Enter With A HANDSHAKE & Leave With A HUG

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So after almost 6 years at the U.S. Department of State, I am moving forward in my career to a very exciting role at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 


As I look back, I have fond memories of the wonderful high-performance division I was part of and the many amazing achievements we had together, and what our Deputy Assistant Secretary called, the “A Team.”


But one thing today is sticking out in my mind and it’s this image.

“Enter with a handshake and leave with a hug.”

On the first days, when I arrived it was all formality and firm welcome handshakes.


We don’t really know you and you don’t really know us, but we’re embarking on this journey together, and where it takes us no one really knows, BUT we wish you the best of luck–now go out and do great things!


Then on the last days, as I was preparing to leave, the formal handshakes were long gone and instead they were replaced with warm heartfelt hugs (and some special emotional words and cards). 


I was no longer a mystery of a person, with just my reputation, coming in to do G-d knows what. 


Now, I was a human being that had a genuine history with them, formed relationships with many, had faced challenges together, and had touched not only minds, but also it was apparent, hearts. 


I will not forget the special people, nor the many times shared, our accomplishments as an organization, and how we grew. 


I am moving forward not only with their tight hugs to more handshakes anew, but also to once again hopefully grow heart-to-heart with people, as further relationships are formed and we make, please G-d, amazing new progress together–for the mission and for the people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Undergoing A Spiritual Awakening

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My wife sent me this beautiful photo about spiritual awakenings. 

She found it on a new age blog, but I really thought it was great. 

As I contemplated this, I felt like I was reaching some truths.

Because when we are released from the constraints of the purely physical and material world, we can elevate ourselves to an expanded realm of both perception and inner peace.

So here is what the essence of a spiritual awakening is to me:

Spiritual Awakening - Andy B.JPEG

Hope you like this and I would welcome others’ thoughts on this.

Happy and peaceful new year to all.

Andy

(Source Graphic on Spiritual Awakening: Andy Blumenthal)

Just Cut It Out

cut-it-out

What a way to handle global leadership…all you have to say is,  just “Cut it out!” and your job is done. 


– Cyber attacking the U.S. democratic election, invasion of Crimea, and encroaching on NATO with nuclear capable missiles…just cut it out! 


– Vast destruction of Aleppo including hospitals, schools, and markets, killings, refugees, and humanitarian crisis, and the dangerous use of chemical weapons on civilians…just cut it out!


– China stealing our drone and militarizing the South China Sea…just cut it out!


– North Korea testing advanced nukes and ballistic missiles capable of reaching Europe and America and threatening to use them…just cut it out!


– Iran taking our sailors captive, humiliating them, buzzing our warships, and violating the nuclear arms deal…just cut it out!


– Abandoning our friends and allies and befriending our enemies sworn to kill us and not even being able to say the words, “Radical Islamist”…just cut it out!


– Spiraling divisiveness, rioting in our inner cities, and cycles of racial and police violence…just cut it out!


– An unsustainable Obamacare with double digit rising rates and decreasing insurance choices (many localities with only 1)…just cut it out!


– Doubling of the U.S. national debt by another $10 trillion and enacting regulations that are strangling business…just cut it out!


– Endless ISIS and other terrorist attacks (yesterday on Berlin, Zurich, Turkey and more) and calls it “workplace violence” or a traffic accident…just cut it out!


Anyone who says that now “We’re feeling what not having hope feels like,” truly must be referring to where we come from and not where we are going.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Path Are We On This July 4th?

Over and over again, I hear people say that as a country we are on the wrong path.


According to recent polls, around 70% think we’re moving in the wrong direction!


Very pessimistic bunch or something more going on?  


Despite all the technology advances–from smartphones to video-on-demand, drones to 3-D printing–people are still feeling like things are a mess. 


And the upcoming election seems to have given everyone with half a brain, reason to pause. 


The world seems like a very dangerous place these days with a resurgent Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and ISIS with your guess as to where terrorism of the day will be hitting. 


Moreover, weapons of mass destruction are proliferating from nukes to chemical and biological weapons…can anyone say $350 billion in the next 10 years to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal


Deadly diseases from Ebola in Africa to Zika in South America are striking without warning and causing horrible sudden death and frightening birth defects in infant babies. 


The economy and politics of the world are grossly unstable with many banks now offering negative interest rates and Brexit tearing at the very core of the EU.  


Hundreds of thousands are dying in the Arab Spring and Middle East wars and millions of refugees are streaming to Europe and as far away as America. 


Ballooning national debts are leading to the looming bankruptcies of not only Greece, Spain, Ireland, and Puerto Rico, but also the 3 pillars of American entitlements: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 


Unemployment shows at a deceptive 4.7%, but yet anyone looking for a job knows this is far from reality, and robots, artificial intelligence, and automation loom large over any future prospects. 


Racism and hate are all too alive and well as tempers seem to be boiling over in city after city, with or without police shootings precipitating things. 


Already as a kid, I always used to ask my dad rhetorically, “What’s gonna be?”


As an adult, I understand that this was a question born of the deterioration of the moral and leadership fiber of our society and a future that was far from certain in the inner city or beyond, along with the anxiety born of wanting to have some reassurance that things somehow would end up being okay. 


But things aren’t okay in our f*cked up world!


Especially with political jockeying to gerrymandering, from sit-ins to sequestration, from pork-barrel projects to outright fraud, waste, and abuse…the system is getting so broken. 


Now when I think in my head, what’s gonna be, my mom and dad are not here anymore to reassure me that everything will be alright, and frankly in this day and age, those reassurances would not even be able to ring true. 


We need change and hope, but perhaps we must look Heavenward for it to come, because down here, things are looking more like a creeping hell, than a heaven that awaits.  


But good people can help to change things…one good thought, word, and deed at a time. You and I can be influences for good, for a brighter tomorrow, for peace, for freedom and equality, and for prosperity for everyone that doesn’t buy into the status quo and the spin and lies that sustain it any longer. 


This is our magic wand to wave and wave and make good times based on values and faith return again. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Should You MYOB?

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Great Salt And Pepper comic in the Wall Street Journal today.

“What makes you think the meaning of life

is any of your business.”

Man goes to mountain. 

Man seeks to know the meaning of his existence. 

Mountain tells man to mind your own business.

I guess it’s just not that easy. 

No one will just tell us how each of us is to make our difference in this world. 

Of course, there is faith and religious teachings to guide us.

But each and every one of us must find our path to G-d and our mission to his world. 

In doing that we struggle through life’s trials and tribulations. 

It is painful at times, but we change and grow especially when the pain of what we are doing wrong becomes greater than the pleasure we gain from it. 

The meaning is in the journey and in the destination we seek. 

Our paths are not straight, but winding and hilly and not without obstacles–but it is a trek not only to the mountain, but to the very heavens itself. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Revolving Door

Revolving Door

So work is a revolving door of people onboarding and offboarding.


New people are getting hired.


Old people are leaving.


Nothing is stable.


The relationships you made yesterday just left the revolving door today, and it’s time to make new ones.


One “ran from Dodge.”  Another retired.  A third left for the private sector.  Someone else is going just down the block.


On the inbound train are Summer interns. Contractors being hired on as regular staff.  Brand new people.  And even some people coming back after leaving for a short time.


People get antsy or have enough doing what they were doing, dealing with who they are dealing, or simply want a change and a challenge.


Others are shown the door under less fortunate circumstances.


Whether looking to pave new trails, find yourself a seat at the table, a leadership position, or a fatter paycheck–the eyes see, and the heart wants.


Some people are tethered to their job or even “retired in place (RIP)”–perhaps it’s truly a great job and fit or it’s like their life blood (their whole identity, their reason for being) or maybe, they just like collecting what they consider “easy money” for a job they know and love or can skate by on, or maybe they work with other great people they really like and every day is a fresh challenge and even fun. 


Recents studies indicate that retiring later in life actually increases longevity, but when is enough enough or are we leaving ourselves enough time to sit at the pool side and just enjoy life a little?


Millennials, famous for changing jobs often, now are at an average of 4 jobs by the time they hit 32.


And in Information Technology, job hopping is considered “the world’s biggest game of musical chairs.


Why the increase in the job hopping bug in people’s you know what?


Sure there is more opportunity for those that have the right skills, and people getting bored or stale is a bad thing, everyone wants to find a good fit for themselves and where they can have a real impact, and economic and social pressures push people to make the leap, perhaps there is also some foolishness involved–where the grass is always greener or not.


Sometimes though it really may be right for the person–and that’s for each to explore and decide for themselves. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to John Garghan)

The Voter Psychology Behind A Trump

Boxing

Over and over again the left AND the right try to get a knockout on Donald Trump. 


But what happens?


He’s not knocked out.


He’s not even knocked down.


To the contrary, he is still standing and seems to become stronger!


What is going on with this phenomenon?


Some would like to call it perhaps a psychosis of the masses


Other like to belittle those that like him by dissing their intellectual status and calling them stupid


Many even seem to go to every extreme to to make him out as crazy, fascist, bigoted, hateful, and a con man


Yet, for the most part it’s doesn’t seem to be working–people are still flocking to him


It’s like the more they try to gang up on him, torment him, bash him, and zing him–and rather than buckle, he is still there standing and remains strong–perhaps, the more “proof” it is for people that he can and will stand up for America!


With dismal ratings for the President, Congress, and government overall, the outsider, the business man, the billionaire, the dealmaker, the one who isn’t afraid to speak his mind and to say to the people the non-politically correct thing is coming across refreshing to many who are seeking change from the the last 7 years, 15 years, or further. 


With many seeing the current politics of the U.S. as leading from behind, appeasement, weak, divisive, and disengaged, it is not surprising to see bands across America yearning for something more. 


Is Donald Trump strong and anti-establishment or truly bad and dangerous?


This is for America to seek the truth on and wisely decide. 


What’s riding on this?


Whether Trump OR another candidate to be determined –(someone/anyone) — can potentially get things positively and constructively done in our large and complex political machine that has in many ways become increasingly stymied by bureaucracy, obstructionism, defeatism, game-playing, selfishness, pork barrel politics, (corruption,) sequestration, government closures, and political fighting across the aisle/behind the aisle/and in the aisle.


Let’s hope for America and the world’s sake the voters get it right.


But keep bashing Trump and you are keeping his message of superior strength and hope very much alive. 😉


(Note: This is not an endorsement for any candidate or political party)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

 

Awesome Northeast Fall Season

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Just wanted to share this awesome photo that my beautiful daughter, Michelle, took this last week. 


I love how it vividly captures the Fall colors, the falling leaves, and the changing seasons. 


The bridge seems to magically span the lush green before with the orange and tan hues of the after all under a clear light blue sky. 


The scene definitely looks like a cozy and happy time and place I want to be in. 😉


(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)