Bad Little Mousey

So a colleague told me about an awful experience at work. 


They came into the office and had a big surprise. 


I won’t ask you to guess what it was. 


I’ll start off by giving you a hint.


It came from a mouse. 


Yep, they actually had what they called, “mouse poop” on their desk. 


Have to laugh even at the term…


But this is not what you want to have to deal with first thing in the morning, or anytime for that matter. 


What can you do though?


We share the world with other living creatures and if they want to poop on your desk–what are you really gonna do about it? 


I suggested setting some traps, but they said they want to see if it happens again. 


That’s two too many times for me.


Now though I learned to be grateful if my desk is poop-free. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Impact of Hyperwork on Family

I am seeing this all the time now… 

Parents of little children, or even older children, who are too busy working to pay much, if any, attention to their families.

Call it a disease of the industrial revolution + information technology. 

Whether people worked on the assembly line making widgets or nowadays on the computer and smartphone answering their bosses and colleagues compulsively–it’s become a global obsession. 

On one hand, with the impending robot and AI revolution taking over jobs, people need to be grateful to even have a job to earn a living for the families.

On the other hand, with the connections to each other and our work 24/7, the depression-era saying of:

Brother, can you spare a dime?

Has morphed into:

Brother, can you spare some time?

Yes, we all need to be responsible adults, earn a decent living and pay our bills. 

But in the end, it’s not money or things that we give to our families that is the most important.  

I would argue money and things are the least important, and what is truly most precious is the love, time, and attention you give to yours. 

As the old saying goes:

Money can’t buy love.

But time and attention given to your loved ones can build meaningful relationships that last a lifetime and beyond. 

Yes, of course, people need to work to earn a living and productively contribute something to society, but it is also true that work is used as an excuse to run away from parental and familial responsibilities. 

It’s easier to give an Amazon gift certificate or a Gameboy then to actually spend the afternoon with the kids. 

These days, people say ridiculous things like:

I love going into the office to get away from home. 

But you can’t run away from your problems at home–you need to work on them and solve them.

The diabolical murderous Nazis used work as a tool to enslave, torture, and exterminate their victims as the sign over the gate of the Auschwitz (and many other) concentration camps read:

Arbeit Macht Frei  (or Work Sets You Free)

But as we all know inside, true freedom is being able to give generously from your time and effort to your loved ones, and slavery is not being able to let go of your work. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Cherry Tomato B4 Your Pie

So this was funny at our work social hour today. 


The person organizing it brought in snack foods–pretzels, cookies, chocolates, and apple pie. 


Of course, there were also some token vegetables and dip. 


So as you’d expect with all the junk food on the table, no one was eating the vegetables.


So one colleague goes:

Eat a cherry tomato and then you can have some pie.


The response from you know who was:

Ah, if you want us to eat a tomato then you better just put it inside the pie!


By the end, there was no more pie, but there sure were a lot of leftover cherry tomatoes. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Making A Real Difference

I saw this sign posted at an organization’s office. 


I thought it was a nice way to motivate people working there. 

“What people are saying:
You are making a difference.”


Later in the sign, it says:

“The work you do is important.”

Isn’t this really what is critical to people–that what they do is important. 


Yes, we need to earn a living and pay our bills. 


And sure, we’d like something left over to save for a rainy day. 


But our lives are more than materialism. 


We are spiritual beings inside. 


At the pinnacle, we need to know that our lives mean something!


– That we are touching people’s lives. 


– That we will be remembered for the good we did. 


– That our good deeds and words will live on. 


– That our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc.) will carry the lessons and message forward. 


– That we’ve contributed in some meaningful way to the fight of good over evil in this world and the next. 


– That we’ve shown proper respect and worship to our L-rd/Maker/Sustainer. 


When we make a difference, it’s about so much more than what money can buy. 


It’s about our soul, our contribution, and even destiny.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Games People Play

Games.jpeg

The title sounds ominous, but I mean it differently.


People like to play games–the type you have fun at.  


We learn to play when we are kids. 


We get the attention of our parents and friends–and we have fun just being together, acting silly or even competing with each other. 


Whether it’s over a game of Life, Monopoly, Risk, or Connect Four, or even these days going online with a game of Minecraft or Crush.


Sports is another type of game–great to play and others like to watch and cheer for their favorite teams or athletes. 


This week at work, someone said to come to his meeting because:

“…everyone would have fun.”


Have you ever heard that at work–a fun meeting or for that matter anything being fun in an office setting?


The guy is a genius–people actually showed up in droves at the meeting. 


They had to choose between various meetings going on at that time–and low and behold, people chose this one that was going to be fun!


In the meeting, there was a big bowl of candy and chocolate in the center of the conference table.


And the mood was relaxed as we got down to some business. 


While we did the business, people felt free to be a little silly and laugh with each other too.


The tone had been set for some fun.


The person who hosted the meeting explained that he wanted people to have a good time coming to the meeting (and to work).


He called it “gamification.”


The idea is why not make things into a type of game and have some fun with it instead of everything being so stuck up and nasty all the time. 


Listen, it was still a meeting and work had to get done, but it was nice to see a different lighter perspective put on it. 


People want to enjoy what they do–whether it’s time with their family, friends, or why not even their work.


If we can make more things in life into a game of sorts and put “fun” into the equation of what we do–people smile, laugh, and let down their guards a little. 


Why shouldn’t adult play games and have fun too? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Enter With A HANDSHAKE & Leave With A HUG

Hug.jpeg

So after almost 6 years at the U.S. Department of State, I am moving forward in my career to a very exciting role at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 


As I look back, I have fond memories of the wonderful high-performance division I was part of and the many amazing achievements we had together, and what our Deputy Assistant Secretary called, the “A Team.”


But one thing today is sticking out in my mind and it’s this image.

“Enter with a handshake and leave with a hug.”

On the first days, when I arrived it was all formality and firm welcome handshakes.


We don’t really know you and you don’t really know us, but we’re embarking on this journey together, and where it takes us no one really knows, BUT we wish you the best of luck–now go out and do great things!


Then on the last days, as I was preparing to leave, the formal handshakes were long gone and instead they were replaced with warm heartfelt hugs (and some special emotional words and cards). 


I was no longer a mystery of a person, with just my reputation, coming in to do G-d knows what. 


Now, I was a human being that had a genuine history with them, formed relationships with many, had faced challenges together, and had touched not only minds, but also it was apparent, hearts. 


I will not forget the special people, nor the many times shared, our accomplishments as an organization, and how we grew. 


I am moving forward not only with their tight hugs to more handshakes anew, but also to once again hopefully grow heart-to-heart with people, as further relationships are formed and we make, please G-d, amazing new progress together–for the mission and for the people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Money Makes The World Go Round

almight-money-worship

I remember from years ago hearing this song called, “Money makes the world go around.”


It’s an unfortunate song. 


“The clinking clanking clunking sound.”


Then this week, I saw this sign in someone’s office. 


It was hung under a framed dollar bill, and said:


“VERY IMPORTANT MONEY FIRST”


It doesn’t say G-d first, or family, or integrity, or compassion, or anything meaningful and good. 


No, instead just money. 


What is wrong with people?


Yes, we all need money to live.


Life isn’t free. 


There are bills to pay and money to be saved for a rainy day.


But, “money first”???


“Very important!”


There is definitely something wrong with some people’s values.


They think:


To hell with doing the right thing if you can make lots of money.


To hell with being honest in business if you can make more money.


To hell with earning a decent day’s pay for an honest day’s work.


No, to some misguided people, it’s simply money first. 


And money also means power.


More, more, more…at almost any cost that is. 


Sell your souls to the devil for a buck fifty.


Is the temporary satisfaction that money can buy you really worth it.


No, money is not first, and never should be. 


Money is a means to an end, but never an end in itself.


Money is not the root of all evil, but perhaps underlying greed is. 


Take that awful sign down and the dollar bill in the shiny frame at the very top of the wall too! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)