And Now For Something Completely Different…

Image result for comedians in cars getting coffee

In case you don’t recognize the photo, it’s comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Kevin Hart from Jerry’s digital series, Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. If you aren’t familiar with his show, Jerry picks up different comedians from their homes and takes them for ride in a car that he’s selected specifically for them (presumably to go get coffee.)

One particular “single shot” (a short compilation of clips) called, “In and Out“, shows several comedians tryyyying to get out of the various cars that Jerry has brought for them to ride it. I’ve watched it several times and each time… I laugh out loud.

Since it’s summer and everyone just wants to relax and enjoy themselves…this blog is taking a break from the serious business of finding our way through life to yuk it up. If you’ve got something that made you laugh… please share with me! Happy summer.

Curiosity – Brought Back the Cat

Now that I am old(erish), I thought my curiosity about the world would decrease. After all, it’s gotten me into plenty of trouble.

When I read, “The Routine Gene – Can Productivity and Creativity Coincide?” I knew that my love of ambiguity/curiosity was alive and well. That’s because I have a high CQ (curiosity quotient). This is in contrast to my IQ (aka Intelligence Quotient) or EQ (Emotional Quotient).

Our “curiosity quotient is measured by how inquisitive and open to new situations we are. People with higher CQ, dislike routine, but embrace ambiguity and have a knack for finding simple solutions to complex problems.”

The following quote (from the article) describes my approach to routine and creativity:

“The art is finding the balance between turning everything you do that is repeatable into a well-oiled machine (call it ‘a routine’) whilst keeping all your attention and senses open for serendipity and creativity. The best entrepreneurs zip through life on autopilot where their creativity isn’t needed and bring intense focus to those areas where they can make a huge difference.” This manifests itself in various ways; I generally eat the same thing for breakfast. Steve Jobs wore a black turtle neck and jeans.

If you are bored with your work or your life, maybe you need to figure out how to up your CQ. I like to ‘feed’ my curiosity. Here are few ways that I do it:

  • Watch a movie and imagine I am the director. What would I have changed? Who would I have cast?
  • Take a walk outside and appreciate the simple complexity of nature. I look very closely at tree bark, rocks, flowers. I look at the pattern, the texture, the color and I smell everything.
  • Listen to someone talk about what they love to do. Somehow, watching and witnessing their joy and passion is completely inspirational.

How do you feed your curiosity?

Photo credit: Eugene O’Neill Quotes

Got Values? Act Like It.

Army Photography Contest - 2007 - FMWRC - Arts and Crafts - The Colors Emerge</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Photo By: SPC Aristide Lavey</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>To learn more about the annual U.S. Army Photography Competition, visit us online at <a href="" rel=&qu...

Many of us feel strongly about the values we were taught by our family. We don’t think of ourselves as bigots or sexists. We think of ourselves in the way that we hope the world sees us. Patriotic, strong.

The truth, if we are brave enough to face it, is that we all have biases built into our brains and thought processes. It takes commitment, energy, time, awareness and patience to look for them and weed them out. Some we will likely never change. I was raised in Boston by a family of liberals, going back generations. It’s unlikely that I will become conservative today. However, it is very important for me to be open to looking at the world through the eyes of my conservative friends.

I enjoyed and appreciated this post titled, “Act On Your Values, A 4-Step Method to Achieve Equal Representation.”

Since we come from a history of patriarchy, the pattern of male domination will go on and on if we don’t decide to actively do something about it. Part of the reason is that when we’re asked to suggest speakers, board members, etc., we unconsciously think of people we’ve seen in similar contexts before, and so the uneven balance is reproduced over and over again – Martin Thornkvist

Recently, I was listening to and co-grading presentations for grad students. The other teacher is male.  One (male) student introduced his group by saying, “Good morning, Mr. President…”– he looked directly at the male teacher. He did not acknowledge me or look at me throughout his entire presentation. Is this student a bad person? No. Does he hate women? Probably not. Is he following the context of his experience and of those who taught him? Yes.

The problem is that we don’t see our biases. They are hidden under layers of pats on the back, instruction, belonging, etc.

Mr. Thornkvist  has some excellent suggestions for working on this… and we all must work on this!

  1. Write down your values. It’s funny how alive and real things become when they are written on paper.
  2. Communicate your values. When you ask for help, when you are speaking, when you are going about your day; be aware of what you stand for and take every opportunity to let people know where you stand. Now you’re thinking, come on.  This is a bit much.  Is it? Do think slaves were emancipated, women ‘allowed’ to vote and own property because people thought about these things occasionally?
  3. Be stubborn. The world needs to change. Let it begin with me and you. Pick one injustice… one place inside you that makes you think… hey, the world would be better if… and start to think, act, share and communicate about how YOU are going to change.

I included this photo from the Army Photo Contest because our Veterans are in need of our help. Today — let’s think about our soldiers as “us” not them. Who do you help and why?

Photo Credit: Army Photo Contest Familymwr

Oh Behave

To control Information Technology (IT) costs we think about and act within the enterprise as a whole, in part because we sell enterprise and mid-level solutions. We apply an Enterprise Architecture (EA) strategy which at the top level is comprised...


Maturity is the ability to live in multiple contexts; the ability, despite our losses, to courageously inhabit the past, the present and the future all at once.” David Whyte

Being a grown up is hard.

Sometimes it’s easier to live in the past or in the future. Or to live too much in the present, sacrificing our personal well-being to chase some ideal.

But peace of mind comes from integrating the past, the present and the future. To know our singular place in the world. To acknowledge that only the events and genes that have brought us to this place in time – are what is important.

Find support for your journey.

Photo credit: Controlling  Wonderlane

Trading Places

Image result for rich and famous

Whatever you think about Jim Carrey… I think he’s on to something here (even though the English isn’t good.)

I often hear people wishing their lives were different. “I wish I had a lot of money… I wish I had a big house… I wish I were famous.”

But the truth is… there isn’t anyone in the world I would trade places with. I had a rough “growing up,” — worse than many middle class kids… better than many low income kids. I was born with good health, white skin and a good brain.

When you think you wish you had… x, y, z… when you look at some other person, family, job, car and wish you had it, stop yourself. The truth is, you don’t know anything about that other person’s life. What you see on the surface, may NOT reflect the reality.

My two cents: be grateful for what you have, for who you are. You are a gift to the world and you’re here for a reason. Figure it out.

Secret to Life

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

The whole point of life is to keep trying. Fall down, get up, stumble; stumble forward.

Many people don’t understand the joy of trying and failing. Somehow they gauge their worth by things; not by how many times they fall on their face and get back up.

I’m begging you; be weird. The world needs you.

Image result for paulo coelho quotes secret to life

Image credit: Banksy

Are You A ‘DTM’ – Difficult to Manage?

What Is a DTM?

I was one of those employees labeled as ‘difficult to manage.’ When I worked in corporate america, I wasn’t intimidated by anyone’s position in the company. I tended to say my ideas out loud, even when they weren’t solicited. I was comfortable organizing chaos and happy when working with a team to make progress where others didn’t see how it could be done. I haven’t changed; much.

In this article in the Harvard Business Review, “Improve Your Ability to Learn,I finally feel vindicated. Here’s how they describe such an employee (aka me).

“While talented, Alex had come to be known behind closed doors by the moniker “DTM” – difficult to manage. He marched to the beat of his own drummer, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. He loved a challenge, and he was comfortable taking risks.”

Oh, Oh, Now What Do I Do?

The point of this article is that some DTM’s can be exemplary in their ability to learn, including the importance of “learning agility, a set of qualities and attributes that allow an individual to stay flexible, grow from mistakes, and rise to a diverse array of challenges.” It’s gratifying to know that my brashness and challenging personality were actually good things.

Here are some characteristics of DTM’s – we tend to be more extroverted, focused, original and resilient and less accommodating to slow progress and excuses. If you have these characteristics, try the following – look for stretch assignments, regularly seek real input and most of all, enhance your listening skills. As for me, I’m old… too late for me to get along like a nice girl.

Photo credit: Five tips

Oh Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

So <i>very</i> many ways to interpret this label.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p><i>Not taken by me.</i>

Imagine All The People, Living Life in Peace

John Lennon wrote a song called Imagine. The song asks us to imagine a world with out countries, religion, ‘nothing to kill or die for…’

Part of this “imagining” fundamentally denies or perhaps ‘polishes’ our human desire for belonging.  Without color, race, nationality, language, heritage, family… how do we know were we belong? But it is exactly that ‘belonging’ that separates us from one another. I’m a Christian, you’re a Muslim. We’re different.

Part of our ‘comfort’ with the world is predictability. Being able to know what will happen next. My daily rituals order in my life. But it is precisely in ‘not knowing’, taking a risk, going on a adventure, that we become stronger and more fully human.

Connect With The Person, Let Go Of Your ‘Belonging’

For today, I’m going to ask you to think of someone whose point of view you simply don’t understand. Now, picture yourself as them. Going to work, loving their family, eating lunch with a friend. Are they really all that different from you?

The next time you feel misunderstood, encounter someone thinks you’re crazy or you feel isolated in your view of the world… stop and say, it’s ok. We disagree. I’m not lost, they are not lost. We simply disagree. I don’t have to make sure that they know I’m right.

Thanks to Seth Godin for the idea for this post. Title credit: Don’t Let Me Be MisunderstoodThe Animals

Photo credit: Does not work    CarbonNYC

Audit Yourself (No B.S. Allowed)

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Today’s Hustle Is

… have a company, get money from other people, learn on their nickel. A lot of good that comes from this. Ideas get vetted and people learn valuable skills. What’s not good – the idea that you need to be the leader of a company, ‘your’ company. Everyone has to listen to YOU. You make the rules, you decide what happens. You’re in charge.

This. is. not. leadership.

Being a Leader Requires Self-Awareness

It takes a big person to look in the mirror and say, I am not good at that. And I don’t mean… I’m not good at math. I mean, I’m not a good listener, I’m not generous, I’m self-absorbed.

When we try to lead others without self-awareness, we simply draw them into our drama. We may be very smart or charismatic or well-connected and that’s how we’ve gotten as far as we have. But when it comes to knowing ourselves, we’re nowhere.

Do you know someone over 40 who is completely oblivious of the effect his/her personality on others? Especially in the workplace? It’s depressing.

Get On With It

Areas for examination are: personality, values, habits, needs and emotions.  Here’s Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on the importance of self awareness. He suggest that we audit ourselves. I’m going to work on my audit. I’m going to start with habits. I think I need some new ones.

Are You a Manager or a Leader?

Good Leader vs. Great Manager

Would you rather be a good leader or a great manager? There isn’t a ‘right’ answer. It’s all in what you value, probably the stage of your career and many other factors. Lots of people think they are both a good manager and a good leader. The reality is, that rarely are people really good at both.

Recognizing Your Natural Strengths

Years ago, I took a leadership and strategic planning course. The instructor insisted that people who weren’t ‘born’ leaders, including the ability to think strategically, could be trained to do so. I disagreed then and I disagree now.

I think each of us has a natural strength toward either leadership or “managership.” We can build leadership “skills,” which are very important, but the notion that we can ‘teach’ people to be great leaders is problematic.

Learning to be a good manager is hard and takes a long time. Good managers make the team feel positive and empowered.  Good managers take themselves out of the equation and focus on the task and the team.

Maybe I’m Wrong

But wait, most mothers (and a lot of dads) are the ultimate managers. They know how to get things done. They make it look easy to run a household, feed, clothe, educate, chauffeur, etc. At the same time, they lead each child to be their very best. Maybe classroom teachers learn both. Maybe master tradesmen, learn both.

Maybe if you practice every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for 20 years; you learn both.