How Much Can You Love Something?

Bowling Ball House.jpeg

Bowling 2.jpeg

Notice that the title of this blog is not how much can you love G-d or someone…

Those can be virtually infinite. 

I remember my dad was so devoted to G-d and his family. 

He used to say:

“I would go through fire for my family [and of course G-d].”

And we all knew from his daily actions that he meant it! 

But how about for things–how much do some people love their things?

I read today in the Wall Street Journal how David Rockefeller’s estate of paintings, porcelain, and silver was slated to sell for $700 million!

That’s a lot of prized possessions of [lovely] material things!

But even things that aren’t so pricey are incredibly beloved to many people. 

In these photos, someone who must really love bowling has adorned their home and property with dozens of bowling bowls. 

Literally on the fence and in big piles as decoration in the yard all around the home. 

True, it’s colorful, novel, and sort of interesting, but really you love bowling that much!

Yes, we are want to be comfortable with our special things especially when they provide good memories and sentimental feelings.

But whether a bowling bowl house or a Rockefeller estate, it’s only truly worth something if there is G-d and loving people in it with you. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Oh, Change!

Change Management
What an astute comic this is about change. 

“Who wants change?”  Everyone raises their hands enthusiastically.

“Who wants to change?” Everyone has their hands and eyes down. 

I suppose that is the difference between a nice lofty but esoteric concept, and something that actually impacts us and requires our attention, resources, and hard work. 

So what sounds good for the masses in a speech or article may sound entirely different when applied to the individual. 

Who me change?  No, that’s someone else’s problem!

– Global warming and environmental destruction–that’s coming from China now.

– Russian aggression in Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic States–it’s a European issue.

– The Arab Spring with governments being overthrown and countries destabilizing into sectarian violence–that’s for The Gulf States to worry about. 

– Higher taxes to pay for social entitlements–let the very rich pay for that.

– More security and surveillance for counter-terrorism initiatives–let’s just surgically target the bad guys with those. 

Let’s face it–we all have a lot on our plates already and we are suckers for a good talking to about some broadly-based, fantastical future that is better, happier, healthier, and more peaceful and prosperous.

But what do you have to give up or sacrifice for this future utopia or making progress towards it…ah, that’s not a message we really want to get into now, is it?

Change…it’s good for the next guy and gal; let me have my cake and eat it too. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to

Fire Truck Pride

Fire Truck
I love when I see the fire and rescue vehicles that proudly display the flag. 

Not only are the people that do these jobs heroes in putting their own lives on the line to rescue and save others, but they are patriots as well. 

It’s not only about the individuals they save, but also the country they serve. 

In democracys, there is a value for freedom and human rights–where every individual matters.

That’s a country to take pride in and something worth risking life and limb for. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

No More Excuses, Please


The New Yorker (24 October 2011) has a clever take on the urge of some–in this case, the privileged–to try and preserve the status quo. However, this can be applied more broadly.

While not an endorsement of any specific movement, this is an acknowledgement of the resistance to change by both organizations and individuals, and the many excuses offered.

Some typical ones we all have heard, in one form or other:

– It’s always been this way.

– We’ve tried “that” before and it didn’t work.

– Change is hard.

– Everything is fine just the way it is.

While change for changes sake is obviously pointless,change to adapt to new opportunities and threats is just good business sense.

Additionally, change to address inequalities on inequities is good moral sense.

Of course, we have to vet proposed changes and ensure they are constructive, the best option available, and really doable, so we are not just jumping into something irresponsibly.

When change meets the mark, then to implement it, we have to give it all we’ve got!

From our leaders, it takes vision, courage, and determination to see what needs to get done, get past the excuses, and inspire change.

From society, it takes sacrifice and hard work to get us to where we must go.

But if it’s a destination worthwhile, then we drop the excuses and move to action.

Hopefully, we can recognize when change is indeed, necessary, and not be blinded by our fears and self-serving resistance that hinders the greater good.

What’s A Life Worth

This is a video of a 2-year old girl run over several times–first by a van and then by a truck–and left lying in the street for 7 minutes, as 18 people pass by without stopping or calling for help. 

Are people too busy?  Are they afraid to get involved?  Are they somehow blinded to what is happening?

Watching the video again and again–the little girl seems to be treated as basically worthless, and it just doesn't seem to make any sense:

–Why didn't the van or truck stop when they saw the little girl?

–Why did they just drive off after hitting her? 

–Why didn't anyone else try and stop them–verbally, physically?

–Why didn't anyone step in front of the child and try to stop traffic? 

–Why didn't anyone seemingly call for help? 

–Where were the toddler's parents or guardians? 

I don't know and can't imagine the answer to any of these questions, but I do know that society must answer for this dead child, because this child could be anyone's child, and this unfortunate scene could happen anywhere in the world. 

In stark contrast, this same week, Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit held captive for 5 years and 4 months was released by Hamas in a prisoner swap by Israel of more than a 1000 for 1–bringing him home to a hero's welcome and cries of "Welcome home Gilad!"

While I am not judging the security calculus of releasing so many potential recidivist terrorists for Gilad, I do believe that no one's child can be left behind–whether for 7 minutes in an accident or 5 years in captivity–we all have a duty to help those in need. 

Life is precious and how we treat it is a test of our spirit, mettle, and underlying social norms.

I Want To Be Possible


On Rosh Hashanah, The Jewish New Year, which is a time of personal reflection, the Rabbi told us a story (which I made into the attached cartoon) about the person, who when asked what he wanted to be–when he grew up–said “I want to be possible!” That’s the serious part.


And when asked “why possible? The person replies humorously because his mother always told him how impossible he is. 🙂


The short parable struck me as pretty profound and worth sharing.


Because everyday, each of us has to wake up and look ourselves in the mirror, and ask–are we happy with ourselves…who we are…what we have become?  And is it really what we want to be, when we, proverbially, grow up?


In the movie Reckless, when they ask the teen growing up in the working class town what he wants out of life–he replies short and to point, “More!”


What more do we want out of our lives?  More money, more honor, more things…at the end, that’s all sort of besides the point–isn’t it?


What is important is making more possibilities in life–for ourselves and for others by creating a better world.


In other words, it’s not about the material (although we all need to take basic care for ourselves and our loved ones–that’s just being responsible), but fundamentally, it’s about the opportunity to make the impossible, possible!


For each of us, the challenges are unique and all too often (G-d protect us!), life’s trials and tribulations test us to our very core–so overcoming impossibilities has a distinct meaning for all of us.


But as a strategist, a futurist, and an enterprise architect, I know deep down that the art of the possible is in looking forward and not backwards, and working tirelessly to sacrifice and serve.


I pray for the new year that G-d gives us the strength and the wisdom to overcome our personal and societal weaknesses, limitations, and selfish inclinations to help and “repair the world”–creating new opportunities for peace, health, and prosperity for all!


(Cartoon created in BitStrips)



Wow–the last few weeks and months have unfortunately seen so many things going wrong for us as a country(with the exception of nailing Bin Laden, which was a huge win!)–the problems start with intractable political battles over the debt ceiling, the continuing mounting deficit, the S&P downgrade, the high unemployment, the housing funk, the stock market instability, our falling education rankings in the world, the drought in the Southwest, the famine in Somalia, the turmoil in the Middle East, and today losing so many of our brave special forces soldiers in Afghanistan, and they don’t end there–you just shake your head in disbelief and ask how can all this be happening?

I suppose on one hand there is the religious answer that perhaps we are sinners and are being punished for our wrongdoings and that G-d out of his love for us is trying to teach us something and put on us a better track. It is comforting to know that G-d is watching us and controlling the events of the world and is ultimately looking out for our good. With the recent hardships, I would say let the L-rd have mercy on us. Amen!

On the other side, there are those who attribute life events to chance–the roll of the dice–life’s general tendencies to ups and downs–perhaps even astrology or fate or other forces of the universe. To them, what happens, happens. It is part of the tests of life and we have to do our best to overcome the trials and tribulations that come our way and hope for better days ahead.

A third viewpoint are those that hold self responsible. They say, what have I or we done to screw things up so badly–What mistakes have we made? What misinterpretations have we read? What actions did we take or fail to take that led to all this mess? This is one that I am most curious about here because it has to do with our our taking responsibility for what is going wrong and for making things right (not in a spiritual sense like in the religious view or in the reactive sense like the rollercoaster view of life as a sequence of chance events).

When we hold ourselves accountable–I believe that means at all levels of our society–from the “I” as in each and every one of us to the the Principals of our Schools, the CEOs of our Fortune 500 companies, our Representatives in Congress, and the Commander in Chief, as some examples. Is everyone doing what they are supposed to be doing and as well as they are supposed to be doing it?

Fortune Magazine (23 May 2011) in an article about the enormous success of Apple pointed out something really critical in their culture that breeds excellence–and that is accountability for delivering results.

“At Apple there is never any confusion as to who is responsible for what.” They have a name for this at Apple and it the “DRI”–the Directly Responsible Individual! “Effective meetings at Apple have an action list [and] next to each action item will be the DRI.” Moreover, they function as “a unified team.”

So at Apple they have individual accountability and that is balanced with teamwork, and they nimbly execute the vision of leadership–who too are directly accountable. For example, the Apple Chief Financial Officer is directly responsible for all cost and expenses that lead to profit and loss.

I believe that as a society we could leverage the Apple model to deliver better results for our country without sacrificing our values and freedoms. We all need to step up and be directly responsible individuals! We can’t keep looking at the guy/gal next to us and hoping that they will pull us through. It’s will take each and every one of us individually and as a team to cut the pork spending, work smarter, study and increase our skills, and stop the incessant bickering and start doing something constructive.

If we keep fighting over who controls the pie, soon there won’t be any pie left. Let’s all be DRIs and take a bigger picture view to save the country, while there is still a lot worth saving.

(Source Photo: here)

>Know What’s Right, Do What’s Right

In a conversation with a good friend recently, we got to talking about integrity–the meaning and of course, the importance.

And at one point, he says straight-out, integrity takes two things:

1) Know what’s right

2) Do what’s right

And I’m loving it!

Straight-forward and simple–know and do what’s right.

Then he tells me about Gus Lee, a nationally recognized ethicist (and Chair of Character Development at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point) who wrote this book Courage: The Backbone of Leadership.

I was inspired by what I heard and since went back to learn more about his philosophy on the subject.

Lee believes that “leadership is grounded in high character” and that “we think we are looking for managers, but in fact, we need principled leaders.”

To drive our “moral courage”, Lee says we have 3 powerful resources:

1) Conscience–“that moral, inner voice.”

2) Discernment–this is where you work to discern “the higher right” getting past “fear, feelings, and wishful thinking” and of course, our own self interests.

3) Discerning Advisors–we seek the counsel of “the most courageous, high integrity, high character, and principled person or people” you know.

And I would add a fourth important resource, which is religious teachings that can be a steadfast guidepost (especially when coupled with the others as a personal litmus test of whether you are applying them correctly).

Finally, I like Lee’s observation that there are three type of individuals when it comes to issues of integrity:

1) Egotists–those who are self-serving.

2) Pragmatists–those who “serve results” or what I would call serving a specified cause.

3) People of Courage–those who “act in the right regardless.”

Doing the right thing is not easy (it means putting aside your own interests)!

That’s why it takes tremendous courage to be the type of moral person that we all ultimately admire and respect.

Those leaders who act with moral rectitude, these to me are the few and the amazing!

>The Spirit of A Warrior


Meaningful in life and in leadership…

“The spirit of a warrior is not geared to indulging and complaining, nor is it geared to winning or losing. The spirit of a warrior is geared only to struggle, and every struggle is a warrior’s last battle on earth. Thus the outcome matters very little to him. In his last battle on earth a warrior lets his spirit flow free and clear. And as he wages his battle, knowing that his intent is impeccable, a warrior laughs and laughs.”

– Carlos Castaneda