I Met The Swamp And It Is Us

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So with the election came promises (and hope to some) to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. and beyond. 


That means redefining the size, scope, and purpose of federal government.


It also means reducing regulations that stifle American business and competitive advantage, placing restrictions on lobbying, and imposing term limits on Congress.


Presumably, it also means addressing mounds of fraud, waste and abuse in the system (many examples of each are out there).  


So here is a funny true story from when I was traveling recently…


A gentleman is riding with me in the elevator and he turns to me to make chit-chat. 


He says, “Good morning. Where you from?”


I smile and respond, “Washington, D.C.,” and add proudly, “the nation’s capital!”


He then asks, “What do you do there?”


Feeling a little perky that morning and with the elevator ride about to come to a stop at the lobby, I quickly blurt out, “Oh, cleaning up the swamp.”


To which, the man responds with the sarcasm galore and probably a good dose of disdain, “Yeah right!” 


There was something so comical about this scene in which I sort of baited this guy and at the same time found the reaction that is all too likely throughout America.


Do people believe and are they committed that we really do the following:


– Change the status quo of big stumbling government


– Right the wrongs done by those who take advantage of the system, its power and big money


– Restrain the ginormous national debt that threatens to consume all of us


– Fairly and compassionately address the nation’s priorities including those for national security, prosperity, and well-being


– Drain the swamp from the horrendous creatures that dwell and thrive therein


And the capital is not built on a preexisting swamp, but it did come and grow, man-made, dark and deep, as a result of the greed and fear that drives too many, far too far. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Satisfied and Bless G-d

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I loved Chabad Rabbi Schneur Kaplan’s speech today in synagogue.


It was about how we can learn to be happy with what we have in life.


The biggest marketing gimmick is to say to the guy, “Look at what your neighbor has next door!”


Jealousy, desire, greed, having more and better than the next guy/girl…


That’s what many people live for and how they think.


Some can have as much as the founders of Apple, Google, and Facebook combined and still it’s not enough.


If just one person has something more…it can drive that person crazy.


Like Haman on Purim, who had wealth, power, large family and everyone bowed down to him…


Except one person named Mordecai who wouldn’t bow.


And despite having everything, but missing that one thing drove Haman so crazy–it was his downfall!


When we eat, we can be satisfied with one slice of pizza and say grace or we can have four slices and still not be satisfied.


How do we look at things?


We can be grateful for whatever we have and say that G-d gave us just what we needed at this time and place.


Or we can look at what we don’t have, and forever be bitter and unsatisfied.


What joy we can experience in life when we realize the graciousness for what G-d has bestowed on us and we are thankful for what we have. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mine and Yours

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In synagogue today, we read from Pirkei Avot (“Ethics of Our Fathers”).


And I talked with my friends at lunch about one passage from this timeless wisdom.


There are 4 types of people:


1) “Average Joe”

What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours in yours. 


Someone described this as “his and her–separate–accounts.”


2) Stupid

What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours in mine. 


Ah, this is just someone whose plain old confused.


3) Wicked

What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.  


One guy described his ex-wife this way.


4) Righteous 


What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is yours.  


We all agreed this is the meaning of life–to be kind and giving to others.


What type of person are you? And what type of person do you want to be?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Better A Mensch Than Money

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Here is a lesson that I learned when it comes to love…

Better a mensch than all the money in the world.

Some people think that money is their Golden Calf.

They literally and practically worship it.

They are so greedy for it, hoard it, protect it, and believe in the power of it.

But what I say is you can choke on all the money!

Those who put the emphasis on money are sick and empty with materialism that means nothing in the end.

Better the love of a good, decent human being and best friend than all the money in China.

For money you can buy lots of meaningless things, but with a mensch you can have a potential for a life of real togetherness and even a chance at some soulful bliss.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sharing The Loaf

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So I am continuing to learn so much about who is good and who is not so good. 


Some people are literally so amazing–giving and caring of others–if they literally have just a single loaf of bread, they will share that willingly with others.


– Their perspective in grounded in a faith that whatever they have, they see it as a gift from G-d and it is only given to them as an opportunity to do good with it. 


Then there are others that no matter how much they seem have–and it could be millions of $$$–yet they still can’t stand to see others with even half a mouthful of bread.


– In their narcissistic view, what’s theirs is exceedingly and deservingly theirs, and what’s yours, they believe should also be theirs!


Yet sometimes we misjudge people out of fear or just not knowing enough about them.


We don’t know which category they fall into. 


Will they give you the shirt off their back or would they rip the shirt off you blind?


These are some of the challenges we face when confronting others in this scary world of souls being perfected and those that are still all too sullied. 


But the righteous will inherit the earth and more importantly, the Heavens…because the truth becomes known and is always absolutely clear to The One Above–and the evil ones, they will wither and die. 


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Why We Fight?

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Well first of all, let me say that I really liked this image on Google the other day. 


Beautiful to see the diversity and brotherhood (and including those with disabilities)!


I had a an interesting conversation with my daughter the other day about why people often don’t get along. 


She said something that I thought was really astute:


“If there were unlimited resources, then no one would have a reason to fight!”


Think about that a moment…


Everyone feels they don’t have enough or someone else has more then them or they are afraid they won’t get their share, and so what happens?


Like jealous little children, we fight for the pail and shovel in the sandbox. 


Only as adults, our sandbox is a lot bigger and it involves hate, bigotry, racism and deadly weapons including guns, knives, and even nukes!


So this isn’t the Garden of Eden where everyone prances around free and with plenty and nothing to worry about. 


Instead, everyone has to work “by the sweat of your brow,” and there are limits to what we have, and there is fighting over who has what.


Yes, truly “greed is the root of all evil.”


What we need to learn and internalize is that it’s more important how we act towards each other than what we have and that the real gold in life is the good we do and not the plenty we amass. 


Sure we each need enough to be able to survive and excel as human beings, but it’s fool’s gold that prevents us from seeing each other as the real brothers and sisters we all are. 


If only we had enough–in both perception and reality–then peace could reign among mankind. 😉


(Source Photo: Google)

2017 Year Of The Customer

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So here’s a resolution for all of us for 2017…


How about this year be the year of the customer!


– Where we care more about doing a good job for someone than we do about what time we get off from work.


– Where we talk to and treat customers with respect, dignity, and ultimately to solve their needs, rather than it escalating to a yelling match and oh, did I accidentally hang up the phone on you?


– Where we make the customer feel good about dealing with us and our organization, rather than wanting to beg for a supervisor or cyanide please!


– Where the customer isn’t lied to, manipulated, and taken advantage of just so someone can make another quick buck!


– Where the quality and value is #1 and it’s not just a shinny veneer on a car that accelerates on it’s own and with fake emissions test results or smartphone batteries that light up on fire and explode


– Where we don’t cross-sell and up-sell customers, like phony bank accounts or other things they don’t want, need, and never asked for just to make our sales quotas, and accrue the fine bonuses and stock options that go with them. 


– Where we don’t oversell the capability of a product, like fraudulent blood testing devices and medical results, and instead deliver what’s really doable and as promised. 


– Where there’s no error in the charge to the customer or it’s in the customer’s favor, rather than always an overcharge in the seller’s favor, and the price from the beginning is fair and reasonable and not hiked up 400% like on critical medicine that people’s lives depend on. 


– Where items arrive on time and work the first time, rather than having delays, making excuses, and causing endless customer returns of defective items or those that didn’t fit, look, or work as advertised. 


– Where the customer is happy to come back to and where they feel trust in the people, products, and services offered–not another Home Shopping Network or QVC shoddy experience of “It slices, it dices…the only tears you’ll shed are tears of joy!”


– Where we solve genuine customer needs or problems and not just “build it and they will come.”


– Where rather than a pure what’s in it for me (WIIFM) mentality, we suspend our self-interest and greed for the moment and we do for others, because it’s not just a job and we actually have a work ethic and care about what we do. 

 

– Where we delight! and wow!, rather than disengage and disappoint, and we put the customer first, and like first responders, we run to help and not run away. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)