Tuesday, December 02, 2014


 Today could be looked at as a bit of a rough day.

Multiple kicks to the teeth. Usually getting some lip, too.


  1. Let's face it: Everything is gravy.

    All. Of. The. Everythings.


  2. I got one of those unlooked-for, unexpected, beautiful moments validating what I do has meaning and makes some things better.

    Not All of the Everythings. But some of the every things.

    (And, honestly, I don't do it for that. So it's extra nice when unexpected validation stops by to say "hi" and hug my fuzzy insides.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What it means to be smart

I know a lot of super intelligent people who are idiots.

Heck, I act like an idiot a lot of the time.

Smart -- really smart -- is an aggregate of a bunch of things:

  • Intelligence -- Aptitude to get knowledge
  • Knowledge -- To simplify, let's just say it's information
  • Wisdom -- Doing something appropriate with knowledge
  • Action -- Acting on wisdom
It  takes all of this to be "smart" -- The aptitude to get tons of information, the tons of information, the wherewithal to know when/not (and how/not) to use that information, and the compulsion do something with that great power and responsibility.

I know hyper-intelligent people who are lazy. They are not smart.

I know people with tons of information who use it in useless ways, or in abusive ways, or are just generally an ass about what they think they know. They are not smart.

I know people who have the ability to change their world at a micro or macro level, but don't have the compulsion to do anything. At all. They are not smart.

And I'm not just talking about pervasive character flaws -- I'm talking about what people like me do, off and on, throughout our lives. Heck -- throughout my day.

And then there's a flaw we all have, where we think we're smarter than we really are.

Sure, intellectually, I know there's a bunch of someones out there that are smarter than me. But if that doesn't live with me, it's just intellectual knowledge that doesn't lead to personal growth.

And I'm talking about acknowledging there are smarter people in a healthy way, not in a "I'm not worth anything", false negative sense of my worth.

I surround myself with peers and mentors that I meet with on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. We encourage and lift each other up and hold each other accountable -- which means calling each other out if we're acting arrogant, thinking too much of our gifts and talents, or otherwise behaving selfishly. Often times, that's about how smart we're being (or a false sense of intelligence, or an elitism, or a host of other character flaws or symptoms that indicate being out of whack with the reality of what it means to be smart, and to get smarter.

Here's a bit of litmus test I have (one of them; I have several) -- Do I find myself using the phrase, "Those people" in categorizing a group?

I don't mean just with race -- I mean with differing religious or political views, or people without domain expertise, or with people who say something that could be classified as "dumb" because they haven't had the exposure to the knowledge before.

(And while I could arguably add a fifth ingredient to "smart" -- "Opportunity" -- I'd argue there is so much information exposed to us wherever we are that we can't reach saturation. Again. Arguably.)

With myself and other "smart" people, I've heard versions of the phrase "those people" used. Not Smart.

When I look at the twelve smartest people I know, they're not just smart in aggregate -- They higher in Intelligence, AND Knowledge, AND Wisdom, AND Action. And eight of those twelve don't even have higher education degrees.

(And no, I don't come close to cracking the Smart Twelve.)

Oh, and so I don't forget -- Making sure I don't over value my smarts and/or don't giving people enough grace with theirs doesn't mean I'm a milktoast, and doesn't mean I don't call people out on their dumb crap.

But it means if I do, I better have cleaned up my house, too.

One of my favorite managers in the world used to try to get people to see what they needed to see to do their jobs, get on board with change that was going to happen regardless, and so on.

And if they didn't get there -- with spoonfuls of patient help -- he might ... lose it a bit.

"Do you want me to get some crayons and draw a ****ing map for you?"

He wasn't deriding intelligence, and he wasn't belittling the person -- But he was saying, "You should have been able to get there, and I helped you -- a lot -- and you're still not there. You better get there."

(Fortunately, I never had that phrase used on me. Though I probably deserved to have.)

(Dr. Doom and Data provided by Marvel. © 2014 Marvel)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Celebrating Papa Day

Today is special.

Today is "Papa Day".

Five years ago today, my dad-in-law -- a neat, fun inspiring man -- left this life. It sucked.


I remember him. Often.

And not just the last few weeks and months of his life -- those whirlwind, visceral memories of surprise phone calls and rushed road trips, of moves and the funeral and packing and selling that sometime threaten to take over all of the other memories.

I remember how Dad laughed, how easy-going he was, how patient he was in the middle of inconvenience, discomfort, and pain (we all found out after the fact that he was playing on the floor with the kids "with a horribly sore back" -- that it turned out was actually his spine cracked from the growth of a tumor).

I remember his sense of humor, the self-deprecating-but-not-insecure fun he had at his own expense.

I remember his generosity. That man would tip a waitress in need more than the cost of the meal. And not look back.

Later the day that dad passed, my then-seven-year-old daughter asked if we could remember the day, and celebrate it as "Poppa Day", with all of those good memories.

I promised her I would. And we do.

Tonight was about listening to fifties sock-hop music (could have been polka or Pavarotti, too), dancing around the open-windowed house like goofballs (because it doesn't matter what we look like or what people think of us), and eating horrible sugary baked treats like those he would buy the kids when he visited us.


Why do all of this stuff that could be called self-medicating, or superficial, or no longer needed?

Kind of like baskets and candy and trinkets at Easter or Christmas, this fun, light-hearted break from routine -- revolving around something more important -- gives all of us a chance to step back, laugh, tear up, be reflective, be goofy, and focus on an example and a legacy that's lasting and outside of ourselves.

At one point tonight, my youngest daughter (a toddler when we lost Dad) stopped eating her white-emblazoned chocolate cupcake, and just stared into space.

Thinking the sugar had won, I asked her what she was thinking about.

"I know Papa was a very good man," she said. And went back to eating her cupcake.

That's why we do Papa Day.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Just ... stop it

Up front: Admittedly, my tolerance for what I consider unimportant is at quite the low.

I'm excitedly and urgently growing my business in a ginormous way, which pretty much consumes me right now. My wife and I are painfully remembering and grieving departed loved ones, and that has us emotionally drained. And I seem to be recently surrounded by friends and acquaintances who are sadly, imminently going to lose family members, so I'm doing what I can physically and emotionally to be there for them, too.

So, there's all of this genuinely important stuff going on in people's lives.

And then there's irritating, destructive noise in my social feeds, where it's just people abusing other people.

Over stupid things.

Like the "debate" over evolution and creation.

Not important.

Don't misunderstand -- I'm not saying the topics aren't important and worth discussing. But this gross noise has not been about the topics. It's been about debating. And it's been about abuse.

So if it's not important, why am I coming out of semi-blog-hiatus to say anything?

Because that abuse is an important thing for us to talk about. And, corporately, to stop.

I look at these social feeds, and think, "Really? You're going to abuse people using broken social pipes as a way to push your world view onto them, and, what -- change them to your mindset?"

Actually, I would be OK with even that.

Except even that's not what's happening.

What is actually happening in is you're using broken social pipes as an avenue to try to appear superior and to abuse people.

You are an arrogant, horrible person.

I have been shocked at the base, intolerant vitriol that's been spewed by people over topics like this. In publicly, archive-able, searchable forms for when I'm considering working with, hiring, or having a beer with you.

Sickly ironically, this vitriol is usually from people that would consider themselves socially progressive intelligent people, and for whom tolerance is a stated cornerstone of their beliefs.

We all have our blind spots, and we smart people often think we're far more intelligent than we really are, and oh, we would like to think we're never intolerant.

Coming back to this recent debate and abuse over theories of how everything came to be, and limiting that to evolution and creationism theories, let me tell you what's true for me:

  1. I am well-read and informed concerning these theories
  2. I acknowledge both theories take a tremendous amount of faith
  3. I have a strong, directed personal conviction on these topics
  4. I don't put that personal conviction onto other people
  5. I don't think less of them if they disagree (about this, or political views, or best movies)
  6. As someone else said, depending on the direction you take, evolution and creation are inherently non-provable and/or non-falsifiable
  7. I wasn't there, so I don't know how the whole "everything coming into being" thing went down
So, now you know where I stand. It's discussable.

It's not debatable.

This whole little rambling of mine is just a straw. It's just little contribution for goading maybe a few of us to take our viewpoints out of a non-directed cloud (and aiming it at a public figure with whom you don't have a personal relationship is the same thing as a non-directed cloud, plus maybe a little bit of cowardice).

And this is about taking accountability for our behavior.

Those that know me know I don't brook intolerant vitriolic hate spew. One of the things people like and hate about me is I hold people accountable. Even if I don't know them.

I'm a work in progress, and I certainly haven't arrived, but I work really hard to hold people accountable without penalizing them. I spend a lot of time thinking about it, practicing it, evaluating how I've done with it, and refining it.

So even though I know "I'm not there yet", I'm comfortable that I'm at least actively doing the hard work.

And regardless of your viewpoint, if you know me, do me favor: Take the comments you've been making about [those people] and [that obvious debate], and insert my name. Make it personal. Make it directed. Make it at me.

See if that still works for you.

And if it does, do us a mutual favor and unfriend and unfollow me.

And honestly, all of that intolerant vitriolic hate spew? Just ... stop it.