Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Passion Party #508 - The Passover Egg

The story is told this time of year
 in Jewish households around the world.
A story of freedom and redemption,
of a God that speaks directly to man
and causes miracles as well as hardship.
A vengeful God that in the end
takes away the life of one Egyptian generation
so that a new generation of Jews
can have freedom to search for a new land.
The story is told in symbol and song,
with a plate filled with items that, the book tells us,
represent the Pascal Lamb, the mortar used to build bricks,
the bitterness of slavery,
and Spring vegetables dipped in the tears of life.
But what of the egg?
The egg sits on the Seder plate, with nary a mention in the story.
This symbol of rebirth, of fertility,
is the unspoken connection to our Pagan past.
The Jews believe in one God,
but the holiday traditions still speak to the rituals
of celebrating and acknowledging the seasons.
It is no coincidence that the Festival of Lights falls near the Winter Solstice
nor is it an accident that Passover takes place during the full moon
around the time of the Spring Equinox.
The egg does not fit in the Haggadah;
It precedes the story
It is what came first
It is the new beginning
the new birth of the world
our connection to our primordial past
and a chance for us to make a better life in the future.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Passion Party #507 - Change and Progress

Just when I think I have it figured out, everything changes.
It happens all the time
 and is a constant fact of life.
The question is
what do you do when change occurs?
 How do you react to the new landscape, the new guidelines, the new mailman, the new pay structure?
Change happens automatically.
Progress is a choice.
I can choose to move forward
I can choose to grow
I can decide to grab the new rule book and learn it
or I can decide to write my own rule book, and see what happens
Whatever happens, I know that once I have it all figured out, everything will change
and then I will more choices.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Passion Party #506 - Ethics Vs. Values

You can round up all the investment bankers, all the C-Suite executives
 and all the Wharton and Harvard MBA Students
and teach them Ethics
and it will make no difference.
What makes a difference is the person's Values.
Ethics is a defined as a philosophy of systematizing and recommending concepts of right and wrong.
Values are what you deem important to your life,
the actions you are willing to take because they gives meaning to your life.
Just knowing right from wrong does not solve the problem;
sometimes people discover doing the wrong thing is best if their values are selfish or greedy.

The US Army has core values:
loyalty - duty - selfless service - integrity
Our constitution has core values:
life - liberty - the pursuit of happiness
My business has core values:
integrity - professionalism - caring - teamwork - stewardship
Find your core values, and the ethics will follow.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Passion Party #505: Not-So-Dumb Phone

I live in a prehistoric age
when there wasn't an "app" for that,
there was a nap for that.
I have an old-fashioned "flip phone",
one of those clam-shell jobs
that doesn't break when I drop it on the ground.
I can call people.
They can call me.
They can even text me now (I finally agreed to spend $5 a month so I can connect with modern people that type into their phones instead of using their voice.)
I even text back - one or two words usually.
People get mad at me if I don't respond when they email me while I am in a car, or in the elevator, or at night.
They just have to wait a little bit.
Patience, they say, is a virtue.
Now we are learning the downside of
always being connected.
There is an aphorism: "When something online is free, you’re not the customer, you’re the product."
The GPS on your smart phone not only tells you where the nearest pizza place is,
it tells data brokers that you like to eat pizza.
It tells Google and Facebook to push pizza ads your way.
If you choose, your phone will now know
when you sleep, how you sleep, when you wake up, where you are, what you are doing.
It may all be harmless
but it sounds a bit too much like "1984".
Do you remember that?
It is something they used to call a "book" by George Orwell.
Right now I am happy to have a phone
that is just a "dumb phone".

Monday, March 3, 2014

A real live Passion Party this Friday!

Once or twice a year I get to play my own music with musicians that pull me up to a whole 'nother level.  This Friday is one of those rare nights.

This Friday on Hollywood I get to play with my favorite band:
Alex Acuna on drums
Lyman Medeiros on Bass
Bobby Rodriguez on trumpet
Larry Klimas on Sax
and my very special guest, my wife Diana Zaslove on vocals

for an evening of beautiful heartfelt music and inspiring improvisation

at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood

Tickets are $25 each
Music starts at 8:30.  We'll probably only play until 10:30, so don't be too late! 

it will be a night to remember...

reserve tickets here
or call 323-466-2210. reservations are essential!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Passion Party #504 - The Purpose of Wealth

We live in a world with a narrow view:
 A capitalistic world
where the accumulation of money is given
a spot at the top of the podium
in the Olympic Games of Life.
It is ingrained in our society
in the schools and universities that teach us
that the purpose of business is to make a profit
and the purpose of wealth is to create more wealth.
We can argue the fact,
but in daily life we see
corporations buying each other,
not to improve service but to make a larger profit
and we see the wealthy get wealthier
(as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "The rich get richer and the poor get -- children".
The problem is that these two beliefs about
the purpose of business and wealth
remove the human element,
the people that labor in the businesses
and the person that is accumulating the wealth.
We are not machines.
Business is made up of individuals
and successful businesses are made up of people with a common drive and purpose.
Wealth does not consist solely of
the accumulation of money.
If we look at wealth as a combination of
money - health - happiness - positive human relationships
then the purpose of wealth is to create more
 money - health - happiness - positive human relationships,
not just for the individual
but for society as a whole.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Passion Party #503 - The Butter Notes

Herbie Hancock had been working with the Miles Davis Quintet for a while, and he found that he was in a rut.  Everything he played seemed formulaic and sounded the same.  Davis saw his frustration and offered some advice, "Don't play the butter notes."
"Butter notes?" thought Herbie.  "What is that? Does 'butter' mean 'fat'?  Or does it mean 'obvious'?  I had to think about it, and finally realized that if I left out the notes that most clearly define the chords it would allow the harmonies to open up to various views."
 So it is with life.  We can spend our whole life playing "the butter notes".  Or we can live in a way that expands our possibilities, opening up our future to various views and perspectives.  And the people around you will respond to the interest and exploration, taking both of you to different places.
 The openness is attractive, and inspiring.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Passion Party #502 - Disappearing Things

9 Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime 

1. The Post Office
2. The Cheque
3. The Newspaper
4. The Book
5. The Land Line Telephone
6. Music as more than a "content provider"
7. Television
8. The "Things" That You Own
9. Privacy
The answer:
Turn off your smart phone and send it back to Apple or Samsung. Write a letter a day to someone you care about. Subscribe to your local newspaper, and write letters to the editor when a story moves you.  BUY the book or art or music that you love, and collect the physical objects of your love.  Feel good about the artists you are supporting.
Sorry, not sure if I can (or want to) save television.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Passion Party #501 - The Meaning Of Wealth

There has been a lot of discussion lately
 about the consolidation of wealth in our world.
The news - surprise! - is that the rich are getting richer.
Based on statistics gathered by Credit Suisse, and reported by zerohedge.com
 29 million, or 0.6% of those with any actual assets under their name, own $87.4 trillion, or 39.3% of all global assets.
But what is the meaning of riches
and what is the meaning of wealth?
Is my goal to become Scrooge McDuck,
diving into my room filled with gold coins?
Is wealth the amount of money a person amasses
or is it something larger
something that cannot be measured like
Gross Domestic Product?
Does wealth stop the addict from the overdose?
Does wealth prevent death?
Has anyone ever seen a Brinks truck
in a funeral procession?
Perhaps the meaning of wealth in my life
is bigger than a monetary goal.
Perhaps, like a beam of light entering a prism
there is a rainbow of colors that make up my wealth.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Passion Party #500 - A Lovely Day

There are things that annoy me about Los Angeles
(like the other day when I was being tailgated on the freeway by someone driving a car with a vanity plate that read, "B JENTL").
And then there are days like yesterday where you have an experience that truly could not happen in any other city in the world.
Diana and I drove to downtown Los Angeles,  parked at Disney Hall and then took the subway to the Hotel Figueroa next to the Staples Center for a pre-Grammy music party, sponsored by one of the big entertainment law firms here in town. 
We spent the afternoon sipping Chardonnay and eating middle-eastern food while we listened to young upcoming bands and thought about all the high-heels being packed into those overpriced seats in Staples Center.
Then around 5:00 PM we took a walk through downtown, up to Grand Avenue.  After a beverage stop at Nic + Stef's, we walked to Disney Hall to see the Los Angeles master Chorale perform Bach's B Minor Mass, one of the greatest choral pieces ever written.
Surrounded by glorious architecture, we listened to the chamber orchestra and 100-voice choir perform in the acoustically perfect concert hall.   The 2 hour work is one of the great monuments of Baroque music, and it carries you on a journey from forgiveness, to death, resurrection and finally to glory and a  glowing finale.
From Daft Punk to J. S. Bach, all in one day... only in L.A.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Passion Party #499 - The Servant Master: Self-abnegation

I have had some questions about this last series of posts.
I wrote them to remind myself that I am not in charge.
Self-abnegation is an interesting term with two very different definitions.
For me it is not "the denial of one's own interests in favour of the interests of others", as much as "the setting aside of self-interest for the sake of others or for a belief or principle."  (a subtle differentiation there, but very important).
I do not feel that I am denying my own interests - they are very much alive and important to me.
My day is filled with talking to people that want to buy or refinance a home and need counseling and guidance.  I need to keep remembering that it is not about "the sale" as much as "the service".  In the end I make money, but that is not my primary focus.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Passion Party #498 - The Servant Master: Humility

I teach by doing.
I give in anonymity.
I remember where I came from.
I do not lord over others.
I start the day by asking, "Who can I serve today?  How can I make the world a better place?"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Passion Pasrty #497 - The Servant Master: Forgiveness

When I forgive those that have hurt me, it is the first step towards making myself whole. I can forgive, and take the next action.

The choice of living in anger, hatred, revenge and violence leads down a road that is like a feedback loop - it gets louder as we listen to that voice, and there is no resolution, no completion, just more anger and hatred.

Once I forgive, I can start to build trust and love again. Or I can move on. Either way, I am complete.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Passion Party #496 - The Servant Master: Patience

I am not the most patient person.
I don't suffer fools.
But I can be patient when working on a project.  I can put hours into learning something new, or organizing things or creating systems that will make my life easier in the future.  
I guess I am patient with things, just not with people.
This is why I am not a great teacher, but I am an excellent student.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Passion Party #495 - The Servant Master: Gratitude

When I start my day with gratitude it is always a better day.
I am grateful that my feet hit the floor for another day.
I am grateful that I am capable of breathing, stretching, meditating and  exercising.
I am grateful for the place that I live, grateful that I am surrounded by love and support.
These thoughts of gratitude carry me into another day.