Wrong Direction–Who Stands For The Truth?

So I thought this was pretty funny in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. 

A wife is listening to the radio and she hears that a car is dangerously going in the wrong direction on the highway. 

Immediately, she calls her husband to tell him about the car going in the wrong direction, and to be careful. 

He husband replies: One car going in the wrong direction…there are hundreds of cars going in the wrong direction!

How true this little story is about life and what direction we choose for ourselves–in the face of the groupthink and the tidal wave of public opinion that will sweep you away if you aren’t strong of mind and especially of character. 


Whenever we choose the road less traveled, others see us as dangerous and going the wrong way. 


Yet to us, others may just be following blindly, and we may truly see something that everyone else is missing…could it possibly be that they are really the ones going the wrong way!


But there is always some doubt in our minds…we are fallible, we can wrong, we can be crazy.  


Whose truth is it anyway–Mine?  Yours?  Or could it really be “The (objective) Truth”?


Alternatively, maybe we just lack confidence or courage?


It is very hard to be the nail that stands up (and doesn’t get hammered down) and say that something is wrong and everyone should pay attention and change direction or their ways. 


Perhaps, they are all heading off a moral cliff or just heading towards disaster.


In some cases…


We know the agendas of the people who want to steer you wrong. 


We hear the propaganda and lies they are feeding you. 


We can see down the road or just around the bend where the danger lies in wait. 


– Can we stand up to the crowd?  


– Can we demonstrate the moral truth?  


– Can we get others to see what we see?  


It is certainly not easy to be the contrarian in the crowd. 


Not only may you not be recognized for what you are doing, but you may even be persecuted for it. 


It doesn’t matter…


Because you need to do it anyway just because you know deep inside that it’s the right thing to do. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Good IT Gone Bad

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So over and over again, good IT goes bad in a flawed decision-making process. 


Even with the best laid plans and governance processes in place, somehow decisions get politicized, go bad, and projects fail. 


Here are some of the popular reasons why this happens:


1) Someone has something to prove – Often their is a person incoming to power who wants to show off what they can do. Instead of focusing on what is best for the organization’s mission and people, they put themselves first. IT becomes not a tool for efficiency and effectiveness, but rather as some project rushed through for someone’s resume and narcissist career progression. Time to add another notch on your IT belt!


2) Someone used it, saw it, or heard of it someplace else – So why follow a structured decision-making and vetting process for new technology, when Joe Schmoe already has the answer of what we can use and what we should do. Perhaps, Joe Schmoe used the technology in another place and for another reason, but that’s what he knows and instantaneously, he’s the maven, subject matter expert. Or maybe, Joe Schmoe attended a vendor conference or read a trade mag on the airplane and now he is guess what, the all-knowing on the topic. Get ready to pull out your wallets to pay for the wrong thing for your needs and organization, but it’s okay becuase Joe Schmoe assured you it’s great!


3) Someone wants to use technology like a Swiss army utility knife – Let’s just buy this amazing tool; it can slice, dice, chop, mince, or Julienne; actually there is nothing this IT tool can’t do. Buy it and use it for all your technology projects and needs. Why buy specialized tools, when you can have one that does everything–it will be your data warehouse, cloud provider, handle all your transactions, and be your artificial intelligence all in one.  Don’t worry about the complexity, integration, training, support or how good it does any specific thing–just trust us!


In general, it shouldn’t be so easy for leadership to get sold and fooled by the wrong people with the wrong agendas. Yet, these things seem to take off like a speeding locomotive, and if anyone tries to step in front of it, career splat for some unfortunate well-meaning character!


Some leaders and organizations only seem to learn by making the same IT mistakes again and again–it’s costly to their mission and to their stakeholders, but someone is making out like a bandit and it’s on their dime. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Telling The Next Guy

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This was one for the books today.


Obama tells Trump that he needs to stand up to Putin (i.e. don’t wimp out)!

Uh, who’s the guy who has been in office the last 8 years? 


An during those years, our standing and national security has suffered from disengagement and utter weakness at virtually every turn of the globe. 


– We let red lines be violated in Syria and watched our Ambassador murdered in Libya


– Russia expanded into Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria, and now it’s looking to Cuba and Vietnam.


– China has been rapidly militarizing into the South China Sea and expanding it’s economic influence in Africa.


– We made the “worst deal in history” in Iran that allows them to eventually go nuclear!


North Korea continues to expand it’s nuclear arsenal and ballistic missile technology. 


– The Philippines told the President to “go to h*ll” and threatens to break from the U.S. militarily. 


– U.S. backed off support for democracy in Egypt after the military coup that overthrew Morsi


Venezuela expelled our top diplomat and 2 other embassy officials ratcheting up hostilities with the U.S. 


Cyberattacks have plagued the U.S. and we haven’t been able to defend ourselves. 


ISIS has demonstrated success and our strategy has not made them less dangerous and lethal. 


– After years of mounting terrorism, our leaders still refuse to even say the words, “radical Islam.”


I’m not sure why people are so tempted to give advice and preach to others, when they themselves have so many failings. 


I think it’s certainly okay to humbly share our experiences and lessons learned if we have any. 


But perhaps when you don’t have the best record on something, as they old saying goes, you should refrain from throwing large stones in your very fragile glass houses!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting Past The Political Blame Game

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Really liked this Japanese bowl and cup set–so cute. 


The head is the bowl, and the cup which holds all the water and has the handle is the body. 

The head is much bigger than the body, like people’s egos are bigger than their sense of responsibility. 


Today, I read again about some leaders blaming others for the world problems:


“Obama said Trump’s election and the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU were spawned by world leaders’ mishandling of globalization.”


Note, he blames these unspecified “world leaders,” with no attribution or responsibility to himself


To be clear, he is resolute that his policies and way of governing had no impact on the rise of President-elect Trump, his diametric opposite!


This is similar to Hillary Clinton blaming her election loss on the FBI Director investigating her, and not taking responsibility for her own lengthy history of scandals.


Again on Sunday, the New York Times blamed the gender-based, glass ceiling on Hillary’s defeat, rather than acknowledging the impact of the “corruption ceiling” that may have prevented her winning. 


And there is a long pattern of this blaming in politics whether for gridlock, the deficit, healthcare, divisiveness, violence in inner cities, terrorism, improprieties, distrust of government, and more. 


In the extreme, some leaders even blamed the U.S. people themselves for the suffering caused by radical Islamic terrorism!


Even in the recent election, some blamed their own constituents for insulting and ruining their legacy if they don’t go out and vote for his DNC hand-picked successor. 


Yet despite the endless blame game, Obama attacked Trump for whining and blaming rigged elections, saying that this demonstrated a lack of leadership or toughness to be president. 


But at the same time, he takes credit for everything good that happens: for ending Iraq war, for killing Bin Laden, for saving the world economy, for reforming our schools, for “stamping out” Ebola, for $2 gas, and even for the success of Fox news!


How wonderful (NOT) is this philosophy and practice of leadership:


If something good happens, you take the credit; If something bad happens, you blame someone else. 


That’s a very big head on top of that very narrow body. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

To BE Corruption FREE

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Amazing, they were advertising this in downtown Washington, D.C.:

“A Government Free of Corruption”


Wouldn’t this just be completely miraculous!


WE HAVE A DREAM:


– No lies and spin


– No deception and manipulation


– No public and private faces


– No collusion and cheating


– No hidden agendas and backroom dealings


– No hate, bias, and divisiveness


– No denigrating, name-calling, and character assassination


– No bribery and pay to play


– No intimidation, payback, and shadow government


– No self entitlement and self enrichment


– No fraud, waste, and abuse

Imagine instead, if integrity was the essence of good leadership.

Today, in synagogue, the weekly Torah portion was Genesis–where as we all know, G-d created the heavens and the earth. 

Genesis 1:2 “Now the earth was chaos and void” (in Hebrew “tohu va-bohu”).

The bar-mitzvah boy, in his speech, joked about how his first 13-years of life growing up was very much tohu va-bohu (chaos), but he was hopeful that with his wonderful parents guiding him, he would get on track and pay more attention to his schoolwork, all the details, and not rush through things. 

I thought to myself, there are probably a lot of people even in their 30s, 40, and 50’s whose life was still tohu va-bohu, but that doesn’t mean we can’t emulate G-d and still create something wonderful from all the chaos, right? 

Similarly in the tohu va-bohu chaos of Washington politics, where nearly 80% of the electorate believe that we are going in the wrong direction, it’s not too late to continue make something great that we can all be proud of.

In the Wall Street Journal today, Peggy Noonan described a recent focus group led by Democratic pollster, Peter Hart, where all 12 voters (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents) unanimously and sadly agreed that “America was off track.” 

In fact, one person wisely intimated that things seemed to go off track with 9/11 and “never quite recovered.”  Unfortunately, more than the World Trade Center came down in America that fateful day. 

But it’s not the first time in history that things have been tohu va-bohu, and perhaps it’s okay…that why G-d teaches us things can change for the better…order and sense and progress can be made to rise from all the chaos.

The good news is still out there, “And G-d said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

One Mean Election

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Three cheers for one of the worst elections ever.


American politics sinking to new lows.


This poster yesterday plastered all over Washington D.C. 


“Bully Culprit”


Denigrating, bashing, hurting, and humiliating other people whether we like them or not is wrong. 


– What happened to agreeing to disagree?


– What happened to being civil and mannered?


– What happened to “when they go low, we go high”?  


Power is such a motivator. 


Greed, according to the Buddhists is one of the “three poisons,” along with ignorance and hate. 


These lead to evil and suffering and prevent the attainment of enlightenment. 


Desire and wanting something so much that you will do anything for it, thinking you deserve it, and being overconfident that you will get are a weakness of character and leadership. 


Yesterday, Putin said about our election hysteria, “Is America some kind of banana republic?” 


Is this really the type of darkness (and not light) to the world we want to show ourselves as.


We are continuing to go in the wrong direction and away from enlightenment and good–especially when there is so much work for us to still be done. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Are We Leading The World To The Brink

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Thanks to some of the worst leadership in generations, we are bringing the world to the brink of disaster.



In 1991, at the end of the Cold War and with nuclear disarmament initiatives underway, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists rated us at 17 minutes to midnight (the best it’s ever been) on the famous Doomsday Clock that represents the countdown to global disaster. 


However by 2007, right before this administration, with far greater concerns of a nuclear terrorist attack, we were down to just 5 minutes to midnight.


And now in 2016, we are at a mere 3 minutes to midnight, and “the probability of global catastrophe is very high,” as “world leaders had failed to act!”


Moreover, with the current slate of candidates for Presidency both receiving negative ratings of about 60% from registered voters, there is obviously great consternation by the people of the U.S. as well as the rest of the world on the direction we are going in or lack thereof. 


Again today, flailing on the leadership front in Syria, almost 6 years into the war there, we are again “considering tougher options” after the “red lines” were eviscerated, plan B never went anywhere, and we acknowledged that “we have no good options” there, while Russia is bringing in the big guns!


In dangerous world situations, the wrong action by leadership can spark an escalation and lead to negative consequences, but no action, displaying uncertainty and weakness, or attempting a losing appeasement strategy can lead to an even more emboldened enemy and then the Doomsday Clock can strike midnight and we can all pretty much just say one last goodnight. 
😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)