Welcome Back – Leadership and Donuts

Really impressed today going back to work after the 5-week Federal government shutdown…

And who is at the front gate, in the dark and freezing cold welcoming every single person back?

The director of the agency!

And not only that, but he is handing out morning donuts to the crew. 

This was a truly spectacular display of leadership. 

I’ve seen this only one other time in my 30-year career and that was at the Secret Service, where the director stood behind the dessert table at the agency holiday party serving out the ice cream. 

Humility and giving are what true leadership is all about. 

I am proud to serve under such leaders as these.  😉

(Source Photo–not from today–by Andy Blumenthal)

The Bright Side

My daughter, Minna Blumenthal, received this beautiful and hopeful message online, and I want to thank her for sharing it with me.


In turn, I am paying it forward to you all, and hope that you enjoy it’s meaning, which is really quite profound and inspiring. 

There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind.

She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her.

She told her boyfriend, ‘If I could only see the world, I will marry you.’

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.

He asked her,’ Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?’

The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn’t expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.

Her boyfriend left her in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: ‘Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.’

This is how the human brain often works when our status changes.

Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations.

Life is a gift.

Today before you say an unkind word – Think of someone who can’t speak.

Before you complain about the taste of your food – Think of someone who has nothing to eat.

Before you complain about your husband or wife – Think of someone who’s crying out to Almighty G-d for a companion.

Today before you complain about life – Think of someone who died too young.

Before you complain about your children – Think of someone who desires children but they’re barren.

Before you argue about your dirty house someone didn’t clean or sweep – Think of the people who are living in the streets.

Before whining about the distance you drive – Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

And when you are tired and complain about your job – Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job.

But before you think of pointing the finger or condemning another – Remember that not one of us is without sin and we all answer to one Maker.

And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down – Put a smile on your face and thank G-d you’re alive and still around.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Good People And Bad

So what is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn?


There are really good and holy people out there, but there are also truly bad and evil ones. 


It’s not such a difficult concept, except if you just don’t think that way. 


I think some of us just want to believe that at the heart of it all, people are fundamentally good–or at the very least they struggle in order to fight off the evil impulse.


They are created by G-d.


They have parents and families.


They have challenges and disappointments. 


They have a good soul. 


Or do they?


Perhaps like everything in life–G-d created everything and it’s opposite.


– There is life and death.


– There is light and dark. 


– There is cold and hot.


– There is land and water. 


– There is male and female. 

– There is pleasure and pain.


– There is work and rest. 


– There is holy and profane.


Everything has it’s counterpart.


– In this respect then, there are good people and there are bad.


Not that there aren’t people who are both–they do some good things and some bad.


Just like with everything, you can have greys or mixtures–some of this AND some of that. 


But still, G-d created everything and its opposite.


– Again, there is heaven and hell. 


And yes, there are some people that are perhaps truly good and others that are very bad.


The really good ones–they are holy, they give, they love, they inspire. 


The really bad ones–they are vicious devil wolves. 


That doesn’t mean anyone is completely perfect or imperfect, but as with everything, there are people as there are inanimate objects that function at the extremes. 


Most of us don’t live in the extreme, yet we do see those that we know are examples of each:


We recognize the best and these are people with a heart of gold and a soul that shines light, love, and gives to others.


Similarly, the worst ones are with a heart that is selfish and greedy and a soul that is dark, hateful. and violent.


We don’t like to think of the extremes.


They either are too perfect or too frighteningly evil, but yet they do exist and we know it just as we know life and death, light and dark, cold and hot, land and water, male and female, pleasure and pain, work and rest, holy and profane, and even the destinations of heaven and hell. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Losing The Weight

Superman

So when I was young, I may have aspired to be Superman.  


Now, I am a little more realistic in my dreams and understanding of my capabilities. 


Since my hips started deteriorating almost 3 years ago, and I had the 2 hip replacements, it has been challenging at times with mobility and of course, weight gain. 


But as I continue to get back to myself, some people have been particularly encouraging and inspiring to me.  


One is a terrific doctor that my wife had recommended, and she told me straight up to just lose the weight. 


She told me about JuicePlus pills–which I found a cheaper version with JuiceFestiv that are capsules for organic fruit and vegetables that energizes and also fills you up. 


She also told me simply what her principle has been, “Eat half!” 


Next, I am grateful to my friend, Jacob Elbaz, who told me how he wants me around a long time as a friend and with my family.  


He also had good advice, “Just one pound a week…how hard is that?”


Finally, I am grateful to my wife who in a most caring way is cooking the right foods now and making me lots of healthy mush–some of it even edible.


With G-d’s help, I believe that I can do it!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Death To PowerPoint

Death By PowerPoint

Ok, we’ve all heard of “Death by PowerPoint” (well, I’m advocating death to PowerPoint). 


It’s the unfortunate occurrence that happens when a speaker presents a wad too many slides (OMG, some people seem to go on and on forever –get them off that podium)!


Or when they present too much information, too little information, or just don’t know what or how to present at all. 


Their (slide) presentations leave the audience basically wanting to just kill themselves, if not the inconsiderate S.O.B. speaker.


But aside from lousy speakers, you have a crappy presentation mechanism, which is PowerPoint slides.


Hello out there, tell the truth…


Can any of you remember much of a darn thing that anyone has ever conveyed to you by PowerPoint?


Think of webinars, conferences, and meetings galore with slide after slide of 2-dimensional boredom.


Is your head hurting you yet or are you just glad you can’t remember any of it–natural selection of memory saves you the pain…why thank you.


Then consider what someone has told you in great thoughtfulness, confidence, or with genuine passion, caring and sincerity.


– Perhaps, the wisdom of a parent or teacher who took you aside to tell you a life’s lesson.


– Or a Rabbi or Priest who shared with you something spiritual and uplifting to guide you on your path.


– How about someone in the office who was passionate about an idea or project and who motivated you as well.


Most of the communication between people that really means something never makes it to a PowerPoint slide.


Imagine for a moment, if something meaningful was conveyed to you by slide presentation–you would think, how ridiculous it is to use PowerPoint for that?


– I love you–will you marry me?


– We’re having a baby, how wonderful. 


– Just got that promotion, yes!


– So and so is sick or just passed away, how terrible. 


PowerPoint just doesn’t happen here in real life–thank G-d!


And no matter how much organizations such as TED would like to make a (show)business out of presentations using PowerPoint…(ah, nope).


Real communication happens when one person talks from the heart to another person who receives it in their heart. 


The greatest orators in history…never used a slide presentation.


Other presentation products like Prezi tried to take slides to the next level with a storytelling format using a virtual canvas, but that didn’t pan out to well either…see many Prezis lately (and without getting dizzy)?


PowerPoint slides, and the like, are for distraction…now I don’t have to pay that much attention to the rambling, numbnut speaker anymore.


The bottom line…we don’t listen with our eyes!


Rather, we hear words of wisdom and see when someone is genuine, sincere and worth listening to.


The rest is PowerPoint… 😉

Can I Help You?

Act Nice
This was a beautiful story that I heard from a very senior colleague recently.



Years ago, when she started working, for whatever reason, it took many weeks for payroll to catch up and for your first check to arrive. 



In her case, she was notified that it would be something like 6 weeks before she would receive an actual paycheck.



Not a lot of good that does, when the mortgage comes due, the utility bill arrives in the mail, or you need to go shopping for groceries or medicine. 



What’s interesting and inspiring here though is what this lady’s boss did at that time. 



She recalled that when he heard that she would not be getting paid for so many weeks, he came to her and asked her if she needed any money in the meantime to hold her over–how could he help? 



He was willing to take his money and give it to her to help her through until her paycheck would arrive. 



WOW!!!



That is extremely powerful.



How many of you know a boss that would do that for you now or ever?



You see he was not only willing to step in and make some calls (which may or may not have helped anyway), but he was actually willing to pony up money from his own self/family (and which I understand he did not have a lot of either) and give it to her. 



This is caring. This is giving. This is selflessness. 



I am awed of people of this personal and moral character. 



These are people to emulate. 



There is a difference between a work environment that is purely work and get the job done, and those few and very special places still out there that have family values (and which at least try to think of you and treat you as part of some sort of an “extended family”). 



No work is not family…but decent people in any situation–in the office or on the Metro–can make a difference in someone else’s life. 



To me this is a story worth retelling and reliving for others to benefit. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Service From Yourself

Service From Yourself

I was so proud this week to see some true customer service excellence from a colleague.

Someone had run out of toner and they had put in a help desk ticket to get it replaced.

In the meantime, there was a large order of toner on order, but it was still a day or two out from delivery.

So my colleague responsible for this area took his own toner out of his printer and gave it to the person who was out.

I got a wonderful email thanking us for the unbelievable customer service.

Honestly, there are other printers that the person could have used in the meantime, but this person went above and beyond to keep the customer working and happy.

Great lesson in customer service and exemplary behavior here. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)