I had a bit of a stomach bug overnight and spent a bit of time throwing up. It wasn't pretty.
This morning, I checked my email and found a note from my 6 year old.
To keep in touch, generate conversation (and a hint of controversy), and opine.
Two books I just finished that I wanted to recommend.
Particularly relevant for anyone who has to lead a group or an organization.
The first is written by the CEO/Founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman. It’s called The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age and highlights how managing people has changed since the era of lifetime employment has come to an end.
They reframe a job as a “tour of duty” in which the company makes clear to the employee what s/he will get out of the next assignment while at the same time, the employee promises s/he will stick with the job until the end of the tour. They stay because reputational risk is too great to leave it.
It’s a quick read and a solid framework for thinking about developing talent in today’s networked age.
Meanwhile, you can always look to the military for inspiring stories of courage, bravery, and leadership. In Pegasus Bridge, the acclaimed historian Stephen E. Ambrose details the first invasion effort of D-Day and the strategic imperative of a group of British airborne troops of taking a canal bridge deep behind enemy lines.
This is a book about planning, preparation, team building, leadership, strategy, execution, and more.
You’ll appreciate the “Greatest Generation” more and hopefully you’ll never be in a life/death situation like this with the fate of the free world hanging in the balance.
However you will be in a position where you need to lead a group of people on a mission. Learn from the best.
Our objectives were simple and two-fold.
It’s what you learn along the way that makes the family trips so much fun.
And it’s the little moments (both good and bad) that you create the memories that stick with all of us for the rest of our lives.
What’s going on in Canada?
As part of our ‘get in the Canada frame of mind” effort, we pulled up the Canadian anthem on YouTube and played it over the car speakers.
It was around that time that we learned that Paco thought the lyrics were:
“we stand on God for thee” instead of “we stand on guard for thee.”
Needless to say, we had some fun with this. Canadians being so dedicated to their country that they will trample God for it.
Also, he thought that it was “Bob keep our land, glorious and free” instead of “God keep our land.”
This led to a lot of speculation as to who exactly Bob is. Perhaps Canada’s gardener?
The Unexpected Twists
Nadia has had a bit of a string of bad luck recently. She had strep, then a viral infection of her chest. We had taken her to a few places (Right Time Clinic being one of them where we had a horrific experience) and it seemed like we were doing all the right things.
Still, she was obviously sick and wheezing a bit.
We had a nebulizer and were using it.
However, the first night in the hotel was just brutal. Nadia was coughing violently, having a hard time breathing, and it was keeping the NFO and me up.
I was up from 2-5.30, but that’s nothing compared to the NFO who decided at 5am to take Nadia to the Williamsville hospital ER.
All’s well that ends well, but it was one of those nights where you think “great, I’m on vacation with the family, I’ll get to bed at a reasonable time, and be somewhat well rested” and instead turns into an all-nighter.
The kids ended up having a great attitude, making lemonade out of lemons (and that’s a life skill, isn’t it?) and we went to the pool in the morning.
We didn’t get to Niagara Falls until about 12.30pm, but it all worked.
Simple Expectations and Bonusville
My philosophy of travel with the family is very simple. Have ONE objective per day. Everything after that is bonus.
Monday was “Maid of the Mist” and then whatever.
Once we did that (and we all had a blast, getting soaked), we were in bonus land.
I had brought passports, so we walked across the Rainbow Bridge (kids enjoyed straddling the border) to Canada.
It gave us a chance to talk about different currencies, why Queen Elizabeth is on the money, kilometers vs. miles and immigration policy.
The approach is a major stress reliever for me. You don’t need to rush. You just do your thing and then can allow the rest of the day to unfold. I find it helps with keeping other people from whining too much as well.
And The Icing on the Cake
When we’re at home, we’re all not staying in the same room or same car for the same length of time. The intensity comes from the proximity and you see how we all work together to solve disagreements or partner.
You see how the kids take care of each other as they get to explore the hotel or go downstairs for the breakfast buffet.
You get to see that, for some reason, they think the show “Full House” is one of the funniest things they’ve ever seen. They laugh at the show and the NFO and I just laugh at their reactions.
You get to inhale the innocence of childhood through them, knowing that you don’t have it forever, but that it’s glorious while it’s here.
And you get to talk about “that time we went to Niagara Falls and Canada.”
Even if we had 14 hours of driving and a trip to the ER while we were there.
It’s all worth it.
Heard a few things from various people that I wanted to document, if only for my own posterity.
One speculation is that Iran egged on Hamas to intensify things.
Why? To pull attention away from them and the fact that they blew by another deadline on the nuclear thing.
More Balanced Reporting?
While I would certainly not say that the media is full on pro-Israel, there have been some more reports that are critical of Hamas. One hypothesis goes to the mentality of the reporters who are stationed in Israel.
For years, they could be in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, claim they were “war reporters” by going to West Bank or Gaza for the day and then return to their 5 star hotels and 1st world lives without trouble. Not like being in Syria or Iraq or wherever. Now, however, they, too have to go into bunkers and hear sirens, so maybe they are thinking “hmmm..the Israelis may have a point here.”
Europe and the Jews
It’s just really, really bad.
I had a thought today about the fact that we’re seeing the rise of another type of totalitarianism. Then, I read Shmuel Herzfeld’s article. He said it, so I don’t have to.
And people are targeting Jews for violence in France, chanting “death to the Jews” in the city of the International Court of Justice, the Hague, and opening up charter schools in Norway that advocate beheading for people who don’t fast during Ramadan.
I have to admit that there is a streak of naivete within me.
Every time that Hamas attacks Israel, true to its charter of destruction of the Jewish state, I think to myself “ah, maybe this time the world will see that there is no moral relativism.”
We all know that Israel isn’t perfect. No secret there, but we all don’t seem to get the core issue…denial of Israel’s right to exist.
I think it’s just so difficult for the Western mind to comprehend that one side doesn’t want the other side to even exist.
So, it’s difficult to believe that there isn’t some “path to peace” since it’s just a huge misunderstanding.
But, like every time before, I am reminded about the reality that moral relativism does exist.
And it makes me anxious about the world in which my children will grow up.
He crouched down to the floor. Not on it, just soft of squatting.
When I asked him why, he said, “there’s more room down here.”
And I guess he’s right. Feet/legs take up less space than torsos and waists
Searching for a new leader for a spiritual organization is a process fraught with challenges and emotions.
Throw in the old “2 Jews, 3 opinions” axiom and synagogues are often ground zero for turmoil during times of change.
My dad successfully led a Rabbinic search in the 1980s (twice actually) and documented what he learned.
Leaving out some of the obvious technologically-dated references, there are some solid guidelines here should you ever find yourself in this position, with a desire to minimize strife, you may appreciate his wisdom.
About 2 months ago, one of the sales guys at Sprinklr suggested that we do a customer event on a rooftop overlooking Wrigley Field in Chicago on a Monday night. Having never been there, I , of course approved the idea
A few weeks after that, my Dad, a big baseball fan announced his desire to take his children and grandchildren to a Sunday baseball game at Nationals Stadium.
I was lined up for 2 games in 2 days.
Then, my travel plans changed and I found myself headed to NYC on the Tuesday after the Wrigley event. When I shared my plan with my pal, David Bloch, that I would go to 2 games in 2 nights in 2 cities, he said, “you should go to a Mets or Yankees game.”
My colleague, Brian and I, were planning on working late that night anyway over dinner, so instead, we went to Citi Field (where we brought our laptops and iPads, etc.-and there’s free wi-fi, which I am using right now to post this).
I’m not really a huge baseball fan, but all three of these were good, solid reasons to go and it seemed like a chance to create a life memory.
So, I did.
As a parent, you want to know that your kids are learning the values you are trying to teach them.
The other day, Tonka came up to me and said, “There are four things you say all the time.”
My thought was…”If this is what they’ve learned from me, then I’m doing ok.”
I did explain that, there are times when it’s better to actually “go home.” Knowing the difference takes time and wisdom, but overall, I was pleased.
I should say that there was one more saying which she attributed to me: “I love you. Now leave.”
That’s what I say to them when they come into my office and begin talking…while I’m on the phone.
Still, overall…this works.
Not everyone with whom I have spoken loves Michael Lewis’ new book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.
Perhaps I’m too much of a fan to think otherwise, but I really appreciate his ability to take things that are extremely difficult to comprehend and make them, well, comprehensible.
In this case, High Frequency Trading, and how the stock market is extremely challenging for the little guy (and I’m one of them).
He takes a piece of the world which is foreign to you and opens up your understanding.
I’m a fan…of this book and of his.
While the outcome of the US-Portugal game wasn’t as I would have hoped, it did provide two special moments for me.
When the US scored the go-ahead goal, Paco, Nadia and I had a huge pile on in the middle of our den to celebrate, as we emulated the players.
Then, in the last play, when we saw Cristiano Ronaldo get the ball, we all started yelling, “No! No! No!” together…and we shared in the agony of the last second heartbreaker.
It is why we watch sports and why we watch them with people we care about.
Shared emotions at its finest.
The girls (Tikkanen and Lakkanen) and I were invited as guests of the Republic of Finland to visit their Embassy and learn a little bit about the country.
The embassy was actually the first LEED certified embassy in the US and is of architectural interest because of its unique design that blends in with the surrounding landscape.
We learned about the population of Finland (5.5m), their love of ice hockey (we knew that) and “Finnish baseball” (we didn’t know that), that they love fish (no surprise) and potatoes.
There are also 2.5 million saunas in the country…and one more in the Embassy. Luckily, it was off when we went in there.
The girls learned about the social welfare state, what kind of schooling that Finnish kids get, their perception of themselves as humble, somewhat reserved people whom once you get get know are pretty funny, outgoing, and sarcastic.
During the winter, it stays dark pretty much all of the time, but from 10am-3pm, it’s sort of light outside…but not a whole lot.
The country is challenged by the Euro and immigration and prides itself on its different outlook than its other Scandinavian neighbors. Swedish is also an official language of Finland.
It didn’t matter. What mattered is that the girls learned something (so did I—who knew Angry Birds was Finnish?) and we got some souvenir stickers and brochures for later reading.
(Yes, the girls wore their Finland jerseys)
Oh…and some great memories of our trip together…all because we were watching Olympic ice hockey and we have a thing for nicknames.
Of course I had heard of Alexander Hamilton, but I certainly didn’t really know, understand, or sincerely appreciate the man until I finished the 731 page biography (amazon link) of him by Ron Chernow.
It reads like a novel and you can’t help but walk away impressed at his dedication to the cause of the American Revolution, his intellect, his work ethic and the fact that he (and all the rest of the founding fathers) were, when all was said and done, people with many shortcomings.
The book (amazon link) certainly ripped the veneer off of men like Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Adams. I certainly appreciate that politics was as dirty then (if not dirtier) than it is now.
The book was epic and well worth it. It took me about 2 months to make it happen, but well worth it.
Recommended: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Cherwnow
A few weeks ago, my sister sent me a great TED video about the value of talking to strangers.
You have so much to learn from them.
And, again, I’ve seen how valuable that can be. In this video, I hear from a University of Texas football legend because I asked him about his shirt while we shared an elevator ride in Dallas.
And here’s an article about the movie he was consulting on.