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Showing posts from 2009

Passion Party #130 - Resolutions Vs. Accomplishments

It is that horrible time of the year
when we feel duty bound to make resolutions,
to promise to do things differently or make things better.
This primal desire must stem from starting a season where the days begin to get lighter and longer, and we start to see a rebirth in nature, if only very faint in these first days of January.
Statistics show that only 19% of all resolutions are kept for a full two years, a lousy average, like batting .190 in baseball.
So this year I have vowed to make no resolutions
(is that my resolution?)
Instead, I am going to take the next 4 days to review last year and list the 10 most important accomplishments I achieved in 2009.

Reflecting on my success, rather than staring at the blank page of the future - A page I can only guess as to how it will be filled.
Once I see what I have done, I will have a better idea of what to expect to achieve in the next year.
And those choices will be colored by the happiness of seeing how far I have already traveled.

Passion Party #129 - Everyday Grace

One on the most profound sculptures at the Smithsonian Museum is a massive sculpture of George Washington by Horatio Greenough commissioned for the centennial of Washington's birth in 1832. Larger than life, Washington sits like a Greek God, muscular and half-naked, one hand pointing towards the sky and looking out towards the future. In his other hand is a sword, but rather than holding it for battle he is holding the handle outward, with the sheathed blade pointing towards his torso. He is giving the sword away, passing it on to the next person to lead.

I have learned that it is these moments of giving that are most profound. More than the battle fought and won, it is the simple gifts given with thought that have the most impact.

Whenever I start working with a new client I send a thank you gift, to acknowledge that I appreciate working with the person. Usually it is a CD of relaxing music, to help bring some peace in a possibly chaotic time, but sometimes I send a book. I try t…

Passion Party #128 - Food Is For Nurturing

Last night we had a dinner party
but it wasn't really about dinner.
It was a listening party for a new recording
A song with lyrics by 2 lovely ladies
A song that will be featured on my new album.
Six of us gathered to celebrate and listen to the finished product.
We started the night with wine, cheese and bread
because it is a "Chardonnay and Cheese" kind of song.
We ended the night with a salad
and a brief cello performance from Evan, our son.

Some people think that food is all about fuel for the body.
But this dinner was about nurturing friendship
and nurturing our souls
We were fed as much by the music
as we were by the food.
We spoke a little about the business of music
and our jobs
but it was mainly about creation,
about desires and dreams.

And by the end of the night,
exhausted and fulfilled
my body mind and soul nurtured
and at peace
Not thinking about "what next?"
but about What Is.

Passion Party #127 - 10,000 hours

It takes time to get really good
at anything
Hours and hours of practice and focus
of repetitive activity and training
whether it is to be an Estimator
or a doctor/specialist
or a tennis pro
or a professional musician
And even then, in this world of over-abundance,
there is no guarantee that what you have trained for
will be a career that you will make a living at
So you must love the journey.

The book, "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, states that research shows
it takes 10,000 hours to reach that level or excellence.
Behind every "overnight success" is 10,000 hours of training.
This is why it seems that young people are so "talented".
It is young people that have the time available
to put in the hours to become talented.
10,000 hours
= 1000 hours for 10 years
= about three hours a day of practice and training
333 days a year, for 10 years

So, love the journey!

Passion Party #126 - Giving Back

It is the season of giving
but more importantly
it is a time to give back.
I am not talking about money
but about time and service,
about taking an hour or a day
to heal part of the world
that you walk in or drive by.

I play many gigs each year, and I spend many more hours in my office "day job"
but my favorite show of the year is when I offer my talent to help raise money to build housing for homeless people in Los Angeles.

Each of us has a talent or ability to help.
The gift of time is the most precious gift of all
for a child, or a sick friend or relative.
It can be big or small
and it truly is the thought that counts.

For a big example of giving back,
read this posting by my friend Derek Sivers
http://sivers.org/trust

Passion Party #125 - Cherish Those You Love

So often I take for granted
what is truly a gift
I need to thank your toes
for their daily walk beside me
I need to nurture this love
so it continues to grow

I need to kick you out
I need to take you in
I need to listen
I need to learn how to cry
and how to laugh at our foibles.

How do you show
that you cherish those you love?

Passion Party #124 - Vision - Envision - Revision

First you need the vision
the Big Picture
the cover of the puzzle box.
I need to find someone that has done what I want to do, and see what it looks like.

Then you need to envision,
to imagine, to see in your own mind,
"What will it look like when...?"
looking at all the details
down to the smallest item
the when, where, how and why of it.

And then I can't be afraid of revision -
things change
inside of me and outside
I have to be able to hang on to the vision
and be willing to
revisit, review
and change what is not working
and be open to ways to make it better, clearer.

Passion Party #123 - Stress

In the home stretch of another year
and the layers of stress are mounting.

Stress is a necessary part of life
If you are stress-free, you are
either a Buddha, or dead.

Stress is what allows the Golden Gate Bridge
to cross the San Francisco Bay,
well-engineered stress.

Life however is often not so well-engineered.
Add holiday pressure, work deadlines, end of year bills
and a tough economy
and you have a mix that can cause
back pain, headaches or worse.

So just for today
create a stress-free zone
get a massage
take a bath
give yourself a gift of time,
reflection,
and unconditional love.

Passion Party #122 - Do What You Love

The more I do what I love
the happier I am
the more at peace I become.

Just doing it a little each day
even just an hour
makes the day feel whole.

Why not do it?
What are you afraid of?

"Fear is a friend that's misunderstood"
-John Mayer

Today I can take the time
to face the fear
find my friend
do what I love

Passion Party #121 - Know Your Numbers

Thirty years ago, when I got my first sales job I had a problem where I would make money once, but I would spend it three times:
I would spend it when I knew I was going to get the commission check, and then I would spend it again when I received the check. Then I would spend it again in the belief that the money would continue to arrive, in the HOPE of the next check.
This was not a good financial plan. It led to wreckage that took me years to clean up.

A similar vagueness exists now.
Last year I set a financial goal for 2009, but what is the financial reality right now?
And how do the two numbers relate?
Am I earning my lifestyle, or am I financing it?
And once I know the reality, how can I adjust the numbers so they match?
I can plan to earn more in 2010
but I need to spend less now.

Passion Party #120 - Finding The Core

I keep asking myself the question,
"What do you REALLY want to do?"

Once I get past the ego
of how great I am
or how talented
or what a great composer
or I am writing a symphony
blah blah blah

Once I get all that out of the way
what is left?
I want to help people
I want to be of service
not just to the Greater Good
but to specific people
to see the improvements and results
whether it is to help someone buy a house
or become more effective in their finances
or lifting someone's spirits through music
or being the best dad I can be to my sons

This is the core of my passion.

Passion Party #119 - A Giving Hand

It feels good to give back
To do something
for my community
to use my talent
to do good for others.

It reminds me
I am not alone
I can play big
I have enough to share
and that it is by giving
that I shall receive.

Today I can trust enough to
lead not with an iron fist
but with a giving hand

Passion Party #118 - Reward Yourself, Part 2

Reward yourself
You've made it through another week
on this crazy planet.

It can be as simple
as a walk in the park
or a movie matinee
It can be taking a moment
to sit and watch the birds
or taking a night off to read a great novel

It can be looking through old photos
or meeting a friend for coffee
It can be watching the sunrise
or a drive up the coast

The gift of breathing
the gift of movement
the gift of time
the gift of health
Accept these gifts, and many others
as your just rewards.

Passion Party #117 - Follow Up

If all I do
is follow up
my day will be full
of purposeful action;
the Universe
will fill my cup.

Like Kobe Bryant
I'll miss a few
but all of the practice
will give me traction;
if all I do
is follow through.

Passion Party #116 - The Purpose of Music

I majored in Music at Brandeis University from 1969 - 1973.
I spent 4 years in deep study of theory and composition, the relationship between notes and pitches and tempi and how music works.
I became a musician. It filled my soul, if not my pocketbook.

This week I get to be a musician again.
Tonight there is a rehearsal, and on Friday night we are recording a new song that I wrote with some friends.
It is a gift that I treasure more and more now.
When I meet people I am thrilled when their first question is "How is the Jazz going?" as opposed to "How's business?"

Dr. Karl Paulnack, Director of the Music Division at The Boston Conservatory described the Purpose of Music this way:
"The (ancient) Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Musi…

Passion Party #115 - Old Dog, New Tricks

Today I feel like an old dog
I want to lie around and sleep
circle the wagons
find my comfy couch
sip coffee and dream of chasing rabbits.

However, life has other ideas and plans for me.
Today I get to learn some new tricks
add to my experience
my plate is full
of meetings and things to accomplish
I just need to be willing
to learn some new tricks today.

Passion Party #114 - Stay Focused

The world is full of distraction
so many things
pulling and pushing at us
from outside and in
there are so many alleys to walk down that lead us away from our destination.

Some people call it multi-tasking,
I call it distraction
like white noise
or the confetti that I see
watching the weak television signal.

The most challenging thing
is to keep your eye on the prize
and then to keep on
taking steps towards it
every day
staying focused
Today I will
stay focused.

Passion Party #113 - Thanksgiving

There are so many reasons to give thanks
and we spend so little time doing it.
I love this holiday
a totally American creation
and not just for the food and the extra-long weekend
(what a concept - make the holiday on a Thursday so everyone gets a guaranteed 4-day weekend!)

I love it for its timeliness,
coming right after the last harvest and before the cold winter and its short days.
I love that it is not related to war
I love that it is not related to religion
I love that it is not related to ideology
I love that it is (if we choose to use it)
a time of reflection.

5 Basic Things I am Thankful For:
- I am thankful for having a great job
- I am thankful for my home, and its amazing location in Southern California
- I am thankful for my health and the health of those around me
- I am thankful for my family: my loving wife and inspiring children
- I am thankful for Passion in my life.

Please let me know, what are you thankful for?

Passion Party #112 - Zero-Sum Game

Many people play the Zero-Sum Game.
I win, you lose.
For me to triumph, you must be defeated.
It is basic math (if one gains, another loses).
It comes from a limiting belief
that there is NOT ENOUGH
that the world is finite.
If I don't grab my share and hold on tight, someone will take it from me.

I choose to believe
that the universe is infinite
that the world is plentiful
that there is MORE than enough
that value can constantly be created
that I can have, and you can too
that abundance can continue to grow
for me and for others.

Passion Party #111 - My Moral Compass

The ability to tell right from wrong
seems simple
but it is a knowledge that grows with you
through teachings and experiences.

We know it is wrong to kill,
but is it wrong to join the Army?
We know it is wrong to pollute the world
but is it wrong to work for a large chemical company?

There are times in my life where I have bent some rules
and even broken some
I have learned from these experiences
and try not to deviate too much any more from where
my moral compass points me.

For me it is a matter of checking in with myself
-does it feel right?
-Is it the best action?
-Is it truly
What is best
for me
for my family
for my community
for the world?

Passion Party #110 - Recharge Your Battery

Yesterday I took a day off
not for relaxation, but for renovation.
I got out of my business
to work on my business, and my life.

I drove to Carlsbad, CA
and spent the day with my business coach and about two dozen others
and I heard
about life
about growing
about the importance of love and intimacy.

I did not hear about how to get leads
or how to market my business
or how to close deals.

I heard about what it looks like
when you have a successful business
and you want more out of life;
when, like the Europeans have learned,
you want to work to live,
not live to work.

Today I feel refreshed
I am recharged
I am ready to lower my defenses,
to let love in,
and to work towards what really matters.

Passion Party #109 - Be An Inspiration

The best way to be loved
is to love others

The best way to find joy
is to bring joy to others

The best way to get inspired
is to be an inspiration for others.

Passion Party #108 - The Pursuit of Happiness

We have not been given the right to happiness.
We have been given the right to the pursuit of happiness.

I know that happiness is an emotion
it comes and goes
I can experience it, but cannot hold on to it.

It is ephemeral,
somewhere on the emotional continuum
between contentment
and ecstatic

Being with you makes me happy.
Working hard all week
so that I can have a free weekend with you
makes me happy.

Today is the day
I tap into my passion for life
and continue
my pursuit of happiness.

Passion Party #107 - Welcome Failure

This week I had to make a very hard phone call.
It involved losing a large amount of business
it involved losing trust in a co-worker
it involved a client possibly losing more than $10,000.
I had tried to put a deal together for a client
and I had failed.

Today I get to welcome failure
and learn the lessons that
this failure brings.

Each failure brings lessons
and after the pain and anger and depression
we are given the gift of learning
(if we are willing to learn from failure).

I learned
- I don't know everything
- I am not a miracle worker
- If something seems impossible or implausible,
perhaps it is
- Do not promise what is out of your control to deliver
- Being honest and forthright is ALWAYS the best policy (and will diffuse anger if and when it shows up)

I am sure I will learn more today
as I welcome failure.

Passion Party #106 - Rights, Privileges, Entitlements

I spoke with a man the other day.
He was so angry.
He was angry at the world.
He was angry at the banks.
He was angry at the guy down the street who, instead of losing his house, had been given a super-low rate mortgage by a bank so he could keep living there and the bank would not have to foreclose on the house.
This man wanted that loan.
Why can't he have it?
He felt entitled to it.
After all, he had always paid his bills on time, and - who knows? He might run into trouble some day and need a low rate loan to keep his home, so he wanted it now.

When I analyzed the man's current loan situation, it seemed to me he had a very nice home and he really did not have bad financing on it - but he felt he deserved something better.

He had lost sight of the difference between
rights and privileges.
In America you have a right to own property,
but you do not have a right to borrow money to buy the property -
that is a privilege, something you earn.
You have a right to the pursuit of ha…

Passion Party #105 - A Successful Week Checklist

- Learn something new
- Journal
- Work (meaningful work that creates income)
- Relax
- Play and/or write music (do something creative)
- Relax
- Love
- Befriend
- Eat well
- Exercise
- Simplify
- Be of service

Passion Party #104 - Plan Thoroughly

I love lists
They help me stay on track
they help me measure my accomplishments
and I have more passion for what I do
when I see I am getting things done.

I have many lists
sometimes I go list-crazy
Planning the day
Planning the week
Planning the Quarter
Planning each project
Planning my next vacation
Oops- I just made a list of lists.

Sometimes I am like Toad
(see "Frog and Toad are Friends")
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0064440214/ref=rdr_ext_sb_pi_sims_1
who, when his list gets blown away by the wind
becomes frozen, unable to do anything.
I know there is more to life than planning
Life often has its own plans
unknown to us
It is when my list fits into life's plan
- Ah -
then the list gets done and the plan gets completed.
A wonderful feeling.

Passion Party #103 - Overcoming Resistance

My life is full of resistance
things get in the way

It often seems like I have to do everything myself
and that is impossible
there is not enough of me to go around

But I can do this to set things in motion:
wake up, stretch, meditate, write
and then it does not feel so bad.
It is just the law of entropy -
- The world acts spontaneously to minimize potentials, and has a trend towards disorder -

The resistance can slow me down
but it cannot stop me
I will achieve things today because I am in motion
I am in action.

Passion Party #102 - Perseverance

One of the key phrases in the I Ching (or Book of Changes) is:
"Perseverance brings good fortune"

It is one of the most important qualities in the Book of Changes

This is what I am best at -
dedication
not giving up
following up
following through
being steadfast and upright

Today I will persevere
because I know that
Perseverance brings good fortune.

Passion Party #101 - Finding A Mentor

Finding a mentor is so important
There is someone out there
who has already done what you want to do.
You just need to find that person
let them be your teacher.

I know I cannot do this alone
or if I do
it will be slower and more painful
and will probably include a few dark alleys I should not go down.

It is so much better
to let someone lead me
support me
point me in the direction that works
with tools that have worked for others
I don't need to reinvent the wheel
when someone has already invented the sports car...

Passion Party #100 - The Power of 10 (Money, part 9)

My first job in banking was with Columbia Savings and Loan. It was 1987, and I was a new account executive. The branch I worked in was unusual - it was a second floor branch of the Savings and Loan, located in the Drexel Burnham Lambert building in Beverly Hills. There was very little signage on the outside of the building - you really had to know we were there, there was virtually no walk-in traffic.

The majority of the deposits at our branch consisted of accounts for Drexel Burnham employees. I handled the checking and CD accounts for people like Gary Winnick, Leon Black, Michael Milken and his brother Lowell.

Part of my job was to place money in CD accounts. I had noticed that Mike Milken had a huge amount of cash in his checking account at all times. On any given day he could buy a Third World Country for cash, if he felt like it. So I thought, why not call his office manager/controller, and suggest that he move some of the money from the non-interest bearing checking account into…

Passion Party #99 - Meaningful Work

What makes a job meaningful?
- seeing the results
- having a sense of accomplishment
- helping others
- getting paid for what you do

All of these elements
can be found in the stories of the
most successful people in America.

What can I do today
to reignite the passion or what I do?
What can I do
to turn my job
into meaningful work?

Passion Party #98 - Challenge Your Beliefs

It was a year ago.
I went to a seminar
and heard my friend Shel Brucker speak.
Shel is a "turn-around guy",
a CEO for hire,
and the picture he painted was bleak
but realistic.

The world is changing, he said, and we have to change with it
and the first step to that change is to challenge everything
don't take anything for granted.
Challenge your beliefs and see
what is really working and what are just old habits
that perhaps are no longer serving you.

If you, like me, believe we are only part of the way out of this recession,
it will help to keep Shel's list on your wall:

SURVIVING THE RECESSION
1. Challenge your beliefs
2. Know your numbers
3. Cut or defer expenses
4. Accumulate cash
5. Go for opportunity
6. Act Now!

Passion Party #97 - Enlightenment is Overrated

When I was really young
I had a scary thought -
What if I was praying to the wrong God?
What if I spent my life trying to get into heaven
and when I died and met God up there
He just laughed and said,
"Sorry, George, you picked the wrong door, no heaven here!"

As I entered college
and started to read Philosophy
I yearned to spend a week - a month - a year
just sitting and thinking,
figuring it all out
But then I thought, "What about all of life I would miss that year?"

I have met some Holy Men and Women in my life
and some Poseurs
It is hard to tell them apart at times

So today I walk through life
with my mind open
I look for wisdom
and not True Enlightenment

Passion Party #96 - Creating Assets

Most people look at their balance sheet -
assets and liabilities -
and see their home, their car, their bank accounts (or lack thereof).

I have been building a business for the last 10 years
and the most valuable assets,
more than money in the bank,
are the people I know and the clients I work with.
This, more than anything, is the asset that will grow my business.

I am not in the mortgage business
I am not in the music business
I am in the people business.

Passion Party #95 - Rain

We wait 6 months or more here
in this desert we call Los Angeles

The rain finally arrives
after threats from the Meteorologists
of severe weather and mudslides

Walking on the beach yesterday
it looked like the winds might blow the storm north,
missing the L A basin
But last night the rain hit
strong and steady
washing the roads clean of months of oil and rubber

I love the rain
it lets me know that Nature has not forgotten us
the grass and the flowers smile
the air cool and clean
A walk with an umbrella
is a reason to celebrate

Passion Party #94 - The Power of Negative Thinking

Yesterday I read a book review of two new books:
one by a woman who is a cancer survivor,
one by an arch conservative.
Both were complaining about our
Feel-Good, Positive-Thinking, Have-a-nice-day society.
The woman felt she was ostracized if she didn't buy in to the idea that she had to "think positively" to help get rid of the cancer, instead of her belief that science and medicine would or would not cure her disease.
The man was just a curmudgeon, positive that Oprah and Dr. Phil and Eckhart Tolle are taking us all to hell in a hand-basket.
My mom, like many Jewish mothers, was a card-carrying member of the Power of Negative Thinking Club.
The Club has four precepts:
- Bad things are to be expected, and you know, it could be worse!
- No matter how good something is, these is always room to complain.
- Expect the worst, and you leave room that you can be pleasantly surprised.
- Complain enough, and you will feel better
And one corollary:
- Worrying prevents bad things…

Passion Party #93 - Open

Open
Open up
Open your heart
Open your mind
Open your thoughts

Open for business
Open for suggestion
Open during remodeling

Breathe
open up
to a new day

Passion Party #92 - Three Marriages

(A thank you to David Whyte)

I have three marriages in my life.
I have the marriage to my wife, the actual legal marriage that we all think of when we see that word.
I have a marriage to my chosen profession (or professions);
to my job.
I have a marriage to my self, and to personal growth, to finding out who I am.

Each marriage requires time, energy
and constant attention,
each one must grow
or it will be dying.

I used to think of this as
an impossible juggling act
trying to keep all the balls in the air and fearful of one or more dropping

Now I see
the interface
the support
the balance that comes
from the three marriages.

Passion Party #91 - Autumn Haiku

I planted the seeds
Nurtured them through spring, summer,
Now time to harvest

Passion Party #90 - 5 Types of People

There are 5 types of people or types of character
that I run into in business over and over again.

There are Great People:
interesting and interested,
open to discussion, intelligent, willing to listen,
they make decisions and follow through.

There are Sometimes Great People:
much the same as above, but more self-centered,
moody, open to wide swings of opinion, less decisive.

There are Fun But Hopeless People:
great to be around, but nothing ever gets done
good for partying, but don't take them to work with you.

There are Don't Trust Anyone People:
they have been hurt along the way, and no matter what you do they are sure the world is out to get them, so they better do it themselves.

There are Use You For Information People:
they suck you dry, and then move on.

I work with Great and Sometimes Great People
because character counts
and I want to be surrounded with Great People.

Passion Party #89 - Billionaires

Last night I read Forbes Magazine
"The 400 Richest People in America"
almost all of them billionaires.
Warren Buffett's stock dropped last year
and he lost $10 billion dollars
Now he only has $50 billion ($50,000,000,000).

Four of the top 10 are the Walton clan,
all have billions because America supports them by buying cheap stuff at Wal-Mart.

What drives these people?
After reading Warren Buffett's biography
I now know that, besides not having his unique abilities,
I wouldn't want to be him.
Nor would I want to be Bill Gates.
But I admire them for both moving from
accumulation to significance
by creating a foundation to improve the world,
spending the money rather than leaving it to their heirs.
I certainly would not want to be Larry Ellison.
buying his competition into oblivion and
spending it on the fastest sailboat in the world.

I don't need to be the smartest person in the world,
I just need to be smart enough.
I don't need to be the richest person …

Passion Party #88 - Proceed With Joy

Every day we are given the gift of life
and then we get to choose
to open the gift, or not
to play with the gift, or not
to see this gift as an enemy or a friend.

It often feels like a road under construction
warning flags and orange cones everywhere.
The signs say, "Proceed With Caution"
But today I choose
to Proceed With Joy.

Passion Party #87 - My Mom

My mom taught me to be an artist
not by what she said, but by what she did.
Trained as a draftsman,
she could not get work in the 40s
due to sexual discrimination.
Marrying my dad shortly after the war
her life rapidly absorbed into being
the wife of an entrepreneur:
he was building a sheet metal business,
she was taking care of a growing family (three kids by 1955)

But all the while she was being the dutiful wife,
she also took art classes, was painting,
learned sculpture,
started designing jewelry and built a side business designing and selling gold and silver jewelry...
She fought the stereotype
of the hausfrau and the corporate appendage
to be her own person, and follow her own muse.

And now, at age 87 (as of next week)
she has a gallery showing in a Boston suburb of her latest 13 paintings, plus a selection of her other related work,
13 canvasses completed in the last 6 months or so
inspired by this, her first gallery showing in 15 years.

As an artist
she made choices in her life
to support her art
or b…

Passion Party #86 - Be Decisive

The people I like best
are those that make quick decisions
they can assess a situation and
promptly decide the next action

It is not a what-if
No second guessing
No looking to the future
to paralyze the present.

Being decisive is the first step in setting a goal
it sets things in motion

Not to say that I can't change my mind
that is another conclusion for a later day
when I again review the situation
and choose
and act.

Passion Party #85 - Environment

Nothing can cool passion faster
than a lousy environment.
The musician needs the right environment for the muse to visit
The lover needs the right environment for trust and lust to join together.

I took five days off the other week to travel,
visit family and observe the Jewish New Year
and at the end I felt
fearful.
The FEAR was that I had lost my center,
afraid of returning to my job
afraid of the economy
afraid of disappointing people
afraid business will dry up, that the music gigs will stop, that my family will stop loving me, afraid of illness and death.
It all felt hard, scary and uncontrollable.

But yesterday I awoke to a loving wife
who let me cry on her shoulder
a long needed cry.
And when I got to work, I found
the FEAR was just
False Expectations Appearing Real.
My office was still there
my systems still in place
my support staff still helping with the loan files
business was humming, and I was able to just drop in, regroup, and hum along.
The office, the space I work in
and the people I work wit…

Passion Party #84 - a New Year

The Jewish New Year
always arrives when school starts,
when summer ends
and it always feels more like the New Year to me than our Roman Calendar New Year.
The autumn brings a "buckling down" atmosphere
that feels more like a new beginning in some way.

Some years I wonder why I am at Temple
but this year the message was loud and clear

Taking time for self-reflection
to review what I have done right, what I have done wrong, and what I can do to make it better
Prayer for me is not a matter of asking for what I want
it is asking to follow God's will, or
your Moral Compass if you do not believe in a Higher Power
And then charity, reaching out to the community,
seeing what I can do to make life better for others.

This is what it is all about
Returning, Prayer, and Charity
T'shuvah, T'filah, and Tzedakah
Reaching in, reaching up, and reaching out

Passion Party #83 - Tzedakah

When I was a boy
we would get these little metal "Tzedakah boxes"
and would collect loose change,
and then at Sunday School we would hand them in to the teacher.
The money went somewhere, but I never really knew where.
It went to a Jewish Charity
It went to "the Needy"
It was a vague unknown where the money went
I just knew it went to somebody needier than me.

When I grew up I discovered that money was not the only way to give to the needy.
Charity meant service, taking the time to help,
working for free at times to do the right thing.

And then I learned generosity
and again it did not have to mean giving money
it was leading with the open hand
and an open spirit
It was giving, not the "the needy"
but to those you love
to those deserving.
It felt good to be generous
to be big enough to let the time and money flow
instead of hoarding what I had.

Now I see charity and generosity intertwined
and I remember
it is not about the money
I can wear this as a loose garment today
as I pray t…

Passion Party #82 - T'shuvah

I was never a big fan of repentance.
It always brings up an image of a New Yorker comic
with a guy in a long robe walking the streets
with a big placard,
someone Holier Than Thou,
who are you to tell me to repent for my sins?

But T'shuvah has other meanings
It is taking responsibility for one's actions
It is being accountable
And in another way it can be translated as "return".
A return to where you have come from
a return to the beginning
as we all finally return to the same nothingness.

When thought of this way
T'shuvah is really the 4th Step Prayer
a time to clean my side of the street
admit what I did wrong
and a willingness to change
to make it right in the future.
And it is when I become accountable
that things begin
changing
improving
creating space for what
the Universe has to offer.

Passion Party #81 - Prayer and Meditation

Prayer and meditation are similar but different.
Meditation is an emptying out
a clearing of the mind
a "no-thought"
or a watching of the thoughts go by
just like clouds, blown in a clear blue sky.

Prayer is more directed
but it is not an asking of what God can do for you,
it is not like the wish list for Santa Claus
It is an asking of what you can do to fulfill God's will.

My prayers start with a request for clarity and serenity, and this is like a meditation.
Then a thank you for what I have been given
(and often a surprise at how things that I desire seem to be coming my way)
Then a grateful list
and then a request prefaced by "if it is Your Will".

And yes, there is a big part of me that questions God as an individual or any kind of anthropomorphic being with the capability of listening and responding. Seems like a fairy tale. It is more an offering to life, to the universe, and the response continues to be surprising and often accurate and at times immediate.

Passion Party #80 - Money, Part 8

Abundance comes
to those that give it away
I need to share the wealth
to receive wealth.

My dad made a lot of money
and spent a lot of money
He realized early on
you need to be your own boss to really make money
and he loved to spend it as much as he loved to make it.
What is the money for?
Why do I want it so?
Freedom first, then security,
and peace of mind, and to spread joy.

It is the willingness to let it go
to spread it around
that makes me attractive
that brings me abundance.

Passion Party #79 - Reward Yourself

Our lives are filled with doing
Today, take time for being
A small reward
a walk around the block
a gift of time
today is a day to celebrate
and reward yourself -
You have come so far!

Passion Party #78 - 100 Things I Love About My Business

Three and a half months ago I was in a seminar and it started with a challenge:
Take 10 minutes and write down 100 things you love about your business.
After 10 minutes I had about 18 things on my list. I was done.
Then it was suggested that we pair up into groups of 2, 3 or 4 and compare our lists, to help each other get to 100.
The power of group thinking kicked in as we read our lists to each other, and found other aspects of our business that were similar. Things that resonated got added to my list. My list started to grow.
I got stuck when someone said, "I love the unknown" and "I love unpredictability" and "I love change".
I said, "I don't think I can put those on my list."
The person answered, "If you don't love those three things, then you are in the wrong business."
I put them on my list.

Within less than a half hour, we all had a list of 100 things and a mental shift had occurred.
I had discovered positive aspects of my busines…

Passion Party #77 - Passages

Our lives are filled with passages
Borders that we cross into new lands
and like the cartographers of the 1400s
our view of the world and its design gets clearer
as we explore new lands.

It is an uncharted territory,
even though others have been there before
this point in time being different from
every point before
and yet the same.

A passing through from one side to the next
and you can't go back
It is so important to acknowledge these changes
and mark them
so that it is more than just one more day
sliding into another:
a young couple's wedding vows at a 250-year-old inn,
a barbeque with friends for a young son off to college,
a son turning 16 - sweet 16 - at a pool party in Santa Monica,
an 86-year-old mother's first art show in over 20 years.
Grabbing each day
as if it is as special
as it really is.

Passion Party #76 - The Pathless Path

I remember
until I was in my mid-30s
I could pick any moment and,
looking back would think,
"How did I get here?"
If I could time travel
and go back in time 5 years
and tell myself, "5 years in the future you will be doing 'X'",
I would never believe it.

A constant overachiever, it felt like I had started my midlife crisis way too early.

Now from a further distance
I can see that what I am today
is a summation of all that came before.
It does all add up in a nonlinear way
I was on a pathless path

And I may still not know where I am going
or where I will end up.
I can see the past informs my present
and from this I create choices for the future.

Passion Party #75 - True Wealth

While in Washington DC
we took a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
and we saw where they print money.
Reams and reams of special paper
being printed, turned into $100 bills.
It can't help but make you think:
what makes this paper so valuable
that people will work their lives away to accumulate it?

In the Money Factory they had people checking and double checking the process
pulling the less-than-perfect product
to keep quality control of the printing and cutting and wrapping.
The "defective money" gets shredded,
then they put it in bags and sell it to tourists in the gift shop.
People buy shredded money with their hard-earned cash...

It would be nice to print money
rather than just work in the factory, getting an hourly wage for quality control.
In the end it is only paper.
In our massive dream we give value to it
but the true wealth is not in the paper
it is in a life worth living
in singing your unique song.

"Remember that your real wealth can be measured not by what you ha…

Passion Party #74 - Family Reunion

Some people are born into loving families
Some are born into families that don't care.
Some people choose their own families,
surrounding themselves with people of like mind.

Some people have children to create
the family they always wanted.
some people never have kids
fearful that their family will become like their parents'.

Some people run to record the family history,
some run from the family, changing their name in the hopes of creating a new life.

These are all parts of my family.

When I was growing up, becoming my own person,
I hurt my family with my separateness,
but now we all come together.
We celebrate, watch our families grow
through marriage and other life events
we enjoy each others company
even though the family is spread 6000 miles apart.
There is a caring and a common thread of
kindness - joy - support - love

Passion Party #73 - Life Is Not Linear

I remember when, at the age of 35, I got my
first banking job.
My mother was so excited.
After spending years pursuing a career in music
I had finally gotten "A Real Job".
A Job with a Future.
A job with benefits, and one that would undoubtedly lead to promotions.

Now as I look back
I see a long string of various jobs for banks, savings and loans, and mortgage companies that are either merged, closed or worse.
The days of working for the mega-corporation until you get the gold watch are gone - look at GM. Look at Chrysler. Look at the LA Times.

Life is not linear
no matter how much we try to make it so.
And yet if I take a moment
in honesty
I am able to look back and understand
how all these non-linear moves in my life
have led me to this place.

Passion Party #72 - Don't Set Goals

OK, let me be clear.
I love goals
I love scoring points and winning
I set deadlines for myself,
and things get done -
I would not have released 6 albums of music
if I did not set goals.

Goals are great for sports
but they are not always great in life.
In The Game of Life
we don't get to cross the finish line, count our score, and then just sip a beer until the rest of our time is up.

We are often so busy racing to our goal that we forget that
Life may have other plans.
So, just for today,
I won't set a goal
I will just live and see what happens.

Passion Party #71 - What I Did For Love

In 1976 I kissed today goodbye
and pointed the Dodge 100 van towards Los Angeles,
along with two like-minded friends.
I did it to find my future.
I did it for love.
Over the years I have walked through fire,
through broken relationships and broken hearts,
through therapy, both physical and emotional
I did it to find myself.
I did it for love.
I raised one child and am raising another
I found the love of my life.
I did this for love.
I built a business so unlike my father's
I did it for financial stability
I built it on love.
Now I awake early and greet every day
and open my heart.
I can do this
I do it for love.

Passion Party #70 - The Party

Summer is ending
and it felt like time to throw a party
to celebrate good friends
and children growing
and music filling our lives
so we had about 60 of our best friends over
to eat, drink, and listen
to some bluegrass, some opera, a few art songs, a clarinet duet, a Haydn Cello Concerto, a new bossa nova that Meredith and I wrote, some jazz, a couple of folk singers...
a wonderful day of eclectic music
and musicians
showing their talent and
their passion.

There were two performances dedicated to Steven, who died of cancer this summer before turning 20,
and it reminded me again
of how music helps us speak the unspeakable
and share the language of our souls
a direct connection
that words cannot begin to express.

Passion Party #69 - The Why, Part 2

"All men should strive to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why."
- James Thurber

The How is easy.
The How you can watch on Youtube
or various other places on the internet
You can buy a book on How at Home Depot.

The How is uniform
the Why is personal.
The Why helps me grow and evolve
especially if I get to the deeper questions.
Once I get beyond, "My Dad was too busy to love me" or "My Mom smothered me" or whatever your story is...
Once you get unstuck from the story that others made you be the way you are and start realizing that
you - you - made choices to run from some things, and towards others...
And then, Why?
The Why is hard, but profound, and worthy of the search.

Passion Party #68 - The Bath

Last night as I lay in the bath
sweating away the anxiety from another day at work
everything became clear, I could answer all of life's questions.
I had clarity and revelations
I would call Ben Bernanke and tell him what to do with interest rates.
I could explain why the banks aren't loaning money
and could tell you when happy days would return.

Then I went to sleep
and this morning, as if waking from a dream
I remember nothing.
Dang.

But I feel at peace
My heart is open, ready for another day.

Passion Party #67 - Prepare for the Unpredictable

How does one
prepare for the unpredictable?
We think we know life.
On The Weather Channel our computer models help us track where the possible hurricane might go
but life is unpredictable
the twists and turns are not neat
the variables in life are still too great
for Google's search engine.

Not unlike a good boyscout
I need my moral compass
to find True North,
my intuition unclouded
so I can let go, accept,
and know internally which way to go
when the unpredictable invariably arrives.

Passion Party #66 - Involve Others

The biggest dreams involve others.
I am not the kind of person
who can write in a vacuum
Nor am I the type, like Charles Ives,
that can compose symphonies knowing that they most likely won't be performed in my lifetime.
I need people to write for
I need a deadline to get it done.

Thinking about it is one thing,
talking about it with like-minded individuals is another.
Working with other to make it a reality -
this is where the strength lies
And it all starts by sharing thoughts.

Passion Party #65 - What I Choose To Do

Today is all about
what I choose to do.
My calendar is open today, and I choose to fill it
- with a morning filled with focus, reflection and exercise,
Gratitude for a wonderful weekend
filled with music performances from Idyllwild Arts Academy
and a sense of letting go of our teenage son
as he rapidly grows into a talented, caring young man.
- with a day filled with focus
completing the loan files that need to get done by the end of August
and designing the next ad campaign to create business
for September and the rest of 2009.

The summer speeds by, basically done,
and the Fall season and events are rushing towards me.
The year compresses, falling in on itself
and now more than ever I need to
seize the day
and make it count
Now more than ever.

Passion Party #64 - A Passionate Day Checklist

__ Meditate
__ Journal
__ Exercise
__ Kiss and/or hug someone I love
__ Talk with a friend
__ Play music
__ Do at least one thing to move my music career forward
__ Do at least one thing to produce "bankable results" at my office.

Passion Party #63 - Money, Part 7

Everybody has what I can "The Number".
It's that number where you say,
"I need $X a month to keep all the bills paid".
The monthly "nut".
But there is another number
It's the number where you say
"If I make $Y a month, I will be comfortable."
This is the number that allows money to go into the retirement fund, pay the taxes, the vacation account, the school fund, etc.

I have found that, when my income is at X or below X
I work harder
And when my income is at Y
I work less
until I discover my income is back at X
and I start to work harder again.

But what if I made Y my new X?
I have earned Y, so I know it is possible.
I have seen other people in my business earn Y times 5,
so I know it can be done.

If Y becomes my new X, then
I can set a new Y, a new upper limit
where I can feel REALLY comfortable.
This is an outrageous, big, goal
especially now
in this time of recession and fear.
I like it a lot.
Y is my new X.

Passion Party #62 - Frugal Fest

I went to a business lunch yesterday in Brentwood
at a very fine, stylish restaurant
and I had a $17 cheeseburger.
After the ice tea, tax and tip the lunch came to $28.00.
The restaurant was quite full of people,
businessmen and women, as well as families,
and I thought, 'Well, no recession here!"
But at our table the conversation turned to the fact that each of us has a brother or sister that had recently lost their job and was looking for work.
So today
I think it is time to join
Frugal Fest
the celebration of clipping coupons,
having dinner at Happy Hour restaurants
or better yet, eating at home,
and re-using those plastic bags, turning off the lights, etc.

The Latin root for frugal, "frui", means to enjoy
and it refers not just to being "cheap"
but it reflects economy in the use of resources,
money and otherwise as well.

Today I can remember that it feels good to live within one's budget
it feels better than
any $15 Martini
or $17 hamburger.
It is hard to set a budget a…

Passion Party #61 - The Why

I read a small article yesterday.
It was a list of the 10 things to do to get to your goals.
It was very seductive.
I remember a time when that was all I needed,
a list of 5 or 10 things to do,
and "Just Do It" was my motto.

It looks so simple on paper
But there is a deeper, more important game to play.
It is not the What You Do
and it is not the How You Do It.
There are huge websites now where you can find how
to do most anything, from how to fold a shirt to how to fly a fighter jet.

The what to do is easy
The how to do is easy
It is the Why that matters -
Why am I doing this?
Why is it important to me?
This is the drive behind the drive,
where passion lies waiting
to be awoken.

Passion Party #60 - Moments

There were moments this weekend
so brilliant:
Sitting on the beach with the clean wind
blowing in from the West
blasting my lungs open...
Speaking with my son on the phone, hearing his excitement about his music camp experience...
Seeing the joy in my wife's face
when she returned from her students' recital,
her teaching and talent having been validated...
Rehearsing new songs with Courtney for a gig next weekend...

And then finally seeing Take 6
at a fundraiser for the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra
O My God
The level of talent that these six men brought to us,
each individually amazing
and collectively almost unbelievable
I witnessed the Joy of Music
the Power of faith and Friendship (and practice!)
They carried me to a place beyond hope
to actuality - it can actually be this good
Life can be this good.

Passion Party #59 - Nobody

There is a popular maxim,
"Nobody ever said on his deathbed, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’”
So today I will do a short hike in the Santa Monica mountains, and plan to end the day watching the sun set over the Pacific ocean.
And I will squeeze in some "office" in the middle of the day.
That feels about right.
Life is good.

Passion Party #58 - Unbury the Passion

Very often my Passion gets buried in the Process.
Every day the world sets up More Rules to Follow,
more Road Blocks.
I think of the idea I am most passionate about.
Then I think of the process to get there,
the list of actions and activities to make this
dream into a reality.
The list gets longer and more detailed
and in the end I begin to think - is it worth it?
The passionate idea has been beaten down
by the process of getting there.
The challenge is to keep the passion through the process.
To dig down and find the passion every day,
find the part that you love, that brought you here in the first place,
and just do that today.

Passion Party #57 - Make Your Own Rules

Part of unplugging
is that it helps you see what is important
and what is not.
I have always loved games and puzzles
and since my youth I have wanted to be
the person who created the puzzle for others to solve,
the game master
who creates the rules of the game.
I wanted to run the Funhouse, rather than get lost in it.

It is human nature to want to learn the rules
and then figure out how to break them, or get around them, or improve them.
But it takes a special person to make their own rules
and create a new game.
And if the rules work
you may find
many people want to play the game with you.

Passion Party #56 - Don't Panic!

Some companies work on the basis of Crisis Management:
If it is not a crisis, we don't care.
Make it a crisis, and we'll get it done.
- Not my idea of a good time.
In my office, instead of a Panic Button, I need a
Don't Panic Button.
It will all work out - it always does, one way or another.
Don't worry
Don't Panic!
There's nothing going on but history.

Passion Party #55 - My Purpose

Passion is the fuel that keeps the fire burning
when it is attached to my purpose in life.

What is my purpose?
Serve others
Share my talents
Love others
Be an inspiration.

Passion Party #54 - The Pursuit of Passion

I would rather be in the pursuit of passion
than in the pursuit of happiness.
I would rather be passionate than happy.
Somewhere early in my life passion became one of the emotions I realized was a key
I would avoid jealousy and hatred
I would pursue passion and joy and love.
I have felt jealousy, and it is a gnawing, destructive emotion. It pulls you and those around you down. It comes from a sense of lack, of "not enough".
I have felt passion, and it is a powerful emotion:
Talent + experience + passion = unstoppable
Passion is the fuel that keeps the fire burning.

Passion Party #53 - Managing Expectations

The key to my happiness
is managing expectations,
being honest and forthright, not hiding my true self.
I let people know the worst case scenario,
That is what people want to hear
because that is the time we are living in -
"The worst recession since the Great Depression"
is what it said in the newspaper the other day.
When people know the 88 things that can go wrong
then it is easier to make it right.
If they expect difficulty
then I become a hero when I make it easy.

People like limits. They like to know the range of what may happen.
So I under-promise and over-deliver
and that leads to my health and happiness.

Passion Party #52 - Dance Like No One is Watching

There is a 100-year old philosophical riddle,
"If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" The answer seems to be that the sound is attached to the observation of the action.

We went out last night and saw a belly dancing show.
A group of lovely ladies, all ages and sizes,
displaying traditional and fusion dances filled with isolation of movement.

I couldn't help but wonder, what if Merce Cunningham
had been a belly dancer?
What if the belly dancing troupe used Cunningham's chance techniques
to create a dance?
That would be something to see,
a complete melding of the highest and lowest chakras.
The dancers might reach spontaneous combustion...

This is a wonder of creation
that whether we had shown up last night or not
the dance would have gone on
the costumes would have been worn
the music would have played
and the dancers would dance.
The dance goes on
You don't need an audience
You just need the spirit and desire
to enter the dance
It has a…

Passion Party #51 - Little Things

Today I will do the little things
That list of little things that all take time and somehow I never get to
Pick six of them
and do them
I will clean the grill
so that I can start fresh.
Getting little things done brings little triumphs.
That is all I need today.

Passion Party #50 - In The Flow

Yesterday for the first time in months I came home and could honestly say that I had a great day at work.
I actually had fun at work.
What made it so great?
- I spent the day talking with people that respected my opinion and expertise.
- All my clients are great now. I have weeded out the fun but hopeless, the distrustful, the ones that use me for information.
- I got the printout for my next paycheck and I am hitting (and surpassing) my monthly financial goal - my "number".
- I have enough other activity in my life - music, concerts, short vacation trips - that I have recent pleasant memories and things to look forward to.
- I felt "in the flow".

And today I feel gratitude,
I feel grateful and alive.

Passion Party #49 - Money, Part 6

Being poor sucks.
I have been rich, and I have been poor,
and being rich is better.
The starving artist thing gets pretty old at a certain point.
I remember as a student spending summers working at my dad's office, a sheet metal factory in Queens, NY,
and hating it, counting the hours I worked there,
and doodling over and over again:
The Best Things in Life are Free!
And I still believe this to be true.
But I would rather spend a day at the beach with a $50 bill in my pocket than be worrying about how to buy my next meal or where I am going to sleep that night.

You can have a lot of money and still feel poor, and you can have a little money and feel rich.
So I guess to some extent
once you get past the bare necessities
being poor is a state of mind.

Money doesn't buy happiness
but I am certainly happier when I have money.

Passion Party #48 - Raise Your Frequency

There are some people you just want to be around.
They inspire you, excite you,
they open your mind to new opportunities,
they help pull you up.
I want to be one of those people.

It is not hard to change your mood,
but first you need to recognize where you are on that emotional scale.
Like turning a dial on an old radio,
it's not hard to move from country music to classic rock,
you just have to change the frequency,
move up the range of the dial and tune in
to the music that you want to hear.

So I can do that, too,
raise my frequency from depressed
up past anger and fear
to joyful, inspired and perhaps ecstatic.
The frequency I put out is
the energy I will attract.

Passion Party #47 - What If You Knew Your Days Were Numbered?

Last night I went to visit some friends
to say prayers and reminisce about their teenage son
who just died last week.
He died of leukemia after a
long hard battle with the disease.
As people shared stories about Steven, a common thread appeared.
It was one of a caring individual, empathic, funny and warm,
a person who strived to achieve a lot in his short life,
and reached a Christ-like purity by helping others even as his own life slipped away.

What would I do if my days were numbered?
If I knew I only had a few years to live,
what would I do now? Would I choose to do things differently?
What if I only had a year?
What if it were only weeks?
It is like a game in the abstract,
but this was no game, this was the reality that Steven and his family lived with.

Death is inevitable,
but if I try to vision how it will be when I die
the image is one of being vital and healthy until
one night I go to sleep and I don't wake up the next morning,
like how my Grandma Birdie died.
I don't envision the slow de…

Passion Party #46 - Acceptance

We are now at a point where the Great Financial Crisis will be two years old. We have had two years to walk through the grief, the sense of loss.
I have been through the shock, and the denial.
I have gotten angry.
I have tried bargaining.
I have been through depression
and now I am at acceptance.
Acceptance is the key.

Acceptance is the key
The rule book has changed
and will continue to change.
I must keep looking forward and not spend too much time in the other stages of grief.
I accept what is, and move forward.

Passion Party #45 - Unplugged, Part 2

I am happiest and most relaxed when I am surrounded by nature.
I don't need newspapers. They are fun as a mind stimulant, but are unnecessary.
I don't need 99% of the emails I receive. Odds are if I never looked at email again, I would still survive.
The internet is a fun diversion, best for planning vacations.
I don't need the MEDIA to tell me what to do.
I can be happiest
cooking my own dinner
sitting in my back yard.
Life will go on without me, and that is OK.
"Social Media" is over-rated.

Taking care of the people immediately around me
Having a clear small picture
Being with friends
This is what's important.

Passion Party #44 - Fear of Success

I spent so much of my life thinking I was afraid to fail,
afraid to put myself out there.
I thought my fear of failure stopped me from going out on my own, from taking risks.
Was it my own limitations, or my lack of focus?

"What happens when you fail?"
I get to try again.
I get to change direction and try something new.
I get to stay small.

"What happens when you succeed?"
People expect more of me.
People will be jealous of me
I end up with a different, more complicated set of problems.
People will expect me to repeat my success.
I have farther to fall.

Success is hard.
It is so much easier to fail.
So my fear of success often stops me from achieving greatness.
I have to change those old tapes about success, reverse the message that I learned so long ago. It is not my voice that I am hearing.
Now I can say
-People respect me when I succeed
-I will not get more success than I can handle
-Success is easy, it comes to me when I do the right things
-Success allows me to mentor others, and s…

Passion Party #43 - Unplugged

What if you totally unplugged for 5 days?
No TV
No radio
No newspapers
No magazines
No computer
No Internet
No cell phone
No phone at all
No work
What would you find?
What would you say?
What kind of conversations would arise between you and your family, friends or strangers?
When you reenter the world, as you know you must, how will your values have changed?
What would you say?
What's important, anyway?

Passion Party #42 - Recovery Time

It is great to unplug
to get away from the office
and the computer
spending time with family in a relaxed environment
each day a blank slate
to be filled with nature - swimming - playing cards
Simple pleasures.

I know some people this year have opted out of vacations,
thinking they cannot afford to take one.
I cannot afford NOT to take time off.
Let the nerve endings mend
So I can come back refreshed
to battle another day.

Passion Party #41 - Big Dreams

I love big dreams -
Traveling around the world
Visiting exotic places
Running my own company
Performing at concert halls in major cities
Having more money that I can ever spend in a lifetime

I hate big dreams -
They are an illusion, a distraction
They only lead to disappointment
because they don't get fulfilled and
I am left with a sense of failure.

If I don't dream big
I will never know my limits
I will not know which way to turn
I will not be able to see progress

If I have big dreams
I can take steps towards them
and if it is really about the journey
then there will be no regrets
as I am on the right path.

Passion Party #40 - Sometimes

Sometimes
Instead of knocking on the wall
Or banging on the wall
Or hitting your head against the wall
You just have to walk around the wall.

Passion Party #39 - Breathe Out Fear

In my business you have to be an optimist.
There is no point in being an entrepreneur unless you believe you can succeed, and that tomorrow will be better than today.
So I choose to have faith -
Faith that when I take the right action it will all work out.
And when the fear shows up
as it always does
I can breathe in Faith
and breathe out Fear.

Passion Party #38 - The Importance of Being Passionate

I first started keeping a journal as a freshman in college. It was one of those seminal classes - Philosophy 101 - my teacher was Peter Diamondopolous. Our first assignment was to keep a daily journal of our thoughts.
He said, "A life worth journaling is a life worth living."
We read Camus, Sartre, I learned a lot.
It was somewhere during those four years of college that I realized how important Passion is to me.
Not just the passion of love, but the passion of life.

I became a music major in my sophomore year. At the time I said I did it because I could not think of what else would keep me interested in school for 3 more years. Now looking back, it was the one thing I felt most passionate about.

Passion is the difference between running away and running towards.
It is the fuel of desire.
You can have a burning desire for something,but if you are not passionate about it, it is likely to fall by the wayside.
Now, 36 years later, it feels good to tap that passion again.

Passion Party #37 - Money Part 5

What if you had lots of money, but no time to spend it? I often think that money buys time, but it doesn't really. Making money takes time, and making lots of money takes a lot of time. That is why they call it work.
I know that there are constantly books being written about getting rich quick and such, but I remember one big"AHA" I got when I read "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill: The people who make a lot of money work really hard to make it happen, they are dedicated to that pursuit.
I prefer a "get rich slow" scheme: a gradual, never ending accumulation.

What if you had lots of time, but no money? Many people feel this way, when there is "too much month at the end of the money". It is a nice thought to be free of the constraint of work, to be able to just "do what you want". But it can be pretty lonely, and sitting around the library can get old also.

There must be a balance, then. The old model of "work until you are 65…

Passion Party #36 - Suit Up and Show Up

Today I am going to two networking meetings.
Why do I do this?
I need to be part of a club that allows me to show that I am trustworthy, knowledgeable and multi-faceted.
I want people to know that I am "not just another ________" (fill in the blank).
"Never eat alone" can be a business plan if it is backed up with honesty and knowledge.

It is a challenge to get up early, suit up and show up.
It is the challenge of Being Professional in an Unprofessional world.
The world is full of amateurs, and it is our job as professionals to raise the bar and jump over it, even in our business suit.
So today I suit up and show up, and break bread with others.

Passion Party #35 - Rekindling The Passion

Sometimes you just have to feed the fire,
get back to the beginning.
Remember what brought you together
The sense of adventure,
doing something new in a new place;
Revisiting a place you loved
and finding you love it again.
Traveling with someone you love
and finding you love her again.

Rekindling the sense of passion
its not so hard to do
and once the fire is burning
I can carry the flame.

Passion Party #34 - Vacation

Summer brings the opportunity to work hard four days a week and then take long weekends.
Hop on a plane
change the channel
see what I can find with no agenda and little plans.
Work hard and play hard
and Laugh - Live - Love

Passion Party #33 - Money Part 4

Money is for motion.
It is the grease that gets society moving.
It is a man-made creation, an easy way to exchange goods and services.
If you hold on to it, it loses value.
If you let go of it too fast, it will leave you with nothing to show but memories.

I use it to give motion to my dreams, my desires, and when I nurture it and use it to further my highest and best self, it can give me countless rewards.

Money does not care if you are rich or poor.
It is an exchange of energy, and like all energy can be used for good or evil.

I chose financial services as a career partly because I felt that if I could be around the flow of money some of it might rub off on me. Then I learned that by standing in the middle of the stream it was easier to catch the fish.
So now every day I stand in the stream of abundance and let the energy reach me.
I let the money come to me.

Passion Party #32 - Fame and Fortune

When I first decided to pursue composing there were people I really admired and looked up to: Henry Mancini, Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith. These were people that had acquired fame and fortune as film composers.
I thought at the time, "I like the fortune part, but I can live without the fame."
Over the years I have learned that there is a part of me that wants to be famous, that wants to be known for what I do and who I am. I like when my good reputation proceeds me. But I would still rather be fortunate than famous.

Sometimes these two things decouple. There are many people on the Forbes 400 list that have amassed huge fortunes and I have never heard of them, and many more that I would not recognize if they were standing next to me at the supermarket. And certainly there are people now who get their 15 minutes of fame but never get the fortune.

Sometimes fame and fortune come together in a negative way, like for the ex-president of Countrywide Bank, or Bernie Madoff: Fortune and …

Passion Party #31 - New and Improved

You can't be new, and improved.
I was new once.
New feels great, usually. It feels fresh.
It's the first time out, that first breath of air.

Things gets better as they improve.
My first kiss was disastrous.
I bumped my nose into her face.
I remember thinking, "This is the kind of experience that scars people for life."
Luckily, I improved over the years.

That's one good thing about getting older,
it gives you time to improve.
It gives me the chance to know what I know,
and know what I don't know.
Now I can admit that I don't know what I don't know,
and when I explore that, it can lead to something new.

Passion Party #30 - Busy Work

I finally cleared my desk.
It was covered with months of built-up statements, receipts, books to read, articles to file, things to do.
The things to do were not important, they were
"things to do someday".
And months have passed.
And it is time to do the things to do someday.
Why not today? Why not make them Things To Do Now?
I sorted them over the trash can, and I separated out the trash, the expired, the things that no longer interest me.
I was left with "things to do now" and "busy work".

"Busy work" is insidious. It is the stuff you can't throw away, but you don't really want to do. It is the organizing, the number crunching, the filing, the grading.
I say I don't want to do it, but given my choices I will often turn to the busy work rather than pick up the phone and do the "things to do now".

Someday has passed
and the busy work can wait.
Today I will do the Things To Do Now.

Passion Party #29 - A Beautiful Day

It's a beautiful day.
Don't let it slip away!

Passion Party #28 - Do It Anyway

Where is your passion today?
Where is your desire?
Where can it lead you?
To a field of diamonds, to a place of helping, not hurting
To a place of sharing my highest self.

Where is my passion today?
Where is my desire?
What can I do today to feed that passion?
So often the actions I take today create results 3 or 6 months in the future.
What action can I take today that will make my future brighter, more passionate 6 months from now?
Listen to the voices that say, "You can't do that because..."
Tell them, "Thank you for sharing,"
and then do it anyway!

Passion Party #27 - Money Part 3

I love being paid well for what I do.
The greatest thing about being an entrepreneur is that my income is not tied to an hourly wage.
Rather than someone telling me, "Your job is to do this, and you will be paid $10.00 an hour to do it", I create my hourly wage based on what I choose to do and the value I create for people, and for myself.
Of course there is a scary part attached to this: the "eat what you kill" primitiveness.
If I choose to be an elephant hunter, then I may go many days without food. This takes preparation and planning to succeed.

I like to be of service.
I like helping lots of people, so I would rather help 10 people get little things done than wait for the one $10 million dollar client that needs my help.
Being paid well for what I do builds self-confidence
and self-worth.
It creates the freedom to design my business even better so I can be more efficient, which creates more money and security or more freedom, whichever I choose.
(Some people work for sec…

Passion Party #26 - The Grateful List

What is it about starting the day with gratitude? Coming from a place of thankfulness warms my heart. It focuses on what I have, rather than what I want. And I really have enough.
I can complain, and I often do. But it seems that when I laugh, or think that something is "silly" rather than "annoying", it is easier to slip back into being grateful.

I am grateful today that my life is filled with music! I am grateful that I can spend an hour today working on my music, and that my son is in the Mark O'Connor String Institute at UCLA this week. Each night this week we get to go to concerts performed by the various instructors where we get to hear them demonstrate their special styles of music, everything from Americana to Klezmer to Free Improvised classical music.
I am grateful for the roof over my head. I am grateful that I have a friend to meet for lunch today. I am grateful that I have a conservative investment adviser that didn't give my money to Bernie Madof…

Passion Party #25 - A Field of Diamonds

I am sitting in a field of diamonds
and all I need to do is
open my eyes to see them.
The world is abundant, no doubt.
Our children have so much opportunity it is almost embarrassing,
but it is not embarrassing, it is wonderful.
It is a gift that we can share.

Before I repair the world, first I need to learn to live in it,
be part of it, love it.
I must give grace to receive grace.

Passion Party #24 - Creating Time / Finding Time

Einstein said matter cannot be created or destroyed.
He also said that time is relative.
So is it possible that time can be created or destroyed?
Even if time is relative, it seems a given that we cannot get time back once it is gone. Benjamin Button not withstanding, we don't grow younger, we grow older.
We can try, like Michael Jackson, to freeze time in youth, live our lives in Neverland, but our bodies understand the concept of aging, whether we want them to or not.

Time is like the airplane seat that flies away empty; it will never be able to get filled again until, maybe, the next flight.

I like the idea of creating time. Why not? We have created the calendar, we have created the concept of 24 hours in a day, but we did not create the fact that the sun rises and falls, and we are not limited to what we can get done between sunrise and sunset.
Waking up at 5:00 AM has created time, it has created a new world for me to discover.

And I love the idea of finding time. I find time all aro…

Passion Party #23 - Lighten Up

The world can seem so heavy
So much doom and gloom
What is it I can do today
to brighten every room?

My body feels so heavy
I had too much to eat.
Today is another day
I can feel light on my feet.

I have my health today
There is no need to mope
I want to be a kid today
swinging from a knotted rope.

I take the plunge
I fill my cup
Let's have some fun
And Lighten Up!

Passion Party #22 - Money Part 2

Our society has set interesting rules on who gets paid what.
There is a relationship between
skill - talent - difficulty - knowledge - function - and value.
Skill alone does not make money
- there are many skilled bus drivers.
Talent alone does not make money
- there are many talented artists that are starving.
Difficulty alone does not make money
- working in a coal mine would be difficult.
Knowledge alone does not make money
- librarians are very knowledgeable.
Function alone does not make money
- there are many out of work bankers right now.

I spent many years as a starving artist, and while I was visiting that place I discovered that, right or wrong, society placed more value on certain jobs than others. Playing piano in a hotel lobby, no matter how skilled or talented I became, would not pay me as well as becoming, say, a software programmer or a film composer.

So then the question became "How much do I want money?" And "How much money do I want?"
And the question behind th…

Passion Party #21 - A New Habit

Creating a new habit is not hard.
It is just doing.
Like Yoda said, "Try not - do, or do not."
Yoda was an old dog, filled with new tricks.
Many of my habits found me, like the glass of wine with dinner.
Other habits I had to find, like clearing my desk at the end of each work day, and "cleaning the grill" at the end of each week.

The end result is the same.
I am driven by pleasure
I run away from pain.
And it is that combination of emotions that drive my willingness to create a new habit.
Today I am willing to change,
today I am willing to learn a new trick.

Passion Party #20 - Don't Hold Back

How much of my time is spent in the realm of the mind?
And how much more powerful would I be if I connected it with my heart?
There is something deep that happens when I feel connected from my head to my toes. I can feel life coursing through my body and almost anything is possible.
I spend so much time holding back,
being "careful", not wanting to rock the boat.
How much more could get done, how much more would be accomplished
if I would play full out all the time?
What do I have to lose?

Don't hold back!
It does not serve you.
Today I will live in my heart
I will live in passion
I will love until my heart overflows.
Don't hold back!
It does not protect you.
It gets in the way of your greatness.
The brain will catch up in time
if you lead with your heart,
lead with the giving hand.

Passion Party #19 - Money

My relationship with money started long ago.
As a kid I thought it was interesting how we would throw our change into the little metal "tzedakah" box at the temple on Sunday, to give the money to - who? For what? Something about "the needy".
So one day I thought, gee, I am needy too, so I took a small jar at home and taped a picture of a sad dog on it, and wrote, "Give to the APGKGB" (that was the Association for the Prevention of George Kahn Going Broke.) And I would put my change in there, and my Dad would put some change in there, and now and then people who would visit our home would put change in there. My parents, who were understanding and very supportive of my creativity, went along with the joke.
(This was probably my first successful marketing idea.)

I always found it odd and amazing that people gave value to paper money. I was 19 when President Nixon finally announced that the US was abandoning the silver standard, where the government issued money…

Passion Party #18 - Play Big

Bigger is not always better.
Sometimes bigger is just bigger.
Look at GM. Look at Chrysler.
Look at Six Flags - this company grew to be the biggest operator of amusement parks in the US. They declared bankruptcy a couple of weeks ago.

There is a difference between getting big and playing big.
You can buy things to get big -
- Playing big is an internal game.
You can consume things to get big
- Playing big is a state of mind.
You can acquire things to get big.
- Playing big builds on your unique ability.

Today I choose to play big. I was not put on this earth to play small.
Playing small does not serve me or others. I can shine my light, turn on my high beams. I have so much to give!
I love to play big, surrounding myself with people that help pull me up to the next level.
Marianne Williamson said, "And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same".

And if I can't play big here, well it must be time to find a better playground!

Passion Party #17 - Today

Today I choose to talk about positive things
To see something good in every person I meet
To water my vegetable garden
To nurture my soul.
Today I choose to organize my time so that
I can help those that need my help.
Today I choose to have patience
I choose to say a prayer for those in pain
And do what I can to live in serenity
Accepting the things I cannot change
And changing the thinks I can.

Passion Party #16 - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?