Winding Path Of Life

Thought this was an interesting commentary on life. 


Perhaps, we seek a straight line–with no bumps or bruises–to go from where we are to where we want to be. 


But life has others plans for us. 


The road ahead is often winding and where we truly end up is often unknown. 


Certainly, staying frozen in place and doing nothing with our lives is not an option. 


So we move forward, one step at a time, and occasionally taking a leap forward. 


Also, sometimes, we have to take a few steps backward before we can advance again. 


Other times, we may even stumble and fall. 


Whatever happens, we continue to work our way towards the landing at the top to see what we shall see. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Stretch Goals That Break The Band

So I learned some important lessons about stretch goals. 


You want to have stretch goals because they make your strive to do and be your best. 


When you have to stretch yourself above your normal then you can take yourself to whole new levels of performance and achievement. 


However, if the stretch goals are ridiculously unachievable than you simply set yourself up for frustration and failure. 


Goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. 


But too often they are DUMB goals: Directed by others, Unachievable, Made to fail, and Based on false assumptions. 


For example, if someone tells you to jump off that bridge into the whitewater beneath because they assume that somehow you can spread you bare arms and fly–guess what is going to happen to you?


Goals can help you get to new heights of accomplishment in life or they can pull you down in false condemnation and despair.

 

Like in fighting the good fight…be careful when you are sent to the front lines in trench warfare with heavily dug fortifications, machine guns, artillery placements aimed your way and yelled at with no rational strategy to “Advance!”

 

The only place that is going to take you is to an early grave.

 

Instead, fight smart and take the hill when the hill is takable–you save a lot of lives that way and you actually take the hill successfully. 😉

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Isn’t The U.S. Keeping Up Militarily?

The United States is ranked as the most powerful country in the world:


But the U.S. spends more than the next 7-8 countries COMBINED!(See below chart from Forbes 2016)


In fact, military spending is more than half of all U.S. federal discretionary spending. 


So the question is why are we spending so much more than everybody else, is the United States getting its money’s worth, and most importantly are we able to defend ourselves? 


The U.S. defense budget is going up and has been approved at $717B for 2019. 


All the other 28 NATO countries together spend less than half ($296B) as much as the U.S. alone. 


If you add NATO spending as a complement to the U.S. then the total spend on our mutual defense approaches $1 trillion!


Russia ($69B) China ($146B), North Korea ($6B), and Iran’s ($16B) military spending in total pales in comparison at just $237B.


NATO as a whole is outspending Russia + China + North Korea + Iran by a factor of 4 times yet these countries are still considered major threats to us!
Despite all the truly incredible brave, hard working, and excellent men and women that serve with distinction in our military, 


Therefore, again why is it that the U.S. is spending more on what others seem to get for cheaper?  Is there significant fraud, waste, and abuse in the system?  Are we as a rich capitalistic nation simply getting fat, lazy, and stupid?  


Notwithstanding the outsized spending by the United States, incredibly from today’s Wall Street Journal, there is another article about our inability to defend ourselves:

“These are admissions that the U.S. cannot proportionally and equally defend itself in space, cyber, and response to tactical and nuclear weapons except through the threat of escalation and intrusion into other domains.”

Some poignant examples given:

– Our stationary land-based nuclear missiles are no match for Russia and China’s mobile-based ICBMs.

– Our ten busiest U.S. ports do not have an adequate defense against an underwater nuclear missile launch.


China and Russia variously are beating us out in:

  • Quantum Communications
  • Anti-Satellite Weapons
  • Directed Energy 
  • Hypersonics 

In fact, it was just reported that China conducted its 8th hypersonic test of a plane–with this one said to capable of Mach 10–and that it is capable of carrying nukes! 

Further, our carrier group fleet and land forces are at risk with respect to Russia and China’s hypersonic weapons.


Of course, EMP weapons can fry our electrical grid and a large cyber attack could disable our critical infrastructure.


Let’s not even talk bioweapons–think Black Plague from the Middle Ages that wiped out 30-60% of Europe. 


Yes, some of these are asymmetric warfare, but why are we still thinking and fighting so kinetic and conventionally. 


If we are fighting the wars of yesteryear instead of the battles of today and the threats of tomorrow then what good is our military investments and assets.


To become a more capable fighting force that is less vulnerable, more capable of defending this country, and making better use of our large investment dollars here are 10-steps we need to take to transform our military; we need to transition as follows:

  1. From static land-based nuclear missiles to a fully mobile platform.
  2. From vulnerable fleets of large ships and planes to “unstoppable” swarms of miniaturized lethal drones. 
  3. From a preponderance of earth-based kinetic weapons to space-based energy directed weapons. 
  4. From having to generally choose between speed or power to using the power of speed as an “unstoppable” force of nature. 
  5. From projecting a time and space bound visible presence to a persistent invisible existence.
  6. From attempting to defend limited points of presence to establishing a “impenetrable” umbrella shield of multi-layered defenses.
  7. From reactively identifying and stopping cyber threats to proactively hunting and destroying them. 
  8. From knee-jerk instinctive putting of human lives in harm’s way to matter-of-factly sending milbots (military robots) to the front lines. 
  9. From relying on the heroics and genius of individual human brainpower to harnessing in realtime “the collective” augmented by artificial intelligence into a hive.
  10. From relying on escalation of a “bigger, badder gun” to being able to fight capably in every battle arena, win in each and dominate holistically. 

Over $700B per year should buy us a lot of defense, hopefully in the future we can really use it to defend ourselves. 😉

Amazon’s Dangerous Genius

I am marveling at the Genius of Amazon and Jeff Bezos but also concerned about their future direction. 


Traditionally, they have invested for the long-haul!


For years, Amazon never made a dime, actually operating at a loss.


But all the time making long-term investments in infrastructure (warehouses, supply chain, logistics, etc.) and in customer acquisition. 


Their great selection, reasonable pricing, free shipping, and easy return policy lured hundreds of millions of people to drop the brick-and-mortar stores and even other online retailers to go Amazon all the way. 


Most people I know get virtually everything and anything on Amazon these days. 


Of course, the fear always was that Amazon would become such a dominant player and monopoly that no one else could compete. 


For a long time, they didn’t even charge sales tax!


It seems people can’t even imagine not having Amazon–where in the world would they shop and get all their stuff in 2-days or less (Prime Customers) and still be able to return all the crap they don’t even want. 


So here is the rub.


Now that Amazon is so dominant, guess what?  They are raising the Prime Rates and cutting back on returns–with customers actually being banned for returning too much. 


Ah, the lure, bait and switch. 


Amazon got us all as their slave customers–and we let them and love them for it. 


And after they snared us with all the convenience and security of being able to return stuff, they pull the rug and what can you do, but cry foul?


I love Amazon for their genius and what they have done for eCommerce, but I don’t like that they’ve built in a sense a dark empire to prey on their loyal customer base. 


Mr. Bezos, here is my message to you…


Please stay true to your ideals of customer-centricity and long-term investment in the company that has been the foundation for what you have built into such a retail juggernaut.  


Keep valuing your customers and serving them well and not trading them in for short-term profit gain.


In the end, that is a winning strategy that won’t land you in either regulatory hell and/or antitrust action to then force you to bend your knee or your ultimate breakup. 


Remember, you have one chance to make the right decision for Amazon or I fear that it’s not product returns that you’ll be for long worrying about. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Worry?

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague, and they tell me their philosophy about worry, as follows:

Worrying is suffering twice!


I thought this was pretty smart. 


With worry, we suffer when we worry and then we suffer again if the thing we are worrying about actually comes to fruition. 


So in essence, we are doubling up on the suffering.


Yet, worry can be constructive if we use it to spur us to positive action such as in confronting and dealing with challenging situations. 


But when we worry just for the sake of worry because we can’t control our anxiety and moreover, it actually may paralyze us with fear, then this is obviously a bad thing. 


Do I worry?


Sure do, but like my dad, I use worry to try and think out-of-the-box, to plan, to problem-solve, to figure out coping mechanisms etc. 


Worry is suffering for sure. 


However, if we can channel the worry to positive impact, then the worry can be worth the pain it inflicts on us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Teambuilding S-Cubed

Awesome day today with my team at work. 


We had a half-day team building. 


Started off with a Play-Doh exercise where we had to answer things like what we’d like to accomplish as a team in the new year. 


This was my representation with a S-cubed for the new program implementing process improvements and enterprise service management using:


– Strategy


– Structure


– (Customer) Service


We followed up with a great team luncheon and then a game of Monster Mini Golf.


We broke into two teams and one team came in “first place” and the other team were the “winners.”


I suppose whenever we genuinely come together as a team to appreciate each other and work collaboratively as a unified whole–greater than the sum of our parts–then we truly all come out as first place winners! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

NATO Is Asleep At The Wheel

So this is the dumbest military strategy I have ever heard. 


NATO is planning a “rapid deployment force” of at least 30,000 troops, 30 naval ships, and 360 planes to fight off a Russian invasion.


Sounds good?


The only problem is that this rapid reaction is planned to occur “within 30 days” of being put on an alert. 


Gee, a lot can happen in 30 days. 


It took only a little over two weeks for Russia to invade and annex Crimea in 2014 in a blitzkrieg that completely took the West by surprise. 


NATO continues to be shockingly unprepared for a Russian land grab.


Further, the 4,600 troops stationed on “forward deployment” and the 5,000 additional “spearhead force” to come to their aid “within 10 days” is again completely inadequate and ridiculous. 


Israel won the 1967 War in just 6 days against invading armies from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and Israel again halted the advancing Egyptian army in the 1973 Yom Kippur War in just 3 days. 


With modern weaponry, Wars are fought and won in days–not months and years anymore. 


The long deployments we’ve had in Iraq and Afghanistan are not traditional wars, but wars of attrition again terrorism and dictatorships. 


If and when there is a war with the “Great Bear,” it will be fought and won–OR lost in days–as well. Russia will act with stealth and speed and a ferocity that we remain blind to. 


And I fear that when we are ready to fight back, it will be way too little too late–like in Crimea–and all that will be left–after the European lands are gone–is more meaningless sanctions that Russia will retaliate against, tit-for-tat, anyway. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)