Thursday, July 31, 2008

Being Honest

Now, when we think of political ads we don't really think of honesty as being the hallmark or standard. Do we? But I think Senator McCain's latest ad comparing Senator Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is disingenuous and painting him as an elitist is absurd, if not downright silly. Where is the substance in this? When has it been unfavorable for a presidential candidate not to be well educated? When has it become unfavorable for a presidential candidate not to be well received nationally and internationally? Aren't these qualities those that enable leaders to be heard?

If we honesty look at it, who was raised in privilege? (And, I'm not hating on Senator McCain for this.) Who married into money? (I'm not even hating on him for this.) But some may wonder if Senator McCain himself is a kind of kept man. Some have suggested that it is probably, after all, the wealth of his wife's family that has kept him in those Ferragamo loafers worn to meet the humble barefoot Dali Lama. Some have even questioned his judgement here. (But I'm not hating on him for the Ferragamos either.)

The ad perhaps points to Senator McCain's judgement on another issue. While seeking to denegrate Senator Obama, the ad also casts a disparaging light on the people of the world who came out by the thousands to hear him, and the heads of states with whom he had successful meetings. Some even agreed with his policies. The lack of international diplomacy has been a major problem for the current administration. It looks like Senator McCain is following lock step with the past policies of the last eight years on a number of pertinent issues.

The ad seems to have nothing to do with honesty and substance, but more to do with grabbing needed headlines in a lackluster campaign with an honorable veteran whose time seems to have passed.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Being the Other

I am the other. The other forms me. We see reflections of each other manifested in we.

Being a Servant II

"I am among you as one who serves."


Leaders must be servants.

Being a Servant

"He also serves who stands and waits."

-John Milton

Be active while waiting. Stand ready to serve.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Being Reflective

We are one being in the image of light whose reflection we see in glimpses of the other.

We are one being in the image of the opposite whose reflection we see and wish not to be.

We are one being moving towards our highest self through the valley of indecision and paths well lit.

We arrived together. You and me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Being Confident or Arrogant

Most successful people are confident. They are also sometimes perceived as arrogant. Does confidence ever become arrogance?

Consider these words:

Jesus Christ:

"I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in Me though he may die, shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

William F. Buckley:

"I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition," he wrote in The New York Times Book Review in 1986. “I asked myself the other day, ‘Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?’ I couldn’t think of anyone.”

Earvin "Magic" Johnson

"I never think that there's something I can't do, whether it's beating my opponent one on one or practicing another hour because something about my game is just not right."

Are these statements confident or arrogant?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Being a Uniter

Together we can meet the global challenges of the 21st Century.

God bless Barack Obama and family.

God bless the people of the United States of America.

God bless the people of the world.

Together we can do so much.

Being Knowledgeable

"Wisdom is good with an inheritance, and profitable to those who see the sun. For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it." (Ecclesiastes 7:12)

Is knowledge attained over time or expeditiously?

If the former is so, we have tremendous potential for success even when success appears to be quite elusive.

If the latter is so, the advantage is on our side, for existence, the ticking of time speedily and efficiently, is itself affirming.

If they are both so being that knowledge increases over time, and movement is always occurring now, we gain a certain knowledge simply for our efforts alone.

Being knowledgeable requires effort bit by bit that appears now through many trials and errors, having been developed all the time, along the way, though appearing today.

Being knowledgeable requires wisdom in time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Being Both Separate and Inseparable

Recent discussions at about We relationships based on Steve Yastrow's book and discussions on design and essence, that which applies fundamental knowledge to design, got me thinking about the relationships of both others and things. Yastrow's book speaks of the importance of relationships with customers that when they think of you they think of we, as the relationship has been formed over time that makes the connection inseparable.

The discussion on design essentially has asked whether it is necessary or important to understand intrinsically the physics that makes a product such as the Ipod function and whether the design is what people best relate to, making the product a discussion essentially about themselves rather than about the brilliance of the inventor, the person who is outside of themselves.

Should the inventor even be important when the focus is, after all, the invention, not particularly the inventor? Perhaps this is the best praise of the inventor, but maybe not the best acknowledgement of the knowledge of the buyer. But is this even important? What this perhaps may show is the distinction of people but maybe not that of product and people. I identify with the product not because it does much for me but because the design catches my fancy.

Both of the discussions on We relationships and design clearly deal with the relationship or identification with people and things, those which are inseparable but separate. But because the identification is essentially one of self, does this assists in product sales i.e., I buy the product because I relate to it or that I do business with people because I relate to them. Both, however, are essentially extensions of me, of my understanding.

Now, from a psychological/philosophical point of view, one might wonder if solipsism (essentially I, my mind - that is - is all that I know exists) has reached a new zenith. Or, is this the old historical sales pitch? I buy a product or work with people because I identify with it or because I relate to them? Does the inseparable notion of the indistinguishable product/person sale? Is this indisinguishable element important or necessary when selling a product or building relationships?

On another level, however, it might be asserted that when we can step outside of ourselves to understand the other or the product (maybe not in totality, but perhaps the sheer effort of such an act) that our own consciousness is raised and knowledge increased. (But how important is knowledge, especially in sales?) It takes much more to talk about another than to talk about oneself. Identification in understanding is perhaps limiting, narrowing.

These thoughts may be those of leadership and not necessarily sales. What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Being Hopeful

"Some people find it possible to transcend the asymmetry of pain and joys, escape the hedonic deficit, set themselves outside that game - and live with hope."

-- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The fullest experiential element of living is embracing the expected and unexpected, the disappointments and delights, for there is undoubtedly that eternal reversal. We live in a world of extremities, one of non-transcendental experiences.

Embracing seemingly polar opposites singularly, at any given time, becomes not a game, but transcendental reality, the reality of daily hopeful living outside of hedonism, escaping its deficit, that forever seeking though never being filled grip.

Being hopeful is a kind of unforced unfeigned equilibrium that does not seek, demand, or insist upon that which isn't yet made known but requires a living in the now while seeking yet other paths, being sufficiently filled. It's experiential. It's truthful. It's dubious, It's living. It's transcendental.

Are you hopeful?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Being Nelson Mandela: A Great Leader

Recently at, Tom Peters included in his post an article entitled, Mandela: His 8 Lessons of Leadership. (Click on the title for the article.)

Words can hardly express the appreciation the world has for this great man. The fact that he lived these 8 Lessons of Leadership is partly why.

What a great model of leadership Mr. Mandela has lived. We are most appreciative.

Leadership only matters if the principles of such are lived by the leader.

Being Respectful II

"It is great hope someday to see science and decision makers rediscover what the ancients have always known, namely that our highest currency is respect."

--Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The above quote reminded of what I used to say to myself daily when I ran a rather large mixed-use hotel where every single department was in complete disarray. "Leave them with their dignity," I would say. From banquets to housekeeping there were no systems in place, no personal responsibility, and little positive interrelations among staff or with guests.

Such an environment was indeed challenging. Besides putting simple systems in place, such as checklists for the maintenance department, I had to deal with mindsets. This was challenging indeed. Most seemed to feel like there being there was simply enough--not to mention that they came and went as pleased, covering for each other.

Even in this kind of environment, perhaps particularly so, I had to remind myself daily to leave them with their dignity when, in fact, they did not appear to be very dignified. I would be dishonest if I said that their attitudes did not get the best of me at times. But I think I was quite successful overall, raising the level of each department. Within 9 months traffic increased as did our room sales.

Respect is a form of dignity, a kind of empowerment, we give to others that affects the bottom line. "The highest currency is respect."

As a leader or a decision maker are you empowering others through respect?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Being Perfect in Love

"Perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18)

Being perfect in love is not the absent of fear; it is the direct decision to move in spite of it. Move forever forward with your ideas, for love is continuously being perfected in fearless feats.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Being Remarkable

Seth Godin is remarkable. He is someone worth making a remark about.

Doesn't this 18 plus-minute-clip simply fly by? What is the niche he fills? Our desire for insightful innovative easily understood ideas?

Desire, determined by the listener, makes a person or thing remarkable. How does the person or thing remain desirable?

Being Creative

Color outside of the lines! Start a Revolution! Act up!

Is politeness a hinderance to creativity?

Being Vaslav Nijinsky

Being Nijinsky is to be passionate, vulnerable, intense, brilliant, virtuosic, intelligent, dubious, present, inquisitive...

Being Nijinsky is pure transformative beauty, defying gravity, glimpses of eternity. The good do not always die young.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Being Erudite

How significant is being erudite? Consider this quote from The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb writing about Pierre-Daniel Huet, a Catholic bishop and member of the French Academy, and Pierre Bayle, a Protestant theologian and philosopher:

"Both Huet and Bayle were erudites and spent their lives reading. Huet who lived into his nineties, had a servant follow him with a book to read aloud to him during meals and breaks and thus avoid lost time. He was deemed the most read person in his day. Let me insist that erudition is important to me. It signals genuine intellectual curiosity. It accompanies an open mind and the desire to probe the ideas of others. Above ll, an erudite can be dissatisfied with his own knowledge, and such dissatisfaction is a wonderful shield against Platonicity, the simplifications of the five manager, or the philistinism of the overspecialized scholar. Indeed scholarship without erudition can lead to disasters."

What are your thoughts on erudition and practicality in the world of work?

Being in Business

It has longed been believed that being focused in one discipline is the best preparation for a career. As a kid in elementary school I understood intuitively that this would not be my path. Why were these kids wanting to do only one thing or two of the same things? I actually remember thinking this. By the time I got to Middle School and High School I was all over the place. I had already began singing classical music and reading philosophy and poetry. By the time it came to choose a college, I was thinking about Julliard. I had already been a professional musician for many years by then and I had some pretty notable people with whom I was training. Or, I could attend the University of Michigan. My father, a New Yorker, and great lover of classical music and opera, said, "if you go to Julliard I will not speak to you again!" Wow! He was serious.

I decided on the University of Michigan, not because I feared that my father would not speak to me, but I realized that I had long wanted a more expansive education and training since elementary school and decided that the Univesity of Michigan would better give me this opportunity. Since I did not go to Julliard, I cannot speak firsthand. But my experience at Michigan was expansive and daring. I got to dabble in all kinds of subjects and meet people who were not only artists. I think I made the best choice for me.

Although, business was not my focus in college, I can honestly say that my training in various disciplines, having friends of various disciplines, and starting so many entreprenurial ventures (some failures) have indeed assisted in my understanding of both business and people. In fact, without the understanding of people, senior management, colleagues or the general public, there is no business. My brother, Tim, on a few occasions made this point clear to me when I had just opened up my first business 12 years ago. Once, I was really upset about what I considered to be unfair practices of a very successful and shrewd businesswoman. My brother knew her, as I had introduced them a few years back and she had often called him seeking counsel.

Well, one day I was livid and requested a meeting with her. She agreed to the meeting only if my brother, Tim, was present. I agreed. Before going into the meeting my beloved brother, now deceased, said to me, "Now, I want you to follow my lead precisely and do exactly what I tell you." "OK," I replied. She began speaking in her usual hauty and condescending tone and I watched my brother. He smiled and nodded his head. I wasn't smiling. I wasn't liking this already. I hated her tone and her words. He didn't seem to hate either.

After she got finished I began to speak. He interrupeted me and said, "Linda," you are so right. (What?) Judith could have handled herself differently. She's learning. You have contracted her and she should adhere to your wishes and until you are satisfied with her services she should not be paid." "But," I tried to speak. He cut me off. "And, if she does not adhere to your specific wishes do not pay her." (You gotta be kidding? I was fumming!) He smiled at me. I did not smile back. Linda sat there most pleased. Her red hair had seemingly taken on an even brighter hue, her freckles ever expanding with pleasure. I'm sure this was all in my very own imagination. But I hated every word my brother was speaking.

Tim continued to speak. But the more I listened to him the calmer, I felt. He continued speaking and smiling. I smiled back. Tim had a face that always had a gentle smile, even when his tone reflected he was not happy. He never, though, raised his voice. Linda nodded as Tim spoke. I wasn't able to express myself. We ended the meeting 45 mintues later and I had not said anything. But before I left Linda handed me a check. I did not look at it for fear that I would hit the roof in her office and disappoint my brother. When I got in the parking lot I looked at at the check. It was the full amount, plus a bonus.

When we got in the car I was in tears. "How do you do that, Tim" I asked? "Judith, he said, "business is all about people. You may be the brightest person and have the brightest ideas, but until you better understand people you will not succeed. Linda did not need you to tell her about the calibre of your work. She knew this and I did too. Linda did not need you to tell her that she was wrong; we all knew this. What did she need? The respect of being the boss, the honor of her position. Give it to her again and again...endlessly."

Tim went to seminary and was also a brilliant businessman. If he had gone to business school he may not have understood the fundamental lessons of dealing with others that being in ministry afforded him. I too would not have learned so much from him and from my many disciplines and entreprenuerial business ventures had I gone to Julliard. Being in business is all about people from the creators and innovators of products to those who assemble them or mind the assembling machines to those who sell products to those who purchase them. People are business.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Being Categorized

If you have not read The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, it is a must read. (I'm savoring it page by page. For me, it's one of those.) Tom Peters says, "Read it, Dammit!" in a recent post.

Here is a quote about being categorized:

"Categorizing is necessary for humans, but it becomes pathological when the category is seen as definitive, preventing people from considering the fuzziness of boundaries, let alone their categories."

While categories may be necessary or impossible to avoid, always leave room for the non-definitive; leave room for the non-descriptive. We are then without boundaries, experiencing life fully as it happens.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Being Simply Beautiful

When I think of being simply beautiful I think of my friend, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye. I think of the power and simplicity of her words and gentle spirit, though wrapped in an undeniable fierceness for the cause of life and liberty. I think of the short unpretentious sentences of another great poet, one of my favorites, e.e. cummings. But language does not necessarily have to have a few sentences to be simply beautiful, though it greatly depends on the audience, environment, and the intended message.

I can think of a many great writers of beauty that have captured my heart wholeheartedly through sentences that seem to go on forever. Proust is one of these. For his purposes, he is the best. But when it comes to the language of management and processes, does such language produce unnecessary complications? Even with Proust, there is undoubtedly an inescapable complicated messy life process, for those who have come after him, who gleaned from the beauty of his writing, but did not necessarily create such endless fluid lines, though their writings are also memorable. Proust, however, is timeless. My point simply put: Shorter lines in and of themselves do not engender beauty or a better process or outcome. What engender these things is having gone through some things (complications, nonetheless) in order to create simply beautiful things.

Now, how is all this applicable to how we do what we do in work environments? In comments on other blogs there is talk of simplicity and how it affects outcome. There is talk about the necessity of less complicated policy manuals, website transactions etc. I agree completely that most of this stuff is just asinine, unreadable, and therefore not actionable. I completely agree that most policy manuals are too long and not easily understood. I agree with Tom Peters: "Keep it simple! (Damn it!) No matter how 'sophisticated' the product. If you can't explain it in a phrase, a page, or to your 14-year-old ... you haven't got it right yet."

Just the other day after meeting with a lawyer to see if my simple two-page housing application was solid, my business partner, a brilliant engineer and inventor, stock trader, and senior executive at one of the Top 100, returned with an 18 page document that caused me to blow a gasket! (Perhaps, not the best reaction!?) To my utter dismay, he and the lawyer lengthened the document to "protect our interest" by 16 pages! Whose interest? Our interest? We would lose potential clients. I couldn't believe it! I don't know ONE client who would have appreciated filling out such a document!

This was RIDICULOUS! What it would do is bottle up the process, one that we've been having great success. It would also waste my time and I wasn't having it. It was soon determined that my simply created document had all the stuff of the longer one. Uh...yeah! After many different kinds of businesses (failures mostly) including real estate, and dealing with people on many different levels, I thought that I had covered all the basis. Lawyers! Can't live with them and don't necessarily want to live without them -- well, maybe fewer of them.

Having said the above, I must also say that I would like to believe that my two-page document is simply beautiful not because it is two pages, but because it embodies all the necessities, is well written, and is easily understood and enacted. Simple is beautiful when these things occur. Also, in writing, no matter the document, it is always so important to know your audience. This colors much.

Being simply beautiful can be seen in any writing, for any audience, where others take notice and simply wish to change, without being told that change is needed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Being Ridiculed

To Leaders:

Never ridicule. Ridicule hurts. Furthermore, it has cell memory and metastasis, remembering and spreading quickly, halting your projects while you idly stand by frustrated and unable to act, wondering...why?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Being Joyful

Being full of joy requires a certain kind of get up. Be joyful! However you do it...just do it!

In spite of challenges, be joyful! Make a decision to be full of joy! Bright colors, great winds, happy feet, and an incredible beat help! But, as I've said before...however you do it...just do it! Be joyful!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Being Happy

The 4th of July celebrates our determination, our resilience, our diversity -- the beauty and pain of our various paths from the Mayflower to darken ships with bound bodies below to erected homes of hearth where independence already rode free.

The 4th of July celebrates our history, our present, our future. In spite of difficult seasons, in spite of uncertainties, remember our glorious, heart-wrenching blood-stained path of tears and...yes...BE HAPPY!

Many have survived and died for our independence from tyranny abroad and within. Our honor of the past remains reverential. Our will for becoming yet better remains resolute. Our love and respect for each other increasingly grows. Our future is very bright! BE HAPPY!

What a great country we have! What a great people we are! May God forever bless the United States of America.

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Being Beautiful

Beauty is excellence displayed in many forms achieved through the same means.

Being Excellent II

Be excellent. It is the feeling that will be remembered. It is the impression that remains. The remainder is not attained through mere feel good impressions. The remainder consists of love, grit, dedication, error, kindness, failure, insecurity, generosity, discipline, instability, consideration and resilience, while forever moving toward the finish. Excellence leaves an indelible imprint, that reminder that you were here. Be excellent.

Being Remembered

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

--Maya Angelou

What are you doing daily to be remembered?