Will we ever stop dragging our knuckles?

Update March 1, 2018: I wrote this post seven years ago. It’s every bit as applicable today as it was then – maybe more so. That said, the appearance of the #NEVERAGAIN movement gives me hope, especially in young people who I always had faith in. The young organizers of this movement from Parkland, Florida exemplify the spirit of this piece.



Yesterday I commented on a provocative blog post by my friend Greg Rader, “The Future of Status – Conspicuous Production.”

Imagine if there was no money and no things to buy. How would you show the world your worth? Or how would you show yourself?

Would your value lie in the number of friends you have – physical or electronic? Would it lie in the quality and depth or your relationships with these friends (kind of three-dimensional assessment)? Maybe it would lie in the number pieces of art you produced, or books and articles you’ve written.

Or better yet … what about the number of karma points you’ve accumulated by doing random acts of good? Haven’t we reached a point on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where we can at least flirt with self actualization?

Over your last couple posts, I think you’ve been us leading to this. It’s obvious, the standard societal measurement of wealth and worth just isn’t cutting it for you. I join you brother.

Maybe this is the first step – discontent. Only then we can find our own “store of value.” and from there truly maximize it’s worth. Maybe this is what mean when I talk about “On the Road to Your Perfect World.” Thanks for pointing me the way ūüôā


I viewed the focus of Greg’s piece as: “Isn’t there a way of presenting our value to world other than just through the money we make and our consumption habits?” As you can tell from my comment above – it’s a topic that’s been on my mind also.

Recently, in light of the sky-high valuations of several dotcom 2.0 stocks, such as Facebook, Groupon and Twitter, this matter seems to be especially relevant. Recent investments have Facebook worth $52 billion and Twitter at $10 billion, while Groupon recently turned a $6 billion offer from Google.

But I ask you … on what are the values based. In the first two it’s their ability to act as an advertising platforms and Groupon is worth what it can take as a cut of the pie. Isn’t there more though … more than just money advertising, more than just a vehicle to accommodate more and more consumption. God I hope so.

Let’s put Groupon aside, they are what they are – a group buying coupon service … nothing more, nothing less. Eventually they will fall prey to another ‘new and improved’ version of the same.

But Facebook and Twitter are different. To label then as just advertising platforms is to vastly understate what they really are – what they’re really worth. One needs to look no further back than one month. Only thirty days ago the political environment in the Middle East was much the same as it’s been for the last thirty years. No longer. Tunisia is liberated. Egypt is liberated. Lybia will be in a matter a days, and whoever is next is anyone’s guess.

While Facebook and Twitter didn’t overthrow these dictatorships … they played an integral role. They facilitated strategic and tactical communication that was on the level of a sophisticated military sorte, only performed primarily by young civilians. These social networks provided something that wasn’t there before … coordination. The results to this point have been the liberation tens of billions of dollars and ten millions of people, people who now have the prospect of governing themselves and having a say in their future.

What’s that worth?

How can you put a monetary value on person’s freedom? How can you say in dollars and cents what it’s worth to know you have something to get up for in the morning, to know that just maybe your children might just have a better life than you … a life you could only dream of.

Why does everything have to be based on money and what we spend it on. Just because you drive a Mercedes 450SL and I drive a Ford Taurus – does that make you worth more than me. I could make a case on the contrary. We focus so much on our children making sure they go to college and get a job that pays a lot of money. How many us even discuss any other options – any other means of worth? This valuation system seems Neanderthal in the light of what’s happening in the world these days.

I have been there and done it. I’ve had the nice car, the apartment on the water, the original art on walls. But it sure wasn’t “the be all end all.” The car’s gone, the apartment gone and my daughter has the art. The memories are good, but now it time to move on.

It’s like the pursuit of possessions had put me in a cloud. I had other pursuits, but the almighty dollar reigned supreme. No longer.

My valuation lies not in my financial net worth, but rather in what Greg says, “my conspicuous production” and what results from it. Production can be anything. It could this blog post. It could be the comments that result from it. And as I said in my comment above it could be in the karma points I accumulate by doing good things. So here it is, here is my definition of “my value:”

My value is the sum total of all positive synaptic connections I have a role in creating, both in myself and in others. In other words, the more I can get people thinking in ways they wouldn’t otherwise think in – and correspondingly act in ways that benefit themselves and others … the more I’m worth.

There you have it.

Now it’s time to pick up my hands … my knuckles are bloody.


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Why we hate change …

You ever wonder why we stick to our habits … why we hate change?

Here’s why:

‚ÄúThe oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĒ H.P. Lovecraft


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Is it time to change your own Chief of Staff?

I was watching an interview this morning on the CBS Morning Show with Andrew Card, the former Chief of Staff of President George Bush.  The interview was a synopsis of the role of the Chief of Staff.  The interview is timely because Barack Obama is replacing his former chief, Rahm Emanuel, today with Pete Rouse.  Emanuel is leaving to run for the mayor of Chicago.

The piece got me thinking.¬† Don’t we all an internal Chief of Staff – the part of you that determines what you’re going think about, what you’re going do and how you prioritize?¬† I think we do.

Every minute of every day we are pushed, pulled and tied down by our own Lilliputians.¬† These mental intruders can be our family, our friends, our co-workers or just somebody we meet on the street.¬† But most of all … they can be ourselves.¬† They are the parts of us make us afraid of things we shouldn’t be afraid of.¬† They make us preoccupied with our To Do lists – lists that often are prioritized with tasks that are more habits than anything else.¬† “We have to check our emails first everyday rather than write a letter, listen to music or just relax and clear our minds.”

Things that dictate our actions and thoughts are no different from what the President deals with daily.¬† He is bombarded by his staff, members of Congress and lobbyists … all with their own personal agendas.¬† These agendas often have nothing to do with those of the President.¬† If he had his way, he’d probably spend his time thinking – pondering the big picture.¬† This is the real President … the creative one.

It’s the job of the Chief of Staff to determine who occupies the President’s attention, and in turn his agenda.¬† Imagine if there was no Chief of Staff though.¬† It would be endless barrage of “squeaky wheels” … with no WD40 anywhere in sight.

Whether we know it or not, we all have a Chief of Staff.  Who this is and what effect they have on us is completely up to us.  Do we push them to the side and just react the whims of our many influences, both external or internal?  Or do we give them the power to sift through the intrusions of our Lilliputians?

How we delegate this authority, this gate-keeping, will determine our creativity.¬† And the extent of our creative development is probably the most important contribution to our happiness. ¬† After all it is our life and shouldn’t we be able to live it the way we wish.

But the amount of power our Chief wields should not be the only thing we consider.¬† But how does our Chief interact with these influences.¬† Is your Chief of the “in your face” mode Emanuel, or more of the laid back demeanor of Rouse.¬† You probably don’t want to be hostile to your kids for wanting a ride to the mall or you sure don’t want to create a split personality within yourself as you fight against the intrusion of your daily mundane tasks.

Communicate with you Chief or Staff about your priorities.¬† Make sure they know the things that excite and energize you … the things that allow you to be who you want to be.¬† Create a physical representation of your Chief.¬† Give it name.¬† Put it somewhere where you look at it – so you can re-center yourself every time you see it.

We can all run around in circles chasing the priorities of others and our own priorities that very often are the result what others want and think you should want and do.

Who you select for your own internal Chief of Staff, and how they act, is up to you.¬† Remember you are the President of Yourself … and your mind is your White House.


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An interactive brand … a case study on Charice.

A couple of days ago I had a saw a rerun of Oprah.¬† And no this isn’t an everyday occurrence.¬† She had a young singer named Charice performing.¬† I’d never heard of her but I had heard the song she was singing … many times.¬† I liked it.

On thing I noticed is that a good half of the audience was swaying back and forth making a triangle with two index fingers and two thumbs.

At first I didn’t pay much attention to this.¬† I went into my office and Googled her to find the name of the song. ¬† The name of the song was “Pyramid.”¬† Thus the triangles.

The audience was making pyramids.¬† They were not just singing … they were participating physically.¬† This participation – this “pyramid,” had become a viral interactive logo for Charice.¬† And this pyramid has helped her break through the music clutter.

What’s your pyramid?


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The phone vs. email vs. Facebook vs. Twitter, etc – what would it be?

Imagine if you were only allowed to put one point of contact, one means of getting in touch with you, on your business card (your one card).  What would that be.

I’m currently designing a new card for myself that will be my only one – encompassing my “whole being.”¬† I’m into simplicity … especially when it comes to “how to get hold” of somebody.¬† I must have eight to points of contact in my “bag of communications clutter.”¬† Now I’ll put more than just one … but this will be an interesting exercise anyway.¬† So let’s get on with it.

Is this your best option?

Now, let’s lay down the considerations.

1.  Who is the target market?

2.  And what am I going to say to these people?

Now let’s look at the options.

1.¬† Phone number: Not too long ago, this one would have been a slam dunk.¬† But today, probably not.¬† First, nobody wants to call anybody anymore.¬† Everybody has a phone, so access is universal, but nobody will call you back so what good is it.¬† One wildcard here though, is the texting option.¬† Especially with younger generations, texting is the preferred method of communication … go figure.

2.¬† Mail / address: I had to put this one in here just for a laugh.¬† If had to wait for somebody to send me a letter … well, enough said.

3.¬† Email: Gosh I remember just last year at this time, virtually everybody I dealt with, businesswise, wanted to be contacted via email.¬† “Send me an email,”¬† “But were on the phone right now so why don’t we talk about.”¬† “No I want a hard copy.” WHATEVER.¬† Email is good but it’s not a substitute for the back forth you can get on the phone.¬† It’s kind of like a cross between the phone and mail.¬† Has it’s place.¬† Possibility.

4.¬† Facebook: Now this an interesting one.¬† It’s now universal, but it seems like it’s almost getting there.¬† Half a billion people are on it.¬† By logging into Facebook you can more or less access other online vehicles you may own.¬† You can have your Twitter feed into it.¬† You can put your phone number on it.¬† There’s a place for your website URL.¬† I don’t like Facebook, though.¬† It’s too, well, it’s just too social.¬† It is the epitome of social media.¬† I don’t know if I’m into that though.¬† I don’t think I want that persona prefacing my business dealings.¬† I know Facebook is the “be all and end all” for business these days.¬† I think I’ll let the bandwagon go by for the time being.

5.¬† Twitter: Now if I would have written this a month ago, I don’t even know if I would have mentioned this.¬† Wow, have things changed in thirty days.¬† Now what is Twitter?¬† It’s really just a repository of text messages.¬† But it also is a database.¬† It’s a database of your contacts, your ideas, their ideas, their contacts, their contacts ideas and so on.¬† It’s also can be central hub for all your other conduits of exposure.¬† A tweet can reference your blog, your web site of even your phone number if you want it to.¬† Problem though … it’s not universal.¬† While there’s lot of people on it – not everybody is.¬† Here’s where the considerations come into play.¬† You can craft a message, a persona, better on Twitter than anywhere else (referral points included).¬† The question is who do you want to talk to.

6.¬† Miscellaneous social media: I belong to various other social media and networking sites.¬† Fox example, LinkedIN.¬† I love LinkedIn, but I just don’t think it needs to be on my business card.¬† Brazen Careerist, good site (more for the younger sect – but good energy), but again, not on my card.¬† Etc.

Now I’m not only going put one contact point on my card.¬† Until we all get telepathic chips put in our heads (that can also transfer files) there is no one best vehicle for communication.¬† They all have their place.

Everybody will have a slightly different take on their “considerations” I mentioned at the top of this rambling discourse.¬† After much pondering, at times in the Rodin position, this is what I’m going to do and why.

1.¬† Phone number: I like the phone.¬† It’s my card.¬† Enough said.

2.  Email: Not everybody is into social media but still is electronic.  Plus I need to transfer and receive files.

3.¬† Twitter: Twitter is my hub for all things I want to put out to the world, and you can get to the rest of my stuff through it.¬† It’s the conduit for my ideas, my rants and my ravings.¬† Plus it’s turning me on to some really interesting people and thoughts I would never have known existed.¬† This is my social media outlet.¬† If you’re not on Twitter … than get on it.¬† It’s not just about what somebody had for breakfast this morning.¬† Sorry Facebook and the rest of you.¬† One SM access point is enough.

But then again I suppose if we list everything – every conceivable way to get hold us.¬† Then we’d cover all the bases.¬† We’d just never knock anyone in.


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Who’s batting third in your line-up?

I’ve been staying down at my daughter, Alexandria’s, in Los Angeles for a few days before I move to Montana next week. ¬†I’ve had the opportunity to meet and get to know some of her close friends. ¬†Yesterday we were talking about them and how they figure into her life.

She made the analogy of where everybody fits into her “personal batting line-up” (you think she’s a baseball fan). ¬†The rational behind this comparison is that this way she doesn’t have unrealistic expectations of anybody. ¬†Everybody is who they are and each have their strengths. ¬†Just like players in a batting order.

Batting third ...

I’m not going get into everybody and breakdown the whole line-up … but I thought I’d lay out ¬†a couple of the roles. ¬†These are her descriptions, not mine.

Leading off, batting 1st: Ben. ¬†He’s always there. ¬†He’ll get on base, the consummate team player. ¬†He’ll wear down the opposition, take pitches so everybody else sees what’s coming up. ¬†He’ll won’t hit home runs very often – but he’ll be on base for meat of the line-up.

The anchor, batting 3rd: Jason. ¬†He’s my daughter’s coach on the field, her side-kick. ¬†Or as she calls him, he’s Alfred (in Batman lore). ¬†He’s the glue, not only hit for average but will knock you in as well.

Clean-up, batting 4th: Angie. ¬†She’s not always there, not a 300 hitter, but when she shows up … it’s a home run. ¬†She lights up the room. ¬†Oh, and that smile!

Too often we expect things from our friends that … well, they’re not equipped to do, instead on focusing on their strengths and what they can provide to the relationship.

Life is not easy. ¬†Whatever tools we can use, we should. ¬†God only know there has been a million books written on relationships. ¬†If we try to digest all the advice out there – our heads will explode and won’t be any better off.

Maybe all we need to do is accept¬†those close to us for what they are … not what they aren’t and nurture their strengths rather than focus on their weaknesses.

Fill out your line-up card, and go play ball.


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Create your “Internal Renaissance”

This post was written almost three years ago to the day. But considering the recent George Zimmerman trial, I believe there’s some things here that apply, especially with the talk of racism being the reason for Trayvon Martin shooting. Racism, whether overt or even “under the surface,” is often caused by lack of exposure to people not like themselves.

This morning on my morning walk I ran across a homeless gentleman collecting cans and bottles from a dumpster.  I stopped and started a conversation with him which lasted about fifteen minutes.

We talked about a lot things, the weather, the oil spill and eventually the economy. ¬†His take on our economic conditions was that he thought things were getting worse. ¬†“How did you come to that conclusion?” I asked him.

Your personal Renaissance

“Well … I see more generic cans in the dumpsters than I used to. ¬†Even last year when things were supposedly worse, people stuck to their name brands. ¬†But now it’s changed.”

Interesting, as thought walking away.

After a bit I remembered a piece I read in copyblogger.com talking about the Medici effect during the start of the Renaissance.  At the end of the Dark ages poets, artists, painters, sculptors and the like came to Florence, Italy to study and collaborate thanks to patronization of the wealthy Medici family.  Essentially, this melding of different backgrounds and disciplines started the Renaissance.

How can we personally duplicate this for ourselves?  Mix it up.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Humans are creatures of habit.  We tend to do the same things, associate with same type of people we are and are influenced by the same sources as always.  CHANGE IT.

If you are a doctor, hang with a plumber. ¬†If you’re white, talk to a black person. ¬†Take bus sometime (no people on buses don’t bite. ¬†If you live on the west side, have dinner on the east side. ¬†And most of all if your old (yes Boomers you are old) get some insight from someone young – that’s not your own kid.

Our brains are nothing more than synaptic connections which are built and strengthened through habitual activity and thought.  Build some new ones,  God only knows we could use more.

Who knows … maybe your next piece of inspiration may come next to a dumpster.


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