Big Mouths Alert

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So I took this photo in the Museum of Natural History. 


As you can see, this hippopotamus has quite a big mouth. 


He is also not alive and is behind a glass-enclosed case for viewing. 


To me this screams that those with big mouths often don’t end up well. 


I remember a relative of mine used to bluntly call it, “being full of sh*t.”


Whether these people are in politics, your neighborhood, bullies at work and school, or even those in the fake news media…they have become all to somewhat frequent.


Sure there are other animals with small mouths in the same situation, but the hippo truly is a decreasing and vulnerable species.


And like it’s neighbor in the museum, the dinosaur–another one who has a big mouth–that ended up extinct, the prospects for talking big, but accomplishing little is sort of part of the character. 


The hippopotamus is mostly a herbivore–it has a big mouth and some big sharp teeth, but it mainly eats humble plants and doesn’t pursue the hunt of the big game and eat lots of red meat. 


Listen, big mouths can still be highly dangerous–words are powerful and can do a lot of damage. 


But overall “talk is cheap,” especially when people focus on words and not good deeds and who don’t have the right intentions. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Bull In A China Shop

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For some reason everyone wants to face down the bull in the China Shop or on Wall Street. 


The bull is stubborn and when it gets angry, it charges and gores. 


So how heroic for the statue of little girl (below on International Women’s Day) to be shown standing in front of him defiantly and not afraid. 


The truth probably is that we are all afraid in life. 


No one wants to get hurt or worse. 


The consequences of something really bad happening can be devastating loss–limb, body, mobility, property or even total person. 


And actually, the more we have in life, the more we have to (potentially) G-d forbid, lose. 


So when you have a spouse, children, a beautiful home, and a good job, that’s when you get really, really afraid. 


Losing your precious loved ones and everything you’ve built with G-d’s blessing and help can instantaneously be gone in the blink of an eye. 


Therefore, be careful before standing in front of a raging bull, you never know when you’ll get walloped and bad. 


Bravery in the face of danger is noble and praiseworthy when doing true good and confronting evil, but just to be a big mouth or a know-it-all or to strut your stuff, you better forget about it–you’ve got a lot to lose and it doesn’t take much for that bull to charge head on and do you a real big dirty! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal and here with attribution to AP)

If This Then That (IFTTT), A Futurists Blessing

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If This Then That (IFTTT) is a simple, but absolutely fundamental programming principle.


It is also the basis for futurist-thinking such as war-gaming and strategic planning.  For example, if North Korea put’s a nuke on the launch pad with the targeting at the U.S., then we will do kaboom!


IFTTT is also an app and is used in algorithms such as with Twitter, so when Trump or other famous and powerful people say something on the global social media stage, Wall Street’s high-speed, high-frequency trading desks are at the front of the line to respond to market-moving news.


So powerful is IFTTT, you could almost predict the election results from it (the outrageously biased media may want to open their tarnished rose-colored glasses and try it).  For example, if you take for granted, forget or neglect working class America, then the great “blue wall” tumbles. 


IFTTT also works in politics of all sorts. If you abandon friends and allies and embrace terrorist enemies, then the world order is turned on it’s head and the Middle East and beyond burns and rages in turmoil. Similarly, if you are biased between people, races, and political parties, then you polarize the country and create divisiveness and hate and obstruct even the possibility of virtually any progress. 


So you really don’t have to have a crystal ball to see the writing on the wall for the results of profoundly good moves and the display of stupidity galore. 


One final IFTTT before the major transition of power this week: if you talk big, but don’t really deliver results (or you deliver lots of bad stuff), then you get seen for being all poetry and no prose, and your legacy goes bye bye. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Temper Tantrums Don’t Make Peace

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The latest salvos of U.S. anger, frustration, and temper tantrums are not helpful to achieving peace in the world. 


We are not dealing with children and should not treat foreign countries and leaders “with disdain and disrespect” or with bias, hate, and underling anti-Semitism. 


Nor should we get on our soapbox high and mighty and “lecture” others, especially when we ourselves have been grossly deficient and derelict. 


Over the last 8 years:


We let 500,000 Syrians be massacred, including the very rebels that we were supposedly supporting, and allowed many to be killed with prohibited chemical weapons (violating our definitive “red line”)!


We let Ukraine be attacked and Crimea be stolen!


We let Russian nuclear-capable weapons be stationed on the border of NATO.


We let millions of refugees stream across the Middle East and world homeless and helpless. 


We let the world’s #1 sponsor of terrorism, Iran, become a licensed nuclear power, extend their Caliphate across Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen–while swarming and buzzing our ships and taking our sailors hostage and humiliating them. 


We let North Korea advance it’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.


We let China build and militarize the South China Sea and threaten freedom of navigation of the seas, and let them steal our drone in International waters. 


We let our ambassador to Libya and his associates be murdered.


We let the President of the Philippines call our President a “son of a whore.”


We let ISIS rampage and murder across the globe in countless terror attacks, while we called them “workplace violence” and traffic accidents.


We let divisiveness seep into and poison our own cities, communities, people, and even against law enforcement, and politicized everything stagnating our our country and making us fall further behind in the world from education to life expectancy. 


We abandoned those seeking democracy, freedom, and human rights from the Green Revolution in Iran to the Arab Spring across the Middle East. 


And the list goes shamefully on and on.


But what’s possibly even worse is that while we failed the world over, we are arrogant and nasty to others betraying our friend and allies in one-sided resolutions that ignore the scrounge of terrorism, deadly attacks, Anti-Semitism as well as with horrible deals with Iran that threaten their very existence. 


While we continue to sit in America, on land forcibly and violently taken from the Native American Indians, having brutally enslaved for hundreds of years African Americans, abused women and treated them as lessor in role, voting, and dignity, interned Japanese Americans and twice dropped the Atom Bomb on civilian cities, what right do we have to lecture anyone?


Yes, we dole out billions to nations around the world, for what we want whether in terms of allies, voting blocks, military cooperation, intelligence, or because of religious convictions, but that does not give us the right to arrogantly and bulling tell others or try to force them how to live in their neighborhoods and with the threats facing their people. 


While we did nothing, we spoke a great deal trying in vain to force our will on others, and the failures that abound are a reflection of just that leadership from behind, hypocrisy, and hubris. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Pundits Know Sh*t

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If you haven’t seen any of the many videos flying around about everyone who said “Trump will never be president,” then you should.


Presumably, these were people in the know–senior politicians and statesmen, experts galore including scientists and professors, news media, talk show hosts, comedians, and Hollywood stars.


Virtually none could even imagine him winning as they “promised” and “guaranteed” it and even swore they would leave the country otherwise.


But as we all now know, they were completely wrong and misguided. 


Similarly, in a book review today in the Wall Street Journal of “Public Intellectuals,” the big mouth know-it-alls out there or what my friend’s father used to call “intellectual idiots” failed to predict all the black swan events.


From the fall of the Soviet Union to 9/11, the Internet bubble and recession of 2001 to the mortgage meltdown and financial collapse of 2008, from the Arab Spring to Brexit…the pundits are all left looking like schmendricks!


Whether this is caused by personal biases, shortsightedness, herd mentality, or incompetence, the educated intellectuals just don’t seem to be able to see around that next bend anymore than the rest of us. 


Moreover, because of their walled-off elite status, they are functioning and talking through loud speakers from their ivory towers rather than from the real man’s world of everyday hardships and challenges. 


As I often tell one of my esteemed colleagues, it’s not how often or how loud you say something, but how sincere it is. 


The pundits typically miss it (although they seem so smart when talking with 20-20 hindsight about what happened and why), and as contrarians already know, it typically pays to do the opposite of what the so-called experts tell you. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Can’t We Keep Our Secrets

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Well after the now notorious email scandal and other information security mishaps galore, this advertisement in Washington, DC is really quite the rage. 

“Keeps classified data classified.”


As parents tell their children about keeping private things private:

“If you can’t keep it a secret, then how do you expect the other kids to keep it to themselves?”


There are lots of secrets in DC, but there are also a lot of big mouths, security negligence, and even corruption. 


This gives our adversaries the opportunities they need to get our countries vital information. 


We work too hard to develop the best intellectual property for national security and our economy as well as the critical policies for advancing human rights and democracy around the world to let it just be easy fodder for others to help themselves too. 


Technology won’t solve the gap in certain big mouths and sloppy Joes around town. 


Only vigilant, smart people can protect the nations vital information that is the fuel for our success and survival. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Everyone Participates

Suggestion Box
So very infrequently do suggestion boxes actually work. 



In the office, I remember when the suggestion box was put out and the biggest suggestion put into the box was to bring paper towels back to the bathrooms after these had been replaced months before with hand dryers, so the toilets wouldn’t get clogged up!



Most of the time suggestions boxes like meetings don’t get the participation and input needed. 



Today, in the New York Times, Phil Gilbert says that in the meeting room, “You’ve got the extrovert, the introvert, the know-it-all and the ambitious steamroller. No matter what the mix, there’s always someone who dominates the discussion, and others who defer to that person out of frustration–or worse, complacency.”



Truthfully, I think Gilbert misses the point–most people don’t speak up not out of frustration or complacency–but rather from fear…fear of sounding stupid, fear of people disagreeing with them, and fear of management retribution for saying the”wrong” thing.



In any case, his reflection on how some at IBM deal with this is helpful (although frankly I’ve heard this approach before and it was from a strategic planning class I believe, and not from IBM):



– Everyone writes their input on sticky notes.



– You go around the room where everyone contributes an idea and posts their note to the wall or board (and you keep doing this until ideas are exhausted). 



– The facilitator groups like ideas/sticky notes to start to form common theme and direction. 



– The group may go out and come back again for another round of ideas and input.



The point is everyone contributes to the discussion…no idea is a bad idea…and not one in the room is left to sit idly in the corner playing with their smartphone, daydreaming, or picking their noses. 



Through vetting and discussion, the best idea(s) become evident. 



I like how Gilbert ends his article emphasizing the importance of getting everyone’s ideas out there…”Once you know something, you can’t unknow it–you have to act.”



Knowing what everyone really thinks is half the battle. 



The other half is executing on the really great ideas that people come up with (Gilbert doesn’t address this). 



And again for that you need EVERYONE to contribute their talents…big mouths, naysayers, and do nothings begone! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)