Showing posts from 2015

Passion Party #554 - About To Be

(inspired by Seth Godin)
The only way to become the writer who has written a book is to write one. The only way to become the musician who has released a music CD is to release one. And you can't create your second CD until you've done the first. You can't win a Grammy unless you have an album up for consideration. It is the doing first. Whether it is running, or walking, or golf, or leading. Yes, the only way to become a leader is to start to lead. It really is a little mind game, this "acting as if".  It starts with a desire, and then a thought, and then an action.  And finally, if you follow through, there it is.  It is a mix of the present and the future, with a healthy dose of ignoring the past. Just tell yourself what you are about to be.  And then become it.

Passion Party #553: Down — But Not Out — In Los Angeles

There is a housing crisis in Los Angeles. Some people call it a homeless crisis — I think of it as a housing crisis. You see it in Downtown: As the gentrification picks up speed, the old “flop house” hotels get converted to hip apartments and the condos start selling at $550,000. You see it in West Los Angeles: Now starter homes are selling for $800,000 and being torn down by developers to make million-dollar houses. You see it on the beach in Venice, when the police chase the homeless across the border into Santa Monica; you see it again a month later when the Santa Monica police chase the homeless across the border into Venice. You see it on the street level at many a freeway overpass.You see it near the Veterans Hospital in West LA, you see it next to the 110 as you drive to Pasadena, and you see it in the San Fernando Valley.People are homeless: they need help, they…

Passion Party #552 - End Of A (B)erra

I was born in New York City in 1952, and although we lived in the suburbs I have very fond memories of my dad taking me to Yankee Stadium while I was growing up. Maybe one or two games a year.  Not a lot, but enough to give a lasting impression.

This was the time of the most powerful Yankee team: Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto, Whitey Ford, Roger Marris, and Yogi Berra (the catcher).  By the time I went to my first game when I was 7 years old, Yogi was already a hero, and he was already becoming famous for his Yogi-isms, wacky public utterances spoken with complete sincerity.

Yogi died September 22, 2015, at the age of 90.  He came from a simpler time in our world and a much simpler time in the world of professional sports.  He knew by the age of 14 that he was destined to play in the big leagues, and his belief propelled him into the American Legion Junior League where he was nicknamed "Yogi" because of his habit of sitting cross-legged on the ground with his arm…

Passion Party #551 - Taming the Wild Brain

Last week was rough.

I was grinding my teeth at night, sweating.
My workday followed me home each night, demanding that I pour over the days events, the troubles in the world, my fears of money, failure and letting down those I care about.
Then I found this poem by Wendell Berry, 

The Peace Of Wild Things:
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
So this weekend I went walking in nature and saw wild things, and tamed my wild brain. And this morning I basked in the full moon-set, full and glorious, as the sun announced another day.

Passion Party #550 - Prayer

Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, or "the big do-over" as I like to call it.

Asking forgiveness for all my sins, conscious and unconscious, known and unknown.  And moving forward into a new year where I hope to spend more time in communication and connection.

A year of "At One-Ment", rather than Atonement.

Here is a most appropriate poem from Marie Howe, "Prayer":

Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention—the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage
I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here
among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.
The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?
My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.
Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.


Passion Party #549 - I Don't Know

Early in my childhood I came to realize I had the ability to sound smart, even when I didn't know what I was talking about.

It wasn't arrogance.  It was the ability to say something with conviction and authority that would cause people to believe it was true.

This seems to be a primarily masculine trait.  More men than women are afflicted with this malady.

Over the years this trait has served me well.  It wasn't until much later I learned that acting like I know everything is not the best way to travel through life.

Some people think the most important three words in the English language are "I love you".  I suggest that the most important words are "I don't know".  This opens you up to learn something new.   It gives you the ability to increase your knowledge.  It allows you to be vulnerable.  It creates a space where it is possible to find the true answer to the question.

So today I will practice "I don't know".

Passion Party #548 - No Labor Day

I learned from my dad that working for an hourly wage is  a losing game.

You may not need to be "The Boss", but you need to be the boss of your own destiny, and to do this you cannot be tied purely to an hourly wage.

I learned that in America we are not paid for our labor.  We are paid for how many people we help and how many people our work touches.

So let's call it what it is.

Today we celebrate all those who are tied to a wage, be it $7.25 an hour, $10.00, $15.00 or otherwise.

And how do we celebrate this? By giving people the day off and a chance to shop for cars, mattresses, clothes and new television sets or appliances.  Because that is the American way:

The one with the most stuff wins, and Uncle Sam always needs the biggest rocket.

Passion PArty #547 - Truth In Advertising

How many times have we been told "this merger of Airline A with Airline B will benefit consumers with better service, more competitive pricing, blah blah blah"
"This merger of Phone Company A with Cable Company B will benefit consumers with better service, more competitive pricing, blah blah blah"

when we all know that the purpose of these mega-mergers is to benefit shareholders and executives, not the general public.  This is a business after all, right?

It would be so refreshing if they fired the spin doctors and just told the truth.

Every now and then someone will call a spade a spade.  I try to do this every day in my business.  It saves a lot of time and avoids bad feelings later on.  And even in Los Angeles, this city of illusions, every now and then there is Truth In Advertising

Passion Party #546 - The Land of Yoga and Donuts

I live in a land of contradictions

Where people are willing to spend $30 to have their dog get a massage, but are unwilling to give a guy on the corner $3.00 to get a sandwich.

Where people obsess about exercise, but are unwilling to walk a mile to the store when it is so much easier to drive.  Oh, and you have to fight for the parking space closest to the door to enter the Mall.

Where we obsess about eating the healthiest food, but then, driving home from the yoga class you can't help but take a detour over to La Cienega Boulvard to visit Randy's Donuts.

Passion Party #545 - A Dream Realized

In 2010 when my son Evan was starting his senior year of high school, I approached the head of the music department and asked if I could write a piece for solo cello and string orchestra for my son to play at the end of the school year. Evan had already shown himself to be a very accomplished musician, and the school agreed. In the Spring of 2011 the Adagio for Cello got its world premiere: Evan Kahn, Cello, with the Santa Monica High School Senior Gala Orchestra.  Jason Aiello conductor, Joni Swenson director. You can watch it here on youtube if you like Evan went on to be a Cello Performance  Major at Carnegie Mellon University, and for the last 4 years he has been ripping it up in Pittsburgh.  In his junior year he asked me if I would like to take the Adagio and turn it into a full-blown Concerto for Cello.  I loved the idea (of course), and started work on the two additional movements. Evan graduates in about 4 weeks.  He …

Passion Party #544 - Teach Your Children

If you could teach your children one lesson in life, what would it be?

This question was posed to a group of parents yesterday, and here are the answers (in no particular order)

 - Be willing to give.  Be of service.
 - It's all about your contact list, and learning to differentiate between who you meet and who you want to get to know better.
 - Don't give up. Don't let anyone tell you you can't do it
 - ASK.  If you don't ask, you don't get.
 - Everything in life is negotiable.
 - Don't be afraid to fail.
 - Have the right tools for the job.
 - Be open-minded.
 - Everything starts with a thought.
 -  Hard work is its own reward.
 - Growth can happen in leaps.
 - Have persistence - "When someone says no, that's when you go to work".
 - Luck does not just happen.  You can make your one luck
 - Play nice in the sandbox.
 - Worrying is a poor investment
 - Learn how to read a balance sheet and P+L statement - it will help you in more ways than yo…

Passion Party #543 - Listening

As a music major in college
I spent four years developing my knowledge of music and sense of hearing.
I learned to differentiate melody lines
and to tell if something was in or out of tune.
I developed "selective hearing" -
the ability to focus in on one sound while totally ignoring others -
(kind of like binoculars for your ears).

But the four years of developing my hearing
did not help me become a better listener.

Listening means giving complete attention for the purpose of understanding.
It is the difference between "I hear you" and "I get you."
It means paying attention to another person's thoughts, feelings and ideas, and not dismissing them because you don't agree or you did not think of it first.
It involves holding thoughts at  distance in order to respect the other person's point of view,
reacting only once you have put yourself in that person's shoes.

We often spend all day talking
and "being interesting"
rather than li…

Passion Party #542 - Would You Let Your Music Go Unheard?

Many years ago, violinist Itzhak Perlman gave a performance in New York. During the concert one of the strings on his violin suddenly broke. The crowd gasped at the sound, which could be heard throughout the entire auditorium, and the music abruptly came to a stop.  The crowd waited patiently for Mr. Perlman to replace the string. However, much to everyone’s surprise, Perlman didn’t rush to find a new string. He took a moment to gather himself before he motioned for the conductor to begin playing again where the orchestra had left off! For the remainder of the concert, Perlman played the music that should have been played on four strings on only three.

As Itzhak finished playing, for a moment, time slowed and silence filled the air then the audience rose to its feet to offer a standing ovation for this incredible feat. Perlman smiled and humbly raised his bow. “You know,” he told them, “sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make wit…

Passion Party #541 - Patience

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry.  We shall get there some day." - A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh Patience is a lost art. To stop and wait while life swirls around you trusting that  something hidden here will be revealed, this is the gift that patience brings. Patience is like water: It takes the shape that you give it and in the end, if set free, it will always go where it wants to go and nothing can stop it. In time, it can find a way around most any obstacle. In time, it can create something as incredible as the Grand Canyon. I think back to the summer of 1972, when my friend Rick and I rented a cabin on the Wyalusing River, where for four weeks we did nothing much but watch the river flow by. Always there, but in every moment always different. Like putting a bird feeder in your back yard -  you put it up, and put the food in, and then you can do nothing but wait. Patience brings the gift of the birds Patience is the gift.

Passion Party #540 - Persistence

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more com- mon than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” - Calvin Coolidge 

It seems like such a simple idea:
Pick one thing, and keep doing it
whether it is exercise, or practice, or study.
It is the obstinate and continuous course of action that in the end creates results.

There should be an easier way
but in the end the task does not get easier,
what gets easier is our ability to perform it.

Pick one thing, and keep doing it.
There are days that I just don't feel like it
I am not motivated, or inspired.
But motivation does not produce results.
It is the action, the persistence,
the morning ritual that you do because,
well, because you do it every day.


PASSION PARTY #539 - Money and Energy

It takes energy to make money. They say that money doesn't grow on trees, but if you plant an orchard and work at the harvest, money can grow on trees. The relationship between time, money and energy: Money does not equal energy. If it did, day laborers would be rich. Knowledge does not equal money If it did, librarians would be wealthy. But knowledge, combined with time, energy and action, can create money. I think of money as congealed energy. Each day I exchange my life force energy, which is formless for money, which is solid and tangible. And in our society, money is also an accurate measurement for the amount of value I am bringing to the marketplace. So the secret of making more money is not to spend more time or to  exert more energy it is to give more value to more people and build systems and teams to expand my capacity to receive the fruits of my labor. Then the money takes care of itself.

Passion Party #538 - You Are Not Pefect

You are not perfect. If you were perfect, you would not need to read this. Do not judge yourself based on what you cannot do. Feel the enjoyment of your accomplishments your expression your talent you have a gift and people deserve to hear it, to see it, to live it with you. Being judged by others is bad enough you do not need to join the panel of experts who want to tell you what to do. Remember, they are just people too, with good days and bad days and their own dirty dishes to come home to. Bring your humanity to the party come prepared and then - let go.

Passion Party #537 - Getting Started

I have my 2015 date book
I have my Passion Planner
I have my business plan workbook
I have my daily to do list
I have my smart phone
I have my Google alarms
I have my Outlook calendar

So why do I feel so disorganized?