Friday, January 29, 2010

Passion Party #150 - The Dilbert Effect

A recent study from the Conference Board of New York shows that in a survey of 5000 households, 55% of people are not happy in their jobs.

This means that more than half of US workers are unsatisfied,
more than half feel they are underpaid, overworked, not used to the best of their abilities and/or hate their boss.

Dilbert is alive and well and living in your office.

What it really tells me
is that many people feel trapped,
not empowered
that many people took "a job"
but have not found their passion
that letting life happen to you
rather than making it happen
is generally not the path to happiness.

And that it comes down again to personal responsibility
I need to do what it takes
to have a fulfilling life.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Passion Party #149 - Interviews

Perhaps you have discovered your passion lies elsewhere, and it is finally time to search for a new job.
Here are some things NOT to do on that first interview (as reported by various head-hunters and HR people):

DO NOT lean across the desk, exposing the panther tattoo on your breast.
DO NOT wear an expensive suit and tie when applying to work for a sporting-goods company in Arkansas.
DO NOT arrive late to the group interview at a restaurant and then order the most expensive item on the menu.
DO NOT say you really can't start the new job for 3-6 months, or that you are "just looking".
DO NOT jog from the bus stop to the interview, arrive sweaty and ask if they have a shower you could use.
DO NOT consistently mispronounce the name of the person interviewing you.
DO NOT become so animated that you knock over your coffee cup on the interviewer's desk.
DO NOT ask for reimbursement of expenses at the start of an interview.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Passion Party #148 - Purposeful Action

Ready, Fire, Aim!
is the way life often goes
But action without purpose
only works as an entertainment in the movies,
and only for so long.

Like climbing a mountain
Daily Purposeful Action
can achieve most any goal
and the more I know the motivation
behind my action
the more purposeful I become
the more steps I will take
to reach the summit.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Passion Party #147 - Write Down Goals

The first mistake
in New Year's Resolutions
is that they never make it past your lips
they are but a thought
another should
in the pile of should in your life

If the thought rings true
and it is something you really really really want
it is worth speaking about
and telling somebody

And then it is worth writing about
maybe even more than once
it all begins with a thought
but it can also end right there
without the word
without realizing it on paper

Think about it
Speak about it
Write about it
Bring it about

Monday, January 25, 2010

Passion Party #146 - Leadership

There are managers
and then there are leaders.
I spent many years working under managers,
thinking, "Shit, I could do this better than him/her..."
I watched people get promoted
only to repeat the mistaken concept that
to manage means to intimidate, threaten or cajole.

A manager says, "Do as I say"
A leader says, "Do what I do"

The four types of leadership I aspire to:
- VISIONARY: where vision, product integrity and brand are one and the same (think BMW)
- EMPATHY: having soul, and not being afraid to show it. Walking the floor and listening to concerns (think Southwest Airlines)
- HUMBLE SERVITUDE: Being a Super Servant, rather than a Super Star (think Wal-Mart)
- MORAL/ETHICAL: making the Golden Rule your moral compass. "Is what I am doing best of my client? Is it best for my business?" It needs to be a win-win situation every time. (Think Google, Starbucks)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Passion Party #145 - Synchronicity

Part of the process I have with my clients is that I always send a gift right after I start working with them, to thank them for their trust and willingness to have me take care of their financing. Often it is a New Age-y relaxation CD, "Conscious Dreams", but if they are repeat clients I have a drawer full of various books that I send out. I try to "read" the person, and send something that I think would be appropriate.

Recently I sent a client a Marianne Williamson book, "Everyday Grace". Days later I got this most amazing response:

Hi George,
I just received the book you sent, Everyday Grace. It appears to be a lovely book . . . and somewhat eerily appropriate. Two of my brothers are flying with my mom to Connecticut after Thanksgiving to visit a faith healer--named Grace! And as you can imagine, we are praying for something miraculous! I hope this is a good omen, but it is definitely a reminder that whether or not we get a specific miracle, my mother is surrounded by God's grace every day.
Thank you so much!

I gave a little gift, and who knew the effect it would have.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Passion Party #144 - Lyrics by John Lennon

Lyrics, by John Lennon

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead,
What in the world you thinking of,
Laughing in the face of love,
What on earth you tryin' to do,
It's up to you, yeah you.

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna look you right in the face,
Better get yourself together darlin',
Join the human race,
How in the world you gonna see,
Laughin' at fools like me,
Who on earth d'you think you are,
A super star,
Well, right you are.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Well we all shine on,
Ev'ryone come on.

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you off your feet,
Better recognize your brothers,
Ev'ryone you meet,
Why in the world are we here,
Surely not to live in pain and fear,
Why on earth are you there,
When you're ev'rywhere,
Come and get your share.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
Come on and on and on...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Passion Party #143 - Clean The Grill

Last autumn I visited Lowell MA
which, in addition to many quirks and charms
has one of the largest collection of original "diners" in America.
These are prefabricated restaurants, primarily built in the 30's and 40's, that were mobile and could be moved from location to location. Many, it seems, ended up in Lowell.
We went to The Owl/Four Sisters Diner for lunch.
The thing that was most striking was the grill.
The back of the grill was pressed stainless steel.
It shone like a diamond.
Everything on the grill - the potatoes, the bacon, the eggs - all had their place.
It was clear that the cook spent a lot of time every day cleaning the grill.
In truth, the food was quite average
but I would go back just to see that grill again.

One of my favorite times each week is when I "clean the grill",
when I take some time to clear all the surfaces in my office,
putting things in their place (or in the trash)
so that tomorrow, when I start cooking again,
I have a clean grill to work on.
So even if the results are average
I enjoy my workspace
and people will come back,
just to see the grill.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Passion Party #142 - Money, Part 10

Years ago, in a previous lifetime
I attended Debtor's Anonymous.
Money, unlike other addictions, is not something that you can just say, "I won't use".
The issue usually came down to one of two things:
1) I spend too much or
2) I earn too little.
The world is filled with over-spenders and under-earners.

This week my wife and I are playing a new game.
We have removed all the personal credit cards from our wallets.
We are not using the ATM card or any plastic, or checks.
We each have $200 cash for the week,
and we each have made a conscious decision
to be aware as we spend the money.
It is to cover all food, coffee, gas, the cleaners, all "impulse" buys, dinners out, entertainment, etc.

There was an amazing amount of stress over the weekend as we talked about starting this new game.
The fear of "Not Enough" loomed large
But today it is just a game and it feels good.
Next week we'll take stock and see how we did
and then we can play again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Passion Party #141 - Self Esteem

Character is made up of many parts and can be seen many ways.
There is how other people see you,
but more important is how you see yourself.
This self esteem colors your days and activities.

There is that fine line between affirmation and delusion.
Sometimes I need to cross that line
and start from the belief that
self esteem plus action = accomplishment
If the affirmation feels too big, it is probably kicking your self esteem in the ass.

And it is OK to feel uncomfortable.

I have the talent
I have the ability
I have the time
I have the money
I have the desire
Nothing can stop me now.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Passion Party #140 - Don't Give Up!

Are You Facing a Setback?

Setbacks are a part of life. The next time you’re facing a setback, here are a few stories about people who used a setback as a set-up for a comeback:

Lucille Ball: She began studying to become an actress in 1927 and was told by the head instructor of the John Murray Anderson Drama School, “Try any other pro­fession. Any other profession.”

Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds: In 1959, a Universal Pictures executive dismissed them at the same meeting with the following statements. To Burt Reynolds: “You have no talent.” To Clint Eastwood: “You have a chip on your tooth, your Adam’s apple sticks out too far, and you talk too slow.”

Alexander Graham Bell: When he invented the tele­phone in 1876, it didn’t ring off the hook with calls from potential backers. After making a demonstra­tion call, President Rutherford Hayes said, “That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?”

Chester Carlson: In the 1940s, this young inventor took his idea to 20 corporations, including some of the biggest in the country. They all turned him down. In 1947 – after seven long years of rejections – he finally got a tiny company in Rochester, NY, the Haloid Company, to purchase the rights to his electrostatic paper-copying process. Haloid became Xerox corpora­tion, and both it and Carlson became very rich.

Abraham Lincoln: He entered the Blackhawk War (1831-1832) as a captain. By the end of the war, he had been demot­ed to the rank of private.

J.K. Rowling: Author of the Harry Potter series, Joanne was an aspiring writer and single mother living on welfare with her young daughter in an unheated, mice-infested flat. Her first book was rejected by 12 publishers before the world met Harry Potter in 1997.

And then there was the young man who submitted a paper to his Yale University management professor, and got this response: “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” The young man was Fred Smith, his paper proposed reliable overnight delivery service, and Fred went on to found FedEx Corp.

Failure is not falling down, but staying down!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Passion Party #139 - Lighten Up Poem #2

The days are getting shorter
there's more darkness in the world
But it takes a lot of darkness
for the oyster to make a pearl.

You can row your boat as fast as you can
but you just can't push the river
Today's the day to lighten up
and let the Universe deliver

Monday, January 11, 2010

Passion Party #138 - The A B C List

I start each day
with a simple list
A - Things to do today. (I try to keep this list to the six most important things, but lately it is becoming 9 or 10 items long, of which I usually get about 6 done)
B - Things to do this week. (This includes meetings, appointments, luncheons or breakfasts with people, projects that need to get done by Friday but not today)
C - Things to do in the next 90 days. (I update this every 3 months)

As the day progresses and I cross things off the list it feels good.
And the next day I evaluate the A list.
The things I didn't get done - are they still important? Then I move them to the top of the list.
Items that languish on the A or B list usually can be dropped. If they really are important they will soon be at the top of the list.

Then I move the items for today from the B list to the A list.

The little miracle of the A B C List is that usually by the end of 90 days, most everything on the C list is done as well.

It is as easy as A B C.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Passion Party #137 - Lyrics, from Regina Spektor

Laughing With
by Regina Spektor

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from the party yet

No one laughs at God
When their airplane start to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love, hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they’re mistaken

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine or fire or flood

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed joke, or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they’re ‘bout to choke
God can be funny,
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious
Ha ha
Ha ha

No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
We’re all laughing with God

Friday, January 8, 2010

Passion Party #136 - Faster - Better - Cheaper

This seems to be the Mantra of America
Faster - Better - Cheaper
Everyone wants it, all the time.
People shop till they drop
looking for the deal.
Huge corporations have this as their Mission
Look at Wal-Mart or Target
Look at Apple and Dell Computer

In 1959 Kodak sold 16mm home movie cameras for $65. They used movie film which was expensive, and you had to send it away to be developed. You had to own a movie projector and a screen to watch it.
In 2009 Apple sells the iPod Nano, which can hold your whole record collection or 16 hours of video, has a built in FM receiver, pedometer, microphone and videocamera for home movies for $170. You can instantly watch your videos on the built-in screen. There is no film or special projector to buy.
And, by the way, Kodak is almost out of business.
Faster - Better - Cheaper

WE used to write letters to each other, put them in envelopes, buy stamps and mail them across the country. How quaint.
Now we type emails and blast them out instantly to anyone in the world - for free.
And the US Post Office loses money every year.

But my question is:
The world is Faster, technology is Cheaper,
but is it Better?
Home come I don't feel better?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Passion Party #135 - Dreams

I love the fact that I am remembering my dreams.
They are a way that we work things out in our sleep.
Just as the body needs rest to recuperate,
our minds need time to roam free from the constraints of everyday reality
like wild horses
or a newborn kitten
or my dad having a chance to meet my son
or a rehash of the workday
or the next great screenplay
(if only I could remember all the details...)

My dreams often involve Performance Anxiety
being unprepared for an important show.
or a major presentation
Perhaps that is why, in life, I am so focused on being organized.

And since I have started waking up at 5:00 AM
I am recalling more dreams,
another benefit of this Morning Ritual

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Passion Party #134 - 50 years, plus 1

1959 was quite a year.
I was seven years old.
My parents filmed my birthday party with a Kodak hand held 16mm movie camera they had bought for $65.00
The world was new, and still growing, still full of discovery.

Westerns and Rod Serling were on the TV.
Hawaii and Alaska became our 49th and 50th states.
Doris Day and Frank Sinatra topped the pop charts.
Disney released "Sleeping Beauty", Alfred Hitchcock directed "North by Northwest" with Cary Grant, and Billy Wilder unleashed "Some Like It Hot" starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.

It was a year that, looking back, many people say was the Golden Age of modern jazz. We saw the release of
-Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
-Giant Steps by John Coltrane
-Take Five by Dave Brubeck

Fifty years from now,
when our children, or our children's children look back at the end of this decade
(The Oughts? The Naughts? The "00's"? Maybe the Ought Nots?)
what will they see? What will they remember?

And can I live that legacy today,
a life worth living
a life worth remembering
a life worthy of greatness?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Passion Party #133 - Staycation

Tonight is the night
I will leave work early
and my wife Diana and I will have a romantic getaway
5 miles from our house.
The children taken care of,
the dog sitter lined up,
we'll drive to a local B & B
and for 12 hours, from 4:00 PM today until tomorrow afternoon
we'll be romantic tourists in our own town.

No plans but to walk, cuddle, watch the "Monk" Marathon on USA Network,
and be taken care of.
Who says vacations have to be expensive?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Passion Party #132 - Reflections On A Decade

We got faster
Things got cheaper
Living became more expensive
We got connected (internet access more than doubled in the US)
We became less personal (electronic "friends" become normal)
We stopped writing
We started emailing (daily emails worldwide increased from 6 billion a day to 40 billion a day)
We stopped watching network TV
We started making our own videos (one third of all homes in the US now have digital video recorders)
We used to watch "ER" (the top TV show in 1999)
Now we watch "American Idol" (the top TWO TV shows in 2009)
TV became "Reality"
Music became "Free"
Movies became three-dimensional
Life became two-dimensional
The idea of "unplugging" became old-fashioned
Cellphone reception became a God-given right
Britney Spears did NOT go away.
We stopped following trends
We became our own trend
We became more "secure"
We became more nervous
Capitalism won the war
Capitalism lost its way
We made more children
We made less jobs
We became more unified
We became more divided
We elected a man who gave us Hope
We continue to Hope
I continue to Hope

(statistics c/o "The Decade" - Wall Street Journal 12/21/2009)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Passion Party #131 - Early To Rise

There is wonder
in these early hours
the hum of the 405 freeway
creeping through my window

Sometimes it is just
wonder that I am able to wake up
other times the clarity is alarming
my thoughts refreshed by sleep
leading down tangential paths

The belief that rising early brings reward
has a long history, from Confucius to Ben Franklin to the Dalai Lama
It stems from our agrarian history
when we needed all the daylight hours
to till the soil so we could feed ourselves and our family
and even though I no longer farm the land
there is still magic left in these early hours

"No one who can rise before dawn 360 days fails to make his family rich." - Ancient Chinese Proverb