at Roundup.
My 34-year-old daughter, Lindsey, is a May 2008 graduate of MSU-Havre. She is a Master Certified Service Advisor, Website Designer Extraordinaire, Wife to a Rancher, Financial Manager, and a new Mom. And she is a wonderful combination of straight-line thinker and creative genius.
My 31-year-old son, Ryan, attended college in Powell, WY. He invested a few years enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks, quickly made Supervisor with Sanjel, and started his own Fencing Company. And he exemplifies the patience of a saint in his efforts to bring out the best in others.
Evidently, they took to heart the line from the movie Silverado, “The world is what you make of it friend. If it doesn’t fit, make alterations.” I’m extremely proud of their diligent efforts to be true to their core beliefs — while pursuing their individual dreams.
The mental image of a Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer is one of ostensible contradiction. Yet, these four words remind me that life is best experienced on a spectrum. So, think of a sphere. Then, imagine the axis lines holding it symmetrical from the inside, out.
Like the four points of a compass (as far as the East is from the West) opposite ends of the axis lines are required for balance.
Growth occurs when we push the artificial limit of where the internal axis lines end — at the edge of who we currently are. As we stretch the boundaries, the result is a greater sphere of influence for the benefit of many.
These spectrums of life stretch to infinity — if we have the courage to let our minds become open to the vastness of the universe and the unlimited potential of each individual.
Spurs and Books
The cornerstones of my heritage are Spurs and Books. What rowels are to spurs — vowels are to words. They are the jingle of rhythm and points of meaning.
A Cowboy is a man of action and defender of principle. The thoughtful approach of a Poet casts a soft and gentle hue. Philadelphia is symbolic of friendship and brotherly love. When those attributes are absent in a relationship, a Lawyer intends to discover the facts (and just the facts) ma’am!
The self-proclaimed label of Cowboy Poet is to honor the importance of heroes and the power of words. As a kid, I wore a fancy, tied-down, two-gun rig, with which to dispatch the bad guys. Now, I rely on the proverb, “Truly, the pen is mightier than the sword.”
I received the title of Philadelphia Lawyer from my dad when I was about ten years old. We were unloading sacks of cow salt out of the pickup into the granary one evening — and I was doing my twenty questions routine.
Evidently, I lost track of the number — and it must have been a long day for Dad. In exasperation and with a smile, he declared, “Kim, you ask so many questions that I’m sure you’re going to grow up to be a Philadelphia lawyer!”
He didn’t miss the mark by much. When it comes to putting together the conference room deals of our society, attorneys and CPAs are usually sitting side by side.
Fifty years after Dad’s observation, that natural curiosity has grown exponentially. The questions have become more focused and the intent is pure. I want to help YOU build something – special.
“There are only two ways to make a lasting impression: Dazzle ’em with your Brilliance — or, Baffle ’em with your Bullsh#t.”
That’s my response when asked, “What the heck is SageTalk?!”
My story began on the sagebrush prairies of eastern Montana. Consequently, it’s one of western adventure and philosophical musings. As a CPA, I have a fiduciary responsibility to apply the professional traditions of black, white — and gray. However, life is so much more — it’s rich in color.
As we consider the words at the core of SageTalk, the first is representative of the wisdom from the Sages of the Ages. The second is an encouragement for us to always and boldly Talk (share) our ideas, passions, and vision for the future — with others.
The rainbow arc of the spectrum between the two words (Sage ~ Talk) is comprised of colorful Stories. Accordingly, YOU and I must share our unique versions with the Whole Wide World.