Remembering Past Days

My buddy’s wife just sent me this pic of him braving the chilly waters of southern Cal in December. Twenty years ago, as graduate students, Rob and I used to do this together! In fact, on December 11th 1995 I threw myself in the frigid San Diego waters to try to calm my nerves because that evening I had to defend my doctoral dissertation, the culmination of nearly four and a half years work. Thanks for the reminder Marla!

Providing a Better Education

Friedman’s thoughts in the Review section of this week’s Sunday New York Times are worth considering. American workers are increasingly less competitive with other nations like India, China, Singapore, Poland, and Germany to name a few. The problems are systemic. We simply don’t do a good enough job educating our children to compete in an increasingly globalized and competitive world. The top ten percent of America now take home fifty percent of the national income. Income inequality is increasing. One solution is to learn from other countries who do a better job of providing autonomy, accountability, and ownership on a teaching and student level and who spend more per capita on less advantaged children. Having worked in inner city environments for years I have seen firsthand the systemic issues that create dynamics where poor and underprivileged children fall far behind their wealthier piers even by age five and certainly by age ten. We can and must do better!

Enjoying Nature And Life

As a life coach, I encourage clients to spend more time in nature. Sometimes, I take people I am working with over bridges near where my parents live because the rushing water is so powerful that it makes it nearly impossible for them to remain in their heads – in other words, to have excessive thoughts. If we want to truly live, we need to get in more in our hearts and much less in our heads!  Just some food for thought!!

The Wonders of International Traveling

This New York Times Travel section article on Malta reminded me of why international travel is so amazing! The more you experience, the more you know! People who travel a lot and interact with different people, cultures and civilizations often learn that the world is dynamic, complex and super-interesting. Too many of us are bored in our every day lives. With so much diversity and so much to learn we can learn to live without ever being bored. Developing a sense of wonder, awe, and curiosity along with an expansive mindset is a foundation to really living. Not only have I traveled internationally quite often but I’ve lived in many different parts of the United States and loved it! It’s an amazing world and the U.S. is a big country – the more open minded and adventurous we are, the more we experience the wonder!

About Arrogance And The Jets

The downhill journey over the past five years as a Jets fan is disconcerting. Thank God I am a primarily a Giants fan, though this year hasn’t been pretty either. In the NFL, many great coordinators often don’t make good head coaches and one could argue that this is definitely the case with Rex Ryan. The numbers compiled by Chase Stuart of don’t lie. The Jets suck. Hubris, pride, ego and arrogance seem to be a factor in the Jets issues. Ryan has been full of himself and was blinded by his love for Mark Sanchez for way too long. Organizational issues underlie their problems too but the head coach is the one ultimately responsible and Ryan has failed to deliver. If he is the best defensive coordinator in the league as he once boasted then what the f… is he doing as a head coach? I recently watched a Piers Morgan show with James Ray, the debased life coach and spiritual leader who was jailed for 20 months after three of his retreat guests died in a sweat lodge. He acknowledged arrogance and hubris as underlying issues that may have contributed to the tragedy. Sound familiar Rex? I have never seen Bill Belichick boast of anything and he is simply the best. It’s great to have a strong, dynamic personality and yet sometimes a little humility is good too!

Criticizing vs. Understanding

It’s nearly impossible not to like Russell Wilson! Not only is he a superstar in his second year in the league with the Seattle Seahawks but he is affable, outgoing, smart, personable and seems to have wisdom way beyond his years. Colin Kaepernick, who almost won a Super Bowl in his rookie year with the 49ers is similarly gifted as an athlete but with a much less outgoing interpersonal style, at least in front of the press. As a psychologist, I can infer that Kaepernick’s maternal abandonment and early adoption might have had an impact on his sense of trust and interpersonal style. Speaking in front of the media, not an easy task for any young adult, might be a greater challenge for him. Mr. Wilson is a pro in this regard but that’s highly unusual. From my perspective, anyone can judge and criticize but it takes toughness to be understanding.  Let’s think about that the next time were critiquing someone without fully understanding who they are or how they were raised!

A Great Way to Live

Remo Ruffini talks about his likes and dislikes in this 20 Odd Question edit by J.J. Martin of The Wall Street Journal. I like reading about entrepreneurs in general and this article caught my eye. He states: “A man with ugly socks is telling me that he doesn’t have elegance.” I don’t normally associate elegance with men or read about fashion but reading that quote had me stretch my mind a little. Can straight men still be elegant and masculine at the same time? I found myself wondering. I will give it some more thought and pay more attention now – that’s the beauty of opening one’s mind to new concepts and ideas, a great way to live!

Owning a Vineyard

Manuel Pires, an emigrant from Portugal and Connecticut entrepreneur, bought his own vineyard in Napa Valley in 2006. This weekend’s Wall Street Journal Off Duty section article is an interesting read! I lived in a guest house on a vineyard in Sonoma for several months back in 2007. Wine country is extraordinarily peaceful and intoxicating! The couple whom we rented the cottage from had fled the intensity of Silicon Valley for the serenity of Sonoma. However, the process of creating your own label is quite expensive and challenging. This story by Lettie Teague does a nice job of highlighting the fundamentals involved. Like most successful businesses, creating your own label  takes a combination of perseverance, hard work, and some luck! And yet, for some like Mr. Pires, it’s clearly a soul fit!!

Pursuing Our Dreams

Paul Bragiel, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, decided to take a break from his venture capital work and become an Olympian at age 36 with little true athletic ability. He chose cross country skiing because it is one of the least competitive of the ultra competitive opportunities available for elite athletes. He was able to obtain Columbian citizenship through his VC connections and now he is training nonstop to meet more stringent guidelines for Olympic eligibility. He has lost over thirty pounds in less than a year of training and has improved his times dramatically but still remains a long shot to qualify for the Winter Olympics in Sochi one of his lifelong dreams. Many people might think that he is nuts and perhaps he is a little but the process itself will change him forever and probably already has. I try to help every client I work with to create big dreams and then we create a game-plan to fulfill them. Even if you fall short, the process of stretching and pushing oneself can be extraordinary in terms of growth and confidence. Striving for continuous self improvement is one of the best ways to live!

A Different Approach

After years of watching the Yankees sign high priced superstars to long-term contracts I feel strongly that they did the right thing by letting Cano go by passing on his demands. At 31, it’s hard to argue that another 10 year two hundred plus million contact is worth the risk, especially given the A-Rod situation. It takes courage to change course and do things differently and the Yankees are finally showing some – good stuff! I teach clients what I call fluidity or the flexibility to do things differently, especially if what they have been doing is not working. The Yankees have had a lot of success with high priced superstars in the past but the world is changing and the numbers are getting out of hand for guys that are already in their prime and may only have a few great years left. Only time will tell but again congrats for trying a different approach!