Friday, April 30, 2010

Passion Party #205 - Success

How do you judge if you are successful?

Here's one way:
Success is judged by what you had to give up
in order to get it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Passion Party #204 - the Rules

One of the things I love about music theory
is that there are set rules.
The rules are mathematical, and the rules are natural
based on sine waves, vibrations, and the overtone system (which is mathematical, once again).

My first theory and composition class in college
consisted of a year of theory and composition techniques.
We learned the fundamentals
We learned to write in basic forms and styles
and we learned Species Counterpoint,
the strict music system used by Palestrina, Bach, and many composers in the late 1600s - 1700s.
Species Counterpoint has numerous specific rules that tell a composer where each note should - must! - go next, depending upon other notes and their relationship to each other.
And some things are NOT ALLOWED: like parallel octaves or fifths.
Of course, today in music, half of what we listen to consists of parallel octaves and fifths.

So what is the point of learning the rules?

We learn the rules
so we know how to break them properly.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The George Kahn Quintet Returns to West Los Angeles for a FREE show on April 30

Event: George Kahn West Coast Jazz Quintet This Friday
Hosted by: George Kahn
Apr 30, 2010,
7:30 PM

to 11:00 PM

Location: Radisson Hotel Culver City

6161 West Centinela Ave., Culver City, CA

Passion Party #203 - Instant Tao

Here is an anonymous reflection on poem #64 from the Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu:

Pay attention to what is
in order to prevent what is not
A cut needs cleaning
A hurt needs caring
A relationship needs tending

Pay attention to what is
in order to grow what is not
A joy needs sharing
An idea needs nurturing
Creativity needs expressing

The greatest of pine trees
is deeply rooted
yet easily grows
from the tiniest of seeds.

Like this? Go here for more random inspiration:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Passion Party #202 - There Is No Speed Limit

Life moves at the speed of thought
But many of us work from limiting beliefs:
You go to school for 12 years
You go to college for 4 or 6 more years
or maybe you join the Army for 2-4 years of training
You get a job
You work towards retirement...

But think on this:
Bill Gates started playing with computers in 1968 at the age of 13. He dropped out of Harvard after 2 years and started Microsoft with some friends in New Mexico. You know what happened next...

Sergey Brin moved from Russia to the US with his family when he was 6. He blew through his undergraduate college education in 3 years, and then when he started graduate school at Stanford he and Larry Page, a classmate, created Google in a garage in Menlo Park, CA. Now at the ripe old age of 37 he is the 24th richest person in the world...

Derek Sivers found a tutor in Boston, and got through 4 years of the Berkeley School of Music in 2 years. He went on to create CD Baby as a favor to a few musician friends who wanted to sell their CDs on the internet. 10 years later when he sold the company for $22 million, it was the largest seller of independent music on the web, with over 150,000 musician clients and over $100 million in sales...

There is no speed limit on the Road of Life.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Passion Party #201 - When Love Exceeds Need

My world is a better place
when it is built on the Power of Love
instead of the Power of Need.

As winter passes and the flowers begin to bloom
this season, remember
the best relationship is one in which
our love for each other
exceeds our need for each other.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Passion Party #200 - Greatness

I saw greatness the other night
as the 90-piece Santa Monica High School Symphony Orchestra
performed a 2-hour concert at Symphony Space in New York City.
The concert was the culmination of a 6-day trip that included a recording session, a performance at the Atrium at Lincoln Center, and coaching sessions with the Assistant Conductor for the NY Philharmonic and professors from NYU.

Like a professional sports team,
they worked together at the top of their ability,
pulling each other up towards a high level of performance.

It was not perfect, but it was great, in the truest sense of the word.

What does it take to attain greatness?
- Practice
- Repetition
- Dedication
- A strong leader
- Input (and sometimes criticism) from others
- An openness to being coach-able
- A sense of purpose
- and FOCUS

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Passion Party #199 - Leverage, Part 2

One basic area of financial leverage available to many people
is Real Estate.
It is common practice in the US to be able to buy a house or a condo with 20% down.
(You can buy a $500,000 house with $100,000 down).
In this way, you have just created a 5 to 1 leverage of your money, buying a $500,000 asset for $100,000, and borrowing the rest. If, let's say, the house increases in value to $600,000 and you sell it, you have just doubled your investment (minus closing costs, of course), so a 20% increase in value gives you a 100% return on your initial investment.

At the peak of the Mortgage Mess, people were buying property with 5% down, or 3% down, or even NO MONEY DOWN, in essence creating leverage of...Infinity?
In addition, people that already owned houses were being offered Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs). These were, in a way, "margin accounts" based on the current value of their house. If kept as an emergency account it was a good thing, but many people used them for vacations or investments or to buy other houses. People were leveraging their home in California to buy multiple rental properties in Las Vegas, or Florida, or wherever real estate seemed "cheap".

When the "margin call" came - when the banks started closing the HELOCs due to falling property values - many people were in trouble, especially when they discovered that they could not rent out the property they bought to cover the various mortgages they had taken on.
The "great de-leveraging" of real estate had begun, which brought us a 40% drop in home prices nationwide.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Passion Party #198 - Leverage, Part 1

As we move farther from the Real Estate Bubble of 2007
and the Credit Crisis of 2008 and early 2009,
one culprit in both situations is becoming clearer:
Leverage compounds the winnings
but also magnifies the losses.
If you have a brokerage account at Schwab or Merrill or another investment bank, odds are they let you borrow "on margin" to increase your investments.
Simply put, you can "double your bet" with borrowed money from the bank. Your leverage is 2 to 1.
If your bet is wrong, the bank can make a "margin call", asking you to repay the money you borrowed, causing you to have to sell at a loss, and worse, compounding the loss if you don't have savings set aside to cover your bet.
At the peak of our current credit crisis in 2008, many of the major banks and Hedge Funds were leveraged 30 to 1, or often much higher. The bets were being made with borrowed money, and when "the call" came from the creditor, they had no choice but to sell, starting the great de-leveraging that brought us the collapse of Bear Sterns, and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, General Motors, and a 40% drop in the stock market.
---to be continued...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Passion Party #197 - Saying Goodbye

It is incredibly hard to schedule a death.
It goes against all we are taught
about the importance and the sanctity of life,
it tears at the fabric of caring and friendship.

It seems unfair that
a dog's life is so short,compared to a human.
Perhaps that is one of the lessons:
Life is short
Time passes
And we need to fill that time with
as much love and compassion as we can
during the short time we are given.

And it is a sign of friendship
when we care enough
to bring our pet to the other side
with love.
Not waiting for that long painful ending,
but saying goodbye
with peace and love.
She will be surrounded by love and
I can hold the puppy in my heart.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Passion Party #196 - Commitment

Having a dog as a pet teaches you Unconditional Love.
A good dog is wonderful that way.
You can ignore the dog, forget to feed her, even treat her bad,
and the next day she will still come over to you to be petted and walked,
and will love you unconditionally, no matter what kind of mood you are in.

From the human side, however, a dog takes commitment.
There were times early on when we were ready to give Mercedes away.
She was too yappy, with a piercing high-pitched bark. She attacked anyone that came to the door, she kept jumping on the furniture, scratching things.

We finally hired a dog trainer, to try to "fix her".
What we learned from the trainer was that Mercedes was just doing her "job", and we were the ones that needed training.
We could change her bark surgically, but rather than stop her from her mad attack when someone came to the door, we needed to acknowledge that she was "protecting" us, and give her a pat, and then show her the person was our friend.
Mercedes had to train us.
And that is where commitment comes in.
Even with unconditional love, it works best if it is a two-way street.

Going for walks
stopping to say hello
two meals a day
acknowledging when you do something right.
It is a small commitment to make
when the return is Unconditional Love.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Passion Party #195 - Mercedes The Lady

When we first met Mercedes
my son Benji was 15,
volunteering for an animal rescue organization.
It was a weekend, and we came to the parking lot
to look at homeless dogs.

I always thought that if we got a dog it would be a golden lab, or some type of dog to play fetch. Evan, who was 5, really wanted a dog to cuddle and play with. We had been through the rabbit, the gerbil, the iguana and the white rat, and none of them fit the bill.
I didn't know what kind of dog we would get, but I never thought it would be a long-haired white fluffball girly-dog.

But that was the day we met Mercedes.
She was a pure-bred American Eskimo (with no papers), and had been handed in by a family when they had kids. It was too much for them to handle a frisky dog and little babies at the same time.

She was smiling and shiny in the sunlight
and we could tell right off the bat she was polite.
She loved to be petted. One walk around the block, and that was it, we knew we had a dog.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Passion Party #194 - A Digital World

Imagine a world
where you don't use paper anymore
Where your shopping list
and your phone book
and your writing pad
are all synchronized together on digital devices.
Where, while you are shopping
your wife or partner can be going through the pantry at home
and can add items to her phone that
automatically update on your shopping list in the store.

Where, when you wake up in the morning,
all the news you need is already sorted and available
for you on your HDTV monitor
and at lunch your phone can find you
the best $5.00 burrito within walking distance
of wherever you are in cities across America

And when you get home after work
your HDTV system has already downloaded all the TV shows that interest you from the previous night,
with all the commercials perfectly edited out.

I saw this world
during the last four days
with my 26 year-old son Ben, in Portland, OR.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Passion Party #193 - the G H P

If happiness lies at the intersection
of creativity and achievement
then perhaps we should add new questions to our census form:
Do you feel like your life is creative?
How many days a year do you have a sense of achievement?

How happy are you?
Instead of measuring the GDP
Gross Domestic Product

perhaps we should be measuring the GHP
(Gross Happiness Product)
How much happiness can you produce today
for yourself and others?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Passion Party #192 - Happiness Is Transitory

When one asks, "What do you want from life?"
many people will say, "I just want to be happy".
But happiness is transitory
it is just an emotion on the spectrum
from depressed to ecstatic.
Happiness will come and go,
like the clouds in the sky.

I see happiness not as a goal, but as a byproduct of a life worth living.

"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Happiness is like a cat.
If you try to coax it or call it, it will avoid you. It will never come.
But if you pay no attention to it and go about your business, you'll find it rubbing up against your legs and jumping into your lap."
-William Bennett

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Passion Party #191 - I Am Not My Job

A generation or two ago life was simpler.
You got a job with benefits
You worked your ass off for most of your life.
Then you retire
too old to do much of anything.

For many people
their job was their life.

Things are different now
the average person has two careers - or more - during a lifetime
and many people have multiple careers simultaneously.

I am not my job
I am not the money I earn
The money is a tool
The job is a tool
to help me create a life worth living.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Passion Party #190 - My Life Is Rich

Life is hard sometimes.
There are days when it feels like there is so much to do,
it is impossible to get it all done.
And then you get a flat tire
or a speeding ticket
or a runny nose
or the notice from the dentist that
its time for a teeth cleaning.

At times like this I remember that
God doesn't give me more than I can handle;
it will get done
maybe not exactly as I planned

I can be thankful that I am busy
and remember my old mantra:
My life is rich
My life is full
Another day of Opportunity and Potential.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Passion Party #189 - The Mountain

Climbing the mountain
begins with a thought
"I can do this"
and then a single step
starts me on my way.
The action
puts the thought to rest
and then once I am halfway through the journey
I have no choice but to continue.
Sending a rescue party
or a helicopter is not an option.

Whether it is putting $100 a month into savings
or producing a music album
or building a business
or mastering an instrument
or wining a gold medal in the Olympics
or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

it all begins with a thought
"I can do this"
and then a single step.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Passion Party #188 - My Wish

My wish for you
is that when you turn 90
you can look back and say,
"All in all,
things have turned out pretty good."