Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

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Proactive Means Now

By on Jan 4, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

For many of us the new year begins with the best of intentions. It’s not so much that we delude ourselves in committing to resolutions we will never pursue as it is the open calendar before us filled with possibility and promise. What can we do with all of those days between now and the end of the year? The choices are as endless as the opportunities. Almost immediately we start falling behind in our daily tasks. Days into the new year we are already playing catch up. Why can’t we get ahead of our task lists and beat the daily grind into submission? Why can’t we focus on projects and prospects that matter? Why do we spend endless hours on stuff but still waste so much time? Maybe it’s just too easy to kick the can. Difficult challenges don’t sort out themselves. They have to be wrangled and wrestled. That’s the kind of intellectual and emotional commitment that takes the force of will to muster. If you want to achieve meaningful progress, you have to get ahead of your calendar, not let it consume you. Want that glorious promotion at work? It’s not going to find you. Want to make a significant dent in your competition? They aren’t going on vacation to give you breathing room to pounce. Want to learn a new skill, a new language, accelerate your ability in an artistic discipline, or finally figure out why your department is going sideways instead of upward? Those are all really difficult things to do that won’t take place between Facebook posts or tweets. If you want to stop drowning in your dizziness, learn to think proactively. Set your sights on a potential outcome and work your way back to the present. Envision a roadmap and establish a set of checkpoints that will lead you to a better outcome. Own the outcome by owning the process. Most important, you need to do it now. Not in a month. Not in a week. Not tomorrow. Not in an hour. Now means now. Procrastination will cost you your dreams. If you have dreams, you need to act on them. Even if you don’t have dreams, and you should, if you...

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Dan Rather Live

By on Dec 13, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Last week I attended a talk with Dan Rather, who is on the road in support of his latest book, What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism. Produced by Live Talks Los Angeles, it was an especially engaging conversation because he was interviewed by someone equally interesting and unique, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kareem made it clear this was an unusual gig for him because he is usually the one answering rather than asking interview questions. He opened with the observation that what he and Rather have in common is that today each of them is considered an elder statesman. Without missing the lightness of the moment, Rather jumped into the dialogue and made it clear that he does not think of himself in any way as a statesman. He also declared with humility that he is not a philosopher or a political scientist, just a very lucky reporter grateful to have enjoyed a long career in professional journalism. I have to admit that I am quite the fan of Dan Rather. I was in college when he was passed the torch from Walter Cronkite. In those days anchoring the day’s national  news wrap-up was both a high honor and enormous responsibility. I was raised on the CBS Evening News and to this day it remains a welcome friend in my home, played back late at night from a digital recording. The anchor chair has changed hands several times over the years, but when Rather sat there, he carried the weight of the world’s biggest stories with dignity, authenticity, precision, and charm. I found Rather’s comments that evening so insightful and energizing, I wanted to share a few of his thoughts in hopes that those who share my regard for his career know that his voice is still resonating, and those who are unfamiliar with him might choose to discover the depth of his observations. “News is what powerful people don’t want you to know,” he offered with certainty. He defined the job of journalism as getting the story that others may be hiding, and that is why journalists are often unpopular with people in high places. This has always been the job as he sees it, finding out what the public needs...

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Every Hope is Worth Saving

By on Dec 5, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

It’s been a rough year. I’m not sure what to make of 2017. What we’ve seen this year on the public stage is unlike anything I can remember. We hear casual conversation about whether our elected officials and senior federal employees colluded with Russia to soil our national election. We observe mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas, now so common we barely discuss it a week later and don’t even bother utilizing it to foster a conversation on common-sense gun control. We watch the parade of famous men from all walks of life falling from prominence when confronted with their ghastly predatory behavior. We experience nature’s record storms devastating the southeastern mainland United States and Puerto Rico as we strip down the EPA, deny climate change, and fail to provide adequate resources to those fighting to rebuild their lives. Maybe for you this was just another year. For me it was something different. I can’t get my feet to walk solidly on a path below me. My legs are too shaky. The ground is unfirm. Despite the turmoil, the holidays have arrived. It is the season of wishes. Here are a few I am guessing many of us share: Don’t you wish the President of the United States was a man of grace, wisdom, and compassion whom our children could admire, instead of cementing this image of awfulness in their brains for the rest of their lives? Don’t you wish Harvey Weinstein had been called out decades ago so that dozens of women could have been spared his lurid, violent, inexcusable acts of supremacy and self-importance? Don’t you wish the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team comprised of child champions had been spared the physical and psychological abuse of their team doctor posing as their protector? Don’t you wish that our absolute defense of the First Amendment wasn’t being utilized by racists unashamed to wear swastikas in public and proclaim a new day for Nazi ideology? Don’t you wish that a tax cut for the wealthy was not broadly accepted as an apologia for the reprehensible inattention to human needs our Congress trades for the financial support that keeps them in office? Enough already, right? I told you that for...

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Tribal Ways and Open Doors

By on Nov 14, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

  Few of us will ever have the opportunity to spend an extended period of time on an Indian reservation. If you don’t live or work there, it’s just not something you’re likely to do. You might drive onto native lands for a festival or to buy some crafts, or you might enjoy some vacation time at an Indian casino. If you ever do have the invitation to fully immerse yourself in the culture of tribal ways, I recommend you walk through the open door. If you embrace the opening of that door, you will be changed. My wife and I recently spent a week volunteering at the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, a federally recognized sovereign nation that sits at the three-way intersection of California, Arizona, and Nevada. We were there for a week as part of an alumni service project from my college with a group of about 50 like-minded souls. We were divided into three groups focused on construction, education, and business projects. Our construction group built an outdoor shelter where children from the school could study outside in the shade. My wife helped teach music and art in the preschool. I helped teach basic business and entrepreneurial skills to adults. It is difficult to bridge the gap between what one might expect signing up for a week on Native American lands and what one would actually experience. The key learning for me was getting past what I thought I might accomplish in advance of our arrival and giving myself over to the experience itself — of bonding with people who otherwise would have remained strangers in my life. What struck me as particularly resonant was how building a bridge of trust to a few people one person at a time could open all of our eyes to the language of possibility. Let’s start with some basics. Even though few people will have the opportunity to spend a week in a place they might not have known was there, a week is a fragment of time too brief to overestimate in scope. That means that every moment shared was a moment that mattered, with an intense focus on listening and learning rather than articulating strategies and solutions. Time may...

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When Your Team Loses

By on Nov 6, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

The Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series last week. The Los Angeles Dodgers lost. It was an epic contest. Many have observed it was one of the greatest World Series match-ups in the history of Major League Baseball. It lasted into the mythic and deciding Game 7, crossing tentatively into the month of November, creating the first-ever Game 7 at Dodger Stadium and the first-ever MLB game played in November at Dodger Stadium. This year’s fall classic delivered all of the drama any fan could want from a World Series. There were come-from-behind victories one after another, larger-than-life villains and heroes caught in an explosive discussion of racism, more lazy walks and majestic home runs than most of us could imagine, and two world-class managers locked in a battle of wits. It was an endurance contest. It began in Game 1 at 103 degrees on the sweltering Chavez Ravine field and ended there eight days later some forty degrees cooler. It brought many viewers back to the game who had abandoned baseball for its slow pace in our ever-hectic world. It was the perfect collision of talent and human will emerging from an always imperfect playing season. Then it was over. Only one team could take home the Commissioner’s Trophy. One team did, in a stadium not their own but on a makeshift stage they made their own. The local contenders, who could win only three of seven games, looked on from the home team dugout and watched the award ceremony broadcast to the globe. Behind the blue-flagged dugout sat their fans, also staring vacantly beyond the bright television camera lights with sadness and acceptance. I was among those fans. I slumped in my hardwood seat and watched the grand on-field celebration to my right and the silence of humility to my left. Bart Giamatti, former MLB Commissioner and President of Yale University, probably said it best in his acclaimed essay The Green Fields of the Mind: It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. That is the game, where each preliminary round of the postseason always ends in an event called an elimination game, and then the World Series itself winds down to the...

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Standing Your Ground

By on Oct 2, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

How do you know when it’s time to stand firm on a point and when it’s time to cave in and go with the flow? The answer is obvious: You never know, not for sure. The hardest calls are the ones you make alone. You listen intently, gather data, think about the situation, seek counsel from close advisors, but in the end if you decide to take a stand, consider yourself alone. Values, ethics, morals — all of them seem clear on paper when you are reading about someone else’s lapse. That’s called history. You read it in hindsight with reflection. You wonder in amazement at how something so rotten could have been advanced. Looking forward is another problem entirely. If you think making a decision on principle is easy you probably haven’t yet made a hard one. If you have put yourself on the line for a heartfelt conviction, you know that courage is not something usually acknowledged in the present tense. It is awarded upon completion of a task, win or lose, based on context. In the present you might be called something else entirely: Difficult. Difficult people tend to get a bad rap, and being difficult just to be difficult is not likely to lead you to the corner office. Some of the questions we face in staring down adversity include: Whether we have thoroughly thought through an objection to the more genially accepted plan we oppose. Whether dissension without triumph creates any intrinsic value of its own. Whether the cost of standing in isolation is worth it. Let’s think about those three filters as we ponder a few hypothetical but easily applicable real-world examples of standing your ground. Someone Getting Fired Unjustly. Suppose a colleague of yours, Charlie, has somehow become the fall-person for a project that has spiraled wildly off schedule and budget. The project team has found an easy out because your department VP is already known to dislike Charlie, so all the group has to do is subtly throw Charlie under the bus and the clock resets to zero. You don’t particularly like Charlie, but you know he is no more innocent or guilty than everyone else on the wayward team. When you...

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