Monday, May 31, 2010

When everyone is sleeping…

One of the peaceful, most fulfilling moments in family life for me, is late at night when everyone (including the NFO) is sleeping.

Not because of the peace and quiet, but because of the feeling of serenity.

I think it feeds my sense of “provider” and “protector” and like Rembrandt’s “The Night Watchman,” I am kind of standing guard over the most valuable things in my life.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I’ve noticed that there is a dividing line between people who enjoy witty (borderline non-sensical) banter and those who find it annoying.

Those who find it annoying see no purpose.

Those who enjoy it see it, I think, as a unique way of building relationships and rapport.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The People You Meet…

Relief map of Europe and surrounding regions

Image via Wikipedia

During my senior year of college, I was quite friendly with my Art History professor, Dr. Kessler.

One day, as I was mulling the options for the future, we went out to lunch.

I had the opportunity to go to Germany on the prestigious DAAD scholarship.

I also had the chance to pursue a career on Wall St., working at Morgan Stanley.

Dr. Kessler looked me in the eye and said, “you can go to Germany when you are 22 and you can go when you are 42. It’s just a helluva lot easier to go when you are 22. Wall St. will be here when you get back.”

Those few sentences pushed me to take the scholarship, which led to a year in Europe and non-stop weekends of train excursions all over the continent…at the expense of the German taxpayer (thank you, Deutschland).

And…it propelled me to apply for a scholarship to live in Japan for 2 years.

Today, I was thinking about the turns in my life, some of the random places I’ve had the good fortune to be, and the incredible people I’ve met in them.

A large part of that can be traced back to the few words of Dr. Kessler.

I dropped him an email today just to say thanks…

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Giving up on the dream…

Was talking to a good friend of mine the other day in California.

He’s got 4 kids. All in private school.

A few months ago, he decided to quit his job and go solo.

It’s been going well. Very well. Just not very well enough to cover his expenses.

So, he’s thinking about throwing in the towel.

It bummed me out.

He’s bummed as well.

Obviously, he would sacrifice himself for his family, but I was dismayed that he might have to.

There is no comparison in the freedom working for yourself versus working at a company.

He’s got options…companies are fighting over him, but it was a shame to see that he’d have to make this choice.

I suppose that’s a part of life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stock Market: “A Hoax”

If you’ve read The Black Swanor Fooled by Randomness, you are familiar with the work of Nassim Taleb.

Here’s a powerful video on the state of the economy. Be prepared to have your assumptions challenged.

More on these issues in the coming days.

HT to Mike Eisenberg.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Up in the Air…

Cover of "Up in the Air"

Cover of Up in the Air

My one ongoing beef with Netflix is that I can’t annotate my queue to remind me who suggested the movie.

So, thank you to those who suggested “Up in the Air.”

I dig the romantic/workplace/comedy genre and with a few plane trips under my belt this past year (though nowhere near the 10 million mile mark), there were some nice moments of familiarity.

More often than not, I find that movies have predictable endings…this one didn’t, which added to the reasons that I liked it.

The perspective that it gave on life was, for me, at least, very relevant.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why I Do What I Do…

Dan Pink’s (client) new book DRIVE talks about “intrinsic motivation.”

What is it about is that…at a certain point…it’s not money that gets people going, it’s the feeling of reward you get.

Obviously, I have to feed my family/pay mortgage, etc., but you want to know the REAL reason why I do what I do?Jennifer Troxell

It’s because I love getting notes like this from Jennifer Troxell, VP of Marketing at Global 360 (client), after a recent presentation to their entire sales force.

“Thank you for inspiring us and bringing out the story that was there hidden and waiting to be unleashed to the world.

I can’t tell you how many incredible ideas and positive feedback I’ve heard throughout the day about our never stop marketing session today.”

Crazy as it may seem, it’s because I really love marketing and getting others to share in that passion.

That’s my intrinsic motivation.

BTW, Jen is an NSM Award winner and also a great video interview.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Remarkable Job Application…

The naysayers will claim, “I couldn’t do this in my industry. We’re more formal.”

I say…hogwash!

The point is that if you do something Remarkable, people will notice and act.

If not, you are boring…like everyone else.

Check out this incredible job application. HT Jeff Doshna.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Flying Midshipman…

As you know by now, I am one of those people who likes to make conversation on planes.

Most recently, I met Midshipman Pierce who was about to finish his first year at the Naval Academy.. Check out this video to hear about his perspective on it and find out what he wants to do next. Hint—it rhymes with “meals.”

BTW, he’s single and looking for a girlfriend, so if you know anyone near Annapolis, put a comment here…I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear it ;-)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Privacy is Dead. Get Over It….

That’s a famous quote from Scott McNealy, who was CEO of Sun Microsystems.

I hate to say it, but I think he might be right.

Whether recent hubbub around Facebook’s new Terms of Service, everyone having a camera phone, a site that lets everyone see how ineffective your meetings are, we are now more exposed to the outside world than ever before.

And I don’t think it can be stopped, so it becomes Darwinian. Adapt or else.

In case you haven’t heard, the latest entrant is Unvarnished, where anyone can go in and write reviews about your work performance.

So, while your resume may say one thing, your Unvarnished profile may say something entirely different.

I guess the best advice is: don’t be a jerk. Inspire people. Make many, many, many more friends than enemies.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pregnant Women Know Your Tone….

Pregnancy comparison. 26 weeks and 40 weeks.

Image via Wikipedia

As the father of 3 children, I am MORE than aware of how women don’t enjoy having others notice/comment on the size of their belly during pregnancy.

Statements like “wow, you popped!” are just not the way to go. That, I am smart enough to know.

Well, the other day, I saw a friend of ours walk through a door and I said, “so, when is this thing going to happen?”

Innocuous enough, right?

The friend picked up on my tone, which I hadn’t been able to conceal.

The tone said, “man, you are HUGE, it’s got to be any day now!”

She laughed, a knowing laugh, as if to say, “yes, I am huge and I get where you are coming from.”

Fortunately, she didn’t get angry (as she could have) and just said, “I’ve got 4 weeks to go.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Composer is DEAD!

We took the kids to a Mother’s Day performance by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center called The Composer is Dead053. It was a “murder mystery” involving an interrogation of the various parts of the orchestra (as in brass, woodwinds, etc.) and played a slew of great classical music as well.

The kids got to sit in the big Concert Hall and really enjoyed it.

Before hand the “friends of the NSO” had an “instrument petting zoo” and Tikkanen and Jokkanen had the chance to play the cello, violin, bass (pictured), tuba, trumpet, trombone, and oboe.

They are big music lovers (after all, they each have their own customized radio stations on Pandora), so it as a nice visit.

Very impressed that the NSO and Kennedy Center put this on.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Charlie Wilson’s War…

Charlie Wilson's War

Image by dan taylor via Flickr

I’ll say this…my reaction to Charlie Wilson’s War was unexpected.

It strengthened my resolve to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan, lest the same outcome happen again.

I know. That’s not what I thought would happen.

The performances by the big three (Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman) were certainly of the level you would expect, but I really appreciated the insight into a unique piece of American history.

With the Cold War 20 years behind us, I feel like we have forgotten just how evil the Evil Empire was…and what it was like to live during those times.

I certainly hadn’t heard of Rep. Wilson prior to this movie (apparently he died w/in the past 2 months), but came to appreciate how one determined person CAN make a difference…and do it in his own unique way.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Entrepreneurship, Rabbi Shmuel, and the Talmud

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld interviews my brother, Asher (the director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland.)

Entertaining to say the least. Here’s part 2

Thursday, May 13, 2010

iPad Reading Revolution…

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Here’s a short video that explains how the iPad has made me that much more of an effective consumer of other people’s ideas.

The three apps I mention are:

Bottom line:

Thanks to the iPad, I can now

  1. “batch” all of my reading to do it at the same time
  2. read and absorb much more quickly
  3. have a more pleasurable Internet-based reading experience

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cooking and initiative...

Sometimes I just take a step back in amazement as I see how my kids develop.

On Sunday morning, Tikkanen and Jokkanen got up at 7.45am and went downstairs.

Next thing I know, I hear T say to J, "bring the eggs over here!"

Now, I know they love cooking...they use a Sesame Street children's cookbook...and have become quite adept at it, but crackings eggs?

Sure enough, after Lakkanen starts stirring and I change her diaper, I go downstairs to find that cookies and cupcakes are all prepared...on a baking sheet (which has been sprayed with PAM) and they just need me to put things in the oven.

So, ok, the cookies were way too salty, but who cares?

The thought and then the action....that's what impresses me.

If my kids learn to take initiative like this, they'll be fine. So proud of them.
Sesame Street "C" is for Cooking, 40th Anniversary Edition

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Faith Game…

It’s not my objective to convince you to believe in God or not.

Either way, you can enjoy the game.

The premise of the game is “everything that happens, happens for a reason.”

The objective: figure out why.

Avoid Occam’s Razor and think in terms of a movie.

You are an actor and God is the screenwriter/director. Only thing is, in this game, you play the part---and only THEN do you read the script.

What’s more, you don’t necessarily ever know WHY the screenwriter put the script in that order.

Some examples:

  • you are listening to the radio (or better Pandora)-if the song that comes on at that moment is like your life soundtrack—why is that the mood music?
  • what’s the larger plot of your afternoon that requires you to be stuck in traffic?
  • why does the person in front of you take an extra long time checking out?

If you are a person of faith, you have belief that this leads to some larger purpose. If you are not, then “stuff just happens.”

Either way, playing the game for a bit can be entertaining (or at least I think it can be.)


Monday, May 10, 2010

Work or Play? Part 2

Children's Day

Image by jmurawski via Flickr

The other day, I chaperoned Tikkanen’s class trip to the Smithsonian to watch a dance performance in celebration of Kodomono-hi (Children’s Day) in Japan.

Certainly, the experience brought back some memories and I brought in some paraphernalia to share with the kids before we went.

On the trip, one of the other parents asked me, “what is it that you do that allows you to come on the trip?”

The short answer, of course, is “I work for myself.”

Moments later, as the bus ride went on (I had a seat to myself), I expanded the answer.

Knowing that the ride would be 40 minutes or so, I had printed out a few things to read and a notebook in which to sketch out some ideas.

Of course, I was checking my phone/email often.

“Actually,” holding up my phone and the notebook, “this is my office.”

For knowledge workers, the concept of “office” will become (is already) less and less about “place” and more and more about “state of mind.”

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The mother in this house…

Being a dad has its moments of challenge, but let’s be honest, being a mom (for the most part) takes a lot more work (unless you are a sea horse, I suppose, but that demographic hasn’t shown up on my Google Analytics report for the blog readers.)

When you marry someone, you think you know them.

Of course, that’s not really the case…it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve learned A LOT about the NFO over the years, but if there were a “greatest hits” set of video clips of where her personality/character have come to their full radiance, it would be in her role as a mother.

The examples are countless…actually, they aren’t (12,321,979)…but I think the evidence of her hard work exists in the (ongoing) creation that is our children.

The things that I love so much about them can be traced back to her values, nurturing, and focused determination.*

Happy Mother’s Day, NFO!

*love of football, technology, and spicy foods not included in this list.

Friday, May 07, 2010

So, I didn’t get arrested…

I’ll admit it.

I’ve been known to jay-walk on occasion.

Having lived in NYC, it’s a habit that I picked up.

The other day, I was downtown in DC headed toward the National Gallery of Art.

A few people were waiting at the cross-walk and there were NO cars.

They weren’t in a rush, but heck, my company is based on perpetual motion. I looked, saw that there was no perceptible danger and marched across the street.

“Sir!” someone yelled at me.

I turned.

I had walked right by a police officer.

“Come on, sir,” he said. “I’m standing right here.”

“True,” I replied.

“I can’t let you do that. What would people say if I let you and something happened?”

“Good point. You know, I’d like to call your boss and commend you for the job you just did.”

He was very polite and friendly.

So, I called his boss and told him that Officer Mike Bland of the Metropolitan Police Department had done the unit proud.

Then, on my way home, I saw some officers practicing at the National Police Memorial.

Another reason to appreciate the men and women in blue.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


We have a saying around the house: S.Y.W.

It stands for “Stop Your Whining.”

I’ll say it when I’ve had enough…simple, just “uh, S.Y.W.”

It even has a hand signal.

1, 2, then 3 fingers (since the 2 fingers look like a “Y” and the 3 fingers look like a “W”)

Well, the other day at dinner time, I don’t remember what was happening exactly, but all I know is that Nadia/Lakkanen (age 2.2) just looked up from her dinner and said, calm as can be, “S.Y.W!!”

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

When my kids get older…

I hope they will take a moment to read through my blog.

And, if they do, I hope they’ll know that, perhaps, my most cherished moments in life occurred when I went into their rooms at night and just watched them sleep.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Allen Ginsberg, Beat Photographer…

I had a chance to get a sneak peak last week of the Allen Ginsberg photography Image: Ginsberg, Allen, Jack Kerouac wandering along East 7th street after visiting Burroughs at our pad, passing statue of Congressman Samuel Sunset; Cot, The letter - carrier's Friend in Tompkins Square toward corner of Avenue A, Lower East Side; he's making a Dostoyevsky ma1953, 1953, gelatin silver print, Gift of Gary S. Davis, 2009.108.2exhibit at the National Gallery of Art (open through Sept. 6th).

What’s more, I had the chance to talk with the curator of the exhibit for 10 minutes or so understanding how she conceived of, pitched, and then implemented the idea.

I also asked her about the nature of the design of the exhibit (mostly chronological) and her use of the gallery.

Anyway, I had heard of Ginsberg, but frankly…he hadn’t impacted my life very much.

As many of you know, he was friends with Jack Kerouac, among others, and the curator suggested that people can get an insight into Ginsberg’s poetry through the types of photos he took.

Well, I haven’t read his poetry, but I did find his photos captivating, particularly as the chronological layout gave me a chance to see how Ginsberg and his friends of the “Beat” generation evolved and then aged.

This is a picture of Kerouac as a young man, but there’s a picture of Kerouac at the end of his life…and the guy just looks beaten down and worn out.

It’s a startling contrast and gives you some perspective that even the eternal, all-powerful, energetic people of the Beat generation are, well, human…and age and die.

If you have a chance, swing by.

Monday, May 03, 2010

3000 posts…

Started blogging back in 2001.

Just hit post number 3000.

Thanks for being part of the journey.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Loud Cell Phone Breakup

I’m on the subway at the moment and there is a woman who is having a REALLY loud cell phone call.

She’s yelling and crying.

It appears that she is breaking up with her boyfriend.

Her primary complaint?

“It’s all about you. All you ever do is think about yourself!”

The irony….she doesn’t care about anyone on the train.