Very cool TED talk (click through to blog if you can’t see the video below).
8 minutes, but worth it.
Blog readers who have been with me for a while know “the Maine story.”
It’s helped shape my life attitude in many ways.
What I’ve recently discovered is that “Maine” moments have a secondary residual benefit, which I hadn’t originally anticipated.
Back in 1996, Chuck and I got in a car in DC at 10pm and drove all night to Atlanta to participate in the Olympic games (I went to watch a Judo match).
As part of our ritual, we sang that famous Olympic tune every time we entered a new state.
Well, the other night as Paco, Tonka, and I were watching the Olympics, I told them the story of driving all night to be there.
So, when I was 23, I did something that was “a bit crazy” and that has become the fodder for a bonding moment with my kids.
…and sure enough, it was a fantastic finish.
We landed at 2.40pm (remember, the event where I am the keynote speaker starts at 3.30pm).
Yes, I know…I’m lame…I check baggage. I don’t really travel so lightly. I like to be prepared (I also bring giveaways for the crowd), so I had to wait at the baggage claim for what seemed like forever.
Meanwhile, I was emailing/texting with the MS folks who wanted to know if I would make it.
FINALLY…and I do mean, finally, the bag arrived and I ran outside, saw Justin (the guy is smart since he owns a Hyundai Elantra as do I :-) and threw the bags in.
My guidance “drive as fast as you can without getting the attention of any authorities.”
And, wouldn’t you know it, at 3.11, I walk into the Microsoft office, ready to rumble.
Not usually my style, but we made it happen. Hey, when it’s out of your control, I am pretty relaxed about it.
Of course, at 5.35pm, we were back in the car on the way to the airport for the flight to Cincinnati via Chicago.
Every now and then, I just have “leave it all on the field” days that I just need to capture for posterity’s sake.
The eve of Snowpocalypse 2010 (part 2) was one such day.
But, it starts before then…
So, if you’ll recall, the weekend of Feb. 6th brought the DC area over 2 feet of snow. After playing the “Paco Toss” game where I literally threw my 4 year old up in the air and let him land in the snow-unscathed-the hard job of digging out begain in earnest.
First, we tackled the walkway, then the driveway and the cars.
By Sunday afternoon, our cars were cleared, but the street in front of us was covered.
However, 30 feet or so down the street was another road, one that is in front of a school, which had been plowed on Saturday afternoon.
So, if we could somehow create a pathway for that remaining distance, we could get our cars out to the plowed parking lot of the school.
That would mean that the NFO could get to work on Monday and that I would be able to drive to BWI airport for a scheduled 7am departure and a 3 day speaking tour to Chicago, Minneapolis, and Cincinnati.
The NFO and I planned to take turns shoveling, but as luck would have it, we found 3 entrepreneurs of El Salvadoran descent walking through the neighborhood with shovels.
“How much to dig a road for us?” I yelled.
“$75,” they replied.
That night (during halftime of the Super Bowl, in fact) I moved our cars out of the driveway (our concern was that when a plow did eventually come, it would close our exit off).
On Monday, the NFO went to work and reported that the roads, while passable, were just barely so.
Seeing as my flight from BWI was at 7, I elected to get up extra-early at 3.45am, to accommodate for the unexpected delays.
I was at the gate by 5.30am, seated and blogging away.
Only to be told that Midway airport in Chicago (my destination) would be closing at 10am…ours was to be the only flight from Baltimore that day.
We landed in the beginning of a blizzard and I made my way to the offices of Microsoft downtown via the CTA train a four block walk in driving winds, snow, and past two buildings that had signs saying “watch for falling ice,” which I am not sure how you can do in a blizzard.
But, that wasn’t it because a colleague came in after I was settled and said, “Midway is closed until 10am tomorrow.”
On the advice of Corey Perman, who had stopped by to visit, I immediately bought a 2nd ticket on Southwest for the not-yet-cancelled 1pm departure to Minneapolis, which would get me in on time for my 3.30pm presentation.
Their policy is: people with tickets automatically get on…if you’ve been on a cancelled flight, you get a “priority standby.”
As the keynote speaker, however, I couldn’t take the chance, and Corey said “buy the ticket, deal with the refund later.”
After the presentation (which had 120 registered and 30 showing up with another 30 attending via the rapidly assembled Live Meeting webcast), I had to call an audible.
Shari Lennon swung by in her taxi home from work—the plan had been to go there for dinner and then out to Skokie and my sister-in-law for overnight accommodations.
However, as the white-out blizzard continued and the time to get to Midway became a factor, Shari and Will (her husband) advised that staying with them would be smarter as it would save valuable time on the return to Midway the next day…given that the weather was a variable. My sister-in-law Aviva concurred.
The storm lifted at 5am (right around the time of an earthquake! No joke) and I took a quick cab to Midway and made the 12.40pm flight (which didn’t take off until close to 1.30).
Remember, the presentation I am giving in Minneapolis was scheduled to start at 3.30pm and the airport is 30 minutes from the Microsoft office.
Factor in baggage claim time and other disembarkation time and you have the makings of a fantastic finish…
Tune in tomorrow to find out what happened ;-)
Cover of Herb & Dorothy
on the salary of a postal worker and a librarian in a rent-controlled Manhattan apartment.
Ok, so maybe they weren’t the “greatest” but they donated close to 5000 works of art to the National Gallery of Art.
This is the premise of the movie “Herb & Dorothy.”
It’s so hard to fathom how they did it, but the why is clear.
They were motivated by passion.
That alone is inspirational. I love seeing people who pursue what they love with such vigor. Carpe Diem-style.
One term that I’ve heard a lot is the idea of “maintaining a work-life balance.”
I couldn’t quite put a finger on why I was troubled by this concept until recently.
A few weeks back, I took Paco to his gym class at 4.15pm. I was there with Nadia and we were watching him.
At 4.30, I took a call from a client. We spoke for 5 minutes and she agreed to buy a future piece of work from me.
I hung up and went back to watching the gym class and playing with Nadia.
So, where in the ‘work-life’ balance spectrum does that fit?
Then, I was reading an excellent post by a friend of mine, Shannon Paul, which led to a post of my own on the Never Stop Marketing blog.
Now, maybe, once upon a time, the lines were clearer. Factory work or even ‘going to the office,’ but now, with mobility and communications, the lines are less clear.
I mean, our cleaning lady is on her cell phone talking to her friends while she is mopping our floor. Do I care? No. I care about results.
Sure, there are times when you have to focus on your work, but that’s also a part of life, right?
I’m still flushing this out, but am starting to come around to the idea of the seamless integration between the two, which, I believe will lead to a richer professional and personal experience.
Post was written while listening to: Carmina Burana – Orff
There’s a lot to learn from the way Olympians behave.
One of the things I am trying to teach my kids is that there is a time and place for different emotions.
You can certainly be sad about something, but that feeling can’t get in the way of other things that have to be done.
For example, you can be upset that you don’t get to color at the kitchen table, but you can sulk about it at the expense of not getting ready for school and missing carpool. Do that stuff first, then sulk about it.
We were watching the recording of the Pairs figure skating (DVR has totally revolutionized my Olympic watching experience…3 hours in about 24 minutes now).
One of the skaters fell down after a jump, finished her performance and then he just broke down in tears.
I thought that was a good example for the kids.
I explained how hard these people work to get where they are and how upset they must be when they fall, but they have to finish the program first and only then, can they be sad about it.
Life, as you know, does things that knocks us off track, but we have to push on.
You want to be an innovator? An entrepreneur? Someone whose value is unquestioned?
Say this mantra daily:
“Beg for forgiveness, don’t ask for permission.”
(With a nod to Sue Marks-client, who lives by this as well)
It takes a lot, from an Internet perspective, to shock me.
But, tonight, for the first time in a long time, I can say, “wow, now I’m scared for my kids.”
My personal guru of Internet technology is a VC in New York named Fred Wilson.
So, I checked it out. Warning: Not Safe For Work.
Basically, you log on and are randomly connected (mostly via a camera) to people around the world.
The idea, in its purest sense, is a great one…meet people to expand your universe.
In practice, however, it’s just a depressing commentary on society.
The number of people (mostly young guys) on there who are either naked, semi-naked, or doing obscene things (two guys masturbating, for example) is mind-boggling.
I was connected to someone who just raised his middle finger to me and said “Fuck you. Go fuck yourself.”
Then, a room full of teenage boys who started making fun of the way that I look (granted, an easy target).
I failed to have one meaningful interaction. Granted, after 10 minutes, I was just revolted and felt like I was wasting my life.
Still, it’s out there…and many others like it, I am sure. There’s no use fighting it and you can’t block it, so it just made me realize how important it is to inculcate strong values into our kids.
BTW, there’s a piece in the Sunday NY Times on it with the founder, a 17 year old in Moscow.
Almost every day, I can’t wait to get started at my “work.”
My assistant claims she feels the same way (though I am ‘the boss,’ I suppose, but I can tell in how she does it.)
We were talking about “work” and it struck me that, though we do work really hard and a lot…it doesn’t feel like work.
Sure there are down moments, but I love challenge of keeping all the plates spinning.
Made me wonder.
If you love what you do and you get paid for it…is it working?
Image via Wikipedia
Believe it or not, one of the shows on my DVR was, until recently, “I want to work for Diddy 2.”
Now, for those of you who don’t know, “Diddy” is Sean Combs, a rapper cum hip-hop industry mogul.
It was on VH1 and it’s kind of like the Apprentice, only I personally like Diddy more than Trump.
Anyway, I thought it would be an interesting cultural exercise to see how an African-American enterprise was run.
But, that’s actually not the point here.
In watching the tasks there, it dawned on me that success, in many cases isn’t about skill or brains.
It comes down to the ability to manage your time effectively.
To say, “hmmm…if everything works perfectly, this job should take 20 minutes. But, I need to plan as if this job will take 1 hour” (or some appropriate buffer).
Over and over, I see people who are overconfident in how quickly something can get done.
I’d rather have less stress and some extra time by being pleasantly surprised.
Growing up, my mom always made me do my essays weeks in advance. It wasn’t about being the guy everyone hated (though I was ;-), it was about having flexibility, avoiding stress, and most importantly, being prepared for the unexpected.
Now, I need to make sure my kids “get” this.
I read a fascinating book called Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature (which I reviewed here).
One concept that was mentioned, sort of in passing, was the following:
“technology that appears in your life between birth and your 15th birthday is not technology at all, but just ‘natural’; technology that appears between your 15th and 35th birthday is wow-technology; and anything after your 35th birthday is ‘unnatural.”
I look at my dad and my grandfather and one thing that strikes me about them is how they embrace technological change and try to make all of the stuff that arrived after age 35 as natural as possible.
I think it helps keep you young.
And I see it in the way that people talk about Facebook or Twitter, for example.
I don’t care if you don’t use it. I don’t care if you’ve tried it out and decided it’s not for you.
What I do care about is people over 35 (and I’m now one of them) saying “I don’t get it. It’s stupid” (or something to that effect.)
I look at the way my kids accept cell phones, DVR’s, on-demand, web browsers, in-car DVD’s and GPS.
It’s natural for them. It’s wow for me, but I do my best to make it natural.
That, though, requires investment of time. It requires a challenge of your habits. It’s a mindset.
There’s something about a huge snowstorm like the one we had that makes me pensive.
Last night, after everyone had gone to sleep, I was reading on the couch.
Every 20 minutes or so, I found myself staring out the window to see how the “blizzard of 2010” (aka Snowlapalooza) was taking shape.
Perhaps it is the tabula rasa effect that a huge amount of snow has on the world. Everything is so pure and clean that leads to that desire for introspection.
One of the more vivid pictures he paints in his prose, at least for me, was his recounting of the day that his younger brother came home from the hospital after being born.
“Until then,” he wrote, “I’d had no one to share my story with. At that moment, my story began.”
I shared that sentiment with my own first brother, Asher earlier in the day.
Periodically, but not frequently enough, we get together to schmooze.
Yesterday morning, as we were preparing for the Blizzard, we reminisced about a massive storm in 1979 (we think) that afforded us the opportunity to jump off the top of our parents station wagon and build a network of tunnels throughout our neighborhood.
“I haven’t thought of that day for 30 years,” Asher said and, as I finished Chabon’s book last night, I thought of the fact that my story (and his, I suppose) are so dependent upon each other.
Going upstairs, I decided to check in on the kids, if only to savor one of those fleeting moments of parenthood that in the blink of an eye are gone.
As I peeked into the room that Paco and Tonka share, I did a double take.
The two of them were sleeping in the same bed.
It’s happened before, but not very often.
For whatever reason, the two of them decided that they wanted to snug with each other, I’m sure, and fell asleep next to each other.
Peaceful as they were, I thought about the fact that their stories were dependent upon each other and that the memories of their childhood would not be preserved by their parents but by each other.
After dinner last night, I told them, “this is a snowstorm that you may not see for a long time,” so we all seized the opportunity to go outside for a 10 minute walk, creating a lasting memory that the two of them will (hopefully) be able to share 30 years down the road, as Asher and I did about our own snowstorm adventure 30 years ago.
I sat for a while on the other bed, just watching them sleep and so appreciative of the stories that they were creating with each other.
The snowstorm was, in this one sense at least, a blessing.
Only if you are motivated, add a Facebook fan badge for Never Stop Marketing to your site. Code is below.
If you do, send me the link…I’m going to create an Honor Roll on the site and link back to you.
Thanks for your support!
My friend, Tom Harshbarger, sent me the following note:
I think I just made up a new term for networking towards your next job. If the term already exists, I’m pretty sure you would know!
I call it “nextworking.”
Well, I’m honored and I have definitely never heard of the term.
The only thing that concerns me is that it could, potentially, imply that “nextworking” is a defined period. One that starts and stops.
However, if you “Never Stop Nextworking!” then I’m ok with it!
My dad told me a few years ago that exposing your kids to new experiences is not about imparting knowledge.
It’s about teaching curiosity.
Your objective is to get them to ask “Why?”
We have a Statue of Liberty print by Peter Max in our home (not this one, but you get the gist) and one morning, out of nowhere, Paco began peppering me with questions?
It WAS tiring (I’d be lying if otherwise), but it was impressive and a moment of pride.
It also gave me the inspiration to keep on working at it.
And, if that was how I would look at my day and life.
While I do have a Happiness Project, I think my scoreboard at the end of the day is much simpler.
There’s a refrain among football fans about players who give their all on every play. It is, perhaps, the highest compliment around.
“He left it all on the field.”
When I lie down at night, I just ask myself that question.
Some days are more up than down, but it’s in the down moment (when you are sad or bummed), that you have the chance to really live life.
If I can honestly say, “yep, left it all on the field today,” then I declare victory.