Friday, December 30, 2011

Passion Party #414 - Resistance Vs. Assistance

How many years did I spend
thinking I can do it alone?
I can do it better
No one is as good as me
I don't need anyone.

This resistance to change
stopped me from growing.
It slowed me down,
prevented me from helping people.

Resistance is slowing me down.
I need to let go of resistance
and ask for assistance.

Willing to delegate
trusting another person
asking for help
building a team

New concepts = New results

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holdays!

PLease enjoy my conducting debut with the Santa Monica High School Symphony, performing "Sleigh Ride" by Leroy Anderson

Monday, December 12, 2011

Two days until the Holiday Jazz Party Wed. 12/14

I hope you can join me in Hollywood Wednesday night. There are still $25 tickets available
Click here to learn more

Passion Party #413 - Actualizing Inspiration

We all have dreams and aspirations
But for many of us they remain just that -
a far off idea
that turns into a "what if"
or "I could have" or "should have".

The trick is to grab that inspiration,
create a structure for it
and then commit to another person
that you will do what it takes
to make it happen.

It's a simple formula:
A = I x (S + C)

Actualization = Inspiration x (Structure + Commitment)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Passion Party #412 - No Experience Necessary

I am looking to hire a new assistant
and the biggest question in my mind is
whether or not they need to have experience in my business.

Steven Wright says, "Experience is something you don't get until after you need it."

The idea of training someone does not appeal to me,
nor does the idea of hiring someone
who knows the business and has already created their own bad habits.

Perhaps knowledge, motivation and the capacity to make decisions and think outside the box
are more important qualities than experience.
The ability to reflect -
and learn from experience -
this is more important than having experience.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Passion Party #411 - Knocking Down Goals

Two weeks ago I set three specific goals
to get done in the next 90 days.
Not huge, but "out of my comfort zone" goals.
Three goals that, left to my own devices,
I would postpone and
Certainty there are other (easier) things that are more important.
As a matter of fact, as soon as I set those goals
Life immediately gave me other things to do:
a new assistant needed to be hired,
family issues needed to be addressed,
my headset at work broke,

Goals are meant to be knocked down.
Dreams are something you strive for.
If I don't get these three goals done in 90 days
then they are just a dream, a "what if...".

And if I do get them done,
if I stay accountable and knock them down quickly
then I can move on
to the next goal on my way to my dream.

I love the thought that
completing each goal
gets me closer to my ideal life,
to living my dream.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Passion Party #410 - Integrity

Everyone believes that integrity is important
but how many people know what it means?
It has become a buzz word,
like "artisan pizza" or "organic food".
Or perhaps it is a new line of automobiles?

Integrity involves consistency
It is what you do when no one is looking,
when your words match your activity:
Consistency of actions
Consistency of values
Consistency of methods
Consistency of principles
Consistency of expectations
Consistency of outcomes

At the same time it is important to align your beliefs with your integrity.
Integrity does not reflect a certain moral code.
Using the above definition,
McDonalds has incredible integrity.
So does the Phillip Morris Corp.
One could be a bigot and still have integrity.

For me, having a strong moral compass
is more important than integrity.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Passion Party #409 - Accountability

The first step
is to be willing to accept responsibility.
The next step
is to feel an obligation to accept responsibility.
"The traffic was bad"
"I drank too much last night"
"That guy is a jerk"
"I thought you were taking care if that"
These excuses do not cut it in the world of accountability.

If my job is, first and foremost,
to create a product
that creates advocates
who want to continue to use my services
then I must stay accountable to that goal and ideal.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Passion Party #408 - A Life Filled With Joy

Imagine a life
with passionate love
a place surrounded by beauty
a room filled with people that care about you
a day spent in creative pursuits
a night filled with heavenly sounds

And tomorrow you wake up
with a passion for life
in a place of beauty
ready to take on the day
with a new sense of purpose.
You are ready to love
and to be loved.

Imagine that.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Passion Party #407 - Take A Break

The days are long
filled with meetings, phone calls, working on files
monitoring progress or lack thereof
pushing pushing pushing
because you know
(or you think you know)
that if you don't push
it just won't get done on time.

But what are you pushing for?
Is it to fill your bank account or
to maintain a lifestyle?

Time to get off the treadmill
take a step to the side
look out the window
walk out into the blue day.

Let go of control
Work will continue without you
See what happens
when you just put one foot
in front of another.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Passion Party #406 - Rich Vs. Poor (Money, Part 17)

There is a lot of talk about financial inequality
People out of work protesting on Wall Street
Others marching on Billionaire's mansions to voice discontent.

I understand the resentment people feel about those that succeed in getting
an inordinate amount of money.

But think of this:
Would you rather that Bill Gates use his money to create a foundation to help cure disease in the world and to help make America's schools world-class again, or that he give it to our government to squander by committee as they see fit?

As Mae West once said, "I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, rich is better."

I can vouch for this, from personal experience.
It all starts from getting out of "poverty consciousness"
and into action.

"The best thing you can do to help the poor
is not be one of them." - Joe Stumpf

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Passion Party #405 - Turning

It is a tender time
A time of change
One son off to college
to experience the life of a classical musician
One son about to be a father
A new soul entering the world
and I am about to be a grandfather...

Uncharted territory--
the wonder of life
is growing older
and getting to see what happens
when you become the adult
you always looked up to.

The days get shorter
everything moves faster
and time for prayer and reflection
becomes more valuable.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Passion Party #404 - The Fourth Quarter

Our world is set up in a wonderful way:
The day is divided into
morning - midday - evening - night
The year is divided into
winter - spring - summer - fall
and so without our knowledge or desire
our lives easily and naturally subdivide.
whether we want it or not,
our body clock feels the changes.

When we get in tune with this,
Time becomes our friend
instead of our enemy.

We can grow old watching these changes
or we can grow young embracing these changes
using each season,
each quarter of the year,
to measure our growth
and see how close we get to
our most Audacious Goals.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Passion Party #403 - A Prayer For The Mortgage Business

Please allow common sense to prevail
Remove guidelines that are redundant for they clog up the system
Remove the layers of bureaucracy
so that money can flow
to where it is requested and deserved.
Let there be one principle guideline:
"Does this impact the client's ability to repay the loan in a negative way?
If not, it does not matter".
Let me stand in this stream of abundance
helping to channel it
to the greatest good.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Passion Party #402 - A Prayer For My Country

Please let me find a common language
so I can speak with others in unity
and harmony

Let me work with others for the common good
Let me lead by example.

Show me what I can do
to improve America
to help my friends, neighbors and community to create a life
that will bring a better world
to our children and grandchildren.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Passion Party #401 - In The Box

We have been trained to stay
in the box.

We wear a collar called "What We Know".
We spent 12 years of our early life
being taught to write on the lines,
color within the margins,
move to the next class when the bell rings,
and since then we have been burned
by going too far astray.

Perhaps we ventured out once
and felt the pain
and now we won't go near the edge.
We stay in the box
because we remember the pain of the unknown.

But guess what?
The wire broke a while ago
and the system doesn't work.
We can take off the collar
and we won't get shocked.

Its okay to ask "I wonder what would happen if..."
and do something about it.
Growth happens with curiosity
outside the box.
Step outside, and look around.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Passion Party #400 - Passion and Skill

You can be a skillful craftsman
but without passion for what you do
it is just product.

You can be passionate about something
but without the skill to do it
the passion will fade to a hobby.

Great careers are found
at the intersection of Passion and Skill.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Passion Party #399 - Management Vs. Leadership

is telling people what to do.
is showing people what to do.

is polarizing (us vs. them).
is collaborative (we're all in this together).

Management takes time.
Leadership creates time.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Passion Party #398 - Commitment

Ever since my first sales job, I always felt that I could do the manager's job better than the person I was working under. But I didn't want to be a "manager". The manager's job was on the "dark side":
- it took more hours
- it took commitment
- it involved hiring and firing, monitoring and penalizing people.
I didn't want that job. I didn't want my "work" to become my "life". My dad had spent his whole life building a company, and I wanted to live “life”, not live “work”. I had the perception that in the “us vs. them” world, I would rather be on the side of freedom, rather than management.

Then in 1995 I was hired as a loan officer for a national bank that was moving into California. Two weeks after I was hired, the manager quit. A decision was made not to hire a new manager. Our division of 20 loan officers would just hand our files into the wholesale loan division, and hope for the best.

It was then that I made a decision: I would become the Retail Loan Manager.
After 8 years in the banking business I knew I could be a production manager, but until then I never had the desire. I remember saying that night to my wife, "I am going to be the manager".

The next day when I walked into the bank, everything seemed different. The way I interacted with people was different. The way I felt was different. Even the way I walked seemed different. Before I approached the wholesale operations manager to apply for the job, I was already acting as if I had the job.

I had made a commitment to mortgage banking.
I had made a decision to lead.
I knew I could do it, and that I would do it.

After a few weeks of negotiation, I officially had the job, working side by side with the wholesale ops manager. She went on to become a great friend and mentor.

It was the commitment and the decision that made the difference. It was the start of my becoming a leader.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Passion Party #397 - My Fear / My Hope

My fear is that I take on too much
My fear is that I don't know how to say "no"
My fear is that I will lose the feeling of closeness
with my wife
with my sons
My fear is that I will run the wrong direction
and leave my greatest possibilities in the dust
My fear is that there is not enough time to get done all I want to do.

My hope is that love will prevail
My hope is that we can live in peace
My hope is that I will lead with collaboration
My hope is that I communicate so clearly that decisions become easy
My hope is that work becomes easy and effortless
My hope is that I find balance in my life today
My hope is that today I Live - Laugh - Love - Let Go

Monday, September 19, 2011

Passion Party #396 - Know Your Market

Are you a supermarket
or a convenience store?
Are you selling a Bentley
or a Smart Car?
Are you something for everyone
or everything for someone?

When you know your market
building a business is easy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Passion Party #395 - Ruthless Vs. Rigorous

The world is filled with ruthless people
They will slash and burn to maintain or build power
Its "My way or the highway"
and "Crush the competition".

I choose to be rigorous, not ruthless
laser-focused on the job that needs to be done
not wavering in belief
that I will not only survive, but thrive;
working in collaboration with others,
inviting competition
because I know the comparison
will only make me look better

I am not wimpy
I am rigorous in my desire to get things done:
comprehensive, thorough and complete.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Passion Party #394 - Problems Vs. Opportunities

For about three years I worked as a manager in the mortgage business, first as the manager of retail mortgages for Fleet Bank, and then as a manager of a boutique mortgage broker in Santa Monica, CA.

Near the end of the three years I found that my job was similar to herding cats.
Managing loan officers was a challenge;
if things went well it was because of "the market"
and if things went poorly it was "my fault".

I realized that I was spending most of my time
managing other people's problems.

After a discussion with the owner of the brokerage firm, we came to the conclusion
that I was missing a huge opportunity.
I would be happier (and wealthier) if I spent my time building my own book of business from my 10 years in mortgages, rather than spend my time motivating people that did not want to be managed.

Managing problems may have made me a good manager.
Building on my opportunities has given me a great life.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Passion Party #393 - The Best Way To Succeed

Find someone doing what you want to do
Analyze their success
- what are the elements of what they do?
- how do they market it?
- how did they get from A to B to C?

Then, be curious
don't be afraid to poke it and
see what happens
Don't be afraid to make it novel
or more fun
Don't be afraid to
organize for joy
as well as efficiency.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Passion Party #392 - The "Not To Do" List

Doin' in, Doin' it, Doin' it...
Just like Toad,
in the "Frog and Toad" books,
I start most days making a To Do list
Then I spend the day
going down the list
crossing things off to create
a feeling of accomplishment.
But the next day there is always another list
of things to do.

Doin' in, Doin' it, Doin' it...

Today, for a change
the To Do list can wait.
What if, just for today,
it becomes more important to focus
on what Not To Do
to improve my life?
What would that list look like?

Do Not obsess about my job
Do Not get into arguments with employees or clients
Do Not overeat at lunch
Do Not forget to tell your family that you love them
Do Not spend 8 hours sitting at your desk - no matter how many things
are on your "to do" list

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Passion Party #391 - What If It Works?

Very often
when we get the Big Idea
the thought that stops us is
"What if I fail?"

But there are actually two kinds of afraid:
afraid of things that might fail
and afraid of things that might work.

I think my fear is
fear of failure,
but I know failure. I have experienced it and know what it feels like.
The bigger unknown is usually
"What if I succeed?"

What if my Big Idea works,
thus changing everything
opening up a new set of
problems, relationships and scariness?

Will I be ready
when this big unknown called success
knocks on my door?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Passion Party #390 - Fear of Flying

We all know the lesson of Icarus
even if we don't know our Greek mythology.
Icarus put on wings and dared to fly.
Not only that, he dared to fly higher than anyone else.
The gods got angry at his daring
and the penalty was death.

We spend so much of our lives
being trained to fit in
to follow the rules
to stay in line
We are taught not to stand up
or to stand out
lest we anger the gods.

But what if
you were born to fly?
What if
you see something that needs to be done
and you have the will to do it?
What if
God smiles on your essential being
and does not see it as pride or arrogance
that you want to fly?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Passion Party #389 - The Un-Pursuit of Happiness

Just because our founding fathers
gave us the right
to pursue happiness
does not make it the best path to becoming happy.
For some the pursuit of happiness
is like a money chase:
the more you chase it,
the harder it is to catch it.

It is possible that happiness,
one of those ephemeral emotions,
sneaks up on you
like a life well lived.
A recent study found that the most cheerful people
don't give happiness much thought.
Chasing happiness
or planing for it to arrive at some future date
is an easy way to get depressed.

Working in the garden
reading a novel
building something with your own hands
listening to music
looking in the mirror and smiling
Repeat often
see what happens

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Passion Party #388 - Vacation Planning

One of the first things I do each December
is get one of those big wall calendars
and map out vacations for the year.
This is a challenge
because life is not always agreeable
in allowing the plans to take place.

But I do it anyway
in permanent marker
knowing that I can always cross it out
cancel reservations
and start again as needed.

This allows me to
enjoy the anticipation,
have something to look forward to
and almost always be pleasantly surprised when the date arrives
and I am on my way.

Vacations are fun
but it is the joy of anticipation
and the pleasure of the memories
that are often greater than the actual event.
I stay happy
by always having another vacation
on the horizon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Passion Party #387 - The Jukebox In The Sky, Part 2

What if I told you
"Give me $5.00 and
I will give you access to every recording ever made for 30 days"
would you take me up on that?

You don't own the recordings, but
you can listen all you want
any time you want on your computer.
Classical, pop, jazz, etc.
15,000,000 songs and compositions
all cataloged for you
so you can search by artist name,song title,
album name, composer
from Adele to Zappa,
from Albinoni to Zorn

An "alternative universe" iTunes
where you have access to
not just your music collection (organized and cataloged for you)
but the music collection
of virtually every one on earth,
the "Jukebox in the Sky".

A game changer, right?
I have seen the future
and it is Spotify.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Passion Party #386 - The Jukebox In The Sky, Part 1

Music is the most ephemeral art
It exists only in space and time
You can't hold it
You can only experience it.

Music has a way to connect
directly to our emotions.
How many times has a painting made you cry?
But music does that to me, all the time.

Perhaps this is why,
in the new world of portable music
where every computer can connect with
The Jukebox In The Sky
I still buy CDs
and digital songs to own,
purchase scores of my favorite music
to study and cherish
to try to hold what cannot be held
to own the experience.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Passion Party #385 - Old Photos

It was time to go through the old photo albums.
They end around 2006
when the digital camera arrived.
Until then, the photos would collect in a pile
waiting to be sorted, put in an album
and then added to the shelf
filled with other albums of photos.

Now its time to put them away
or throw them away.
This is hard
sorting through memories
deciding which you don't need to hold any more.
Most scenes were easy to recall
but one trip to Yosemite was a revelation:
We did that?
When did we do that?

Most all the books go into storage
I am not ready to say goodbye
I want to be able to see proof
that I was really young
I really did that
Our children really did grow
All the good times really did happen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Passion Party #384 - My Job

My job
is to define my client's pain,
explain how I can help,
and then fill that emotional need.

The rest is just details.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Passion Party #383 - Surround Yourself With What You Love

It doesn't cost a thing
to open the curtain and let in the sunshine.

There is a lot of darkness in the world
but you do not need to live in darkness
A lot of sadness in the world
but you do not need to live in sadness.

Think - what do you love to do?
Who do you love to be with?
Then, surround yourself with these people or things
a flower on the table
a poster on the wall
a favorite photo, framed as a reminder
or a Vision Board filled with images

a life filled
with light and love and desire

Monday, August 1, 2011

Passion Party #382 - Important vs. Urgent

I used to spend my days as a fireman
running from crisis to crisis
putting out fires.

There are whole companies that seem to run
on Crisis Management:
If it is not a crisis
it does not get managed.

Now I create enough time and space
to focus on the things that are most important:
- being profitable
- taking care of customers
- trouble shooting up front before problems arise
- attracting "five star" clients
- meeting new people who can refer me business

I am doing the things that are important
versus what is urgent
and surrounding myself with
people who know the difference.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Passion Party #381 - In Perspective

According to the US Census Bureau World Population Clock
there are over 6 Billion 900 Million (6,925,000,000) people in the world.
4.5% of those people live in the United States

If you are reading this, you are probably in the Top 10 - 20% of Americans
in terms of education, wealth and comfort of living.

This means that, statistically, you are in the Top 1% of all people in the world right now in terms of education, wealth and comfort of living.

So get over it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Passion Party #380 - Life Is Short

What makes your heart race?
What makes your soul sing?

There is no more
Maybe next year
Set aside
the But and What if...

Life is short
Now's the time.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Passion Party #379 - Outside the Comfort Zone

Leave behind your TV and radio
Your newspapers and magazines, too
No books allowed, they weigh too much
All you need is a clear mind
and a strong back.

For three days
you are not your job, or who you think you are
you check your ego at the trailhead
and know that everything you need to survive
is in the pack on your back.

The journey will lead you
across snow fields and streams
to a camp in the Sierras
that many will dream of but few will reach.

A stove the size of a cigarette pack
a head lamp the size of a half-dollar
a camera to capture the sunset
Traveling outside the comfort zone
facing the fear
and loving it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Passion Party #378 - Car-less in Culver City

In a county filled with 9,800,000 people
word was spread
"Stay off the freeways!"
Signs flashing along roadways for weeks in advance
the media hailing it as possibly the world's worst traffic jam.
In a city that loves cars more than life itself
and cherishes mobility as the Constitution's First Inalienable Right
the idea was almost blasphemous.
Who would agree to such a thing?

But a little miracle happened.
People paid attention
People planned to stay home, or
just do things in their neighborhood.

Some people walked to the supermarket!
Others rode bikes to local festivals, or to the park.
Los Angeles, which has always been a collection of 128 communities in search of a city,
discovered that each community has grown and
is, in fact, its own community.
The roads empty, the city felt like it had traveled back in time to
the 1984 Olympics, or even 1975, when you could truly say you could get anywhere in Los Angeles in 20 minutes.

Instead of spending a Billion Dollars on becoming more mobile
perhaps the money could be spent building communities.
Perhaps the answer may come from the State of Oregon,
where the transportation policy seems to be
"If we don't build it, they won't come".

That may not work in car-centric Los Angeles,
but it is worth a thought,
now that we see what a weekend at home can be like.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Passion Party #377 - Summer Solstice

I turn around and summer is here
Pulling out weeds
Picking the tomatoes
The hiking trip I planned so long ago
begins this Saturday.

Somehow while I was busy
Winter ended, Spring slipped by
and now the year...
it is half over
or half beginning?

Some goals accomplished, some renewed
other to be discarded
It is time
to find 5 things
I really really really want to do
over the next 6 months

Monday, July 11, 2011

Passion Party #376 - Surviving The Recovery

WE are coming up on the 4th year
since the beginning of the Mortgage Meltdown
Three years since the Great Depression of '08
and the "Too Big To Fail" credit crisis
Two years since the start of the stock market "recovery"

Why is it then
when I talk to most people
they are still in financial shock?
Either they, or a relative or a close friend, are
still looking for a job since they got laid off.

Perhaps it is the shock at the gas station,
or the loss in home value
or the baggage fees at the airport
or the $2.00 head of lettuce and the $5.00 tomato...

Whatever it is,
we are living in this new reality
we have survived the Crash of 2008
now we need to survive the recovery.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Passion Party #375 - Thin Slicing

There are times
when you know that you know
in the blink of an eye
you sense
it is the right person
or the wrong investment
or the place you are meant to be.

This ability to "thin slice",
to make a snap decision from very little information
is something I want to develop.

The more freedom we have
the more important it becomes
to trust your instincts.
Like in jazz
when you know your boundaries
and the rules of engagement
it becomes easier to follow those instincts
those split second decisions
that lead to creativity.

I try to live in this place
at least once a day
to develop this thin-slicing muscle
called instinct.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Passion Party #374 - Inner Curmudgeon

Once in a while
I get fed up
with being positive
I get blinded by the bright side
and hanker for some darkness.
A place to complain
about how hard life is
how unfair and random,
how behind every smile
is a wall of hurt and pain.

Sometimes I wish
we could live in honesty
and I could let me inner curmudgeon out to play
not just a bitch session
more a reality check
on how out of control life is.

It feels good
to take a deep breath
and let loose
with a gimlet-eye view of reality
and then get on with the day,
nice or not.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Passion Party #373 - Graduation Night

About 500 of us enter a cruise ship
destination unknown, but it does not matter
We are there for fun and friendship
and to celebrate our accomplishments,
to celebrate our lives.

Inside it is like Sugar Mountain,
a dance party with DJ, lights and video,
a casino with prizes,
a karaoke room, a restaurant,
fortune tellers, arcade games, giant slide,
climbing wall and padded sumo-wrestling outfits
(hard to describe, you really had to be there)

We are there all night
and then, around 4:00 AM
we are led to a large outdoor amphitheater
where a bonfire, suspended over a small pond
has been set up.
The bonfire is lit, and for the next hour it burns,
sparks shooting high, crackling in the air
The ashes and embers falling into the pond with a hissing sound
as the wooden structure is consumed.

I want to stay here
until it burns to the ground.
People start leaving, but I don't want to.
I don't want to leave.
Finally the sky starts to lighten
and I notice that the people left
are all my friends
We hug and cry
The night has passed
The fire dies out as day breaks
Finally I leave
on my own
In the end
we all leave
on our own journey.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Passion Party #372 - My Heart Is Singing

How can I describe the joy
of writing s composition
inspired by my son
working on it for 9 months
trying out ideas with him
studying the great literature for cello
having the composition gradually take shape
writing a cadenza
throwing it out as unplayable
writing another cadenza
having an initial read-through with string quintet

and then, finally,
having it performed
in concert
with a full orchestra
the musicians fully invested
in bringing the music to life
and my son
the featured soloist
ripping through the cadenza,
owning the piece.

My heart singing
with the shimmering beauty
of the last chords.

There is nothing
greater than this moment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Passion Party #371 - Eudaimonia

Happiness is complicated.
It is not as simple as collecting the most toys.
Aristotle spoke of eudaimonia
not as just a sense of happiness
but a sense of well-being.
Etymologically, it consists of the word "eu" ("good") and "daimōn" ("spirit").
In classical Greek, eudaimonia was used as a term for the highest human good,
and the eudaimon life is one of “virtuous activity in accordance with reason”.

It is that mysterious "purpose"
that so many philosophers and business coaches talk about.
When you find your purpose in life
you are not only happy
but you have a sense of fulfillment
even in the struggle of every day life.

It is not a bad thing to start the day asking,
"How happy are you today?
How is your happiness quotient?"

And what can I do today to increase my well-being
and live in good spirit?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Passion Party #370 - Creating A New Habit

Some forcing
some cajoling
some crying
some whining
some doubting
some just showing up
and then it gets easier
the body clock is reset
and the magic hour
when the world is quiet
becomes too dear
so to not visit it is painful.

The stretches become an old friend
the brief meditation a clearing of the mind
and the blank paper a welcome mat
to a new day.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Passion Party #369 - Thank You

For allowing me to see another spring
For giving me time to water my tomatoes
For my plate full of music
Composing, arranging, performing
For filling my life with love.

Thank You
For the closeness of family
For the caring of my workplace
For the blessed health I have been given
For the opportunity to make a living
doing something I am good at and believe in.

My plate is full of
potential and opportunity.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Passion Party #368 - Inspiration is Overrated

I love when I feel inspired:
the spark of creativity
the Great Idea
the light bulb going off
the apple hitting my head
while I nap under the apple tree.

Life is 10% inspiration
and 90% perspiration.
The greatness is not in the idea
but in the execution of the idea
It is easy to keep napping,
even after the apple bonks you on the head.
The real challenge in life
is carrying the inspiration
into the mundane every day
and making the thought into reality.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Passion Party #367 - Feature : Benefit : Belief

One of the first things you learn in sales training
is the distinction between a feature and a benefit.
A feature is a virtue of the product or idea.
A benefit is how it helps you; what the customer gains by using the product or idea.
Its the "what's in it for me" part.

You can spend a whole day
bouncing between features and benefits
but the "A Ha!" moment
comes when you have the conviction and belief
that what you are doing is right
and it is worth having others do it, too.

Whether it is buying versus renting
driving an electric car vs. a gas powered vehicle
Nothing happens
until you move from
Feature to Benefit To Belief.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Passion Party #366 - Happiness is Personal

I used to think
having the Goal of Being Happy
(as in "I want to be happy")
was a waste of time.
Kind of like saying
"I want to be angry"
instead of just getting angry.

I saw happiness as transitory
like a fluffy cloud passing in the sky
not an object to hold onto
or pursue.

Happiness is a being, not a doing
Happiness is a result, not a goal
It comes from inside
from growing tomatoes
or walking the dog
or watching people grow into their lives.

Now I know
happiness is personal.
As someone said,
"My happiness depends on me,
so you're off the hook."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Passion Party #365 - Twenty Years

We were young and in love
staring at the fog covering the ocean in Carmel
greeting our guests
and getting ready for our wedding
a gathering of close friends at Diana's friend's house on Upper Trail.

Little did I know
when she walked down the stairs
and the Rabbi started the ceremony
that our life together would travel such wonderful paths
that from this mutual love and trust of each other
would come such comfort, joy and abundance.

Twenty years later
we still wake up
make the coffee
and plan our morning walk
we continue to be with one another
filling our lives with beauty
and love

Monday, May 23, 2011

Passion Party #364 - Dumb Phone

We live in an age of consumer surveillance
unimaginable by George Orwell.
Who would have thought, 62 years ago, that we would
eagerly carry Big Brother in our pockets?

Smart phones have taken over.
It is true they give us a wealth of information at our fingertips, with GPS abilities, access to email, websites and customized programs. They give us more time to waste with FourSquare and Twitter. But they also give Apple and Google a wealth of information about where we are, what we are doing, saying and, at times, what we are thinking.

Often, in my office elevator, I seem to be the only person who did not get the memo that I should be staring at my phone.
At least once a week I see people get off at the wrong floor, struck dumb by their smart phone, not even aware of where they are going.

I now pride myself in having a cell phone that -- is just a phone.
Yes, it has a camera, but I have no idea how to get the photos out of the phone, and have no interest in learning.
I especially enjoy turning the phone off, at night and on weekends.
I enjoy leaving it in my car when I go on appointments and when I go for long walks.

The dumber my phone
the smarter I become.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Passion Party #363 - The Appeal of the Apocalypse

From the demise of capitalism
to the second coming of Jesus,
history is littered with people that predicted that
The End Of Days is upon us.

I have lived long enough to remember various doomsday scenarios
involving overpopulation, resource depletion
and various calendars that somehow predicted
The End Is Near.
The basic fallacy in all these predictions
is the idea that Someone - or something -
cares enough to destroy mankind,
as if we are so important.

I have first-hand experience in a situation like this.
Back in the '70s I was in a therapy group with a very charismatic leader. One day at our weekly gathering he announced that he was selling everything he owned (including the house we were meeting in) and was moving out of Los Angeles, because the End was Near. He recommended that we all do the same thing and join him.
Although I thought perhaps this was a joke, it soon became clear that it was not. Many of the people in the group took this to heart, and joined the leader in moving out of Los Angeles (which, by the way, was not destroyed in the '70s, except in the movies a few times.)

The lesson I learned from this experience is
when someone predicts the End of the World, run the other way!
What they really are predicting is
the end of Their World.
Whether it ends in a bang or a whimper, that person's world will no longer be the same.
Sometimes it ends in disaster for people, like with Jim Jones.
In my case, it ended with the leader moving out to the desert, where he started a new life with a new wife.
The previous world ended
and a new world begins.
And in this way, their prediction is right.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Passion Party #362 - Studying The Obvious

It seems like every day I read about a new study done by scientific researchers that tells me something I already know. People are spending hours of time and years of study to find out things that, if they had used common sense, would be obvious.

- The Santa Fe Institute discovers that when people move to a bigger city they earn 15% more money and walk faster!
- A Harvard and UC San Diego study finds that if a person is grossly overweight, the odds are that other family members and friends will also be obese!
- Harvard Medical School research shows that when a person is happy, their friends are more likely to be happy!
- A Stanford sociologist has found that the more people you know, the more likely it is you will be successful on a job search!

No, Duh!
Perhaps I should do a new study:
People find it reassuring to do a study and find it proves what we intuitively know!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Passion Party #361 - Change Is Life

One reason I don't plan to retire
is that too often
retirement seems like stasis
the slowing down
the unwinding
an inactivity leading to a shrinking world.

But another way to look at retirement
is you only retire
from the tings you no longer want to do.
If I embrace change
I embrace life.
Change has brought me to so scary moments,
but also to my most successful places.
There is no need to fear
because Change is Life.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Passion Party #360 - Launching Pad

The ground must be level
and cleared of distractions
The time must be right
and the weather agreeable
to reach the destination

Calculations are necessary
but must be flexible
due to constant change
in many variables

The weeds must be removed
the flowers watered
the fire ignited
the combustion controlled
the excitement contained
until that glorious moment
of lift-off

And then
the trajectory set
a happy landing
is almost guaranteed.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Passion Party #359 - Love The Process

Sometimes it feels so overwhelming
between job and life
practice, study, and daily chores

It can feel like a heavy weight
on my shoulders,
or like Sisyphus,
at the gym
on the StairMaster
climbing and climbing
but when you get off
you are in the same place that you started...

But life is not a curse,
it is a blessing
and this busy-ness
is self-imposed,
a desire to be all I am capable of being.
No one is telling me to live life at this pace
except me
and I do it
in the end
because I love life and want to live it with Passion.

This feeling of overwhelm turns around
when I love the process
and let go of the result.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Passion Party #358 - A Big Kerfuffle

There has been a lot of fuss
and noise in my business
changes in compensation to employees
changes in employment status
changes in how banks price their loans
all in the name of "Protecting the Consumer"
but in the end it all feels like
"Protecting the Banks".

In the end
loans are the bank's greatest asset
and the bank will protect its profit
by either paying employees less
or charging people more.

Meanwhile, all the noise
and distraction
creates unease and distress
a big kerfuffle, indeed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Passion Party #357 - Unplug Weekend

I know a place
where vacation means to vacate,
to clear away
to spend days being aware of the basic elements
water - earth - fire - air
to spend days being aware that you
can let go of 90% of the tings
that fill your mind on a daily basis
all those things that seem so important
but are rally just passing clouds.

I know a place
where the sky is huge
and the land is empty
inhospitable enough that
man has been unable to ruin it
beautiful enough that
man has been willing to preserve it

I know a place
where you can spend
three days with
no computer
no cell phone
no TV screens
"Off the grid".
What is it that you find
where no one can find you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Passion Party #356 - Fractured World

We live in a fractured world
where strength is weakness
and doubt is certainty

where change is constant
and stability is an illusion

Hold my hand
this, too, shall pass
we will get through this together.

How tightly we are bound
in this web of humanity

Even when I feel alone
I am part of the fabric of life
and the weave continues.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passion Party #355 - Freedom

Tonight we celebrate our freedom
with a story from long ago
and a feast of friends.

We remember a time
when to become free
we had to be uprooted
little time to pack or prepare
not knowing where we were going
and trusting
that where we end up
will be better than where we are now
in slavery.

Tonight is the start
we leave tyranny behind
for the hope of the future
gathering with friends and family
to continue the journey.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Passion Party #354 - Mind Over Matter

Bending spoons
or levitation
are wonderful parlor tricks
but my goal is enlightenment,
not entertainment.

To do this I need to find like minds:
people that share my values

I need to find friends:
people who I care about
and who care about me,
people that matter to me.

Because, as Dr. Seuss may have said,
"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Passion Party #353 - The 90 Day List

I love making lists
Starting the day with 6 - 10 things to do
and crossing them off, one by one,
gives me great satisfaction
and a feeling of accomplishment.

My favorite list is my "C" list,
a list of things to do in the next 90 days.
I create this list once every three months
writing down my Big Goals,
vacation plans,
specific things I want to complete or achieve in the next three months.
I keep this list handy
but I rarely look at it,
generally lost in my
day-to-day activities.
Then, almost like magic,
when the 90 days are done and I look at
the "C" list
virtually all the items have been completed.
Perhaps there is one to carry over.
More often than not
if the task is not done
it means to me that it was just that:
a task
and time has shown me it is not for me to do.
It is time to move on.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Passion Party #352 - Help Others Today

It is a day to be grateful.

There is so much pain and suffering in this world
natural and man-made disasters
connecting us and
re-connecting us.

I am grateful
that I live in a peaceful city
with people that I love.
I am grateful that I have a job that fills a real need
and that I get paid for doing it.
I am grateful that I live without fear.
I am grateful that, in whatever small way
I can help others today.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Passion Party #351 - The Happiest Man In America

Sure, you say you are happy
but are you REALLY happy?
On a scale of 100,
is your sense of "well-being" above 90? (the people known for predicting US election results)
have, for the last three years, been surveying Americans to measure "the good life".
According to an article in the NY Times, this formula (called the Gallup-Healthways Well- Being Index) asks questions about emotional status, work satisfaction, eating habits, income, stress level and other indicators of the quality of life.

If you take a statistical composite for the 2010 Happiest Person in America, what does this person look like?
Gallup's answer: he's a tall, Asian American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income more than $120,000 a year.

A few phone calls later, and the NY Times reporter was speaking to Alvin Wong in Honolulu...

To see the article go here

To see more raw data on the study, go to
Well-Being index

As for me, I just have to wait a few years, move to Honolulu and become Asian...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Passion Party #350 - Thrive, Not Survive

If I am to thrive and not just survive
when business is down 80%
I need to be in the top 4%
of those left in my business.

It takes focus and time
It takes building a need-based business
where people need my expertise
and do not have the ability or time to
do it themselves.

It takes reaching out
touching more people
helping when help is needed
giving when giving is needed
leading when a leader is needed
and letting go when letting go is needed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Passion Party #349 - What Makes Us Happy

In 1938 Dr. Arlie Bock conceived of a study that would "attempt to analyze the forces that have produced normal young men" in an attempt to define the factors "which in toto is commonly interpreted as successful living".

Underwritten by millionaire W. T. Grant, this study began in 1939 by choosing 268 male Harvard Students, and was later enlarged by studying 332 "disadvantaged" white male youths from Boston's inner-city area (The Glueck Study). "The Grant Study" continues today under the leadership of George Vaillant, who took over the study in 1967.

It has followed these men with periodic medical and psychological tests, as well as recording life events (jobs, marriages, children, etc.) that have occurred.

Looking back 70 years later, the flaws in this longitudinal study are obvious: Why Harvard students? Why only white males? Wouldn't it be good to know what makes women happy as well?

More telling, the study begins to reflect more the philosophy of the man running the study, George Vaillant, than the study itself. His book published in 1977, "Adaptation To Life" presents tales that reflect Vaillant's belief that the best way to be happy in life is to sublimate or suppress conflict, or repress uncomfortable thoughts (like a marriage that went bad, for example).

But is ignorance or avoidance truly bliss?
Aren't we better served by
experiencing and traveling through the pain,
so that we can then
truly experience the pleasure and joy
that life has to offer?

(special thanks to the Joshua Wolf Shenk article in the June 2009 Atlantic Monthly entitled "What Makes Us Happy?")

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Passion Party #348 - Discuss Finances (Money, Part 16)

The two topics that adults love to avoid
are money, and sex
as if both are dirty secrets somehow
when in reality they are both wonderful and glorious parts of life.
Lack of communication in these areas
is the downfall of many a marriage
or relationship.

With finances, it is important to know
where the money comes from
and where it goes.
Not watching every penny
but being aware
and sharing when times are bad or good.

My wife and I have always kept separate checking accounts.
We delegate to each other
the responsibility to pay certain bills
so that one person is not fully burdened
with that task.
Years ago we promised to pay off each credit card
the month it comes in,
or else not to use it.
I swear these discussions
have helped us stay in love.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Passion Party #347 - Potato-Fest!

Why wait around for the next holiday on the calendar?
Sometimes you just have to create your own.

My wife's comment, "I never met a potato I didn't like"
has grown into Potato-Fest,
a pot-luck dinner celebrating All Things Potato.
Each person brings their favorite potato dish,
and I throw a tri-tip on the barbecue to balance out the meal.
No green vegetables allowed!
It's all about the tubors,
meat and potatoes at their finest.

With our Bonzai Potato Tree for a centerpiece,
we feasted on roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic,
scalloped potatoes, potatoes au gratin,
sweet potato fries and sweet potato gnocchi
(okay, I know we're stretching a little here,
sweet potato is only a distant cousin to the potato, oh well.)

A dozen old friends
enjoying life
celebrating our love of potatoes
why not?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Passion Party #346 - Life Is What You Make Of It

I don't believe
that I can make Life do
what I tell It to do.
I am not omnipotent
nor that egocentric.

I do believe
that I have a choice
when Life deals the cards
of how to play them.
I have a choice of
how much sweetness
to add to the lemonade.

I do believe
Life is what you make of it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Passion Party #345 - Talent Inflation

It is not just college tuition that is
outpacing inflation.

More high school students than ever before
are to applying to college rather than
entering the work force or the armed services.
Each of these students are applying to more schools than ever before
(this year the average college-bound senior will apply to 10-14 schools).
Carnegie Mellon University received 28,000 applicants for 1,500 freshman openings this year,
compared to 14,000 applications 10 years ago).

This has been fostered by the internet,
the Common App, and
the competition.

The bar gets higher and higher
and supply and demand
helps keep the costs high

But I still wonder
is the student being served by this system?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Passion Party #344 - A Shmammy Kind of Day

As a recording artist
I get to be a member of NARAS
and have the option of buying over-priced tickets
to the strange musical conflagration called
"The Grammys".
As the musical business continues to splinter
a few desires hold steady:
a desire for recognition
a desire for fame
a desire to share one's music with the largest population possible
(not specifically for financial gain,
but that would be nice if it happens...)
a desire to look different enough that when people see you they know you are "somebody", even if they don't know who you are.

The attractiveness of the Grammy telecast
and its worldwide audience
brings out a few unusual stars each year
Even Neil Young showed up looking like a grandfatherly curmudgeon
(he won an award in the pre-telecast).
Bob Dylan actually "sang" on key, a little.
Barbara Streisand sang without asking for all cameras to be confiscated
and Mick Jagger made a great pitch for health food and exercise.

The dress code for the women in the audience was
short, SHORT party dresses and
funny high-heeled shoes.
It was fun watching the women
try to walk in their booty-hugging outfits
on and off the escalators
up and down the steep stadium seating of the Staples Center
It made me want to buy stock in J-Lo's clothing company
and train to be a physical therapist
because all these women will need help if they keep walking around in shoes like that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Passion Party #343 - Human Being vs. Human Doing

Some days feel
like it is all about doing.
The Things To Do List
is a mile long
and all I need is to
walk through the day
hopefully checking things off the list.

But that is not really living.
That is just "doing it".
As any musician knows
after a while even the best groove
turns into a rut.

Today, instead of Doing It
I will try Being It.
Why try to reach the goal
when you can BE the goal?

I was meant to be
a Human Being
not a Human Doing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Passion Party #342 - Specific Knowledge

There is value to constantly learning
but there is more value to learning specific knowledge.
As Calvin Coolidge said,
"The world is filled with educated derelicts".
If gathering knowledge was all it took
librarians would be millionaires.

It is the gathering of specific knowledge
that can lead to financial wealth.
So I spend the time
to learn Real Estate Law
and the rules of Real Estate Practice
to build my knowledge for my specific field.

I learn the art of communication
and how to read people,
not just books.

The more specific knowledge I have
the more valuable I become.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Passion Party #341 - Education

What is the purpose of education?
Is it to get a job?
Is it to raise yourself up from the humdrum of everyday life?
Is it to gather knowledge?
Is it to learn from our past?

As my son and I travel to different colleges
we encounter different cultures.
Some are run like Secret Societies,
where getting accepted
is more difficult that getting hired by the NY Philharmonic.
Some treat students like
they are applying for a starting job that pays $60,000 a year,
rather than the fact they will ask you
to pay $60,000 a year
for the pleasure of being there.
Some seem designed to maintain their jobs,
to turn students into "academics".

And one, so far, has seemed
to realize that they are a place of learning
a school for education, not competition
and that being open and supportive
is a strength, not a weakness.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Passion Party #340 - Make New Friends

In my Wheel of Life
one of my weak spokes
is making friends.

Unlike my wife, who has many deep and lasting friendships,
I have only a couple of people
that I would consider close friends.
I know lots and lots of people
I have many acquaintances
but how many of them would I really want to hang out with for an evening?

I want to enlarge this part of my life
I want to have many close, enduring friendships.
It feels good to have people I can really talk to,
deeply and honestly.

It doesn't take a big event
or even a special reason.
It starts, like last night, with inviting our neighbor over to join us for dinner on a weeknight, so they don't have to cook.
Really, if I am willing to be open,
I have friends everywhere, even next door.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Passion Party #339 - A Big Adventure

My son and I
begin our big adventure.
For the next few weeks
he will be performing four auditions
in four different cities
for four different universities
and I will be his guide and chauffeur.

In between
the ins and outs of airports and rental cars
I will be maintaining my mortgage business
doing a couple of club gigs
working on a composition for orchestra,
and starting to study for my Real Estate Broker's license.

The other goals for 2011 suddenly
receding into the distance
my plate is full
and it is full of excitement
and things I really want to do.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Passion Party #338 - What Can I Do To Improve Things?

Waking up
a night of strange, busy dreams
head full of congestion
and sadness

These feelings are real
I need to face them and ask
Why do I feel this way today?

Upon knowing,
then my job becomes
What can I do today to improve the specific situation?
The answer probably involves love.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Passion Party #337 - True Worth

How does one become successful?
It has to do with perception
and "being worth it".
It's an inside job
that manifests on the outside.

Why does one attorney work for $100 an hour
while another works for $500 and hour?
Because he/she is worth it.
And true worth
is giving more in value than you receive in payment.

From L. L. Bean
to Apple Computer
from McDonalds
to Wolfgang Puck
this Law of Success holds true:
True worth
is giving more in value than you receive in payment.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Passion Party #336 - Eulogy

Billy Strayhorn was one of the most accomplished composers in the history of American Music. He worked in the shadows of Duke Ellington. As a gay black man in the 30's, 40's and 50's, Billy was happy to live in the background in New York City, and let Duke get all the glory and do all the touring. Billy wrote over 150 recorded songs and 15 Suites during his 51 years on earth, including "Take The A Train", "Lush Life" and "Something To Live For".

At his funeral in 1967, Duke Ellington read the eulogy. He said, "(Billy) demanded freedom of expression and lived in what we consider the most important and moral of freedoms:
1) freedom from hate, unconditionally
2)freedom from self-pity (even throughout all the pain and bad news)
3)freedom from fear of possibly doing something that might help another more than it might himself, and
4) freedom from the kind of pride that could make a man feel he was better than his brother or neighbor."

Four freedoms, still worth remembering and living by.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Passion Party #335 - A Shmammy kind-of Day

As a recording artist
I get to be a member of NARAS
and have the option of buying over-priced tickets
to the strange musical conflagration called
"The Grammys".
As the musical business continues to splinter
a few desires hold steady:
a desire for recognition
a desire for fame
a desire to share one's music with the largest population possible
(not specifically for financial gain,
but that would be nice if it happens...)
a desire to look different enough that when people see you they know you are "somebody", even if they don't know who you are.

The attractiveness of the Grammy telecast
and its worldwide audience
brings out a few unusual stars each year
Even Neil Young showed up looking like a grandfatherly curmudgeon
(he won an award in the pre-telecast).
Bob Dylan actually "sang" on key, a little.
Barbara Streisand sang without asking for all cameras to be confiscated
and Mick Jagger made a great pitch for health food and exercise.

The dress code for the women in the audience was
short, SHORT party dresses and
funny high-heeled shoes.
It was fun watching the women
try to walk in their booty-hugging outfits
on and off the escalators
up and down the steep stadium seating of the Staples Center
It made me want to buy stock in J-Lo's clothing company
and train to be a physical therapist
because all these women will need help if they keep walking around in shoes like that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Passion Party #334 - Go Outside

We live in an incredible world
if we only take a minute
to go outside
and look at it.

Last night was a full moon
and we went outside after dinner
to look at it.
It was an unusually clear night
The atmosphere was perfect for star gazing,
even on our little street in Culver City.
Sirius was twinkling, flashing colors.
Orion was overhead,
and we could see the Orion Nebula
glowing fuzzy at the end of his sword.

Even the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters
were visible above our heads.
I cannot remember a night of so many stars
from our house in the city.

We are surrounded by marvels
if we just go out
and open our eyes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Passion Party #333 - New Thinking

In revisiting Napoleon Hill's book,
"Think and Grow Rich",
I am reminded that we do create our own reality.

I was brought up thinking
a poverty consciousness:
There is not enough love to go around
For me to win, someone else has to lose
Don't expect anything from life, and you won't be disappointed.

Now I know
that I can reprogram my mind to be on a positive path
that I can learn new habits
and if I have a clear vision,
back it with desire and hard work,
and am willing to give what it takes in exchange
to fulfill this vision,
that goal will be achieved.

It may not happen in my preferred time frame
or exactly as I expect
but Life will give me what I ask of it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Weather Gods are Smiling

We have a moment of sun in the crazy snowstorms
Evan and I fly today to Hartford CT,
through Chicago
en route to UMass Amherst
for our first BIG adventure
The Weather Gods are smiling, and
the flights are on time.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Passion Party #332 - Quiet Time

In preschool
they taught us "Quiet Time"
that time each day when we sat
or lay on our blankets
in silence

Now I need to make time to be silent
getting up at 5:00 AM
rising before the sun
the silence filled only
with the pumping of blood through my body
and the white noise of the electric lines and the cars on the freeway.

Clearing the mind
not trying to figure things out
but just to feel the feelings
letting the mind drift
like clouds in the sky

A time for acceptance
and renewal
creating a fresh start to the day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Passion Party #331 - Make Time to Talk

Dinner at our house
is a sacred time
where we all stop what we are doing
and come together to eat and check in,
sharing about our day.

I never really thought about how
this activity had become a ritual,
a moment of time
requiring that we connect with each other as a family.
It has always been there; it is something I learned from my parents, and I carried it on in my household.

Last night while we were sharing our meal
my son got a text message from a friend.
It drew away his focus, and it never really returned.
This led to a heated discussion about
how rude it is to answer a phone (or even receive a text) while you are in a conversation with another person.

This is why I don't have "call waiting"
and why I leave my cell phone in the car at night
leaving my work day behind.

I want to give my undivided attention
to everyone I meet today.
I will initiate the conversations
and make time to talk.
Really talk with the person
and really listen to what they are saying.

“It’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” - Barack Obama

Monday, January 31, 2011

Passion Party #331 - Life Is Not A Target

You can go to the archery range,
take a few lessons
and learn to shoot a bow and arrow.
If you practice for hours
you can learn to hit the center of the target.
If you are really motivated
you can buy really good equipment
which makes the target easier to hit.

But life is not like that.
Life is not a target for me to hit.
Life often laughs
at the fancy equipment
and all the practice and rehearsal.

I just need to learn
to laugh along
and play the game.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Passion Party #330 - Share More

People are attracted to passionate people
and passionate people aren't afraid to share.

Wikipedia defines sharing as "the joint use of a resource or space."

If you are really passionate about something
you want the world to know
and you want to share it.

Share the knowledge
share your wisdom
share your favorite book or movie
share who you really are.

Wikipedia is an ultimate example of sharing. Please read this message from Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. The 10 year-old organization just held their annual fundraiser, as they are a not-for-profit organization that relies on individual contributions to survive and grow.
They just raised $16 million dollars in about a week, from over 630,000 contributors. The average donation was $22.00.

It all came about from sharing information.
Check it out at wikipedia

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Passion Party #329 - Clean House

I am tired of planning.
I am tired of doing.
Today is a day for mindless activity.
I love the though of clearing out old files
putting all the clutter away
and starting fresh with a clean desk
and a blank piece of paper.

Throwing out old files
recycling books and clothes
that are of no use to me any more
creating space
for the New Year to fill.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Passion Party #328 - Getting What I Want vs. Wanting What I Get

New Years resolutions are often lists of things we want to have happen for us.
If I spend all my time wanting,
as my friend Jimmy Wakimoto pointed out,
it points to a dissatisfaction with the present moment,
and prevents me from living and appreciating the NOW of life.

Instead of getting what I want,
why not embrace wanting what I get?

More than a list of gratitudes,
writing about what I "get to" do
creates anticipation and excitement.
(Remember as a kid when you talking about how you
"get to" go to Disneyland?)

I am so happy that
- I get to drive my car today
- I get to go work in my newly painted and carpeted office today
- I get to work with people that respect me today
- I get to talk to clients that trust me today
- I get to hug my son and my wife today
- I get to be passionate today!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Passion Party #327 - Business Plan

I used to think that a business plan
consisted of looking at last year,
crunching the numbers,
and then projecting what the next year will be like.

Now I have learned
that the numbers only tell what has happened
and projections are really just guesses.

It is good to see where the business has come from
because then you can ask important questions:
- What are the 10 best things that happened last year?
- What do I like about my job/business
- What do I want my business to look like in a year? In 5 years?
- What do I want more of? Why do I want it? How can I get it?
- What do I want less of? How can I get rid of it?

If I truly believe that I can create what I want
then it is all about the questions,
and taking time to find the answers.

If I ask the right questions
then, really, the numbers will take care of themselves.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Passion Party #326 - Influence

Most all my business comes from the network I have developed.
It is mostly people I have met face to face.
Many of them have personally used my services.
They know, like, and trust me.
These are people that are personally invested in seeing me succeed
because I feel the same way about them.
I want them to be successful.
I want to help them, first and foremost.

When I focus on the other person's win,
that is when I succeed,
because that person becomes my advocate.
And then my interests are taken care of.

It is not money or position that creates influence.
Influence creates money and position.
My influence is determined by
how abundantly I place
other people's interest first.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Passion Party #325 - Courageous Conversations

We live in a time
where "friend" is a verb
where people post online
what they had for breakfast
as if I care.

Our instant communication
is deafening
and meaningless.

What matters most is reaching out to a person
without fear
asking how they are doing
and really listening to the answer.

Not the frivolous holiday card
but a courageous conversation
where truth is spoken in every aspect of your life
and true friendship is created.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Passion Party #324 - Its The Journey

How many of us can sit back and say,
"I've made it. I've arrived"?
Others may look at your accomplishments
at your fame or your bank account
(or lack thereof)
and pass judgment.
The view from the outside may be grand
but I believe it is an inside job.

What is most important is how we spend our days
as we travel on our journey through life.
It is not where you are going
but how you get there.
It is the actions, not the goal
It is the journey, not the destination.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Passion Party #323 - Recipe For a Great Year

I ended the "old year"
with a hike in Eaton Canyon, above Pasadena
massages for Diana and I
composing music (an Adagio for cello and string orchestra)
a sushi dinner at our favorite local restaurant.

I started the "new year"
with a hike up the Baldwin Hills Overlook
cooking a big pot of chili
a music party with friends from Santa Monica High School and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and UCLA faculty.

The ingredients for a great year:
- time to reflect
- time to hike in nature
- time to cook nourishing food
- time to take care of my body with exercise and massage
- time to compose and play music
- time with friends and family

Mix 2 - 3 ingredients per day, and have a great year!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Passion Party #322 - Living In Gratitude

It had been a long time
since I spent a full day immersed in music.
An hour here and there is nice, but not fulfilling.
In December I played two gigs on one day,
a luncheon holiday party and then my annual Jazz Party for the Homeless,
raising money for Path Ventures
In between the two gigs I gave myself time
to focus, practice piano and get organized.

This was a gift to myself
a wonderful gift
the result of preparation, persistence and passion.
And the answer to
what I am grateful for today.
Today I am living in gratitude.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Passion Party #321 - Why Am I Crying Today?

I want to see you
I want to hear you
I want to breathe deeply
and feel your pain
Not to fix it
but just to be there for you,
be the shoulder you can cry on.

I want to hug you
and show you that I love you.
I know your pain
the pain of the artist
the pain of knowing how good it can be
and not being able to consistently get there
not accepting
that where you are is good enough.

that you are loved
the tears I cry today are for you.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Passion Party #320 - Business Plan

I used to think that a business plan
consisted of looking at last year,
crunching the numbers,
and then projecting what the next year will be like.

Now I have learned
that the numbers only tell what has happened
and projections are really just guesses.

It is good to see where the business has come from
because then you can ask important questions:
- What are the 10 best things that happened last year?
- What do I like about my job/business
- What do I want my business to look like in a year? In 5 years?
- What do I want more of? Why do I want it? How can I get it?
- What do I want less of? How can I get rid of it?

If I truly believe that I can create what I want
then it is all about the questions,
and taking time to find the answers.

If I ask the right questions
then, really, the numbers will take care of themselves.