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.