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A Prerequisite for Empathy

I have spent quite a lot of time with both the rich and the poor in my life. As a psychologist, especially in training, I worked in residential treatment centers and hospital settings with the homeless mentally ill and others of few means. I also worked with poor children at a Head Start program and taught in an inner city college environment. Being an identical twin to a Wall Street guy and having lived and worked in an affluent community for the past 17 years, I have a fair amount of exposure to the wealthy including many affluent friends and clients. In general, I agree with Mr. Goleman’s perspective that the wealthy and more powerful tend to “pay less attention to us than we do to them,” a prerequisite for empathy! Less empathy means less caring. I just read another article in the New York Times business section about the CEO of Bloomingdales who values empathy, caring, and listening a great deal. I loved reading about Mr. Gould and hope others in positions of power and authority will emulate him!

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The Importance of The Afterlife

Samuel Scheffler, professor of philosophy and law at NYU, makes an argument in a New York Times Sunday Review article that we need to believe in an afterlife not necessarily because the Soul lives on but because without a belief in the survival of humanity our sense of purpose here would be thrown into disarray. Think what would happen if we knew an asteroid would end humanity just after we died? Would we care about cancer research or better engineering or many other professions that deal with an extended future for mankind? And what about having children? It’s both interesting and thought provoking to consider the necessity of an afterlife from this perspective!

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Dr. Brett- Business Perspective

My twin brother Bill has told me on several occasions to fly Virgin America. He was excited sharing his perspective that they did a much better job of customer service compared to old school airlines. We both agreed that Richard Branson has a special touch and that most everything he does seems better than most. I was both surprised and not so surprised to find out that the airline has been losing money but then again the airline business is brutal. And Branson’s company, Virgin Group, only owns 25 percent of Virgin America.  Maybe he should own more? Regardless, I am looking forward to flying Virgin America and hope that they succeed in large part because flying has become less and less fun since 911. Feeling cramped and unappreciated has become the norm. Occasionally, I quip that if I ran my business the way most airlines do I’d be begging for food!

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never give up

Diana Nyad succeeded in her 5th try to make the 110 mile swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West. Amazingly it took her nearly 53 hours – that’s over two days and she is 64 years old. Her advice: never, ever give up! I agree: my advice on success in life and business: never, ever give up! Sometimes, we need some outside coaching and guidance to get perspective but giving up is never an option for those of us who truly want to live!!