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About Karl

I am a coach and storyteller.

I’ve spent over five thousand hours coaching some of the coolest people on earth as a Group Chair with Vistage Florida.  It’s a remarkable business model.  I surround myself with dynamic executives who want to learn and improve daily, and I get to ride shotgun on the journey.

I’ve always been a storyteller, but only recently did it take the form of “writer.”  In my head I’ve got two thrillers, three young adult adventures, and at least two leadership books swimming around.  Now it’s time to write them.  I recently finished the manuscript for Castro’s Shadow and the fun is just beginning.

I strive to be what James Michener described as a “Master in the Art of Living.”

Master in the Art of Living

A master in the art of living

draws no sharp distinction

between his work and his play,

his labor and his leisure,

his mind and his body,

his education and his recreation.

He hardly knows which is which.

He simply pursues his vision

of excellence through whatever

he is doing and leaves

others to determine

whether he is working or playing.

To himself, he always seems

to be doing both.

-       James A. Michener

I spent my first fifteen years in Ohio, where I lived in the Rooster House, cheered on the Big Red Machine, and learned to love Three Way Chili and Graeter’s Ice Cream.  My family moved to Northern Virginia in the “Remember the Titans” era and I learned a bit more about the real world. As part of the first graduating class at a new school, we were essentially seniors for three years.  We owned the world, from Burke Lake to Georgetown to Rehoboth Beach.  I spent four years at William and Mary, where the 18th century was only a block away.  The Cheese Shop, the Dirty Deli and Kappa Sig made for a great memories and lifelong friends.  When I came to Florida more than thirty years ago, I thought I’d stay for a year and then go back home and get a real job.  I was wrong.  Florida is home.  I was a commercial banker and investment banker before finding my calling as a Vistage Chair*.  My proudest – and most humbling – roles are as husband and father.

*Yes, I know a chair is a piece of furniture, providing a surface for people to place their posteriors while they relax, work, or just “take a load off.”  At first I was uncomfortable being associated with this shortened, politically correct title, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it is a perfect metaphor for what I do.

33 Comments Post a comment
  1. DanneHotchkiss #

    congratulations on your latest endeavors — this blog, and the books you want to write.

    January 15, 2012
    • admin #

      D’Anne – thanks for the encouragement – and for visiting on day one. Please come back!

      January 15, 2012
  2. Mike Mason #

    You are a man of strong intellect and a keen insight into folks. I wish you well on this endeavor and plan to keep reading as you write. I have always enjoyed our conversations, and though you won’t hear my retorts, please know I will be filing them away for the next time we are able to share libations.

    January 15, 2012
    • admin #

      Mike, thanks for checking in and your kind words. I’m making a commitment to get to OK in 2012, so you can blast me with retorts (and make me laugh, like always) in person. I need a dose of Mason wisdom – always valuable.

      January 15, 2012
  3. Howard Goldman #

    It’s been a priveledge and a pleasure to have you as our Vistage group chair over the years. We have all gotten so much from you as our leader and personal coach – Who knew you could write too!!! ;)

    I can’t wait to read what comes from your pen.

    January 16, 2012
    • admin #

      Thanks, Howard. The pen is just getting started…

      January 16, 2012
  4. Hutch #

    Congratulations on your launch. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of your journey.

    January 23, 2012
    • admin #

      Thanks, Hutch. I’m counting on you continuing to be a part of the journey, and the privilege is mine!

      January 23, 2012
  5. Karl,

    This is terrific! Although we have know each other for years, your blog provides wonderful facets that were unknown to me; maybe unknown to many.

    Lookking forward to the books!

    January 23, 2012
    • admin #

      Thanks, Mick. I have no doubt that you are a treasure trove of stories. I’m anxious to hear them – and to re-tell them! I’ll keep you posted on book #1, Castro’s Shadow.

      January 23, 2012
  6. paul lehrer #

    Karl – delighted that you are sharing thoughts. paul

    January 23, 2012
    • admin #

      Thanks, Paul. We’ll have to get Lehrer story or two here in the future. – Karl

      January 23, 2012
  7. Dale Garner #

    Attaboy Karl,

    It’s been a long time since you recruited me into Kappa Sig. I’m not sure I ever thanked you enough. My best and most lifelong friends and memories come from those days. The stories we tell….

    Congratulations on the newest chapter in your life. I look forward to reading more and when you’re up my way, I can fill in for Mason in the libations department.

    January 28, 2012
    • admin #

      Dale, those were great times. You can expect to see some stories here from those days – including one coming up very soon… – Karl

      January 28, 2012
  8. John Gullman #

    Karl:

    It has always been an honor to have been your business partner and even more so your friend.

    February 10, 2012
    • Karl Sprague #

      The feeling is mutual, John. We’ve had some fun, and I’ve learned a lot from you. Who knew when we started those early breakfasts in the bagel shop!

      February 10, 2012
  9. Russ Hutchings #

    Karl,

    I’m so glad you are doing this. The stories you tell will not only make your readers sit back and think about life, they will change lives. Congratulations and thank you for telling me about your new venture.

    Best regards,

    Russ

    March 10, 2012
    • Karl Sprague #

      Thanks, Russ, I appreciate your kind words. Hopefully, you will recognize some of the upcoming stories. Thanks for the example that you set. – Karl

      March 10, 2012
  10. Karl, I always knew you were an amazing Vistage Chair and a great guy but now that I know what a wonderful writer and storyteller you are, you’re so high up on that pedestal, it’s ridiculous! :)
    But seriously, awesome stories….I love to read them and I love to share them!

    April 26, 2012
    • Karl Sprague #

      Elise, I love you, but did you just use “pedestal” with me?? You know what happens to people on a pedestal… I have enough bruises and scars already, thank you. Seriously, thanks for the kind words. I know that you’re a kindred spirit when it comes to supporting others who are changing lives. You and your staff at Vistage are amazing. Keep up the good work.

      April 26, 2012
  11. Jake von Scherrer #

    Karl, this is some pretty cool stuff. I have fond memories of working with you on CSCA Booster projects. Hope to read more from you.

    June 12, 2012
    • Karl Sprague #

      Thanks for stopping by, Jake. I, too, have fond memories of those days – not only the projects, but the discussions about competition are work, and winning.

      June 12, 2012
  12. Amanda #

    Karl, it’s funny how you can remember things like what the person was wearing when you meet someone you’ll never forget. Just like you remember the man wearing the clip on tie, I remember how you looked, plaid shirt and all, the morning I met you. I am thrilled for your upcoming novel(s) and am catching up on the blog (just discovered this today). I can actually hear you telling these stories as I read them. Gives me a chance to feel involved again in the enthusiasm, kindness and wisdom of you.

    June 12, 2012
    • Karl Sprague #

      Thanks, Amanda. Somehow, the written word doesn’t capture the emotion and strike a chord like your singing. I hope others are getting to hear you sing – especially your kids!

      June 12, 2012
  13. Looking forward to the novel, and wondering if we’ll see anything gleened from Jack Orrison in one of those leadership books. Enjoyed reading your blog about passionite people, and just thinking back about what what it was that made an “unvarnished Okie” such a good coach, and more importantly, such an inspirational math teacher. I suspect he was a “master in the art of living” as defined by Michener.

    June 12, 2012
    • Karl Sprague #

      Jeff, I think Jack Orrison was an exceptional leader. I think we would have run through brick walls for him. I hated math – excel when he was teaching it. He had high expectations, and he real believed in us. Thanks for reminding me.

      June 12, 2012
  14. Howard Tipton #

    Karl,

    I’ve known you now for almost 40 years and have always appreciated your prespective on the world. Back in the day we used to say “Keep on
    Truckin”. Well today that’s changed to “Keep on Writin”. Geez, should I have said that? Sounds stupid when you see it in writing. Maybe I should have……

    Keep it up!

    Tip

    July 19, 2012
    • Karl Sprague #

      Tip, We’ve known each other for forty years? You must be old. I’m living in blissful denial. Writing has become part of the regular routine, but you’re allowed to stick with the “Keep on Truckin’” slogan. Anything that brings to mind the Grateful Dead has to be a good thing, doesn’t it? – Karl

      July 20, 2012

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