Friday, August 31, 2012

Being Told What To Think (Worry) About

A few days ago, I received a news alert to my phone that Hurricane Isaac had claimed its first fatality.

With no disrespect to the person who lost his or her Life, I made an observation that 24,000 children under the age of 5 die every year from tainted water and my friend Nathan made this observation:

That really gives me perspective. How often are we fed what to care about?

I did some number crunching and found that the number of kids who die from tainted water varies from year to year and has ranged from 18,000 to 29,000 annually, depending on who is providing the data and the events happening in the world for any given year.

The World Health Organization’s 2004 numbers show that a child dies every 15 seconds from a water-borne illness.

That works out to over 5,700 deaths per day – the equivalent of 20 large airliners crashing daily.

Now consider these statistics as reported by the LA Times in 2011.

36,284 Americans were killed in car accidents in 2009.

37,485 Americans died as a result of inappropriate drug use (either illegal or prescription, whether wilfully or accidentally).

And one more interesting statistic.

25,000 Americans die on average each year merely by falling.

Imagine if we received a news alert every time someone was killed in a car accident (about 100 per day), died from drug usage (about 103 per day) or died from falling (about 68 per day).

The point is this.

When the media makes a big deal pointing out that one person was killed and spends hours analyzing how horrific such an event is, this is not meaningful news but for some, it touches the “fight or flight” part of the brain and creates additional worry in an already overloaded brain.

The impact on each consumer of that information will vary in intensity and impact but the influence occurs all the same.

Now while every Life is important, one has to wonder what the agenda is of any news agency that will spend hours analyzing a single death when many more die from preventable issues (such as tainted water), issues that don’t even strike the radar of the same news agencies.

This should cause us to wonder if we wish to participate in this agenda and allow opinions of what matters to be formed for us or whether we wish to be more selective in what information we consume (and demand from these agencies).

When we decide what information we wish to absorb and from whom we wish to obtain it from, we take a step towards extricating ourselves from someone else’s agenda and moving more towards managing our own purpose on our own terms.

And perhaps then, we take a step towards creating a more meaningful impact on those in need in the world instead of absorbing another negative statistic that in the grand scheme of things, is not useful, meaningful or helpful in creating a better world.

Possibly ….

…. unless you would rather see news about some poor schmo who “bought it” in spectacular or horrific fashion instead of receiving information that inspires and compels you to bring your talents, strengths and skills to bear to make a difference.

If that’s the case, you are just a cog in someone else’s wheel, serving their agenda at the expense of your own purpose and destiny.

And who wants to be that?

In service and servanthood,


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Enabling Miracles

Back in the early 90s, I was walking home from my client on Wall St. when I came upon a baby bird on the sidewalk.  It had fallen about 20 feet from a small nest in an alcove on the side of the building and was chirping incessantly.

I could have walked past it.  Mother Nature has its own cycle of life and death and besides, what do I know about taking care of baby birds?

I could not, however, walk away from this little thing chirping like crazy.  I called someone I knew who took care of animals and she explained where I could find baby bird food, how I could feed it, etc.

Gathering it up, I took it home (avoiding the stares of everyone watching me on the PATH train as it chirped like crazy all the way home).  Over the next little while, we fed it a mixture of “worm stuff” from a water dropper and raised it to be a healthy bird.

My son named the bird “Wheelbarrow” (because it rhymes with sparrow, of course).  Here he is with Wheelbarrow.


When it came time to release him, we brought him outside, opened his cage and he flew off.

While I was sad to see him go, we knew we had done the right thing.

My neighbour came outside and we struck up a conversation.  Somewhere along the way, I was making a point and happened to stick my finger out.  Out of nowhere, Wheelbarrow flew over and landed on my finger.

My neighbour was shocked and stared at me as if I was Dr. Doolittle or the Messiah Himself.  I laughed and explained the history of Wheelbarrow, made a small motion with my hand and Wheelbarrow flew off.

Later, my neighbour confessed that he had been struggling with a personal issue and was looking for a sign that God was at work around him.  When he saw me with the bird, this was the sign that he needed that he would be ok.

This was the miracle that he sought and he moved forward with his Life with renewed confidence.

I’ve participated in a few miracles as of late and for some reason his comments came back to me today and I got to thinking.

If I had walked past the bird, it would have died and the moment between my neighbour and myself would not have manifested.  The miracle he sought would not have happened either (at least not in the way it did).

And this thought reminded me that sometimes, to witness a miracle for ourselves or others, we need to be more open to fully participating in Life and following our instinct even when we don’t know where Life is taking us.

Especially when we don’t know where it is taking us.

I can’t tell you how many beautiful places and people I have found over the years because I got lost somewhere and instead of trying to retrace my steps, I savored the moment and kept going.

When we are invited to trust our instinct, even if we don’t know why, we need to answer the call with a resounding “yes” - even if others tell us not to.

Miracles are all around us

When we are invited to participate in or create a miracle (unbeknownst to us at the time), unless we say “yes”, the opportunity passes us by.  The interesting thing is that the opportunity may manifest now or much later and by saying “no”, we will never know the potential that never came to fruition.

The world we are in faces challenging times, fraught with greed, war, indifference, ignorance, apathy, hunger, poverty, homelessness, joblessness and politicians who don’t care (yes, they deserve their own category).

However, even in the most difficult of times, there have always been stories of people who either witnessed, participated in or were blessed by miracles and overcame the worst circumstances possible to create a better Life for themselves or others.

And I can’t help but think that many of these miracles came about because someone answered the call to participate in one, not knowing at the time where the call would lead.

I know in my own Life, some of the greatest things that have ever happened in my Life occurred because I was able to get out of my own way to allow the miracle to take place.  Ego, stubbornness and my belief that I controlled everything in my world were all things that needed to be toned down in myself in order for the miracle to be given a chance to grow.

For many of us, when we look back at our lives, everything seems to fit so perfectly.

Is this a product of randomness?  I doubt it.

I suspect there are a few miracles sprinkled in there, even if they are not immediately apparent.

Unleashing the miracles

The potential for miracles is all around us.

The need for miracles for many who struggle is stronger than ever.

Our potential as human beings is unlimited once we get past our own limited vision for ourselves and others.

I wonder what would happen if we allowed all three of these things to come together.

I wonder ……..

In service and servanthood,


PS  Wheelbarrow came back to our house for the next couple of years and nested close by, landing beside us when we went outside.  It’s always nice to know the “kids” remember home. :-)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Building Sandcastles–Taking Life Too Seriously

As a long time entrepreneur and Fortune 25 / Wall St. strategy and technology guy, I stand accused of the following charges:

1. Taking myself too seriously while not taking the value of my time / “fun” relationships seriously enough.

2. Always preparing for tomorrow instead of cherishing the moment that is today.

How do I plead?

Guilty, your honor.

Yes, there are times I would like to believe that I have optimized everything perfectly in my Life.

But I know I haven’t.  I am human, after all.

And no, I don’t sit in regret, looking at my Life as a collection of woulda-coulda-shouldas.

My Life has been the perfect collection of memories, events, relationships, victories, challenges, stumbles and learning lessons that make it what it is today.

And so is yours.

While we see a lot of “experts” espousing the ideals of being more efficient, more productive, more intelligent, more wealthy, more beautiful and more “everything else”, we need to recognize the importance of being a little less efficient, a little less productive and gasp, yes, even a little less intelligent – on occasion, not as a way of living, of course.

And as we run around in circles building our legacies, building the legacies of others or having a legacy built for us by someone else, sometimes it is nice to build something temporary, enjoy it for what it is and then let it dissolve with no regrets or attachments.

After all, while we would like to believe that we are the masters of our destiny, having wilful control over everything in our lives, some of the most powerful things in our Lives are created when we step back and just let things occur as they are meant to occur, not caring what others think about what we are doing or what the long term contribution is to our Life.

And for us to savor those moments as they are revealed.

The beauty of a sandcastle

Some of us may have cherished memories of building a perfect sandcastle with its wonderfully imagined details.  At some point, we were called in for the day and regretfully, left our sandcastle behind to the whims of the tide.

And while the sandcastles of our youth are long gone, the memories that were imprinted in our psyche will last a lifetime.

Some of the most powerful memories in our lives are of the victories we have achieved, the relationships we have built (and possibly lost) and the challenges we have overcome as we attempt to live a Life of purpose and meaning.

However, some of the most powerful memories in our lives will have been created when we didn’t take ourselves too seriously at all and we participated in an activity because it was fun and not because it was a step in some master plan that we had contrived.

Tomorrow will be filled with the excitement and challenges of Life, as we work with others to write the story of our lives.

But today I think I will head out to build a sandcastle.  In the storybook of my Life, those pages are important also.

How about you?

In service and servanthood,


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Polls and Surveys–An Insult To Your Intelligence

I am amazed at how many people allow their opinions and their passions to be directed merely because someone stated that “poll x claims that x% of people feel / believe ___whatever____”.

It seems that a majority of people cite these polls without ever understanding what went into the poll, how the questions were directed and what the ultimate intentions of the pollster / media were.

While many pollsters and media claim to be belief-agnostic (whether in politics, business, religion or anything else) if we believe that they can turn off their own feelings as they direct the course of their business then we are also acknowledging that they are not human.

Consider this hypothetical poll.

Let’s assume that I am conducting a survey in your city in which one of two choices must be made.

Scenario: I am driving down a steep hill when suddenly my brakes fail.  Ahead of me is a sharp curve and I know I can’t make the turn.  A crash is imminent and I have been given a choice as to how the crash will manifest.

Choice 1. There is a five-year-old child on one side of the road, playing happily and I will steer my vehicle onto this side of the road.

Choice 2. There are ten five-year-old children (including your own) on the other side of the road, also playing happily and I will steer my vehicle onto this side of the road.

I have seconds to choose which side of the road I am going to crash into and must choose one of them.

In my hypothetical poll, 85% of people choose the lesser of two evils, steering the vehicle onto the side of the road with the lone child.

1% choose choice 2 because they are not taking the survey seriously and want to see how I will react.

14% get so incensed over the survey that they walk away and refuse to answer.

Now, depending on my intention for conducting the survey, it would be completely honest to make this headline announcement.

85% of people in the city of ___your city____ would wilfully take the life of a child if they had the chance to do so.

It’s a pretty outrageous statement, isn’t it?  However, while you don’t really feel this way, the poll can be demonstrated to prove this point.

Now the pollsters conducting the survey don’t tell people taking the survey whether or not steering onto either side of the road automatically means the death of whoever is on that side of the road.

The survey results also don’t state that people taking the survey were forced to choose a choice that had the potential for death; that there was no option 3 which would have produced no deaths at all to innocent children.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that I will have made a statement using a “trusted” survey source with irrefutable mathematics citing that the poll is accurate within 98% (plus or minus 2 percentage points) 19 times out of 20 and so it must be accurate.

And yes the stated poll results will be accurate, in a twisted sort of way.

But while technically accurate, does it tell the truth?

Does it REALLY summarize what you or the average good person actually believes?

Probably not.

The bottom line is this.

Do you prefer to be informed based on how others want you to think or do you prefer to be informed based on your own assessment of knowledge, data and facts?

The answer to this question determines whether you are a leader in this world or you are one of the many sheep.

The answer also identifies whether you are living your life to the fullest or you are a stepping stone for someone else who is living their life to the fullest.

Which do you choose to be?

What are you doing about it?

Or are you waiting for a poll result to help you answer these questions also?

In service and servanthood,


Monday, August 20, 2012

Experience and Trust - The Sources of Courage

I have always dedicated a part of my Life to helping the underdog, whether it be a person who is struggling personally or professionally.

One of the disconnects that sometimes occurs is when we discuss the subject of courage.  Sometimes the people I am helping, especially in business, get frustrated or angry when I counsel them on courage, often responding with “What do you know?  Everything comes easily for you and you have no worries.  You don’t know what I am going through.”

Ah yes – I am a machine with no feelings at all.  Cold, calculating logic is what drives me forward.

If it were only that easy.

We who give advice to others in such situations know that our courage has developed over a lifetime of being encouraged (forced) to acquire it.

When people in start-ups come to me for advice and think that I’ve mastered courage, they didn’t see me when I cofounded my first start-up as I wondered why in the heck I would give up a steady paying job for this.

They didn’t see me staring at the wall at two in the morning as I wondered how my company would cover the payroll for the employees and families that relied on me.

They didn’t see me not sleep for days the first time I met Bill Gates as I wondered if he would even consider me worthy of speaking to.

They weren’t there holding my hand as I overcame various painful illnesses and injuries over the years.

All they see is the end-product.

They weren’t there when I was being encouraged (forced) to learn courage

Just as they are being encouraged (forced) to in their current circumstances.

And Then There Is Trust

One time I was flying back from a business trip when our plane was forced to make an emergency landing after a structural integrity compromise occurred on the plane (the pilot’s description, not mine).

After we had rehearsed the emergency landing position a couple of times, we had about an hour to kill (no pun intended) and I was reading Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking”.

The lady beside me grew agitated and demanded to know how I could read a book at a time like this.

My reply was basically “I have two options, both completely out of my control.  I might hit the ground at 500 miles per hour and feel no pain as I am killed instantly.  If that happens, my family will be taken care of by my insurance and I will be remembered as the only person in my family killed in a plane crash.  How cool is that?  My other option is that I will walk away from this totally unscathed.  So given that both options are out of my control and I know what all possible outcomes are, I have nothing else to do but read my book”.

She made a comment about how crazy I was and I continued my reading.

When we had landed safely, I turned to her and said “In the last hour of my Life, I finished a great book.  What did you do besides worry about something you couldn’t change?”.

Her answer can’t be repeated here.

There is an interesting point in Peale’s book.  Oftentimes our level of worry about a specific situation conjures up far worse outcomes than are likely to happen.  When we allow this to happen, it weakens our resolve and our ability to be brave and to push forward. 

As Norman Vincent Peale noted in his book, we are empowered to make better decisions when we know what the worst that can happen is instead of imagining what could happen.

And sometimes, when all else fails, we have to leave our destiny up to luck (if you believe in luck, which I don’t) or Divine Providence.

We have to trust and believe that it will all work out as it is meant to.

And when it does (or even if it doesn’t), we should have experienced a growth in our courage capability.

Even Mark Twain couldn’t escape the negative power of courage-sapping worry when he noted:

“Some of the worst things in my life never happened”.

Don Herold noted a similar thought when he said:

“If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.”

So if you seek courage …..

So for those who seek courage in the middle of turmoil, when someone steps forward to help, don’t assume they have acquired it without facing it as well.  For this reason, they need to be patient with the person that Providence has placed before them.  They have wisdom if the seeker is open to receiving it.

When I think of this, I think of the song “Rainy Day People” by Gordon Lightfoot when he says:

“Rainy day people always seem to know
when it's time to call
Rainy day people don't talk, they just listen
till they've heard it all
Rainy day lovers don't lie when they tell 'ya
they've been down like you
Rainy day people don't mind if you're cryin'
a tear or two”

And if you are helping someone find courage ….

For those who offer help to those in need, we know that one can only have courage once one has been forced to learn it.  Empty platitudes about “being strong” are worthless to the person who has yet to overcome their demons.  For this reason, we need to be patient with the person who strives to find courage in times of difficulty.  They have lessons to offer the teacher in the areas of teaching , patience and humility, if we are open to receiving them.

After all, we were once in the same position and may find ourselves in the same position in the future.

Life would be a lot easier if we were born with infinite amounts of courage.

But it would contain fewer opportunities for a feeling of victory - the joy (and relief) that comes when one thinks “I / we overcame all odds when we ………..” or when one tells a story of their personal “Hollywood ending”.

And remember, one never masters courage.  To believe one has mastered it is challenging the Universe to offer a new lesson in acquiring more.

To your courage, whatever level it may be.

In service and servanthood,


If We Are Not Growing, Then We Are Dying

Most parents agree that if their child’s development, whether it be physically, emotionally or intellectually, did not advance as hoped or considered “normal”, then they would grow concerned and would seek out an expert to help understand why and to outline a plan of corrective action if possible.

I find it intriguing that as we progress to adulthood that we don’t hold ourselves to a similar standard of development.

I would think that if we are not constantly attempting to improve ourselves intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually and collaboratively then alarm bells should be sounding off that our development is off track and needs to be reviewed with an eye towards improving our results.

But for some reason, our standards are lowered once a child has made the safe passage to adulthood.

I wonder why.

After all, our ability to be impactful is often much more significant when we are adults and in a world with ever increasing needs and demands, the call for us to be the best we can be is stronger than ever.

The only way this can be accomplished is to make sure that we are growing in as many areas of our Life as possible.

The upside with this as an adult is that we have much more control over our lives then we did as children.

Unfortunately, having more control over our lives is also a downside if we are not fully engaged in being the best that we can be.

In business, we say that if our business is not growing then it is dying.

How many of us can say that we are growing daily (outside of just weight gain)?

Equally important, how many of us are also helping others to grow personally and professionally to the best of our ability (and theirs)?

How do you know?

If not, what’s holding you back?

In service and servanthood,


Friday, August 17, 2012

We Are The Company That We Keep

I took a few days off social media this week which I do on occasion to lift myself above the din of positive sharings, negative sharings, spam, self-promotion, real news, fake news and everything else that social media is.

One thing that creating some space between myself and social media provides is an opportunity to see who adds to my Life and who detracts from it.  Sometimes it is hard to distinguish real value from the rest of the “stuff” floating around when thousands of voices are clamouring “look at me” at the same time.

Our brain, while staggering in its capabilities, has limits in terms of what it can absorb, process and respond to consciously.  However, it does react to everything, even if we are not aware of it, as it subconsciously processes data via the miracle that is our five senses and its potential expands or contracts as a result.

What serves our brain best is when we feed it with information, knowledge, data, facts and feelings that contribute to our vision for a better self, better relationships with others, better results in everything we do and a better world at large.

That’s not to say that when people feed it negative information that this information must be shut out.  If you are on a sinking ship and someone is screaming in your face that the ship is sinking, this bad news provides you with what you need to save your Life.

So not all sources of bad news need to be shut off nor should they be.

However, there is a certain percentage of social media (and media in general) that is filled with pure hatred, falsehoods to manipulate us, fear and negativity for the sake of fear and negativity and not to inform us or call us to action, selfish self-promotion that screams “enough about you, let’s talk about me”, people who debate everything just for the sport of it or people who want to drown out everyone else so only they can be heard as they drive a personal agenda that benefits only themselves.

And when we step away from this noise, find a place of quiet and then take a look at the world of social media that we are immersed in, it becomes apparent as to who is contributing to or detracting from our lives.

After that, it is up to us to take action – action to enable us to be better people or to remain mired in a cacophony that serves the needs or bows to the weak mindedness of others while not allowing each of us to be the best that we can be.

After all – we are the company that we keep.

Whether that sends out a good message or a bad one or produces a good result or a bad one is up to us.

Who do you choose to be?

What result do you choose to produce?

What are you waiting for?

In service and servanthood,


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Offline and Loving It

Or maybe I should rename this blog “Offline and Needing It”.

I got turned on to the idea of disconnecting from the world many years ago when I worked for a brilliant owner of an insurance company in Canada who had regularly scheduled “Quiet Hours” and “Quiet Retreats”.

However, I got really plugged into living it when I was a Senior Enterprise Strategy Advisor with Microsoft in New York.

Bill Gates used to hold semi-annual “Think Week” events where he would disconnect from the world and contemplate past results and future plans for the Big M.  Employees of Microsoft could contribute to this thinking process by submitting ideas that would be vetted by any and all Microsoft employees.  The winners of these merciless, running-of-the-gauntlet, sometimes ego-filled “I’m smarter than you” evaluations would be placed on Bill’s agenda when he disappeared for reflection, contemplation and planning.

As a participant and winner of one of these processes, I got some insight into what it takes to clear one’s mind and focus on the next big thing.  I also learned a lot about the value of unplugging from the overwhelming information flow that hits us 24x7.

It is also refreshing to unplug from the steady stream of media and social media whose intentions are less about giving us knowledge and data and more about trying to convince us to think in a specific way, either in conjunction with or contrary to how we live.

Surgeon General’s Warning

Anyone who is plugged in 24x7 like me may find the withdrawal symptoms disconcerting and perhaps even “painful”.

However, once the pain of disconnecting from “the Matrix” is complete, the silence that results provides a powerful tool that enables one to reflect, learn, meditate, contemplate and plan the next big thing for family, business, clients or colleagues who rely on us.

A Source of Important Reminders

Disconnecting provides a reminder that we don’t need to be plugged in all the time.

It is a reminder that recharging is important.

But it is also a reminder that the world, amazingly enough, can actually survive well without us - a positive lesson in humility and self-reliance that is useful for all of us to learn, including those who rely on us and feel afraid to move forward without us.  Whether the latter is the truth or a part of our Lone Ranger fantasy can be discerned (and often shot down) as a result of this process.

The process is highly recommended and is as unique in execution as the uniqueness within each human beings.  It should be noted that it’s not like a family vacation.  While vacations are important and fun, the purpose of a “Think Week” break  is different in execution and results.

It’s like riding down a fast zip line, jumping out of a plane (with a parachute hopefully) or trying some previously undiscovered food delicacy - until you’ve tried it, you don’t know what you are missing.

Catch you on the other side once I have reinserted myself into the Matrix!

In service and servanthood,


Friday, August 10, 2012

Will It Hurt If I Pretend It’s Not There?

I was cut off this morning by a guy in a small truck who, as I approached him from his left, looked me right in the eye, looked forward, gunned his engine and raced across the road, missing me by inches.

While it was a close call, there was something I noticed as he raced across the road – something I have noticed in other drivers who drive carelessly like this.

He stared straight ahead with his jaw set and continued doing what he was doing (knowing I was there) when he could have avoided an issue by staying put and waiting the extra 5 seconds.

It looked like he was thinking “if I stare straight ahead and pretend he’s not there, he won’t hit me”.

As they say in the military, “his pucker factor was probably pretty high”.

Unfortunately for this driver, pretending I’m not there would not have eased the pain if the 4000 pound vehicle I was driving had carved his in two with him at the impact point.

Fortunately for this driver, one of us cared about the outcome and an accident was averted.

Meanwhile in America

I can’t help but look at the situation in America in the same way.

Mass shootings continue in the US but people assert that easy access to high power automatic weapons using armor piercing ammunition is not contributing to the issue.

Job growth in America is stagnant despite assurances from the President and others that things are looking up.

Young men and women continue to die overseas in wars that have had multiple justifications including fighting terrorism, eliminating WMDs, helping people throw off oppressive governments, helping people find democracy and a plethora of other reasons.  Now these fine men and women are making the ultimate sacrifice for no reason that anyone can put their finger on but we do it anyway and without question.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to put their own needs and priorities above those whom they serve and represent.

And while I am not a “birther” by any stretch, I am intrigued that the President’s legal defense bill is now in the millions as he deals with allegations of issues with his birth certificate (the one produced has a checksum error on it suggesting it was tampered with or is not real), his social security numbers (yes, plural), his Selective Service card and the means by which he obtained his degrees at Harvard and Columbia.

Millions that will be expensed back to the taxpayer at some point through creative accounting.

Meanwhile, millions of people aren’t concerned that if the potential for deceit has been raised, it should be addressed lest a much greater deceit be revealed.

But I digress.

The Importance of Human Denial

Human denial is an important trait.  Sometimes rather than getting tied up in knots fretting over something, the trait of human denial allows us to pretend our problems are not there for the moment, to buy us the breathing room to think and to come up with a plan.

But once denial continues beyond that and our behavior doesn’t change, then future results aren’t too hard to predict.

And so as we stare straight ahead with our jaw set and think:

  • guns don’t kill people, people kill people and my desire to have weapons designed for killing people easily and in large numbers is a right as defined by the Founding Fathers
  • the people who guided the nation as it fell into stagnation, who didn’t see it coming and whose predictions have repeatedly failed will be the people who will guide us out of the challenges we are in
  • the wars overseas still have purpose
  • it is ok that many (not all) politicians who represent us don’t actually care or have any sense of urgency regarding the challenges facing us daily
  • the President elected on a platform of transparency and openness and who could wipe out all Republican and conspiracy resistance by coming clean should just stand his ground on principle no matter what the cost
  • ____ insert your own unexplainable / unjustifiable / hope-it-works-out-because-I-want-it-to wish here ____

need to stop and think for a moment and remember.

As with this driver this morning, it’s easy to stare straight ahead (or close our eyes), cross our fingers and expect “the other guy” to prevent a disaster or for things to just work themselves out.

This is not strategy – this is luck.

The problem is that the other guy may be doing the same thing, expecting you to prevent the problem.

And when everyone is waiting for everyone else to solve the problem, eventually we get unlucky.

Why would we leave the future of the great nation that embraces Lady Liberty in the hands of Lady Luck instead?

Optimism and hope for a better future are important traits to have.

But they only matter when based on facts, knowledge, respectful dialog and action – action that each of us should take instead of assuming that the other guy has our back.

Otherwise, optimism and reality collide …. sometimes painfully.


The guy in the truck was lucky.

However, we can’t count on luck to accidentally produce a positive future.


Let’s count on intelligent, proactive action and collaboration to create the positive future that our potential calls us to create.

Sowing the seeds for a better future is the easy part.

Visualizing the great harvest in the future is the fun part.

The work that takes place between those two points is the hard part.

Our future generations deserve the effort that is required of us to nurture that which we planted.

We deserve what we get if we do otherwise.

But do they?

In service and servanthood,


PS  Some of my colleagues on The Hill have shared rumblings with me of the possibility of domestic issues around the nation, anticipated to occur from late August, 2012 to early September, 2012 and between November, 2012 and February, 2013.  The details of these issues are allegedly classified.  That being said, how can we expect to produce better results in this great nation if we can’t be trusted to work together to build upon the vision of the Founding Fathers?  I guess in a situation like this, it comes down to luck …….. hopefully that’s not all it comes down to.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Elections and the Smear Campaign–Weapon of the Future

Watching the Democrats employ the ultimate smear campaign against Mitt Romney has been the most disappointing campaign I have ever witnessed. 

Democrats in recent months have accused Romney of being a felon, a tax evader and now a direct contributor to someone’s death from cancer.  I understand that Mr. Axelrod and Mr. Obama have used this technique quite successfully in previous campaigns and so they are bringing out the big guns one more time

Sadly, Mr. Obama did promise never to resort to such tactics as noted below in a campaign speech from 2008 but you know what they say about how you can tell if a politician is lying.


2008 Democrat campaign trail


Some liberal democrats that I have tried to discuss this with using data and facts have tried to silence me with yelling, screaming and death threats.

Yes, the days of the ultimate weapons of choice to win an election or a debate have arrived.  Campaigns have always been dirty, but these unsubstantiated allegations by “unnamed sources” are a new low.

The way I see it, there are only a few things left for Romney to be accused of:

1. Wife battery

2. Pedophilia

3. A desire to reinstate slavery as a personal affront to the President once he is out of office.

4. That gun-toting Republicans will be ordered to shoot Democrats randomly in public places should the GOP lose the upcoming election.

But let’s explore this a little.  Maybe I am wrong.

Maybe these guys are on to something.

Perhaps if we consider some scenarios that ring closer to home that we will be able to see the power and wonder of this technique.

Bidding For Business

You might consider my competition, Mr. Prospect.  Hopefully he will have dug himself out of the court case with his last client by then.  What are the details?  Oh, I can’t say. That’s confidential information.

Business Relationship That Ended

Of course I couldn’t work with that guy any more.  I don’t work with guys sleeping around on their wives. Who is he fooling around with?  I can’t say because I wouldn’t want to hurt his family.

High School

Dear Mr. So-and-So.  Here’s a picture of you and my fellow student so-and-so (you don’t know that it’s photoshopped).  I’m expecting to have a good year in my senior year, if you catch my meaning.  I’d hate for this picture to get onto Facebook by accident.

School Yard

Mommy, Sarah keeps picking on me!.  That’s ok, Dear.  The next time Sarah picks on you, tell all the other kids that her Daddy touches her where he shouldn’t and she will stop picking on you.

Bored Soccer Mom

Can you believe that she said she didn’t like my new purse?  Maybe if she didn’t spend her time snorting lines of coke at home that she might still have some semblance of taste.

Sprinkle in some social media as we embrace this and we’re reaching the masses with our “powerful” message.

Yes, the possibilities are endless.

But wait!  What about the example we are setting for our youth?

Screw ‘em – they’re just a bunch of devil-worshipping, drug-dealing, lazy people, aren’t they?  They don’t care.

The Reality

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t believe this about young people.

But there are three things I do believe when it comes to our youth.

1. We emulate our leaders in thought, word and action.

2. That which we tolerate today we embrace tomorrow.

3. The legacy that we are leaving for our youth and the models of behavior that we want them to emulate leave a LOT of room for improvement.

I believe we can and must do better and that we must hold ourselves and our leaders, whether in politics, business, religion or anything else to a much higher standard.

What do you believe?

Or worse …. do you even care?

Someday you will.

In service and servanthood,


PS  Here is what David Rothkopf, a well-known Democrat, thinks of the current Democrat campaign - Reid's Romney smears an insult to voters

Sometimes the greatest insult of all to someone is when their intelligence has been insulted or they are being used but they don’t know it or don’t stand up to fight it.  But then again, people who suck it up incessantly without question make for the perfect electorate, don’t they?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Divide and Conquer

* A fictional musing somewhat continued from “Financial Crisis”, originally posted in March of 2008. *

The coffee shop was busy as it always was, with its typical mix of soccer moms, businessmen and little kids doing what they liked to do in coffee shops.

In a private corner of the coffee shop, two men, overdressed for the hot weather in dark suits and white shirts, quietly observed the activity all around them.

Finally one of them cleared his throat and said tersely, “It was a lot easier than we anticipated, wasn’t it?”

The other looked at his companion and nodded, saying nothing.

“After all”, the first man continued, “Who would have thought that they could have been manipulated this easily?  It was almost like playing a game.”

The second man looked at him with a frown.  “Do you think it was that easy?”, he asked gruffly.  “Coming up with a list of topics that we knew would resonate with different elements of society was not easy”.

Still, as he thought about it, it was pretty easy. 

Things like creating the United Nations, charge it with maintaining peace and well-being on the planet and then encouraging it to do nothing while having it incessantly make announcements about what they intended to do.

Things like getting everyone wound up about global warming and then introducing enough evidence on both sides of the argument to confuse everyone.

Things like creating structured religion to guide people morally and then have the leadership of some of the same organizations become the largest violators of those principles.

Then there was the idea of terrorism, keeping everyone unsteady on their feet, leading to the brilliant wars in the Middle East and the subsequent economic crisis.

The pro gay / anti gay marriage debate was tossed in for fun at the last minute at the suggestion of a team member who wanted to see how easily people could be manipulated in light of all the other events already occurring all around them.

Social media was also having its effect, enabling a small minority of people, including their own agents of misinformation, to convey strong messages to large groups of followers while lowering the mental resistance of the majority.

There were more things in play to confuse the people than he could even keep up with.

And now people were divided, not just on one issue but each on a multitude of issues, strongly agreeing with some people on some issues while vehemently opposing the same people on others.

A 2000-year plan was nearing its climatic end and the people were almost ready.

One pillar of strength remained that had to be neutralized.

As he thought about the final stages of their plan, he had a momentary thought that perhaps things were going a little too easily.

“We are sure that the divisiveness over the election in the United States was not created by us?”, he asked his colleague.

The first man chuckled and replied, “Don’t I wish?  They are so confused now that they created this one on their own without any help on our part.  Although I have to admit that I would have been proud if it had been my idea.”

The second man grunted and was silent again.  He didn’t like things happening that they hadn’t specifically orchestrated.

The first man, sensing that his partner was over analyzing again, continued his thought.

“The laws we need are in place.  People are confused and fighting for survival.  The separation of classes is complete.  The Department of Homeland Security has ordered 450 million rounds of armor piercing ammunition for domestic use and they are in the final preparation stages to combat domestic unrest at the two upcoming political party conventions and the Presidential inauguration.  I think this demonstrates that the leadership and the people are in the final place of confusion and imbalance that we need them to be in.”

The second nodded, pursing his lips.

“It is curious”, he said to no one in particular, “that the people of this planet who excel in the concept of divide and conquer to oppress others don’t notice when the same principles are being used against them.”

“Curious indeed”, replied the first, “but useful.”

The second man nodded again as they both resumed their observation of the coffee shop in silence.


© 2012 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Impact of a Few Words

Having grown up in Newfoundland, where years ago English was considered a second language to the local “Newfinese” dialect, I am fascinated by words.

Phrases such as “me mudder and me fahder” (my mom and dad), “side be each” (side by side), “got ‘er scald” (got it made) and “how yer gettin’ on, me ol’ cock” (how are you doing, my friend) always bring a smile to my face.

Sometimes when we find ourselves in a new locale, words that seem innocent to us can also get us in trouble.

In my early Wall St. days, one day I was delayed for a meeting by a subway breakdown.  When I arrived, I stuck my head in the boardroom door, apologized for the delay and said I would be right back after freshening up.

When I returned to the boardroom a few minutes later, everyone was very concerned.  Apparently the phrase “I got held up on the subway” that I had dropped before stepping away meant a lot more to them then it did to me.

Then there was the time when, as a very young consultant (and still learning mainland English), that I found myself in Austin, TX.  I was working with a client who loved to take the team out every night for copious quantities of tasty chilli and cold beer.

On my third or fourth day there and after having been awakened very early every morning by intense thunderstorms, I happened to remark to a few team members how the morning thunder was particularly wild in Austin.

There was silence in the room and then someone remarked that a comment like that wasn’t necessary.  After some further exploration and a clarification on what I meant, I had provided them with a humorous story that I am still occasionally reminded of 20 years later.  If I have to explain it to you, I will refer you to this entry in the Urban Dictionary – this is a family-friendly blog after all. :-)

So even a few words can get us in trouble when they don’t seem that impactful to us at the moment.

Where it really matters

I was in a small coffee shop not long ago where the owner had introduced a new contest that made use of QR codes.  There were some technology issues with it and wanting to help, I happened to mention to the owner what needed to be done to fix it.

Her reply “I don’t really care about it – I’m just experimenting with it and don’t have any intention to do anything with it” spoke volumes to me about not wasting my time and I quietly unsubscribed from the contest.

The next day, in the same coffee shop, a woman struck her head severely on an object protruding from the wall and was dazed by the impact.  I happened to mention the incident to the owner and advised her to take care of the object to avoid liability issues in the future.  Her response was “I don’t really care about it – each person has to be responsible for themselves”.

While disappointed by the response, I did notice a common theme in how the owner responded to comments from customers.

“I don’t care.”

So when I received a lecture from an employee of the same coffee shop a short time later slamming “you elite people who spend time in coffee shops instead of working hard like others”, I never even bothered to tell the owner. 

Why should I – she didn’t care.  I took my business elsewhere, as I understand others have as well after receiving similar comments.

A few words is all it takes

All it takes is a few words to show a client, a customer, a colleague, a friend or family member or a complete stranger whether they matter or not.

A few words that only take a few seconds to toss off nonchalantly can mean the difference between a relationship that lasts and produces mutually beneficial results or one that ends early without producing anything of a positive nature for either side.

I find that this is particularly true in business.

The phrases “the client / employee / customer matters” and “I don’t care” only take a few seconds to speak.

What we say reflects what we believe.

What we believe will be reflected in the actions we take.

Therefore, it stands to reason that our choice of words will speak volumes to others about what we expect to contribute to and get from a relationship.

A few words, spoken sometimes without thinking, will produce a result of much longer duration and greater impact than we realize.

Whether it’s a good result or a bad one will depend on the words we choose.

“Let ‘er slide” (“Take care and create a great day” for you non-Newfoundlanders). :-)



From the funny folks as

Apathy Demotivator

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Limitations of Extending a Broken Model

Today I deployed a new version of my website - leaner, cleaner, with more focused content, fewer words and fewer gadgets.

As I backed up and removed the old website, something occurred to me regarding the result that had been produced.

The older website, while serving its purpose well for years, had grown organically during that time, extending out in all directions in terms of content, gadgets and intention and as a result, had gotten very unwieldy.

It had lost its purpose!

My website was broken in terms of value to anyone reading it.  Every time I wanted to add content, I duly did so while continuing to live within (and extend) the broken model that it had evolved into, making the problem even worse.

I had fallen into the natural tendency of living within implied constraints, limiting what I could accomplish as a result.

And as I lived within those perceived constraints, I was getting increasingly frustrated with the website, even though no one told me that I had to live within the rules and constraints by extending the broken thing that it was.

I was either taking the easy way out or assuming that I had to remain within the existing model.  It wasn’t until the pain of living with the old model became great enough that I decided that I needed to create a new model instead of trying to improve a dying one.

This is often the case in Life, both personally and professionally.

Many times we feel constrained by having to comply with the model and rules that have been defined for us (or that we have defined for ourselves), whether it is an existing software architecture as in my case or in our lives in general.

When we believe that we can only improve a result while still remaining within the rules and constraints of the existing model, we are perhaps denying ourselves a much more significant, positive result in our lives.

Now I know there are times when we simply can’t toss out the existing model that we have, build a brand new one and start all over.

But I’m willing to bet that the opportunities to do so are probably more readily available than most of us are willing to admit.

And by not admitting this, we are perhaps limiting ourselves to not living up to our potential or producing the result we are capable of …. to not realizing our purpose.

Care to take that wager?

In service and servanthood,