Thursday, December 27, 2012

Connections Drive Creativity: LA Edition

LA FOJ meetupOne of my absolute favorite things to do is connect friends of mine-who don’t know each other-with one another.

When I travel somewhere, I do my best to coordinate a central meet-up for folks in that city.

In LA, we had a great turnout and I felt so blessed to connect:

  • William Francke (and his wife Kim) whom I know from my Snickelways era with
  • Shira Shimoni from my Upper West Side days with
  • Amy Detrick, my world-class designer for the past 3 years (and whom I had never met in person before that night) with
  • Angie Aldape, a co-worker at Sprinklr with
  • Josh David, my cousin, to
  • Mike Bonifer, another person I had never met before that night in person.

What makes a gathering like this work, in my opinion, is that you give people a chance to get out of their normal circles and get exposed to others with new ideas.

For example:

  • William works at a company called Vigilent, which has a hi-tech way to reduce cooling costs in data centers.
  • Shira works at an e-commerce company called Magento which was acquired by eBay
  • Amy is a freelance designer
  • Angie is on the front lines of the social business revolution at Sprinklr.
  • Josh is a writer for E!
  • Mike is an improv teacher for businesses.
Doing so builds connections which drives creativity. This, in my opinion, is the secret to innovation.

And on top of it all, I walk away feeling all the more inspired and connected.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Boss Reunion-Thanking The Teachers

I think it’s important, much like a college reunion, to periodically reflect on how your professional career has unfolded and to express gratitude for those who helped shape it.

There's no way I would have achieved any of my own success without the input and impact of those who hired me into my various roles.

I’ve been fortunate. I have always had a great relationship with bosses who hired me (not always with those who inherited me, but I digress).

One of these days, I’m going to get them all together in a room. For now, I’ll just introduce them all to you and to each other.

Todd Newfield, who gave me my first job doing Internet Marketing in Tokyo, Japan at FACT Communications. Even today, I can’t believe the amount of exposure and opportunity I had to do some great stuff. I certainly didn’t appreciate it all then. His two pieces of career advice still linger with me.

  • “Only do business with people you like.”
  • “Never believe your own bullshit.”

You want intensity? That’s Todd. He truly Never Stops Marketing.

Paul Cimino gave me my first sales job at Snickelways and introduced me to the world of doing business-and doing it well-in New York City. He’s a great salesman and showed how relationships and networks matter so much in building, well, anything. I had been dedicated to my network before then, but Paul supercharged that focus.  He taught me the value of strong negotiations (using that skill on me once or twice) and persistence.

Tom Begley made the call to hire me at Microsoft. He knew I lacked some professional polish (some would argue that I still do), but he saw potential and passion and believed that my love of technology and how it could possibly impact people would come through. Tom is a Zen Master (well, you know what I mean) of Emotional Intelligence, among many things, and taught me many of the nuances of navigating large organizations, the politics of it, and how to listen to a room and “know your audience.” 

Christine Zmuda hired me onto a different Microsoft team. Not only is she a great listener, teacher, and friend, but she’s a world-class planner and execution fiend.  She raised the bar in terms of my expectations and possibilities and showed me how to put it all together from a marketing perspective, giving me responsibility for my own piece of business—and accountability for it as well.  The operational and data side of marketing is where she truly excelled-and where I benefited.

And, Ragy Thomas, hired me into Sprinklr and, well, the jury is still out on him Winking smile  Just kidding…he’s a great teacher, but we don’t write the history until the chapter is over.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Born To Run…

Yes, Bruce Springsteen was as well, but I’m actually talking about YOU.

Yes, YOU.

The person who says “I can’t run a mile without getting winded.”

Turns out, that’s exactly what you were originally built to do…and more.

This is just part of what I learned in a fantastic book called Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

I re-discovered a love and appreciation for running as I began my Tough Mudder training. I had run in high school and then, in my mid-20’s, developed shin splints and never really got back into it.

With training required, I had to rededicate myself, but went with the barefoot style via Merrell and they worked wonders for me. See the shoes here

As I ran more and more, I found that I started to appreciate it, the energy that came from it, and my friend Yak suggested the book to me.

It made me feel better about my speed (or lack thereof..I do about 8.5 minute miles) and proud of my endurance—which I have a fair amount of.

It introduced me to the idea that running was, in fact, the competitive advantage that humans originally had over both animals and Neanderthals.

Not because of speed, but because we are the only ones who can release heat (via sweat) while we are running and breathe simultaneously. Essentially what this means is that we can outrun a deer or an antelope…not by speed, but by dogged pursuit, because eventually, they will just have to give up because they overheat.

It’s called persistence hunting and the idea was fascinating.

The book is based upon a tribe of Mexican Indians known as the Tarahumara who can run obscene distances in extreme heat and uses them as the basis for what Man originally was supposed to be. Our modern lifestyle has destroyed much of that and because we don’t run, many of the diseases with which we are now familiar, exist in abundance.

AS the book says, “we don’t stop running because we get old, we get old because we stop running.”

If you are a runner, you must read this book. Odds are, you have.

If you want to get healthy, read this book.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

It’s inspiring, well-written, and entertaining…and it may just improve your life.

And my favorite quote about the Tarahumara:

“The Tarahumara aren’t great runners…they’re great athletes, and those two things are very different.”

Runners are assembly-line workers; they become good at one thing-moving straight ahead at a steady speed-and repeat that motion until overuse fritzes out the machinery.

Athletes are Tarzans. Tarzan swims and wrestles and jumps and swings on vines. He’s strong and explosive. You never know what Tarzan will do next, which is why he never gets hurt.

Your body needs to be shocked to become resilient…Follow the same daily routine, and y our musculoskeletal system quickly figures out how to adapt and go on autopilot. But surprise it with new challenge-leap over a creek, commando-crawl under a log, sprint till your lungs are busting-and scores of nerves and ancillary muscle are suddenly electrified into action.”

(Not withstanding that Tarzan is fake, of course. And now you know why I dig the Tough Mudder. Still a good point.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When losing a negotiation feels great…

Paco has become quite the ferocious and passionate Monopoly player recently.
He’s always asking anyone who will listen, if they will play with him.
Mind you, I don’t let him win. Ever.
But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t absolutely CRUSHED me a few times. He has.
What’s more, in addition to his burgeoning real estate tycoon skills, he’s become quite the negotiator, even outside of the game.
The other day, we were walking home together.
He wanted to play Monopoly.
I wanted to take a nap.
We agreed that if he completely read a new book he had just received, he could wake me up from the nap and we would play.
I thought the book was about 200 pages, so I was confident I would get in at least 2 hours. (He is a fast reader).
When we got home, I noticed the book was about 90 pages and immediately realized I was in trouble.
Paco recognized the same thing and as I attempted to renegotiate the deal, he knew he had me over a barrel.
What he managed to do in the next 4 minutes, without backing down, was extract a series of concessions from me to enable a 2 hour nap.
The details aren’t important. What’s notable is how he saw the opportunity and leveraged his position.
Yes, I was proud…even in defeat.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Halftime in the Game of Fatherhood (sort of)

The other day we celebrated Tonka’s 9th birthday. It was a great party, orchestrated in a meaningful way by the NFO.

In fact, the event was hosted at the Hebrew Home for the Aged and the event consisted of singing Hannukah songs for the residents and then having the kids do projects with them to make blankets for disadvantaged kids and paint vases for sick children.

And, yes, there was cake.

The kids had a great time.

What struck me, however, was that I had hit a ‘halftime’ of sorts, as Tonka was, in theory, halfway to being out of the house.

Sure, parenting will never be done, but if she leaves at 18, well, then I’m 50% of the way there.

Just like that.

I feel like a cliché when I say that it seems like only yesterday when she was born and I was crying my eyes out (and thanks to the web, it’s only a click away)

In this moment, however, I am acutely aware of the passage of time and how precious it is to be with my kids as they grow up.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Get ready to cry...

This guy has heart...
HT Adam for sharing

Are You Honest or Dishonest?

Most likely, you are dishonest.

Here’s why…in a great 11 minute video by Dan Ariely (his previous book reviewed here).

Good can do something about it for yourself…and to protect yourself from others.

HT to David Berkowitz

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is College Really Worth It?

Long time readers of this blog know that I’ve been wrestling with the idea that college is the sacrosanct ticket to middle-class success that it has been in the past.

This stems from my beliefs around the fundamentally changing nature of work, the skills required for economic success in a flat/globalized/connected world, and the rising costs/debt challenge associated with technology.

Along these lines are two fascinating articles, one by one of my favorite thinkers about the Internet, Clay Shirky, where he uses the Recording industry as the example of how Education could be overhauled. The real kicker isn’t even about that, it’s about how most of us don’t see the big changes that are coming until it’s too late.

I think this may be one of them.

Then, is a 2nd article from the New York Times about, at least on the cutting-edge, in some circles, not going to college is viewed as a positive thing.

As a note, I enrolled in Sebastian Thrun’s class (described in Shirky’s article) and though I didn’t complete it, I saw the power and potential in it.

I also have a recording of Thiel’s 20 under 20 on my DVR which I haven’t watched yet, but will soon.

It’s going to be tough for many of us (myself included) to arrive at the conclusion that the model of college (not higher education, mind you) might be outdated, but if the changes wrought by the Internet are as big as I think they will be (and I think we are only at the beginning), we may have to do just that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How to Quickly Identify (and stop) Junk Mail

This is so darn smart, I'm just upset I didn't think of it first.

My friend and fellow JHU Blue Jay, Ray Wang of Constellation Research, has a brilliant system for identifying which companies sell his name to others.

He uses the "Address 2" line to identify the company to which he is giving his info.
So, for example, he'll write "United Airlines-Spam" or "Verizon-Spam"

The Address 2 line is not subject to mail verification, so it always works.

Then, when he sees a piece of mail coming with that on the address, he knows who sold it.

Before he throws it away, he can call the company and give them a choice:

"Take me off your list or get sued. Your call."

Love it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Clean Water and Clean Style

Do you own a Brita filter? 

We do and one of the things that drives me crazy is the little pieces of carbon that float around.

Then, there are the times when I forget to change the filter.  Or, and this is my responsibility, I don't clean out the top and, well, it doesn't look so nice.

Which is why I was particularly excited to hear about this new project my friend and former client (Yes To Carrots), Ido Leffler.

It's a a beautiful glass carafe cand a 100% compostable water filter that is delivered on a regular basis via subscription service. So, it's not just stylish (it is), but it's potentially more environmentally responsible (save carbon footprint of shipping) and also healthier (if filtered water is your thing.)
One thing I know about Ido (aside from the fact that he makes really smart hiring decisions about hiring marketing consultants) is that he is passionate, committed, and dedicated to healthy living.
Ok, that's 3 things, but you see what I mean.
Anyway, his kickstarter campaign is under way and I'd suggest you check it out.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Must Use Tool for Password Management

I cannot recommend this tool highly enough.

It's called LastPass and it plugs right into your browser, syncs across multiple devices, and most importantly, makes it ridiculously easy to securely save all of your passwords.

What's more, you can share your password with friends without actually giving them the password.

Say, I want to let you log in to some site that I use (maybe register my kid for camp, I don't know).

Instead of emailing you the password (not so good), I "LastPass" it to you. You accept it and can log in...but you never actually know the password.

What's more, it's allowed me to get more secure in choosing my passwords and remember the various iterations I use or must (1 cap, 1 number, 1 symbol or whatever).

Seriously, I love it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Sushi and Mastering Your Life’s Passion

Find your passion and then commit fully to it.

That’s one of the key messages of a fantastic movie that I watched recently (with my kids as well) called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”

You learn the story of the 85 year old who is regarded as the world’s greatest sushi chef and his lifelong dedication to his craft.

Plus, you get a pretty clear picture of what it takes to become (and stay) the best in your field.

The movie isn’t about sushi. It’s about, well, a lot of things, but it’s a blueprint for mastery.

Most of us don’t achieve that level and Jiro’s dedication shows us why and why it’s so rare. And, I suppose, it helps us appreciate Mastery when we see it.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Why God Sends Rain to Latin America & Not to the Middle East...

Before you judge me, let me tell you this.
I got this in email…from my mother.
Didn't think so.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Ever Take A Trip to Abilene?

Talking to my friend and loyal NSM reader, Marc Sanders over coffee the other day (thanks again for the latte, Marc), I was introduced to a new management concept.

The ill-conceived “Trip to Abilene.”

It’s when we all do something even though none of us actually want to do it.

Read the full story on Wikipedia.

A good “made to stick” story to help prevent me from getting stuck in the future.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bucket List-Real or Excuse?

Having dinner with a friend the other night, she referred 3 or 4 times to “that’s on my/someone’s bucket list.”

Now, I certainly know the concept, but hadn’t heard it used with that frequency.

I asked “is this really because your social network has a strong sense of their own mortality or something else?”

Her answer, “I think it’s just a way to make an excuse so that you can do stuff that you might not otherwise do.”


Same idea?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Inspiration from Starbucks…but not how you think


My longstanding travel policy is that-no matter how short-I always do one thing that is unique to the city I’m visiting.

Most of my recent trips to the Seattle area have been to surrounding cities and not downtown.

This time, I was in the heart of it all, so aside from taking in a glorious sunset over Puget Sound from my hotel window (which doesn’t really count), I did make it to Pike Place Market (no fish were thrown at the time) and the original Starbucks.

I did think about Howard Schultz and what must have been pretty long, thankless nights there and I can’t even imagine the amount of work that it took to get where he is today.

Definitely inspiring.IMG_20121016_180713

Really a beautiful city.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Elusive Space Needle

When I was 9, my dad brought my brother and me with IMG_20121016_184944him on a business trip to Seattle.

I distinctly remember riding the Monorail and, after arriving at the bottom of the Space Needle, my dad concluded that the fee to go to the top was too steep ($30/person or something like that). I can’t say I blame him.

So, the other day when I was in town, I thought I would right this historical wrong and do it myself.

Again, took the monorail (first time in 30 years) with my friend Carole, and we arrived at the entrance.

“The Observation Deck is Closed for a Private Event”

I couldn’t go up, but I did get this picture.

Foiled again.

Back in 30 years, I guess.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

BOOK Review: Imagine-How Creativity Works

(Updated: So I read and wrote this review before I found out about the author's plagiarism, see comments below. I did find the ideas inspiring, but obviously, the experience has been tarnished. Herewith, the original post.)

Ever found yourself staring at your computer screen trying to come up with an answer to a vexing question that requires some insight or fresh thinking?
Turns out, you’re probably better going off to take a shower.
Long-time readers know that along with marketing, my other passion is innovation. Heck, I bought the domain “Never Stop Innovating” as well.
But, it’s bigger than that.
The key to growth, longevity, and profits lies in innovation. And even bigger than that is that the future of American competitiveness requires it as well.
Which is why you MUST pick up Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer.
I was entranced by it from the git-go, as I learned how the two sides of the brain complement each other in creative thought, why we need to actively cultivate both of them, and how to do it.
  • You should force yourself to meet new people, out of your traditional circle. In fact, growing your network may be one of the best things you can do for your own creativity.

    According to one study, “the highest performing employees-those with the most useful new ideas-were the ones who consistently engaged in the most interactions.”
  • Take a step away from your desk and go for a walk, a run, or take a shower. You don’t work on an assembly line. You are paid for creativity and these are ways to help connect the dots in your mind.
  • Foster dissent instead of group think. 
    In fact, “beginning a group session with a moment of dissent-even when the dissent is wrong, can dramatically expand creative potential.”
Bottom line: if creativity and innovation is important to you for your career and for your children’s future (that was rhetorical, my friends), then I HIGHLY recommend you read this book.
Highly recommend.
Imagine: How Creativity Works

Monday, November 12, 2012

Embarrassed to Live In Maryland

The only way I can explain how the voters voted as they did is they really didn’t know what was at stake.

And now that it has passed, it gives politicians the confidence to do whatever they want. Essentially, it was a vote for Special Interest and Cronyism.

In hindsight, I could have and should have done more.

Watch this video or take a look at the map of the newly redrawn congressional districts. This is such a sham.

If I ever meet a state official who voted to approve this, I will immediately vote against him or her, no questions asked. It violates my entire sense of fairness.

Even the Washington Post said that they “qualify as the most outrageously gerrymandered among the 50 states.”

Thursday, November 08, 2012

My 4.5 Year Old Prefers Decaf

Nadia came down to my office the other day. She looked at my coffee and said, “can I have some?”
It was 6pm and whereas I’d give her a small sip earlier in the day, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I said, “Sorry, no.”
“Ok,” she replied, “can I have some Decaf?”
I chuckled…and made her some.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

How I Ran the Fastest Race of My Life

Proud to say that I put down the 3 miles in just under –33 minutes.

That’s right.

Just about –11 minutes each mile.

I was totally in the zone.

Helped out by Daylight Savings Time.

In the Anything Is Possible 5k.

A brilliant idea for a slightly quirky group of folks.

Start time was 1:50am on Sunday morning, November 4th.

Shout out to David for finding it and for Daphne and Jake for joining in the festivities.

Anything is Possible, Daylight Savings Time Run-5k

Thursday, November 01, 2012

How to run faster than the speed of light…

I just love this race idea.

You start at 1:50am on Sun. morning Nov. 4th for a 5k.

Then, because the clocks fall back at 2am due to Daylight Savings Time, you finish before you started (unless you are ridiculously slow, I suppose).

Of course, I am doing it.

I’m hoping for a time of negative 35 minutes Winking smile

Monday, October 29, 2012

Out of the Depths-An Inspiring Story of Survival

If you are looking for spiritual invigoration and a renewed sense in the strength of the human spirit, I may have a book for you.

Heading into the High Holidays, I said to the NFO, “I really need a few books to read-particularly one that I won’t feel guilty reading in synagogue when things get slow-or else I won’t make it.”

She responded in a big way and selected Out of the Depths: The Story of a Child of Buchenwald Who Returned Home at Lastby Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, who was Chief Rabbi of Israel.

If that’s all he had done, that would have been a notable achievement, but the story of the man and his struggle is one of the most remarkable I have ever read.

Israel Lau was born in pre-WWII Poland. His father was the rabbi of their town, the 29th generation of rabbis in their family.

The Nazis invade, do an Aktion (a rounding up of all the Jews) and all but Israel and his brother, Naphtali, end us surviving the war.

But surviving doesn’t even do that justice. It’s incredible moment upon incredible moment…and all of this done at the ages of 7 and 8 with indomitable will to survive and the never-ending dedication of his older brother.

Circumstances, luck, miracles, divine intervention…call it what you will, Lau is the youngest survivor of Buchenwald, makes his way to pre-state Palestine, and eventually becomes Chief Rabbi, where he is in a position to affect not just Israeli politics, but world leaders like Pope John Paul II.

Jewish or not, you’ll have a difficult time putting this book down and when you do, you’ll reflect on what makes people persevere in the face of atrocity and inhumanity and our obligation to ensure that such events never happen again to anyone, anywhere.

There are a number of powerful stories in the book and a surprise appearance by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but the quote that stuck out for me came when he talked about the trail of Adolph Eichmann and Lau confronts another survivor who had testified.

“You coined the phrase, ‘Auschwitz as another planet’-but it is not accurate.

If Auschwitz were indeed another planet, it would be easier to accept the Holocaust. But in truth, the disaster of Auschwitz is that it happened on the very same planet where we had lived before, where we live now, and where we will continue to live.

Those who carried out the cruel murders of the innocent were ordinary people, who returned home from their murderous acts to water the flowers in their manicured gardens. They tended the flowers lovingly and carefully so they would blossom, just after they had torn infants to pieces and shattered the skulls of men and women. Just after shoving thousands of people into the gas chambers to their deaths, they came home to play with dolls together with their little girls, and listen to classical music, eyes closed, engrossed n the uplifting spirituality of Bach and Beethoven.

They knew exactly what was going on in the camps, but were able to continue enjoying life as if unaffected.

Is  that another planet? Absolutely not.

Those were people just like you and me, and that’s the whole problem.

When you transfer all those horrors to another planet, you minimize the issue. You are saying that something like the Holocaust can never happen to us again. In my humble opinion, you are wrong.”

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tough Mudder-Made It

tough mudder-mud shotI’ll say this about the Tough Mudder.

The training paid off…and, at the same time, I wasn’t fully prepared.

11.5 miles, 27 obstacles (I think) and a boatload of mud to complete my first Tough Mudder.

You may recall the debacle of early September in Maryland and what led me to decide to tackle it in NJ in late October.

Fortunately, the weather held up (high 50s and early 60s) and I completed the course in 2 hours and 50 minutes.

The map of the course doesn’t really do it justice, so herewith, a quick breakdown of the obstacles.

  1. Artic Enema-
    You jump into a pool of ice and swim for 10 feet. It’s your “welcome to Tough Mudder” moment and I can’t even begin to describe how cold it is and how quickly you numb it. It takes a good 4-5 minutes to even being to thaw out.
  2. Mud Mile-tough mudder-dos equis poster
    Up and down a series of mud hills into a pool of mud (chest high) and back again. I think they mixed the mud with cow manure for added effect.
  3. Berlin Walls-
    Not too bad a climb up over an 9 foot wall
  4. Kiss of Mud
    Honestly, I’m not even sure what this is. Probably more mud.
  5. Balls to the Wall
    With a rope, you scale a 20 foot high wall, then back down the other side.
  6. Pirate’s Booty
    A swim across 100 ft or so of open water. I used the rope to help pull me across.
  7. Firewalker
    A run between some live fires. Fire Dept. and all, but not a huge deal.
  8. Electric Eel
    You crawl on your belly (in mud again, see the theme), while live wires of electricity shock you. I didn’t even feel them until the end, but some girl next to me was screaming in pain.
  9. Underwater Tunnels
    A jump into a pond (about neck deep-ish) and then you bob in and out in between barrels on top.
  10. Hangin Tough-
    Using rings, you are supposed to swing like a monkey from one side to the other over a pool of muddy water. I made it halfway through, fell into the water, and felt a small “pop” in my shoulder. Injury #1
  11. Ladder to Hell
    Not a big deal, climbing a wall and then back down.
  12. Smoke Chute
    Unexpected. You climb up a wall and then see a tunnel on the other side with a straight down drop. It’s a leap of faith. Oh, and while you are there, you can’t see so much because it’s so smoky. Eventually you land in a pool of…yep, muddy water.
  13. Peg Legs
    They place logs vertically (like lily pads) in the water and you are supposed to hop from one to the other to get to the other side. Your shoes are caked in mud. The wood is slippery. I took an absolutely nasty fall, slamming my chest and leg into the wood pylons, landing in the water. At this imagemoment, I distinctly remember think, “this may have not been such a good idea. I could have gotten a concussion or died and I have kids. Then, I said ‘I am definitely going to feel that in the morning.”
  14. Twinkle Toes
    This may seem like an easy one, but it was the one of which I was most proud. A balance beam over water. A few times, I almost lost my balance, but thinking back to my yoga practice, I regained balance and made the 15 foot trek.
  15. Funky Monkey
    Monkey bars that go on an incline up and then back down. I had really practiced this one, but only made it half way before falling down into the water. The water up the nose was the worst part.
  16. Boa Constrictor
    Crawling on your stomach through water and under barbed wire.
  17. Walk the Plank
    A 25 foot drop into a pool of water. Straight down.
  18. Trench Warfare
    Climbing on your belly for about 35 feet over mud and rocks in a darkened tunnel that bends and winds. Killed my knees and arms.
  19. Berlin Walls 2
    12 foot high walls to scale. Impossible to do without the help of other people. More on that in a minute.
  20. Wounded Warrior Carry
    TM is very connected to Wounded Warrior, so this part pays homage to disabled vets. You carry one of your teammates for about 50 yards
  21. Everest
    You sprint at full speed (remember, this is after 11 miles) and run up the side of a half-pipe, trying to grab the top and pull yourself up. I managed to make it happen on go #1 and did have some assistance to pull me up (another theme).
  22. Electroshock
    With the finish line in sight, you dash through (what they say are 10,000 volts of electricity.)
    Honestly, I didn’t feel anything, but took a nasty spill at the end and some photographer was right in my face. 

Now, keep in mind that when you are running, you are (for the most part) running through mud, so every step is real work.

What impressed me about Tough Mudder were a few things.

  1. The Marketing-after all, it’s what pulled me in in the first place. They play to your ego, your ambititough mudder--i dont always drink beeron, your desire to be tough. By teaming up with Under Armour and Dos Equis (I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, it’s after the Tough Mudder and it’s Dos Equis), they really bring it home. The signs, the music, the attitude…everything is so well done. Even the “pump you up” MC at the beginning.
  2. The Camraderie-as they say (constantly)… “Tough Mudder isn’t a race, it’s a challenge,” and “Leave No Mudder Behind.” Everyone is supportive and helpful, particularly on the obstacles that require assistance. Very impressive.

I met and ran with some great folks. My personal favorite was a Chabad guy from Crown Heights, Brooklyn who had 6 kids and single-handedly destroyed the stereotype. He was super fast and strong. Seeing his beard and tzitzit (religious undergarments) totally caked in mud was priceless.

Would I do it again? I don’t know. I’m hurting now and I’m sure I’ll be in ridiculous pain tomorrow. That one Peg Leg moment was really scary, but the feeling of accomplishment, of overcoming the fears was certainly worth it.

Experiences for the Discerning Traveler…

My friend, Renee Blodgett, has launched a pretty interesting travel site,

We Blog the World is an online culture and travel magazine that focuses on off-the-beaten path cultural events and unique adventure and high-end travel experiences for discerning travelers. A global travel blog network made up of independent voices from around the world, the new travel magazine will add in-depth coverage of cultural events, including festivals.

She’s looking for people to check it out and provide feedback (which you do here or there).

Obviously, travel is a crowded area, so I’ll be interested to hear if you think this is something remarkable…or more of the same.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Obama, Romney, and my 15 minutes of Debate Fame…

So, I’m in Seattle, looking out the window at a beautiful sunset over Puget Sound. I take a picture and think “I should upload that to Facebook.”

At that exact moment, my phone goes crazy with notifications, vibrations, emails, and messages as apparently, some guy named Jeremy Epstein, asked the first question in the Presidential debate.

Now, remember, I wasn’t watching, so I’m trying to figure out what is going on (it took a bit) and parsing it all together in 140 characters or less.

Then, I figure out that the topic of “getting Jeremy a job” is a recurring theme.

At that point, I have no choice but to issue a statement that, in fact, I do have a job.

Anyway, a fun little episode.

And here are some of the fun comments…










Monday, October 15, 2012

Obama, Election, Race, and Time to Duke It Out…

Disclaimer: If you are easily riled up and can’t think rationally instead of letting your emotions guide you, then stop reading now.

I had so much fun starting heated political discussion last time around (mostly between commenters) that I figured, “what the heck? Let’s do it again.”

After all, what is the subtitle of this blog?

My Voting Priorities
For those of you new to the blog since last time around, I vote on 2 primary issues.

  1. Economic policy
  2. Foreign policy

When it comes to economics, my general philosophy is that business (particularly small biz) is the primary driver of growth, innovation, and jobs. The best thing we can do (and having started 2 small businesses, I have a bit of experience here) is to make it as easy as possible for people to do that.

On Foreign Policy, I believe in American exceptionalism. I’ve traveled to about 60 countries, lived in 3 of them, and speak 3 foreign languages. In my experience, there is no country on the planet that is founded on ideals and beliefs to the extent that the US is. That doesn’t mean we can impose our will, but it does mean we look at things in a unique way and, I believe, it is the best way.

So, generally, I side with the Republicans (I’m registered as an Independent). I’m not in favor of their social stance. I’m pro-choice, fine with Gay Marriage, and I hate their cavalier attitude towards the environment (remember, I have solar panels, a composter, and am vegetarian.)

However, in my estimation, the two priority issues are necessary pre-conditions for the social environment I want to foster.

And, let’s be clear, the Republicans have done a lot to mess things up. They don’t get a pass.

Still, when I weigh the general approach of each party, that’s where I stand.

Assessing the Election
Ok, onto the election.

I live in Maryland, where it is 5-1 Democrats outnumbering GOP. Plus, a lot of Federal workers, so I live in a bubble and feel like I am surrounded by Pro-Obama people.

To get some balance, I call my cousin, Lee, who lives in Ohio. He tells me that the issue there is “jobs” and that’s why he thinks Romney has a chance.

My uncle in Texas had a different take. He breaks it down by the numbers.

  1. No one who voted for McCain is going to vote for Obama this time around. Let’s assume most of them still vote for Romney.
  2. Of the people who did vote for Obama, there are three camps.
    • Those who still believe that he is the man of Hope and Change
    • Those who don’t believe in him anymore, but can’t bring themselves to vote for Romney, so will vote for Obama anyway.
    • Those who don’t believe in him, can’t vote for Romney, and thus will not vote at all.

The big question is: how large is that third group?

My Unscientific Polling
Having been part of a poll the other day (we have a big issue in Maryland re: a new casino—I’m against it), I see (yet again) how easily the questions can be written so as to skew results.

I’m skeptical of the polls that we all see/hear about.

So, while I am not a formal pollster, I take the liberty of asking my circle of people whom I call on their birthday, etc. to get their take.

It may not be huge, but it’s a larger than average base.

The Surprises
Two things have surprised me among past Obama voters.

  1. the number of people who claim (at least now) that they are thinking about not voting. And this is from people I would expect to be likely voters.
  2. the number of people who admit to having gotten “caught up” in the Obama excitement

Yep, Here We Go…
Obviously, a sensitive topic, but what has really shocked me is the number of past Obama voters (good, solid liberals) who will say (either prompted or unprompted) that Obama’s race was a factor in their decision to vote FOR him.

As one said to me, “I was enamored with the idea that we would have an African-American president.”

Was it the ONLY reason?

Of course not, but there were more than a few who said that reverse racism was at play last time around and they got attacked here on the blog.

For me, race was never an issue. I just didn’t like Obama’s politics, but I have found this element of the election to be just fascinating.

Why Introduce the Race angle?
While I know there is a decent chance that it will start some passionate debate, I am hoping that it can be civil and allow us to better understand ourselves as a country in 2012.

A risk? Perhaps. We’ll see if civil discourse is indeed possible. I have faith in Americans (and those visiting my blog from other countries as well).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

9.79 The Validation

It’s been 24 years in the making, but the proof is here.

ESPN has made a documentary called “9.79.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

For why this is so significant, here’s my personal connection to it.

The greatest race of all time.

And now everyone knows what a few of us have known for years.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why Jewish Holidays Aren’t Always Restful

For traditionally observant Jews, we’ve just finished a marathon month of holidays. No fewer than 7 days (all during the work week, I might add) were set aside for various religious activities, festivals, and the like.

My work colleagues were understanding and supportive, but I sensed a slight misconception stemming from the word “holiday.”

While I’ve never attended Christmas or Easter services, my sense is that those days are somewhat different that Jewish holidays, hence the misconception.

We spend an average of 3-4 hours in synagogue on each of the holidays (in some cases, more). The services are followed by meals which are usually elaborate and lavish and can take anywhere from 1-4 hours.  Now, this sounds great, but having hosted them (and the NFO having prepared them), I can tell you…it’s a LOT of work.

But, as they say, “wait, there’s more.”

You have to remember that while all of these holidays are occurring, you are operating under the traditional prohibition of using electricity, operating motor vehicles, or phones, etc.

So, while you don’t sit in the dark, you can’t exactly load up your dishwasher and push “start.”

Yes, there are ways around this, but even that is an effort to figure out an appropriate loophole that enables something that is forbidden.

Some might say “well, what’s the point,” and I can see where the cynic or skeptic might offer that opinion, but the mental challenge is half the fun.

But, let’s set that aside for a moment, shall we?

Essentially,  you’ve got 24-48 hour periods where you can’t use your phone, email, TV. You can’t drive anywhere, so you are limited by walking distance. If you have visitors staying with you, they are homebound (in your house) if it’s raining, for example, and “sleeping in” is done, but the idea is you should be in synagogue.

The point I am trying to make here, I suppose is that the holiday is really a lot of work and effort.

In some cases you end it feeling refreshed and relaxed, but in other cases, you end it as tired (if not more) than when you begin.

Then, of course, you log-on to your email after having been away for 2 whole days and find 267 messages waiting for you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Loving the Science Fair

I know I've been a bit "glass half-empty" on the current state of America.
I'll return to that theme in a bit, but for now, a bit of good news. Sort of

The NFO chose a book from the library called Science Fair Season: Twelve Kids, a Robot Named Scorch . . . and What It Takes to Win and it's a series of great stories that will have you walking away with a new found sense of optimism for America's future and the innovative power of kids with their fresh perspectives.

Of course, there's the realization that, well, most kids aren't like these kids and "will it be enough?"

I found it gripping and if you are looking to turn your kids onto science (probably middle schoolers), this book might do the trick.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Boomerang, Debt, and Our Future

There’s really no point in reviewing a Michael Lewis book because you should just read it.

In the one that I read most recently, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, Lewis follows up on the ripples of The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine as he takes us around the world to talk about the boom and bust..and what it means for all of us.

We visit Iceland, Greece, Ireland, and Germany, before we end up in California, trying to understand what DEBT at the scale we are currently facing.

As with all his work, the writing is engaging and it’s near impossible to put the book down.

Though he tries to end on an upbeat note (and when I say “end,” I mean basically the last 2 sentences of the whole 212 pages), it’s a pretty bleak picture.

However, it’s better to understand it than avoid it and Lewis’ book is a step in that direction.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So, you think English is easy?

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick'?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this.

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP’.

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?

Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends.

And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.

We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning.

People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

A drain must be opened UP because it is blocked UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so ... it is time to shut UP!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Lessons from today's Tough Mudder

Yesterday, the morning before the race, when the NFO asked me if I was excited, of course my answer was "yes."

But, more than that, I was feeling proud.

4.5 months ago, I had set out an aggressive training schedule and had accomplished everything I set out to do (and then some).  Even more than that, I was glad that my kids had seen a daily dedication in action (it's difficult for them to measure progress in terms of PowerPoint slides or Facebook fans.)

By the day before the race, I was ready. Maybe even in the best shape of my life and I felt like a football player on the eve of the Super Bowl. I was just trying to stay calm and loose.

A big storm rolled through the area and knocked out power for a few hours, but fortunately, the generator kicked in, so my stress levels were minimal.

By 10pm on Sat. night, my clothes were out, my strategy was clear, and I was in bed, ready for the 5.45am wake-up.

Things started to go awry at 2am when I woke up...and though I lay in bed for 1 hour, I couldn't fall back asleep. 

By that point, I didn't know what to do, so I got up and figured I'd do some work for a bit and see what would happen. Worst case scenario, I'd have to just power through the course on 4 hours of sleep. Not ideal, but what was I going to do.

After pulling out my laptop, ready to start blogging, I noticed my email.

From ToughMudder.


We are deeply disappointed to have to announce that Tough Mudder Mid-Atlantic Sunday must be canceled due to flooding and safety concerns. Yesterday's rain left us with an extremely waterlogged course, base area and parking area, which all  prevent critical functions from keeping you safe. Our safety team spent considerable time working with local authorities to reevaluate the course this evening and have ultimately determined it unsafe for tomorrow's event. Safety has and always will be our top priority without compromise, so we must heed this decision.  

We did not make this decision lightly, and we are sure it will be met with great disappointment. We are committed to bringing you an amazing experience, so you will be receiving a transfer code on Monday that you can use to participate free of charge in any upcoming 2012 or 2013 Tough Mudder event. If you have any questions regarding this policy, please email

Again, we truly apologize for the frustration this will cause. Our mission is to build the best endurance challenge on the planet, and we hope to have another chance to give you the experience that you expect from us.   

Thank you for your support and understanding.


Disappointed? You bet.

Though I suppose that if the objective of the Tough Mudder was to create mental toughness and resiliency, then it did that....and I didn't even have to do the course.

As for what's next? Hard to say. It's 4am and the NFO is still sleeping. Admittedly, she's sacrificed a lot for this and I would understand if she's not so excited about doing any more.

Updated: Looks like there is more to the story than is being told.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Face Time at 6 Hours Old


Picked up a new niece about 2 weeks ago…now my kids have 24 first cousins.

The special part about this one is how we met.

My sister called me from the hospital and gave me the wonderful news. Then, she said, “Do you want to FaceTime with her?”

6 hours old and already doing videoconferencing.

A new world record.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Going to Las Vegas

Just found out that I won a contest on Southwest Airlines’ Spirit Magazine.

Here’s the official post from them and the video below.

Ok, I’m not really going since flight wasn’t included, but when I do, at least I have a place to stay.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Day of School

I remember always being nervous on the night before the first day of school. Now, I’m just a bit sad.

It’s funny in a way.

During the summer when the kids are home, there are times when I think “wow, I would really like some quiet time so I can focus and not get interrupted every 3 minutes.”

On the other hand, I love being able to go upstairs and see them pretty much whenever I wanted. They are my “water cooler” break and we had a great time.

Today, however, was the first day of school. My kids didn’t seem nervous (a good thing), but after they left, I realized that I missed them already. And it had been 20 minutes.

Made me realize how fleeting the time is.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Parental (and kid) Roller Coaster

After a visit to historic Philadelphia, we took the kids to Hershey Park, PA.

Now, I’m not a big fan of Amusement Parks. I think there’s way too much time wasted waiting in lines. I suppose if I had the “express pass,” I might feel differently, but there’s a part of me that views it as a sad commentary on modern American life.

That being said, I do love the most intense roller coasters.

Unfortunately-at least in this respect-that wasn’t on the agenda as Paco, Tonka, and Nadia didn’t meet the height requirements for a lot of the things that I would have chosen for myself.

However, this wasn’t about me…or what I wanted to do. It was about them and I can honestly say that one of the great experiences of fatherhood was taking them on their first roller coasters and seeing the pure joy (and a bit of nerves) in going through it.

Barely scraping by in terms of height, we got Nadia on a massive log flume (I don’t think she really knew what she was in for) and I’ll admit, there was a moment where I said to myself, “I’m not sure this is a great idea,” but we persevered.

At the bottom, I heard a girl crying and I was concerned. Then I saw that it was the 7 year old NEXT to Nadia (4.5) and my little girl was all smiles (and soaked).

Paco was super excited after doing “the Comet” and all he could says was “That so INTENSE!!” (wonder where he got that from?)

The thing about it was that it was such pure joy to see their pure joy and to be there for that moment of maturation and life experience.

I was excited to share it with them and be there with them…just in case…and thrilled to see how they came through with the attitude that I would want them to have.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Liberty Bell and the Chinese


A short family vacation found us in the City of Brotherly Love and in 1 super strong day, we were able to see Independence Hall and the room where the Declaration was signed, the Liberty Bell (which has a great exhibit telling the story of how the world views and appreciates its symbolism), and the US Mint, where they make over 30 million coins per day (if they want to).

The NFO and I have certainly put our kids on the path to being full fledged history buffs and I think they really do get the sense of history from the places we visit, so in that respect, a total victory.

I hadn’t been to this part of Philadelphia in maybe 30 years or so and I thought it was really well done. The tour guide in the Hall probably could have benefitted from a microphone, but it was time appropriate and very informative.

One thing I’ve noticed about family vacations these days is just how difficult it is to truly “check out.” Emails come in (and even though I have my auto-responder on), I still feel the urge to check/respond. I mean, either I do it in a multi-task way or I pay for it when I “get back,” right?

One moment of irony that I know my friend, Dave Sloan, a Philly native no less, will appreciate.

There was a HUGE group of Chinese teenagers on a tour (I impressed them because when they told me where they were from, they said “North east part of China,” and I said, “Oh, near Harbin?” but I digress Smile)

I guess I was just aware of the fact that here were all of these Chinese students, visiting the cradle of American (heck, world) Democracy and many of the values that are core to the experience are either forbidden or foreign (for now), in their homeland.

Wonder how rising wealth in China and international travel will play out in the years to come.

All in all, a great day. One in which we truly “left it all on the field,” and (we hope) were able to continue to instill our kids a sense of curiosity.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Mind of the Early Adopter…

I sat there for 5 minutes, staring at the screen.

My computer was working fine, optimized after 1.5 years of refinement. I should just leave well enough alone, right?

Yet, here I was, staring at the “Next” button…the one that would being the installation of Windows 8 over my Windows 7 OS, hurtling me into the unknown world of a new technology and about to commit to crossing the chasm from which there was turning back…but one that could involve hours of digging out and recovery.

I had been down this road before.

I had been to the abyss of data loss and non-working machines. Yet, each time, I had come back…stronger and better, feeling empowered that I had developed a stronger understanding of the underlying technology.

And, further, I was committed to forcing the creation of new neural pathways, getting me out of my “comfort zone,” convinced, like a junkie of technology, that the next thing would give me a bigger rush, reason enough to push forward.

And, so I did…

I pushed the button and didn’t look back, off on the next adventure.

How did it go?

A post for another day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Like Wearing Fur…

I’m looking forward to the day when…

  • driving a Hummer (or even a stretch limo)
  • drinking bottled water
  • eating takeout in styrofoam containers

make people a pariah as much as wearing fur does today.

Just not sustainable.

What others to add to the list?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Driving Connecticut Ave. with my son

Washington Monument, Washington D.C., United S...

Washington Monument, Washington D.C., United States as viewed at twilight/dusk. Taken by myself with a Canon 5D and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. Español: El Monumento a Washington al atardecer Magyar: A Washington emlékmű Polski: Pomnik Waszyngtona o zmierzchu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For Paco’s 7th birthday, he asked if we could drive the length of Connecticut Ave.

As you may know, DC has streets named after every state and Jokinen is fascinated by streets and geography.

His wish is to drive one state street each year on his birthday.

What’s more, he wanted to drive at night, because, in his words, “it’s more exciting!”

So, we went out on Sat. night and drove to the end (we’re towards the end) and circled back to head downtown to reach the beginning of the street.

His joy was palpable. I guess being on the road at 10:30pm is a new experience at some point, right?

He made great observations about how the types of buildings changed and how the parking became more premium/difficult.

When we finished, we debated for a moment if we should return and do “all of Georgia Ave.” (not a simple task-it’s long).

It was late and I was tired, but Paco wasn’t. He was fully of energy and was egging me on.

“We can do it! We have to do it! It’s my birthday. Come on!”

And, in those exhortations, I heard a bit (more actually) of myself as I realized that my son was in the process of out-“me-ing” me in terms of “go for it” gusto.

Any idea we had—and we had a lot of them—”Let’s call Aunt Kiki and have her wave to us!” or “Let’s stop by Aunt Dina’s house” was fair game for him.

The boy was on a pure adrenaline rush.

All I could think of—aside from how much fun it will be to go out with him when he’s 23 Winking smile is…”man, this boy knows how to LIVE it up!”

The best part was the 2.5 hours of father-son bonding we had as we discussed the City, the Washington Monument and White House (we passed them both), the Battle of Marathon (once we hit the 26 mile mark on our drive) and every other question he asked-and there were a lot of them.

I couldn’t have thought of or wished for a better birthday for him…or for me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Running (or not) in a Storm…and a great friend

As you may know, I’m in training for a Tough Mudder race (less than a month away) and I’ve really gotten into running (again).

Rediscovered the fun of it.

The other night, I went out and about 1.2 miles into my loop, I noticed the skies darkening…

Then, a thunder crack…and off in the distance, a flash of lightning.

From the way things were progressing, I wouldn’t make it home in time and while in my youth, I would have made a run for it, playing the odds, fatherhood changes you.

The trade off of an extra 3.8 miles (to finish the run) or even to go back just wasn’t worth the cost of getting hit by lightning (even though the odds are slim).

Factor in that I would be somewhat exposed and near trees (flying limbs or whatever), and it just seemed like the right idea was to find shelter.

Problem was…I had no cell phone and no money (lesson learned).

On the corner, however, was a Police station. Just as I was entering, it started to come down hard.

And by hard, I mean, torrential.

I was debating whether I would share the fact that just at this moment, the song “It’s Raining Men” was playing on my playlist. What can I say? I like the beat and it pumps me up while I’m running.

Laugh away.

I asked the Police Officer if I could have a ride home—my tax dollars at work, right?

Alas, no.

She pointed me to a room where I could make a free local call.

Now, the NFO was out with the kids at an event. Too far away for a pickup, so I had a judgment call to make

Wait out the storm or call someone.

The problem with waiting out the storm was the fact that I had to meet said NFO at a precise time in the future. So I had to be at home to change and get back out.

I went through my mental rolodex, thinking, “who would both pick me up and like to laugh at me at the same time?”

Answer was obvious…I called David Price.

His wife, Daphne answered and I proceeded to explain my predicament.

“Where do you need me to pick you up?” (Mind you, she didn’t even ask “where’s the NFO?”)

She just came and got me (good thing she did because it started hailing.)

What a friend.

When I got in the car, I said, “yes, this will be on the blog.”

And so it is…a testament to a bit of wisdom (not running through a thunderstorm) and a great friend (no questions asked).

ON the way back, we had another wise move…electing to take an alternate route when we saw this massive flood in front of her car.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A little bit out of the nest…

Not sure why I feel the compulsion to blog this one, but I suppose it’s just one of those moments.

For most of their short lives, the kids have gone to camp with people they already know from school.

Yesterday, however, I took them to a new camp (focused on technology-surprise, I know) and it was a sea of multiple cultures/religions/ethnicities, which is great.

Understandably, not knowing anyone, they were a bit apprehensive, but as the Orientation went on, I could see them becoming more comfortable with it and forging ahead with bravery.

It just made me feel proud that they were able to overcome this (small) obstacle and plow ahead. After all, I kind of view that as a primary role of the father.

Just got a bit emotional about that one.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Proof of 9.79 and its importance

Here's evidence of the historical significance of 9.79 
(my back story here)

Then, read this:

(Eight years earlier, I'd seen a Jamaican-born Canadian sprinter named Ben Johnson run Carl Lewis into the track in Seoul. A few days later, we learned that Johnson flunked a drug test, and my Canadian colleagues had to cover their country's version of the Black Sox scandal on the fly. But I will go to my grave stating unequivocally that the race itself was one of the most exciting things I ever saw. Everything was perfect — the time of day, the light in the stadium, the buzz of the crowd, and the way the two men went molten when the gun went off. I am not the only one who feels this way.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Visiting the National Gallery of Art

I was fairly excited the other day when I asked the kids, “where in Washington, DC do you want to go for our monthly outing?” and they all excitedly agreed upon the National Gallery of Art.

Granted, they were motivated by the moving walkway and the waterfall in the underground passage connecting the East and West buildings, but hey, they still managed to take in some Rodin sculptures and classic paintings, mostly Dutch.

We were accompanied by my parents (my mom was an Art History major), so they really got a lot out of it, as I continue to foster and cultivate their right-brain thinking.

It’s a great, world-class museum and I’m glad we had a chance to take advantage of it.

NGA field trip, July 2012 (5)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How to be Remembered…

I’m training for a ToughMudder race on September 9th, so have been running a lot.

To help out, I’ve been experimenting with various music playlists, to keep me motivated.

This morning, right as the run was ending, the music from Chariots of Fire came on.

While it’s not the greatest motivator while you are actually running, it is a great score.

With the Olympics coming up, I was reminded of the story and it occurred to me that, if Eric Liddell hadn’t had the religious convictions preventing him from running on Sunday, there would have been no story.

In fact, without looking it up, I bet that no one reading this knows who won the Gold Medal in the 100 meters or 200 meters in the 1924 Paris Games.

The point here is that the great stories, the kind that Ken Burns talks about in this wonderful 7 minute documentary, are made by those who stand FOR something.

This is true in our personal lives, but also in our business lives.

Steve Jobs is famously quoted for having said that his objective was to “put a dent in the universe.”

Great brands, nay, the GREATEST brands are built because they create stories around their principled positions.

It’s easy to be skeptical because while most brands and most athletes start off standing for something, too often, those positions are compromised and it becomes about the money and the fame.

“So many times, it happens so fast, you trade your passion for glory.”-Eye of the Tiger, Survivor (which IS a good running song).

Money are fame are fine, but not enduring.

Nothing wrong with them, but it all comes down to what impact you want to make (or none at all).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bookmarks in Time…Windy City

I went for a run this morning in Chicago.

Passed many of the signature landmarks…Pritzker Pavilion, Grant Park/Buckingham Fountain, Museum of Science/Industry, Soldier Field, and then up along Lakeshore Drive back to Chicago River.

I stand by my contention that Chicago is America’s most beautiful city…from May until September.

Anyway, as I was running, I had a mini-flashback to my first visit to Chicago.

Fortunately, I’ve been here more than a few times since (although I still need to go to Wrigley), but back in 1979, my dad brought me here (I think he had a case or something) and I spent part of the day with my great Aunt and part of the day with my first cousin, Leonard, who was a student at Northwestern.

As the fates would have it, when I got back to my hotel room and checked my calendar, I saw that today is Leonard’s birthday, so I got to call him and reminisce (though he didn’t remember it, which I can’t say is too offensive.)

Anyway, a small “moment in time” to record and remember.

Monday, July 16, 2012

GOP-Dems Frustration

Not that this will do anything except get people riled up, but sometimes you just have to get it out there.

Republicans--you need to become better storytellers. Right now, Capitalism is on the ropes. In fact, it's been on the mat and is staggering around. Faith in the concept is gone and you need to show people that free enterprise is a good thing, but that it needs a level playing field. Very few believe the field is level now. You haven't really done anything (that I can think of) to restore that. You talk a good game, but you need to make it happen. Then, you need to paint the picture of a world where it is level and keep making concrete steps towards that.

Dems--you need to get your head out of the sand that the old world of big manufacturing and labor unions are on the road to our redemption. The longer you hold on to that belief (particularly the public unions and teachers unions even more so), the more difficult it will be to make the radical paradigm shift that is required for all of Americans to even have a chance at maintaining their standard of living.