You Can’t Eat The Elephant

So there is a popular saying:


“You can’t eat the elephant in one bite.”


The idea is that you need to break things down in little pieces to get them down. 


If you try to eat the elephant in one bite, I assume that your mouth would easily split in half and your face would literally explode. 


Similarly with projects, if you try to get to the nirvana end state in one fell swoop , the project explodes with complexity and risk, and you will fail miserably.


Thus, managing requirements and phasing them in chunks is critical to projects’ succeeding. 


Sure, customers want to get the Promised Land immediately–where the projects have all the “bells and whistles”–but you don’t want to sacrifice getting the train on the tracks for the accouterments either. 

Think big, but act small–little by little, one step at a time, you can actually eat an elephant. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Ship+ In A Bottle

You ever wonder how they build that big ship in that little bottle. 


Someone needs very dexterous hands and a lot of patience to put the pieces through the opening of the bottle and assemble the ship inside. 


But this second grader, Dylan Yasseri, upped the game on this whole concept and imagined a whole beach in the bottle. 


The sand, ocean, sky, birds, crabs, fish, umbrella, and even the shack (snack?) bar!


This is one reason that kids are so awesome–their purity of heart and their endless imaginations make almost anything possible.


The fantasy becomes the reality. 


The colors are magical too here. 


If adults could maintain even half the heart and creativity of our children–oh what a world it could be. 😉


(Source: Andy Blumenthal Photo of Dylan’s beautiful painting).

Slow Build – Rapid Demise

It takes time to build in life. 


Or as they say:

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”


But it’s not always easy to have patience. 


We all have to start somewhere and usually it’s at the bottom.


And then we have to claw our way up (like Rocky).


Unless of course, you’re one of those people born with a “silver spoon” in your mouth. 


The funny thing about building and climbing is that it can all be destroyed in a split second. 


One silly mistake, one stupid word, one indiscretion, one lackadaisical moment, a turn of bad luck…or a series thereof. 


It takes so much time and effort to build as we lay one brick of success upon another. 


And it takes just a split second to destroy it all. 


So watch-watch-watch your steps, because they can so easily turn into a rapid, spiraling, and even most deadly a fall.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)


In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.


1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 


2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah–this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.


3) The Plan to Take Esau’s Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 


4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 


Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:


1) “People of the Book” – The Jewish people are known as “the people off the book” for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   


2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come – Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a “corridor” to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it’s the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 


3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land – For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d’s promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.

Ezekiel 11:17: “Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  

“(Ani Ma’amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah…Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him.”

Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 


If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering–believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Falling On The Sword

Fall On Sword.jpeg

Sometimes things happen that we don’t agree with or like. 


We may even get blamed for them when we didn’t do anything wrong. 


At times like these, there comes up inside of us a strong visceral feeling to speak up and out–to right the wrongs!


There are times when we can, but there are also times when it may be better to hold our tongue for another day. 


In the olden times, people that spoke out, often had their tongue cut right out in front of them–no questions asked.


These days, thank G-d, most people may not be that cruel, but still people get punished for speaking truth to power–when the power is tone deaf or possibly even behaving more as brutal dictators than as benevolent leaders. 


The problem for the average Joe is that there is no point in losing your tongue or even your head by acting rashly or imprudently.


Better to wait and plan for the right moment to be effective and stand with integrity for your ideals and what you know in your heart is right. 


Maybe even at times, we have to fall on our swords until we can make a strong and convincing case and change both hearts and minds to betterment. 


The point is not only to do what’s right, but to make things right in the world around us.


Swords too often can come out swinging wildly, unless we carefully sharpen them and practice our lunges and cuts, and work to repair the wrongs in the world as soldiers of righteousness. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

North Korea and Iran–No Time For Nuke Time

nukes.jpeg

We are at a unbelievably critical moment in history. 


North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons capability and are threatening and maniacal enough to use them. 


Negotiations, incentives, and phony deals have led to nothing but advancing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with our enemies and their continued vows to kill us. 


As Iran vows to annihilate Israel and chants:

“Death to America”


North Korea vows a nuclear attack saying Washington will be:


“Engulfed in a sea of fire.”


The Talmud (Sanhedrin 72a) teaches the principle of self-defense:

“If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.”


Preemption is justifiable if the threat is real and imminent. 


North Korea and Iranian threats are very real and getting ever more imminent as their capabilities increase–and if anything, they have been underestimated and underreported.


They have continued to build and test nukes and the missiles to deliver them to the U.S. and our allies, despite pleas as well as carrots and sticks to cease their menacing actions.


The prior administration’s position of “strategic patience” has meant nothing but indecision and a do nothing approach as things get worse and not better.


Now, we have the opportunity to destroy the deadly nuke sites before these despotic regimes hit us and our population of nearly 320 million people with a nuke first strategy!


We are a peaceful nation that believes deeply in freedom and human rights, but we cannot live under constant threat of nuclear attack on our cities and allies. 


A preemptive strike is a very, very serious decision, but we cannot wait indefinitely and let ourselves become victims of the most horrific weapons and their destructive capabilities and aftermath. 


What do we do if North Korea and Iran refuse their endless pursuit weapons of mass destruction and their threats to use them on us?


Perhaps, this is soon to be a rhetorical question if not the most dire of all decisions to make and the time to make them. 


May G-d have mercy  on us–if ever their was a time, now is the time to pray and mean it.  😉


(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)