Monday, October 26, 2015

I’m Still Not Dead … Just Busy

Silence is a source of great strength. - Lao Tzu

Silence is a true friend who never betrays. – Confucius

I’m always fascinated by the people who reach out to me when my blog contributions get light as they have been in recent months.

Some reach out because they miss the content I write – thank you for your kindness.

Some reach out because they want to see if I’m healthy or even alive – thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Some reach out because, in their belief, people who write blogs should (read: must) write blogs everyday and they feel it is important that I know this.

Well, as one can see from my social media feeds, I am alive and well – thanks for asking.

As for those who believe that people who blog must do so daily, I offer the following (tongue-in-cheek):

Blogging: Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.

Blogging: Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.

It reminds me of the cartoon floating around on social media a few months back that said “20 years ago, you didn’t take a Polaroid of your oatmeal and then run around the neighborhood bragging about it, so don’t do it now.” Smile

My reality is that I write blogs when the following conditions are met:

  1. I’m not busy with other things
  2. There is a subject that moves me emotionally and is one that I believe will move others emotionally also.
  3. There is a subject where I believe I have a contribution to make in a unique way that has not been satisfied by others.
  4. There is a subject where people need / want to be informed or influenced.

f I can’t satisfy that criteria for publishing a post, I stay focused on what matters around me – family, friends and business.

You know … that thing we used to call reality …. and priorities. Smile

Sometimes the subject I would like to write about concerns things that might alarm people or are things I cannot get permission to write about due to my work background and so I decide (or someone decides for me) that I am better off keeping my mouth shut.  For those, I usually find a way through my #1206 “fiction” series. Smile

In what I do, I spend most of my days giving an opinion – verbally, pictorially or orally.  As a Newfoundlander (from a culture built upon storytellers) who has experienced a lot and been blessed by many people and events, I have collected a lot of stories that I love to share.  My dentist and I had a laugh last week during an emergency oral procedure when I couldn’t speak for over 3 hours.  She said it was like trying to quiet Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.

While many people love to hear themselves speak, it is not uncommon for people to hear me say, “I’m tired of hearing my own voice – it’s your turn to speak.”

There are times in my busy days when I feel called upon to listen and I honor that calling as it always comes for a reason.

And then there are times when cerebral people like me just like to be as I noted in Keep the Noise Down, I’m Thinking.

So I’m not dead …. but I do enjoy the quiet now and then.

We can’t be talking all the time, you know.

Or should I shout that so you can hear me?

Create a great day, because merely having one is too passive an experience.

In service and servanthood, quietly.

Harry

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Paul Johnson–Farewell to a Perfect, Imperfect Mentor

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. - Steven Spielberg

Do the right thing, the right way, right now. – Paul Johnson

On Canadian Thanksgiving Day, October 12, 2015, I was heartbroken to learn of the passing of Paul Johnson, a leading businessman and philanthropist, in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Paul, or PJ to those of us who knew him, was much more to me than just a businessman.  He was the first business mentor I had in my long career and as news of his death sank in, my thoughts tumbled back to the impact this man had on my Life.

As an impressionable young lad of 17 in 1983, I first entered the IT world as a programmer / analyst working for PJ on a new project he was dreaming of. He intended to build Canada’s first PC-based insurance system and I was selected to be developer (later architect) #1.  While everyone told PJ that such technology was a passing fad, the visionary that was PJ saw past the naysayers and with his usual heightened sense of vision and doggedness, he was determined to make it work.

It was an incredible undertaking.  Many younger people in the IT field today wouldn’t know what it is like to write computer systems that fit on SSSD (single-sided, single density) floppy disks with a capacity of 256K, make their own printer cables using manufacturer-provided pin-out diagrams or write a printer driver in assembler for every new printer that arrived.  But PJ was undeterred despite the unproven, immature technology and his vision of a PC-based insurance system, codenamed Automate and then Max, eventually rolled out on 8 single-sided, double-density floppies.

While PJ was at least a foot shorter than the 17-year-old that he hired, he was larger than Life.  On my first day on the job, I heard this announcement over the PA System:

Good morning to the good dependable people of Johnson Insurance.  Please observe the quiet hour between 8am and 9am and review your reminders for today’s important activities.  Thank-you.

It was Quiet Hour, PJ’s recognition of the importance of planning one’s day strategically instead of randomly executing haphazardly.  During Quiet Hour, you weren’t allowed to walk around, have meetings or use the phone.  You were supposed to sit and think, set goals for the day and plan out measurable outcomes by which you measured your day’s success.

33+ years later, I still begin my day with Quiet Hour.

To anyone who doubted the importance of Quiet Hour to PJ, one morning a temp was reading the announcement and thinking it was silly, burst out laughing several times over the PA.  I looked up over my desk in time to see PJ making a beeline from his office to the temp’s desk by the front door.

We never saw her again.

PJ’s attention to detail was staggering, often to the point of obsession.  One day I saw him walking through the office with a yardstick, measuring the distance between desks.  He found two desks that were a couple of inches further apart than they should have been and he yelled at Phyllis, his secretary (who should have been nominated for sainthood), to get Bob (the maintenance guy) there right away to close the gap.

Obsessive?

Perhaps – but the difference between being obsessive and paying attention to details is in the eye of the beholder.

About a year or so after I started working at Johnson Insurance, PJ had a massive heart attack and had open heart surgery.  Unable to leave the office behind (likely the thing that gave him the heart attack in the first place) and against doctor’s orders, he would leave his hospital room and wander down to the payphone at the end of the hall to call the office to see how things were going.

As an impressionable young man, I didn’t know if I was watching a mad man in action or a man who loved (and obsessed over) his work.  After the career I have enjoyed to-date, I now know it was the latter.

When PJ needed his secretary, Phyllis, he never left his office.  Everyone on the first floor of 95 Elizabeth Avenue was used to the command that often emanated out of the corner office:

Phyllis!

Truthfully, as a young man, I was fascinated by him, in awe of him and terrified of him.  He knew what he wanted and how to get it and as a shy young man, I wondered if the level of brashness (rudeness sometimes) that he exhibited was normal.

But as I grew “a skin”, I learned a lot more about this man.

His broad knowledge in many disparate areas of Life was staggering.  I remember looking at a painting on the wall of the office and PJ came along and noticed I was admiring it.  He told me the history of the artist, the subject of the painting and the techniques used by the artist to express certain elements.  “Pretty amazing, isn’t it?”, he asked, referring to the painting.  I couldn’t answer – I was still caught up in his explanation.

Similar experiences would be repeated many times in my career there.

He kept an architect’s desk (aka a drafting table) in his office for thinking and planning.  One day when I stopped into his office, he invited me around and showed me some of the things he was drawing.  He explained the importance of taking time away from noise and chaos to think through problems and solutions.  He didn’t have a name for the doodles he was making but he demonstrated the techniques he used when he was thinking through tough problems.

33+ years later, I am still drawing the same doodles that he taught me to draw.

We call them mind maps or cognitive maps today.

Time to move on

As is often the case when we outgrow a job, I left Johnson Insurance and went on to the big city of Toronto.  After I was there for about a year, I was thinking about PJ and wrote him a note, thanking him for what he had done for me in my career and that I was proud to have been “one of the good dependable people of Johnson Insurance”.

Imagine my surprise when a reply came back, with a heartfelt thanks for my note and with deep gratitude expressed for MY contribution to him.

As a young man who now wasn’t working for him, I was still learning lessons from him – the art of humility in success and for taking the time to thank others even during an impossible schedule.

By the early 2000’s, I had been living in the US for quite a while and found myself one weekend at a stamp show in Providence, Rhode Island.  There was a stamp dealer there selling Newfoundland covers (a sealed envelope with a Newfoundland stamp on it, mailed to one’s self on the day the stamp was issued) for $1 apiece and I bought them all.  Newfoundland had its own stamps prior to its entry into Canadian Confederation and as a Newfoundlander, I eagerly sought such things out.

When I returned home, I was examining my covers by holding them up to the light and I noticed that one had a letter in it instead of a blank sheet of paper or index card and I thought, “What the heck, I only paid a dollar for it” and carefully slit the envelope open.

It turned out that the envelope was not a cover but an undelivered piece of mail, where the writer was outlining some investment advice to a woman.  It was signed “Art Johnson, The Insurance Man.”

I called PJ’s son and asked if Art Johnson was any relation to him.  “Yes”, he replied, “Art Johnson, the insurance man.  That was my grandfather.”

What were the odds?

After all those years, PJ’s legacy was still with me.

Some years later, I was in Newfoundland and brought the letter over to PJ’s house with intention of returning it to him.  “I would like you to have it”, replied PJ and it still has a place of honor in my stamp collection.

While at his place, we talked about his then-current project, building walking trails on Signal Hill.  He was frustrated with the reception he was getting from people who were objecting to his “destruction of pristine land”.  “Jesus Christ”, he said to me in frustration, “Nobody talked about the pristine land when I took 50 dump truck loads of car wrecks out of the area at my own cost”.

Years after retirement, his energy to get things done and make a difference still ran unabated.

He Wasn’t Perfect

PJ wasn’t a perfect man.  I saw his anger run hot and uncontrolled at times.  He would shout at his first wife on the phone in ways that would shock many.  One day, one of his young sons stole a quarter from him and the event went unmentioned. One day about three months later, while walking with his family next to the duck pond at Bowring Park in St. John’s, he picked up his son and threw him headlong into the pond.  His son asked why he had done it and he replied, “That’s for stealing.”

Most of the family worked in the business and he had no issue with shaming them for poor performance in front of the rest of us.  My heart often felt sad for “the kids” who couldn’t be perfect enough in his eyes and who were reminded of it in a humiliating fashion right before our eyes

Sometimes when modeling a person, there is as much to be learned about how not to behave as there is in how to behave.

How I Remember Him

As I said, PJ wasn’t perfect.  It is said that saints became saints not because they are perfect but because of what they accomplish despite their imperfections.

I remember him as a brilliant, passionate, astute, generous man.  He was passionate about history and the preservation of it – especially Newfoundland history.  He loved Newfoundland and Labrador and did what he could to preserve it, spending more than $50 million of his own money to do so.

He was well-versed in many subjects, including of all things, restaurants, where he dabbled in high-end dining at the Woodstock Colonial Inn (once one of the top ten restaurants in Canada), the Starboard Quarter downtown on the harbor-front and a fast-food chain called The Top Ten.

He had a sense of humor, revealed one day when he showed me a t-shirt with the words “Whale Oil Beef Hooked” on it.  The shy teenager looking at it blushed profusely once he figured it out.  I laugh now.

He loved his family intensely and wanted the best for them and out of them so badly, that he often demonstrated it poorly. 

Then of course, there was the success of Johnson Insurance itself.

His business acumen and what he shared of it with me set the tone for my career.  He spent a lot of time with me when I was younger, teaching me what I wasn’t taught in school about strategy, goals, planning and execution, about persevering when others suggest you are crazy, you will fail (or both) and how sometimes one has to stride ahead of everyone else because that is what you are called to do.

He had a fire in him that came out as anger sometimes and at other times, dogged determination, unlimited kindness and absolute brilliance.

He was also a man who was recognized publicly for the amazing things he accomplished, being a member of the Order of Canada, a recipient of an honorary doctor of laws from Memorial University of Newfoundland, a member of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador and a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Business Hall of Fame.

In the end, he wanted the best out of everything and everyone around him and sometimes took to dragging us along until we could see what he could see.

He did so without fanfare or demand for recognition – the mark of a true gentleman who did what he did because he passionately believed it to be the right thing to do.

That is what it is to be the type of renaissance man that PJ was.

Sometimes, renaissance men wait patiently for us to catch up.

Other times they are not so patient.

In the meantime, they amaze us with their vision, touch us with their kindness and generosity, wow us with their knowledge and yes, sometimes terrify or offend us with their execution.

But when we do catch up to them, we are better for the experience, finally seeing what the renaissance man sees while learning a few things from him along the way.

To my first business mentor who died on Thanksgiving Day, I express my deepest gratitude for him and my deepest condolences to his family, especially Lois, Darroch and David.

My life personally and professionally is due in large part to the well-established businessman who took a chance on a geeky kid who hung out in the CompSci lab in college.

May you all be so fortunate and blessed to have such people in your lives.

In service and servanthood,

Harry – One of PJ’s good dependable people

PJ’s Obituary:

Johnson, Paul Jolliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LL.D.

Passed peacefully away at his home in St. John’s, Paul J. Johnson, at the age of 86. Predeceased by his first wife Joy (Clouston), his daughter Heather Johnson-Ballard, and his grand-daughter, Diana. He is survived by his wife Sally (Clouston), children: Darroch, David (Heather), Lois (Robert) Desjardins, John (Rosemary) Kuehn, and Robin (Dave) Kenny; brother, Evan (Neva); brother-in-law, Peter (Pearle) Clouston; sister-in-law, Donna Clouston; grand-children: Chris, Alexis, James, Paul, Laura, Beth, Sarah, Peter, Ben, Hannah, and Leah; Son-in-law Brock Ballard; and many other colleagues, former employees and dear friends as well as his long time secretary, Judy Rudofsky.

Paul Johnson entered the family business, Johnson Insurance in 1949, which he sold in 1997. The Johnson Family Foundation began in 1987, and created the Grand Concourse Authority in 1994. Even up to his passing on Thanksgiving Day, Mr. Johnson continually showed passion, energy, an unflinching drive for excellence, and absolute determination. Paul Johnson’s vision through the Johnson Family Foundation, the Johnson GEO CENTRE, (the only Project bearing his name), the Grand Concourse, and the Railway Coastal Museum, along with his many other contributions to St. John's and to all Newfoundland and Labrador, has left a legacy to be shared and appreciated for generations to come.

Many who had the opportunity to work with Paul Johnson will remember his prodigious spirit and unmatched generosity. His preservation of the stories of our past have become a story to be told for years. We have lost a great man and true leader, whose legacy will live on forever. When Paul Johnson was presented to Queen Elizabeth, he was introduced as a philanthropist who had donated millions of dollars, his time and efforts, working to make Newfoundland a better place, Queen Elizabeth asked “Why would you do that”, Paul Johnson replied “I am proud to be a Newfoundlander, and I want to help other Newfoundlanders to feel as proud”. Paul Johnson was a shy and private person who wished to have no “fan fare”, as such, following cremation, a private burial will be held.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Power of the Magical Geranium

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. - Napoleon Hill

The #1206 “fiction” series continues …


Abigail sat in the deserted coffee shop and idly played with her coffee cup.  She had had a full week and despite the feeling of being very busy, she somehow felt that she had accomplished very little if anything useful.

“Rough week, huh?”, asked a voice beside her.

Abigail jumped, unaware that anyone had entered the empty coffee shop.

She glanced up to see a casually dressed, clean cut man of indeterminate age smiling down at her.

“May I?”, he asked, gesturing towards the chair across the table from her.

“Oh great”, Abigail thought, “I just want to be left alone.”

Before she could turn him down, he smiled and as if reading her mind, said, “You probably prefer to be left alone” and then sat down anyway.

Abigail was too tired to protest and shrugged her shoulders in silent acquiescence.

“Rough week?”, the stranger asked again, staring at her intently but gently.

“I guess so”, replied Abigail, “It just didn’t go the way I had planned and the many things I meant to accomplish remain unfinished.”

“I see”, replied the stranger, “Were these things that you meant to accomplish or that you were meant to accomplish?”

Abigail frowned in confusion, too tired to untangle the question that the stranger asked her.

“I’m not sure what you mean”, she replied, lost in confusion and fatigue.

The stranger smiled.  “Before I answer the question, I would like to tell you a story if I may”, he said.

Without waiting for permission from Abigail, he began to tell the story.

“There was once a family who lived in poverty, with every part of their Life being a struggle.  One day, a neighbor brought a flower over to Mrs. Smith, the lady of the house, and as she gave it to her, she said, ‘This is a magical geranium.  It will change your Life.’  ‘How will it do that?’, asked Mrs. Smith to which the neighbor smiled and replied, ‘You will see.’ and she left.”

“Mrs. Smith shrugged, placed the geranium on the dining room table and went about her chores.  A little while later, she was staring at the table and realized how cluttered it looked with the beautiful red flower sitting in the center.  ‘This won’t do’, she muttered as she proceeded to clean the table.  After the table was properly cleaned, she thought it made the dining room look pretty shabby and so she cleaned the entire room.”

The stranger paused, intently watching Abigail’s reaction but she said nothing as she listened.

The stranger continued.

“After Mrs. Smith had cleaned the dining room, she felt that the kitchen was too dirty in relation to the wonderfully clean dining room and so she cleaned the kitchen until it was spotless.  Seeing that the hour was late and that dinner preparation should be under way, she thought ‘I must create a meal that is worthy of this kitchen’ and though the cupboards were very lean, she put more effort into creating the meal than she had done in her living memory.  She placed the meal on the table with her best dishes and called the family to dinner.”

“When the meal was ready, she called the family to dinner and was appalled at their state of dress.  ‘There is no way you are sitting at this table dressed like that, she said sternly and sent them upstairs to clean up, insisting that they wear the best clothing they had.”

“A short while later, her family came back downstairs and were seated around the table.  Her husband gazed at the splendor before him and looked at his wife, seeing her beauty in a way he had never seen before.  ‘What is happening here?’, he asked as he marvelled at the clean house, the incredible meal, his beautiful wife and his wonderful children.”

“’I don’t know’, she said, ‘It all started with this magical geranium’ and she gestured towards the flower in the middle of the table.

“The family ate in wonder and the evening passed with the family engaged in more conversation than any of them could remember.  The next morning, Mr. Smith got up earlier than normal, shaved and put on his best clothing.  ‘What are you doing?’, Mrs. Smith asked.  Mr. Smith shrugged, smiled and then said, ‘Our meal last night reminded me that you and our kids are worthy of better than I have provided so I am on my way to look for a better job that honors all of you.’  He gave her a kiss on the cheek, went downstairs and left the house.  She could hear him whistling as he walked down the street towards the bus stop.  Walking downstairs into the dining room, she saw the geranium …. and she wondered.”

The stranger stopped telling his story, leaned back and waited for Abigail to comment.

“I don’t get it”, Abigail mumbled, “What does my busy week have to do with flowers?”

“Ahhhhh”, the stranger said as he smiled, “You missed the key point.  It’s more than just about flowers.  In fact, Abigail, I am suggesting that you have been the magic geranium in the lives of others.”

Abigail frowned in confusion but before she could comment, the stranger continued his thought.  He recounted different things she had done for others this week, some insignificant and some more impactful.

“How does he know this?”, she thought but before she could ask him, he looked at her and said, “That is why I asked you if your to-do list for the week was made up of things that you meant to accomplish or that you were meant to accomplish.  Sometimes it is the former but sometimes, possibly more than you realize, it is the latter.  Unfortunately, we measure the success and productivity of our week by the former while the latter is often more impactful.”

Abigail stared into the eyes of the stranger.  His gaze was deep and piercing but gentle and she felt her eyes well up as what he had said dawned on her.

She started to speak but he gently held up a hand and interrupted her.  “Don’t speak, Abigail”, he said gently, “Reflect on this for a while and then decide what it means to you.”

Abigail swallowed the lump in her throat and then, feeling a little awkward about crying in front of a stranger, stood up and told him that she needed to compose herself. 

She walked into the bathroom, splashed some water on her face and stared at herself in the mirror.  He was right – her priorities had been wrong all along.

Straightening up her clothing, she walked back out into the coffee shop.  Her brow furrowed in puzzlement when she realized that the stranger was gone.

She turned to the person behind the counter and asked, “Did the gentleman leave?”

“What gentleman?”, replied the young man, “Miss, we’ve been closed for over an hour.  I locked the door but I didn’t want to disturb you so I just left you alone.  No one has come or gone in the last hour.”

Abigail was confused and stared at the table, her head spinning as she wondered what had happened.

“How did he know what I did for others this week?”, she pondered.

As she wondered about this, something else dawned on her.

“How did he know my name?”

To be continued.


© 2015 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved

Background

The story of the magical geranium, of which I presented a very abridged version of, was a story I remember as a child.  The story was one of many in a book entitled Read Aloud Funny Stories, published in 1958.  The book can be found in used condition here.

Many people I encounter often express the results of their week in terms of how busy they were, how productive they were, etc.  As a long time Wall St’er, I do the same.

As someone who is measured by results (and who measures himself by results), I am often very self-critical in regards to what I believe I have accomplished in a day or a week.  It is a sad by-product of a modern society that believes every thing we set out to accomplish is important and urgent (referencing Stephen Covey’s works) – the notion that our sense of discernment is unable to distinguish between activity and productivity and the impact, usefulness or usefulness of either of them.

Many things we set out to do are important and some are urgent.  Our sense of discernment regarding how our to-do list is categorized is often flawed, however, and so it becomes easy to become self-critical when the result is evaluated or a result is unknown.

As this story came to mind today, I thought, “I wonder how many times we change someone’s Life and are not aware of it, thus creating a greater, more impactful result than anything we could have planned.”

Productivity and results matter in my world and likely matter in yours.

But in your day-to-day execution, especially at times when you wonder if you are getting done “what you are supposed to get done”, be gentle with yourself and ask what other things you may have accomplished – ask yourself, “Were the things that I accomplished things that I meant to accomplish or things I was meant to accomplish?”

The subtle difference makes all the difference and an honest answer may surprise you.

Many of us have had events and people come into our lives that were similar to the magical geranium that Mrs. Smith received.

Have you been someone else’s magical geranium?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

What do you need to do about it?

Series Origin

This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy and large-scale technology architect.

While this musing is just “fiction” (note the quotes) and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)

This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Canadian Election–When You Just Don’t Know Who to Vote For

Leadership is not about the next election, it's about the next generation. - Simon Sinek

Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few. - George Bernard Shaw

People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election. - Otto von Bismarck

Election season has gripped us once again, being full swing in Canada while the US goes through the throes of candidate selection, the latter being that magical process where candidate wannabes spend months proving that opponents within the same party are unworthy of office until one is chosen to represent the party, upon which the same detractors will then tell you why that person is magically and suddenly THE BEST candidate for the job.

And once again, social media, coffee shops, mainstream media and everywhere else are filled with an emotion-laden (sometimes hate-filled), fact-less cacophony of noise that proves several points:

  1. Many reporters and pundits have no clue about anything with the exception of an amazing grasp of clich├ęs and what-if pontificating.
  2. The majority are easily moved by emotion to serve the needs of the minority.
  3. The voices of well-intentioned, potentially competent people who truly want to serve the people are often lost in the noise of incompetent, not-so-well intentioned people, whether that be the people who are running for office or the people who support them.
  4. Emotion means more than facts (and is far more useful).
  5. Tearing others down is an easier, more useful strategy than promoting one’s own strengths and ideas.
  6. People rarely understand (or even have a vague idea) of the platforms of the people they are supporting.
  7. The previous point occasionally applies to politicians themselves.
  8. Great people, intelligent and focused on serving others, exist but one must work hard to find them.

I wonder if people would make smarter, more informed choices when it comes to elections if they viewed the election as Simon Sinek did – that the result of any given election is not about what the voters want now but it does determine what kind of future the voters want to create for their children.

Outside of the rare minority who actually understand political party platforms, understand the upside and downside of each and can make informed decisions (choosing either the best choice or the lesser of many evils), most people have zero idea why their candidate or party is best and why everyone else’s candidate or party is the worst.

And because of this, I believe federal elections create a lot of unnecessary stress on people as they struggle to complete more important tasks in their day, whether it be deciding whether they want the 32 or 64 gig version of the newest smartphone, whether cats or dogs make for better Facebook updates, how one is doing in the NFL Fantasy League (I’m currently in third – thanks for asking) and whether Night of the Living Dead could really happen.

It’s the same sort of confusion that people face as they plunk down millions on lotteries.  Many (especially those who failed mathematics) believe that picking their own numbers gives them a mathematical or astrological advantage over others.

Others get overwhelmed with the choices of numbers and whether they are good luck or bad (with cultural demographics, life experiences and children’s birth dates impacting their decisions) and being in a hurry to post their cat pictures on social media, they choose a Quick Pick with the belief that deities and mathematical odds have assured them of success.

With that in mind and with an eye towards helping Canadians so that they don’t get too preoccupied with the important task of determining a future that impacts our children, I would like to recommend to Elections Canada that we create a new ballot.

Here is a sample of what it could look like:

Elections Canada Quick Pick

Imagine the unfortunate voter who, upon settling into the privacy of the polling station, gets overwhelmed with evaluating important data – his eyes are creepy (is he really the Devil incarnate), is he really like his father or just a paper facsimile, would he really create an alliance with other communists, etc.

The Quick Pick solves all of this.

Upon presentation of ID, the voter merely says proudly, “I’ll take a quick pick, please”, and a computer will randomly select a party and place a vote on the voter’s behalf.

It’s fast, doesn’t require stressful thinking and allows the voter to get on to the things that really matter.  They can also share on social media that they voted and that their friends should feel ashamed if they don’t do the same.  After people reveal their vote on social media, they can enjoy being called an idiot or a traitor for no valid reason that has any sense of rationalization associated with it.

The Quick Pick works – since the voter rarely understands what the candidates represent anyway, they don’t really lose but like the lottery, they don’t really win either, with their odds being slim to almost none.

The Bottom Line

This is all, of course, whimsical sarcastic thinking (except for the rabid minions who got halfway through this blog post and are in the process of sending me a death threat). Smile

To implore voters to really get to know the issues is as useful and fruitful as it is to throw a drowning man both ends of a rope.  For the many who do, it has a nice, feel-good association with it but serves no one in the end.

However, when we choose not to vote or not to choose our vote carefully and intelligently based on data, we are either insisting that the right to vote and the right to a free, just democracy is not important enough to assert and defend or that we don’t care what kind of future we create for our children.

Which one would you like to be accused of?

Think … then vote … .both matter.

In service and servanthood,

Harry