An Introverted Extrovert

I thought this was an interesting phrase someone used the other day to describe their personality.


They called themselves an “Introverted Extrovert.”


I asked what they meant, and they explained as follows:


“I’m Introverted until I get to know someone then I am extroverted with them.”


This actually made a lot of sense to me.


We may be reticent at the beginning when meeting new people, but once we feel comfortable with others and start to trust them, then we naturally open up to them.


The truth is most people aren’t extroverted (social) or introverted (shy). 


Instead, people are on a continuum, which is generally a bell-shaped curve.  


In other words, most people are somewhere in the middle—either introverted extroverts or extroverted introverts. 


Well, what’s an extroverted introvert?


It’s someone who tends to be more comfortable and trusting and social with people, but they also need time alone to recharge, and perhaps they even get shy sometimes. 


Most people don’t exist on the extremes–that’s why they are called extremes!


So don’t be so quick to judge yourself as an introspective introvert or an outgoing extrovert or anything else for that matter. 


We are “this” AND “that”–sometimes maybe a little more this or that, but that’s all part of us and it’s okay to be us! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Got The Call

ATM.jpeg

I got the call!


But not the one that I always wanted, which is to serve at the very highest echelons of government or/and industry for those values and things which I so hold dear. 


No, instead I got the call that my professor in college warned me about. 


He said:

“You will get a call one day from someone asking for a lot of cash–no questions asked! At that time, you will know who you’re real friends are.”


So I actually got this call (for real) and in the middle of my work day.


This person who contacts me is considered quite affluent and with an extensive network, and I know him/her for only a relatively short time


Person:

“You know you’re like family to me Andy…I need $2,000–in cash–by 7 pm. I’ll pay you back $500 on Friday and the rest by Monday.”


Me (Stunned):

“What–is this a joke or something?”


Person:

{Repeats again the request}


Me:

“OMG. What’s wrong–is everyone okay? Are you in any trouble?”


Person:

Uh, everyone’s fine…don’t ask me any questions–there’s no time for this now.”


Me {Reaching for some humor in this bizarre situation}:

“Oh, only $2,000–I thought maybe you needed $2 million–that’s no problem, of course.”


Person:

“Please don’t make jokes now Andy–this isn’t funny!”


Me {Trying once again to get some more–any–information}:

“Can you just explain to me what’s going on–I really want to understand, so I can help you.”


Person:

“Do you have the cash or not?”


Me: 

“To be frank no. I don’t keep any cash around. {Inquiring to learn more…} Could you take a check or something else?”


Person:

“No. Listen, can you go to the ATM now?”


Me {frustrated by the abruptness, lack of sensical communication, and pushiness, as well as more than a little suspicious at how this is all going down}:

“Well the ATMs have a cash limit. Also, I would really need to check with my {lovely} wife first,”


Person {seeing they weren’t getting what they wanted when they wanted it}:

“Okay, well if you can’t help, I’ll just call someone else–thanks {hanging up on me}!” 


WOW!


Despite having trusted this person and feeling very hurt by all this, I still called the person back later that evening to follow up and because I truly cared, and they were still not any more forthcoming with me, and in fact, were quite attacking that they were sorry to have called me.


But I wasn’t sorry…my college professor was right on, thank G-d–I do know who my friends are!


Whether its a lunch date, LinkedIn/Facebook contact, or social invitation, be discerning about the motives of people–outside of any sane and normal context–that are seeking to “friend” you. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Trouble With Our Security

Pope Mobile Fiat.jpeg

So the problem with our security is that we value our openness more than we do our security.


And perhaps, we fear war more than we desire true peace. 


This was a photo from Summer 2015 when the Pope was in DC.


And despite a “massive” security apparatus set up to protect the Pope, the “largest security operation in U.S. history“…


Check out this photo of a colleague who was able to literally run up to the Fiat car where you can see the Pope waving from. 


Our security is full of holes–if this guy had a gun, molotov cocktail, or bomb then the top Christian leader in the world could’ve been taken out, just across the street from the U.S. State Department.


As a democracy, we value openness and freedom to say what we want, do what we want, protest what we want, carry guns as we want, but when is open too open?


Again, whether it comes to cybersecurity or physical security, unless we start to get serious about what massive and large security really means, it is just a matter of time before something really terrible happens, G-d forbid. 


We’ve got to do a better job balancing security and openness. 


No one should be getting right up to the Pope’s car like this!


No one should be smashing windows, burning cars, and attacking police and pedestrians in Washington, DC or anywhere.  


No one should be buzzing our battleships and jets!


No one should be hacking into our sensitive cyber systems, taking down and crippling them and stealing our secrets!


No one should be recruiting, plotting, and carrying out increasing and devastating terrorist attacks right under our noses in this country or elsewhere. 


No one should be using chemical weapons around our red lines in population centers or in airports!


No one (Iran, North Korea, Russia) should be developing, testing, and aiming nuclear ballistic missiles at the West!

War is a last resort, but this is not peace.


It is time to rethink our security posture…it is past time. 😉


(Source Photo: A Colleague)

Fooling The Media And The American People

Lies.jpeg.JPG

So finally the truth got spilled about the true rationale for the Iran deal that lifted critical nuke weapon sanctions on the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and human rights abuses.  

The advisor to the President has admitted to essentially lying and manipulating the media to seal the deal

The narrative of a Nuke deal with a “moderate” Iranian President Rouhani at the expense of hardliners was “deliberately misleading.”

Mr. Rhodes brags about keeping Mr. Obama’s long-standing plan to elevate Iran over allies such as Israel and the Gulf States hidden from the public by manipulating liberal journalists and think tank analysts.

So what was once touted as a “good day” for America is now quite malevolent and disheartening, indeed. 

Moreover, rather than a “new political reality” with Iran, we have ongoing and increasingly hostile Iranian actions against the U.S., leading to the House Intelligence Committee opening an investigation into how Congress and the American public were misled by the administration on Iran. 

What happened to the promised transparency and truth espoused for the American people? What of Abraham Lincoln’s sacred and compelling vision of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Now instead of earnest dialogue, we get a blowharded retail[ing]” of a predefined manipulated narrative–a “far-reaching spin campaign“–for the simple media “echo chamber and hungry public consumption.

Iran has won a big round at the expense of Democracy and as we now know our National Security. 

Maybe the worst part is that no one even seems to care, because we’re now in a new election cycle for the next President (and possibly chief manipulator). 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When Your Pants Are Down

Balancing Act

Yesterday in the news was how a drone was used to fly over and take pictures at a nude beach


So at a nude beach, even those that advertise privacy protections, let’s face it your walking around in the buff. But still, the use of the drone with a camera was a violation of people’s expectations not to be photographed and by those outside the facility.


And about a week earlier, a five year old finds a camera phone in the lady’s bathroom in a Starbucks


Yesteday, I had a similar lesson about people’s warped sensibilities or perversions (but without the drone or smartphone–this was the low tech version). 


I’m at the pool for a swim after work. 


There are 2 locker rooms for men and women, of course.


But at one point, I see this LADY get out of the pool and head straight for the MEN’S locker room–she actually proceeds to go in one side–through and past the bathrooms, showers, sauna, and lockers–and out the other side to exit the facility. 


So trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, when I get out of the pool, thinking maybe the locker room wasn’t clearly marked, I check it–and there is a big sign with a picture (the symbol for men) and you couldn’t miss it!


Also, this lady was clearly not new as she gestured a friendly hello to the lifeguard, and she wasn’t the slightest bit confused (she had actually made some small talk with me in the pool)   


When she left, as she headed into the men’s room, she didn’t hesitate, knock on the door or anything, and obviously didn’t care whether anyone was in there–dressed or naked.


Perhaps, because the men’s locker room is closer to the exit, she was just taking a shortcut–for her, how convenient!


Then again maybe she was a true perv and this was her way of getting some cheap thrills regardless of other people’s right to privacy and safety, including those of children. 


In a sense, this is more than just about generalized privacy (such as with information), but even extends to your very privates!


We live in an age when it is a balancing act between sharing and privacy, between openness and modesty, and between doing what’s right and pure self-gratification. 


Unfortunately, to put in bluntly, some people just don’t seem to give a sh*t about respect for other people’s decency or rights, and they will do what they want regardless of the social balancing act or the necessity to use common sense good judgement in public and private.  


The lesson is that when your pants are down, as creepy as it sounds, it’s best to assume that someone is always looking or at least may be on the prowl, so be careful out there. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dystopia Man

Dystopia Man

I love this picture that I saw in the art gallery here in Florida.

I named the person in the portrait, Dystopia Man, because he reminds me of how people would look in a speculative futuristic society.

The way the man looks askew with bloodshot eyes, head split, and hand partially covering his mouth all make me feel like the future is quite unknown, somewhat risky, if not sort of ominous.

We have lots of national and global challenges–with security versus privacy, openness versus secrecy, sharing versus private ownership, social entitlements versus capitalism, theocracy versus democracy, control versus freedom, and man versus machine.

How will these turn out for society, for us? Will we maintain a healthy balance and respect for individuals? Will these and other conflicts be resolved peacefully?

Hopefully G-d will grant us the wisdom to solve these dilemmas and many others that await us in the present and not so distant future.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

TED For Everyone

The New Yorker (9 July 2012) has an article on TED Talks.

TED stands for Technology/Entertainment/Design and is a conference venue for some of the most magnificent speakers.

Just looking at some of TED’s “most popular this month”–turn to TED if you want to hear about:

– Information being collected about you on the web
– How through vulnerability, we can empathize, belong, and love
– Whether through evolution our kids will be different than us
– Ways to prepare for Alzheimer disease
– New ideas for cleaning up oil spills
– How schools kill creativity
– The talents and abilities of introverts
– How to inspire and be a great leader

TED is literally a world of information and it is presented in a high quality way.

Almost anyone would be floored by the honor to present at TED.

Talking at TED means not only that you have something important to say, but that you can pull-off saying it the right way.

What makes TED lectures great though (and viewed 800 million times so far) maybe also makes them more than a little sterile.

Firstly, the 4-day TED conference itself is only for special people–admission starts at $7,500 and no that does not include lodging and travel, and you have to have an “invitation”–posh posh–to attend.

Then, the actual presentations are “closely governed”–speakers are carefully sought out and vetted, material that is counterintuitive is of interest, and “TED’s eye for theatre…[with] vigilance about immersion and control” are a strong part of the showmanship.

However, while on one hand, these things perhaps are a hugh part of the TED success–wash, rinse, repeat–on the other hand, it also makes for a feel that is very scripted, uniform, almost molded.

The New Yorker article even describes how the speakers practice again and again–repeating their monologues hundreds of times and to whoever will listen. There is essentially nothing impromptu, ad-libbed, or in a sense real about the entertainment-aspect of what you are watching and listening to.

While the information seems to always be great–the presentation with the speaker, sound, lights, slide show, audience shots, etc.–comes across like a row of identically-built houses in a development.

Each “house” (or presentation in this case) may be filled with interesting people, things, and love, but on the outside, as one of my friends says–they are identical, so that coming home after a long day at work, you almost don’t know at times which row house is yours anymore.

If TED ever did a lecture on how they could improve TED. these would be some of my suggestions (and there is no gloss here):

Open it to everyone–Restricting TED to invitation-only is elitist and maybe worse. Opening TED to more people to attend, learn, and enjoy–let’s everyone have an opportunity to benefit–regardless of who you are or where you come from.

Diversify the speakers–It is nice to have scientists and entrepreneurs and stars present at TED, but it would be even nicer to have regular, common people too. Everyone has a story to tell–whether or not you have a Ph.D. or run your own company. While it is great to learn from the “experts,” it would be fascinating to hear from everyday people on their challenges and how they deal with them and overcome them or not. Just as an example, regularly, I see an incredible homeless lady on the street in DC–yes, well-dressed, talkative, polite–and I would want to hear how she ended up where she is and how she copes and survives her experiences on the street everyday. The point it that every person is a world onto themselves and worth hearing about–the key is how to get the experiences, the feelings, and the lessons learned.

Genuine, less scripted speeches–Part of good entertainment is making it real, but when it is just another (over-)rehearsed performance, the speakers seem almost robotic. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear human beings talk in a more relaxed and yes, genuine-way about very important human topics of significance to us all? Right now, people crave information –heck, it’s the information age and nice informative lectures are racking up the views, but at some point soon, people are going to want and expect more.

Shake it up with the venue–TED is conservative extraordinaire. The one (or occasionally two or three) speakers on the stage, the dark background and spotlighted speaker, the PowerPoint or Prezi presentation, the dangling microphone, the opening applause, the slow and methodical speech–yes TED is “ideas that inspire,” but it is also a venue that bores. Perhaps, if you are an avid conference attendee and like the routine, copy-cat set-ups, you feel at home in TED.  But why not let people talk here, there, and everywhere–let someone speak on the street, in a park, on a ship, or even parachuting off a plane.  How about someone on the International Space Station?  Or on the front lines in a major military engagement. People have a lot to say and where they say it–says a lot about them and adds to their message. A stage is a stage. Even a snake-oil salesman has a soapbox.

Not to be confused with TED, there are TEDx events–“TED-like” that are organized by volunteers on a community-level, a “do-it-yourself TED” that is occurring at a “global rate of about five per day”–and these come closer to the open ideal, but still more can be done to make TED itself an organization where truly ideas come from all people, for all people.

While TED’s brand is exclusive and valuable–perhaps more important is education that is valuable for the masses.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Juhan Sonin)