Miracles of Charity and Faith

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Conviction of One’s Faith.”

What better way to welcome in the New Year of 2019 then with some inspirational true stories about amazing people and their faith in G-d and doing what’s right. Recently, I saw firsthand from some special people, the miracles that happen when one is charitable and sticks to ones beliefs. 


As my father always taught me about G-d and doing what’s right: “Stick to your convictions!” 😉


(Source Photo of this amazing Tzedakah (charity) box in Israel: Minna Blumenthal)

REI Stupid Coupons

REI.jpeg

REI had a special online. 


You order $100 or more of stuff, and you get a $20 “member bonus” card. 


That sounded good, so I placed an order. 


So I get a message that I’ll have the bonus card within 48 hours or I should check my spam folder. 


Not sure what should take 48 hours, but I end up getting the email with the $20 code the same day. 


Thinking I’d go and get something for the freebie, I head to the store today and find something perfectly for $20!


Wow–that’s cool.


I wait on this long line with my wife…and we’re checking out this new popcorn on the line called Halfpops, which looks like Half Poop, and what’s the other half?  


After having lousy experiences with these B.S. coupons in the past, we are joking back and forth how there is less than a 50% chance that the coupon actually works today and we end up walking out with the product.


Sure enough, we get to the register and the cashier says, 

“Sorry. The coupon is not good for another 2 weeks!”


Bingo.  Well why they heck did you send me the coupon now and not make it good for another 2 weeks–why waste everyone’s time here?


Also, what difference is it to REI to make me wait 2 weeks to use the member reward–I’m in the store now, so if they want to cross-sell me some stuff what difference does another couple of weeks make. 


You’d think the customer service at REI would say, “we apologize for the inconvenience” and process it now to make it a positive experience, but instead they actually told me to come back in 2 weeks and start all over AGAIN. 


Gee, thanks REI for the member bonus reward…you’ve really done so well with customer service for your members, NOT!  


I think REI is blinded by stupid policies and corporate bullsh*t so that they cannot take care of their customers and do what makes common sense. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Playing The Work Game Can End In More Ways Than One

Work Hard

This game takes working to a whole new level of absurdity. 


It’s called “Don’t Get Fired!


And it’s by a 29-year old South Korean programmer who found a way to vent his own frustration with the crazy working world by making it into a mobile game. 


The goal is to “rise through the ranks of a nameless corporation by performing an endless string of mind-numbing tasks, while avoiding  a long list of fireable offenses.”


I did a screenshot here after I passed the interview and did the tasks that the various levels of management told me to by yelling at me with exclamation marks. 


The more exclamation marks means the more yelling and critical the tasks are from the seniors in the organization. 


Here the added stressor is everyone is in “fever mode,” because the president is in town, so now you are getting work from everyone and have to manage all the competing priorities. 


See me, the intern in the lower right corner with the work piled up on my desk.


You have to tap furiously on each task to turn them green and eventually make them disappear as completed.


In the game, you basically “get fired again and again in a cycle of humiliation and false hope.” 


There are no less than “29 ways to get fired, including opening a box of donuts that doesn’t belong to you,…addressing colleagues with the wrong level of formality, or failing to laugh hard enough at the jokes of a company vice president.”


One game player said, “sometimes you just have to laugh at the futility of life” or in this case I think he is referring to meaningless work tasks. 


Mind-numbing tasks and yelling in the office are not what decent work life is about.  

It’s no wonder that doing meaningful work, being treated with dignity and respect, and having the opportunity to learn and grow are some of the most important aspects of a satisfying job.


Then why get fired, when instead you can get promoted. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Yeah, A Pat On The Back

Pat or Shove
Ah, this doodle says it all…



Some people deserve a pat on the back–truly great job, went the extra mile, great collaboration, communication, and results. 



Others deserve A PAT ON THE BACK (or a good kick in the behind)–nasty, dirty, selfish, do little, take a lot, backstabbers.



I only know people in the first category. 😉



(Source Doodle: Linkedin)

Eulogy For My Dear Father, Fred Blumenthal

Dad and me
Today, we are here to commemorate my father, Manfred Blumenthal–Meir Ben Shimon Halevi’s passing. My dad was my father, my guide, my role model for life—he meant everything to me, and my words alone cannot capture my feelings of love, devotion, and gratitude to him.



My father was a deeply religious man and he was a tzadik (truly righteous person), and his passing yesterday on the Jewish date of Asara B’Tevet (the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet) is a portrayal of his very belief system and of him as a servant of Hashem, always. 



On Asara B’Tevet, over 2,400 years ago, the Babylonian Emperor, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the holy city of Jerusalem leading months later to the breach of the city walls and then on Tisha B’Av to the destruction of the Jewish temple. 



The synagogue to my father was the surrogate for the Jewish temple, and he went everyday like a soldier, morning and night, to pray and serve G-d. In fact, some his most joyous moments, when I was a kid, was when we went together and I sat at his side in shule. 



To my dad, he loved Hashem, his family, and the community and was devoted to them in every way.  



Religiously, my dad not only went to synagogue to pray, but went regularly to multiple shiurim (Torah classes) during the week, served years ago on the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society), did Bichur Cholim (visiting the sick), gave charity all the time, and made a beautiful Jewish home with my mother, Gerda Blumenthal, for us first on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then in Riverdale, New York, and finally in Silver Spring MD.



My dad and mom loved Riverdale where we lived for over 20 years, yet when my wife and I and our children moved here to Silver Spring to make our home and work for the Federal government, my parents uprooted and moved here within the very same year to be with us.



No matter the hardship, my dad would do whatever it took. When he and his brother and sister (Sid and Ruth) and their parents (my Oma and Opa) fled the Nazi’s in Germany and made their way through Italy and England and ultimately to America, my father lost all his education, was interned on the Isle of man, and worked selling goods on the streets to help his family survive. 



The Holocaust deeply scarred my father, who was only a child when it happened, and interestingly enough these days, Asara B’Tevet is also the general Kaddish Day (memorial) for victims of the Holocaust, many of whose martyrdom is unknown. 



When interned, my father got very sick with a high fever for many days, and one day, the fever broke, and my father awoke and said to his family, “Today we are going to get our visas to America”–and that is exactly what happened.  



Miracles followed my father as well as his devotion to family…he worked for decades, as manager, in ladies handbags. Yet due to competition from overseas, the company finally closed, and my father was without a job, and my Bar Mitzvah was coming up. Even though out of work and not knowing when another job in that economy would present itself, My father believed and said, “Hashem will provide” and that we would still have the big event bringing me into my religious manhood as a Jew. It was a beautiful event and my father did get another job from a neighbor who sat right across the aisle from us in Shule who happened to have, a handbag manufacturing company.



I remember my dad working extra hard to put me and my sister Roz through Yeshiva, college, and even graduate school.  I remember him coming home from work and then going out again to work Bingo nights for the school to help them out. 



Despite tough economic times, my dad insisted that he pay for me to go to karate classes, which he knew I loved, and always put aside allowance money for me and my sister and then the grandchildren.  



For years my dad taught me to always do what was right, follow the Torah, and my conscience…he was the ultimate role model for me as a good, decent human being. 



When my mom was so sick with Parkinson’s disease, first at home and then at the Hebrew Home, my dad was again there like a soldier, all day long, every day, to sit with her and care for her with no thought at all to his personal needs or health. My mom passed away less than a year ago on January 13, 2014 (the 12th day of the Hebrew month of Sh’vat).



I remember so many wonderful times together from Shabbat meals and holidays, and celebrations like my wedding to my wife Dossy and Bat Mitzvah’s of our children, Minna and Rebecca and my niece’s, Yaffa. As well as challenging times, when one of us was sick in the hospital and my dad was there with me, again multiple times a day, to comfort me and help me—with no thought of himself. 



As a parent, I could go on and on about my dad, but he was also a good friend to so many of you in the community and he loved to talk with you, tell jokes, pray with you, have a meal with you, join with you at the shule dinner and so many other community events. 



Manfred Blumenthal, my dad, was a true servant of G-d and a loving father and grandfather who would and did do anything for us, including saving the life of my very wife, who had gotten ill a number of years ago.



Even though I would argue with my dad, I always knew he was right about things, and he would guide me no matter what.  



Now today, I stand here next to his casket…devastated at the loss.



I love you dad, we all love you and wish you peace, happiness, and countless blessings in the afterlife. You gave us everything and you deserve to be rewarded by the Almighty in heaven together with mom and your loving parents, Simon and Hilda Blumenthal.



I cannot say goodbye, just see you later where we can all stand together in heaven before Hashem!

Go Safe or Go For It?

In_it_to_win_it

I came away with some thoughts on risk taking watching this scene from the movie “Lies and Alibis.”

The girl says: “Simple is boring.”

The guy answers: “Boring is safe.”

The girl responds: “Safe is for old people.”

(Note: nothing personal here to the elderly. Also, hope I didn’t get the who said which thing wrong, but the point is the same.)

Take-a-way: Very often in life we aren’t sure whether to take a risk or not. Is it worth it or is it reckless? And we have to weigh the pros and cons, carefully!

– We have to ask ourselves, where’s the risk and where’s the reward?

We have to decide whether we want to try something new and accept the potential risk or stay stable and go safe with the status quo that we already know.

At times, staying with a bad status quo can be the more risky proposition and change the safer option–so it all depends on the situation.

– We also have to look at our capabilities to take chances:

For example, in terms of age appropriateness–it can be argued that younger people can take more risk, because they have more time to recover in life, should the situation go bad.

At the same time, older people may have more of a foundation (financial savings, built-up experience and education, and a life-long reputation) to take more chances–they have a cushion to fall back on, if necessary.

– In the end, we have to know our own level of risk tolerance and have a sense of clarity as to what we are looking for and the value of it, as well as the odds for success and failure.

It’s a very personal calculation and the rewards or losses are yours for the taking. Make sure you are ready to accept them!

Finally–always, always, always have a plan B. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Beyond The Stick

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Over a number of years, I’ve seen different management strategies for engaging employees. At their essence, they typically amount to nothing more than the proverbial “carrot and stick” approach: Do what you’re supposed to do and you get rewarded, and don’t do what your superiors want and you get punished.

Recently, the greater demands on organizational outputs and outcomes by shareholders and other stakeholders in a highly competitive global environment and souring economy has put added pressure on management that has resulted in

the rewards drying up and the stick being more widely and liberally used.

Numerous management strategists have picked up on this trend:

For example, in the book, No Fear Management: Rebuilding Trust, Performance, and Commitment in the New American Workplace, Chambers and Craft argue that abusive management styles destroy company morale and profitability and should be replaced by empowerment, communication, training, recognition, and reward.

In another book, Driving Fear Out of the Workplace: Creating the High Trust, High Performance Organization, Ryan and Oestreich confront how “fear permeates today’s organizations” and is creating a pandemic of mistrust that undermines employee motivation and commitment.

I can’t help but reflect that the whole concept of managing employees by the carrot and stick approach is an immature and infantile approach that mimics how we “manage” children in pre-school who for example, get an extra snack for cleaning up their toys or get a demerit for pulling on little Suzy’s hair.

As leaders, I believe we can and must do better in maturing our engagement styles with our people.

Regular people coming to work to support themselves and their families and contribute to their organizations and society don’t need to be “scared straight.” They need to be led and inspired!

Monday’s don’t have to be blue and TGIF doesn’t have to be the mantra week after week.

People are naturally full of energy and innovation and productivity. And I believe that they want to be busy and contribute. In fact, this is one of life’s greatest joys!

Leaders can change the organizational culture and put an end to management by fear. They can elevate good over evil, win the hearts and minds of their people, and put organizations back on track to winning performance.