Been Away and a Recommendation

You know, I believe in posting here, but I seem to let the days get by without doing a post. Sorry about being so negligent.

I need to, right from the start, recommend a book to read. The book The Infinite Game by Sinek is perhaps a masterpiece. It is the story about how business and everybody is thinking and acting short term and not long term. Businesses and Wall Street think about quarterly profits when they probably should be thinking about the long-term. Our tax codes drive us to support this thinking. The same with our political parties and government. Everything is about the short term, the next quarter, the next election, this session of congress, etc. The result is we are killing ourselves. I’ve so far read about 75% of the book but highly recommend it already. Every American should read this book and then use it to inform their thinking in the next election cycle.

So I ran in the Disney Wine & Dine 10K and Half Marathon Two Course Challenge last week. I never think of myself as a fast or very good runner which is probably what most runners think of themselves. However, I looked at the run results after the half and I ended up in the top 15% of the runners in my gender and age group which stunned me. Ok then, I’ll keep running and pressing on. I run another half marathon in 10 days in Tulsa.

Regarding the book above, there is mention of a group of oil rig guys getting together to spend time together and basically become more open with each other. The result of their time invested in this fashion is their rig became a high performing rig, with minimal downtime, high output, and low environmental impact. Their time together made them each realize that they all come to the workplace with issues, insecurities, and vulnerability but they mostly hide it behind tough guy personas. When they realized they all felt this way, their performance as a team dramatically improved. They began trusting each other.

I think we all think this. We aren’t good runners. We aren’t good teachers. We aren’t good friends. But really, we are doing the best we can and we are doing ok. And we can make a difference in the world around us and with the people around us. Even if in just one person.

Listen, just make a difference in one person’s life tomorrow. Be bold. Say Thanks. Say Hi. Hold the door open. Make a difference. The world needs more people making a difference.

Conversations and Listening

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and friends lately. I’ve mentioned a few times before about this, but it has been been and remains on my mind.

A couple of weeks ago I flew to SF and had an evening catching up with some dear friends that I used to work with at STX. We had a great evening catching up and talking about the past and the future. Most have moved on to new adventures and it was a great evening. One is lucky if some of the people you work with become your friends.

One of my friends recently wrote about learning to listen better on her blog. and it deeply resonated with me because I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately and trying to be a better listener (put that phone down). I’ve read from several places how important it is to deeply listen to others and listen to understand, not listen to respond. I’ve been trying to be better at this in the last weeks and months. I think she spoke somewhere on this recently and I would loved to hear what she said and has learned.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with people that I’ve not known before and they’ve not known me. I’ve just been in some new situations and traveling and other so I’ve had the chance to meet and visit a lot of new people. In almost every conversation the other person has proceeded to do almost all the talking about themselves; about their situations; interests, and about whatever was on their mind. The conversations have been tilted way towards them and their lives. In fact, it has gotten to where I’ve been conducting an experiment, after a while, to see if at any point they ask anything about me or what I do or what I think about X, Y or Z. I’ve been amazed by this! Is this the norm and I’m just now noticing it or am I just meeting a skewed sample of people lately?

Someone wrote that if you want to be come an interesting person, then be interested in others. I’m trying to be more interested in others.

Hope you have a great week. And I hope you are surrounded by good friends. Blessings.

Ripples Through Time

I unfollowed Westbrook (@russwest44) online. I can’t bear to see his posts these days. Sometime later this year in the NBA season, he may break the all time triple double record in the NBA and he won’t be wearing an @okcthunder jersey. Can’t bear to watch it. I will, of course, welcome him when he returns to OKC, but I might leave after he is introduced because I’m not sure I can watch him play against us.

I’ve been running a lot lately. I aspire to get more consistent and walk less, but the universe may have encoded into its very DNA that I will never be much faster/better. It might be like the message encoded into Pi in the book Contact.

I’ll close with this….

A friend of mine is very sick and fighting cancer. We are doing all we can to help. One of several reasons for our fighting for this fierce friend is that years ago, this friend treated our high school aged daughter as a real person, connected with her and included her. It meant so much to my wife and me. Our choices and actions ripple through time. What good you do today ripples through time. Always lean towards doing good. We stand with this dear friend for many reasons, and this is one of them.

Just Be Nicer

A great article on LinkedIn about being nicer has the following to say:

Be a person who takes the time to understand the lives of others. Be a person who looks out for those around them. Be a person who takes on a little bit of inconvenience to make someone else’s day a little bit easier. Let little things go. Smile more. Acknowledge strangers, acknowledge your friends. Recognize opportunities and talk about how fortunate you were to have them, then try to create those opportunities for others. Be nice to yourself. Respect your aptitudes by trying to be your best. Lead with integrity. Stand up for the most vulnerable people amongst us. Lean towards justice over convenience.

Josh Jones

Underwhelmed, Connections, Overwhelmed and Peace

Amazon Prime Day has completely underwhelmed me. One of the things that I think about for events like this is how well the vendor (Amazon) has dialed into what I consistently buy or look at over time and then how well their smart analytics and data mining tune offers to match what I’m likely to be interested in and I might want to buy. I’ve seen nothing interesting so far. I’m surprised and underwhelmed.

Yesterday I was contacted about a Dean position at a University a few states away. I declined because I’m not interested in moving. I’ve never really considered such a position but it might be fun. However, it got me thinking about LinkedIn and recommendations on LinkedIn which I’ve never really cultivated. In a weak moment, I sent requests to some former colleagues at different places asking for recommendations in case I might need or want them in the future (before they forget me). Several have since called me and several have sent me recommendations already. If nothing else, I at least re-connected with some friends.

These past two months have been a time of reflection and reconsideration about many things. Church, organizations, growing older and what is ahead. Going to be a grandfather soon which is hard to believe. Talked to two different friends yesterday and had great conversations about things in the past and things ahead. Some other friends have moved away and I don’t see them as often which makes me sad. Some other things are not unfolding as I might have hoped or thought. Have been re-impressed with the value of friends and cultivating friends and connecting with those around.

On a really bright note, my wife and I had the chance to take a quick vacation this past week when we visited Alaska. Lots of great sights and times. And I got to experiment with a new camera, a Nikon Coolpix B600, which has quite a zoom lense capability. Really enjoyed working with it and realized I have much to learn.

The zoom…

Wherever you are and whatever your situation, I wish you well. May peace be upon you.

Being Taken to the Cleaners

I’ve come to believe that we are being taken to the cleaners over and over in simple and subtle ways.

Case in point, when your state issues tax refunds for overpayments on a debit card. They are absolutely, 100% on purpose, taking advantage of those of us who lose the cards or never get around to using them or are just overwhelmed with dealing with another card and account to set-up. Remember, you must call their 800 number and listen to their commercial in order to activate the card. That state keeps that which is never used.

Or how about medical service providers who send you a bill for an amount after insurance has paid what they will pay, you write them a check, and then weeks or months later you get a check in the mail for overpayment. Once again, they are counting on you not cashing that check and they were leveraging your money during the time of the overpayment by earning interest on those funds. This is not accidental.

And of course, the insurance companies send you a Explanation of Benefits written in a foreign language to most of us using codes and things we don’t understand to justify what they are going to pay for and not pay for on this claim. And, of course, they include several pages of how you appeal the payment of which nobody does.

Our leaders in Washington don’t have to live by the very laws we must obey. They get their own health insurance and retirement plans. They get to trade securities with insider information without fear of prosecution. They are lobbied by special interests (everybody, everything, every country) and people who go into Congress with typical financial resources end up millionaires within a few years.

And statistics are used to prove whatever points is required in the current argument or cause. For both sides.

I don’t think of myself as paranoid, instead, I think of myself and seeing more and more of this around me. It is just reality.

I think I’m going to read this Moneyland book. That will probably set me off further.

Take care of your friends and family that are nearby. Be kind. Help those who need a little help. Be gracious. The ‘system’ is not going to help and we need to help each other and just be kind along the way.

On My Mind

I read an article this week that really struck me in describing the current times. It was entitled The Weaponization of Feeling ‘Unsafe’ and it struck me as very true. We are in an era where ‘The new McCarthyism requires that everyone bow to demands of “victims.”’ People expect everyone else to bow down to their opinions and affirm their beliefs and nobody is entitled to hold a different viewpoint or opinion. I have to think about this further.

And then there was this article called Why Men Don’t Have Friends and Why Women Should Care which caught my eye. I think there is a huge amount of truth in this. I’ve had two friends move out of town/state this past year and I’m still processing the loss.

I just finished the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by Epstein and I have to say this is a book the resonates deeply with me. I like to think of myself as someone who reads widely and is interested in lots of things: “a reader of much and an expert on nothing” and this book exactly talks about this idea. It just resonated with me and I recommend it.

Finally, I was talking with a friend this afternoon who told me about a recent family wedding weekend where the family nearly broke into fist fights. One family member had to step in and tell those who were feuding that the weekend was about the wedding party, not them and they needed to cut it out. I know of another dear family where there is conflict and one family member is spreading hatred and false narratives about another family member. Such huge hurt for some. Why do we do this to each other? Why does family do this to family? Really, why does anyone do this to anyone?

Be kind, for you do not know what battle others are fighting. Here is an idea, decide to be kind and gracious and give the benefit of the doubt. Life is short.