John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Decisiveness

decisivenessAlright!

That’s it!

Decisiveness is a critical ability we each must develop to navigate life successfully.

By the time we are 50 we have to be able to size up data guickly—almost intuitively–and make snap decisions on the spot on important matters. And never look back at what might have been.

Like just now, after exactly 3 months of dieting and low-intensity weight training 7-9 minutes a day (including breaks) 3 or 4 days a week, I have lost 16 lbs and cut 4 inches off my waistline.

jyb_musingsAnd I have just decided, this moment, that I WILL continue with this health regimen but I WILL NOT ever compete in a 50 and older male bodybuilding competition.

This is a perfect example of making two critical life decisons –one TO DO something and the other NOT TO DO something–and decide decisively on both in just a matter of minutes.

And never look back at what might have been.

Lauren Mayer: Rebels Without A Cause (Or A Dictionary)

When I first started publishing my weekly political comedy videos on youTube, I knew I was tackling some fairly sensitive issues.  But I still wasn’t prepared for the deluge of hate comments I would get, calling me horrid names, casting aspersions on my character, and wishing all sorts of misfortune on me.  At first I was quite distraught – until I realized that the meaner the comments, the worse the spelling and grammar.

In the immortal words of Mark Twain, “All generalizations are false – including this one.”   But it’s hard not to jump to general conclusions when so much outrage on the far right seems to lack basic language skills.  Which is why I was thoroughly entertained by the recent standoff in Nevada over rancher Cliven Bundy’s refusal to pay over $1 million in grazing fees, taxes and fines.  Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of hundreds of well-armed crazed militia-types aiming at government officials is pretty horrifying.  But their firm stance was a bit undermined by protest signs refusing to “surve” under a “facsist” government imposing “Marshall law.”

I know not everyone grew up with an English teacher for a mother, so most people are not horrified by split infinitives, but I like to think basic skills are still important – there’s no spell-check program for a hand-written protest sign.  And the poorly spelled signs are a pretty good metaphor for a mis-informed faux rebellion (Bundy refuses to recognize the federal government and claims he’ll only obey the laws of the state of Nevada – I guess he forgot to read the Nevada state constitution which explicitly defers to that same federal government).  But if we’re all dispensing with accuracy, what the heck – this suburban Jewish mother can turn into a faux country star to sing about it!

Why Obama needs to ‘Build Baby Build’ the Keystone XL pipeline

Steele MMO_1368-EditIn a speech before the 2008 Republican National Convention, I unveiled the “Drill Baby Drill” battle cry to reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign sources of oil and to encourage more domestic oil exploration and increase oil refining capacity.

However, since the 2008 election, our nation remains dependent on foreign petroleum sources while the Obama administration continually blocked exploration and drilling which in turn would have helped lower the cost of gasoline.

Once the long-awaited State Department’s final environmental analysis of the $5.4 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline was announced, its positive report increased pressure on President Barack Obama to approve the 1,700-mile Canada-to-Texas pipeline. The fact that experts say the pipeline would ultimately employ about 20,000 Americans while working to achieve the bipartisan goal of energy independence makes not approving the pipeline a bit problematic for the president when the economy is still growing jobs at an anemic pace.

Release of the report has triggered a 90-day review period so Americans will know within that time frame whether the president is serious about immediate job creation and ultimate energy independence.

Politically, Keystone XL is supported by leading Republicans, Democrats and some of America’s largest labor unions. However, environmental progressives, a core constituency of the Obama political base, are promising acts of “civil disobedience” if the president signs off on the project and, in their eyes, undermine their “green agenda.”

Others, like former President Jimmy Carter have warned President Obama he risks standing on the wrong side of history should he approve the Pipeline. “You stand on the brink of making a choice that will define your legacy on one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced – climate change.”

But for all of the dire predictions and threats of political retribution, it is particularly noteworthy that more Democrat members of Congress, particularly the Senate, are finding their voice in support of the pipeline. As recently as last week, eleven U.S. Senators sent a letter to the President asking approval of the Keystone Pipeline by May 31st.

The letter was written by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and co-signed by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Walsh (D-Mont.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.).

In it, the Senators pleaded “The time to act is now Mr. President. Please use your executive authority to expedite this process to a swift conclusion and a final decision so that we can all move forward on other energy infrastructure needs in this country. We ask that you bring this entire process to an end no later than May 31, 2014, and that your final decision be the right one, finding that the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest.”

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Why Obama needs to ‘Build Baby Build’ the Keystone XL pipeline

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: New Laptop Equipment

laptopNew laptop equipment.

I am thinking of going to the Apple store –but not to get a new laptop. I often decide after 6 or 9 months with a laptop that I need a new one because I am not getting the most out of my current laptop.

No….This time I am going to see if the Apple store is selling a cool, hip and tech -savvy user that I can buy to  operate my laptop.

That would solve my real problem–which isn’t having an inadequate laptop but having an inadequate user using my laptop.

jyb_musingsI know such a Macperson would be expensive–especially at Apple and with the Apple Care program I would probably have to purchase with him.

But over time I think this could save me a lot of time and money in reduced laptop turnover.

Erica and Matt Chua: Indonesia

baliIndonesia has a little something for everyone.  It is known for beaches, partying and diving, but there is so much more.  Heading east, the hard-partying ends in Lombok and the party gives way to nature’s best in Komodo, Flores and all the way to Papua.  Head north from Bali and Lombok and you’ll find much of the same in Kalimantan (Borneo) and Sulawesi.  In all of these places you’ll find one of the most diverse ecosystems anywhere.  This ecosystem extends to the sea, with some of the best diving in the world.  Culture buffs, don’t worry, there are thousand-year old temples and indigenous tribes that have had little outside contact.  If exploring and adventure isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t fret, there are thousands of miles of unspoiled beaches for you to enjoy.  Indonesia, a place with everything, to insure everyone leaves happy.

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DON’T MISS: The Gili Islands off Lombok, it is what secluded beach dreams are made of.  There is lodging for everyone, from $10 beach huts to $200 five-star hotels, all close to quiet, beautiful, beaches. MUST SEE: Prambanan (Yogyakarta, Java), Ubud (Bali), Gili Islands (Lombok) MUST TASTE: Soto Ayam, chicken soup with spice

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TRIP PLANNING: Indonesia is a vast archipelago.  A week is enough to enjoy the beaches and diversions of Bali and Lombok.  It takes at the very least two weeks to visit Komodo and Flores.  It takes at least a month to fully see Borneo, but two weeks in East Kalimantan will do for most. GETTING AROUND: Tourist buses and ferries are the easiest way to get around, including island-to-island.  Within cities only take the Blue Bird taxis as they are known to be the most honest taxis in Indonesia.

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OUR COST PER DAY (2 ppl): $58.44 COST OF A BEER: $3-4 KEY MONEY-SAVING TIP: The budget accommodations can be very nice.  If you arrive and start looking for $20/night rooms you may find a comfortable room, free breakfast, wifi, a pool and gorgeous surroundings.

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YOU NEED TO KNOW: Bali, especially the Kuta/Seminyak area is like Cancun for Americans or Ibiza for Europeans, there are loud, drunken parties.  However, there are plenty of places you can escape this, including northern Bali. IF WE KNEW WHAT WE KNOW NOW: We would have stayed for two months in order to travel east through Komodo and Flores, then up to Sulawesi.  Travel takes more time and effort than expected, making long-distance travel difficult. HELPFUL LINKS TO LEARN MORE: Travelfish, Wikitravel.  Please send us any sites you found useful and we’ll add them!

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WE WERE THERE FOR: 4 weeks OUR HIGHLIGHT: A friend’s Javanese wedding in Jakarta WHERE WE WENT: Java, Bali, Lombok, Kalimantan WE REGRET MISSING: Komodo and Flores…we’ll be back.

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Indonesia Highlights

Short on time? The highlight reel of our 4 week trip to Indonesia including ancient temples, a wedding, beautiful beaches, sunsets, dancing monkeys and more.  Tour Indonesia in 26 photos!

26 Photos

Ubud

Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali offering a more laid back and cooler locale than the beaches of South Bali. Around Ubud are temples, ancient sites and whole villages producing handicrafts.  The lush rice paddies and huge coconut trees lend a village feel, however the boutiques remind you that you’re in a tourist center.  In many ways Ubud offers the best of both worlds, culture and comfort.

25 Photos

Northern Bali

The Central Mountains of Bali are dominated by the mighty Gunung Batur.  The slopes of this and the other peaks in the central part of the island hold some of the most verdant rice fields, especially in Jatiluwh, and tropical vistas you can imagine. Along the northern coast Lovina offers attractive beaches. The best way to see the area is by your own transport, which allows you to enjoy the views at your own pace and get lost in the villages along the way.

17 Photos

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Random Thoughts

RandomThoughts2Our planet’s one great differentiator.

If there are other–and more advanced planets–in our universe, they may well be smarter and more technologically advanced and may even have wiped out disease, but there is no way that any planet has faster drive-thru service at fast food restaurants than we do here on planet Earth.

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Today is April 20th.

And I am really excited.

Why?

It’s not a holiday or my birthday or anyone else’s birthday who is really close to me. In fact, nothing special has ever happened to me on April 9th –in 50 years.

But it’s about time something did.

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jyb_musingsDaddy’s little helpers

A regular cup of coffee used to be enough to get me going in the morning but nowadays I need a large coffee with a shot of espressp at around 645am and to be late going somewhere by 655am.

Being late causes my body to excrete cortisal and adrenaline –and is cheaper than Starbucks–and by 7am I am super amped up and damn near frantic.

And ready to greet the day.

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Today, for my success strategy, I am going to try to tap into my inner Forrest Gump.

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About as perfect as I will ever be… is to be imperfect with my sleeves rolled up.

Which is a good definition of being perfectly human. And trying to do a little better.

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Being over 50 is a lot like being the owner of a retail store and suspecting that a certain product should be discounted—but not discounting it and hoping no one notices.

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10154390_10154063969215515_5221296883408629443_nSome things –like what you notice is listed at the bottom on your iPod–you hope others don’t notice, too.

I admit it. I downloaded “U Cry.” And listen to it sometimes when no one else is around.

 

Jason Grill on Live with Rink and Laura

Rink-Laura-logoIn this full hour interview, RP Jason Grill discusses JGrill Media, Sock 101, and his political past.

Enjoy.

 

Saul Kaplan: It’s the Innovator’s Day

innovation_leader_logo_intro-300x250-1Today is the Day of the Next-Generation Innovator

I am an innovation junkie. It’s a good place to be right now because there’s no more important time for New England to fulfill its promise as a regional innovation hot spot. Our region has the capacity to lead the way out of this economic mess and toward solutions for the big issues of our time, including health care, education, and energy independence. We must play offense.

Here’s some good news: Innovators thrive during turbulent times. In the 2001 recession, Apple Inc. unveiled the first iPod and The Procter & Gamble Co. launched Crest Whitestrips. The bad news is that innovation has become a buzzword. Everything is an innovation and everyone is an innovation expert. We must get below the buzzwords. I have a simple definition: Innovation is a better way to deliver value. I also differentiate invention from innovation. I assert it is not an innovation until it delivers real value to a consumer.

Ideas, inventions and new technologies are the lifeblood for innovation. We must continue to invest in basic and discovery research. It is necessary, but it is not sufficient. We also must improve our ability to get inventions out of the lab and into the real world, where they can solve problems and deliver value.

Business model innovation is the key to realizing the full potential of new technologies. A business model is a network of capabilities and a sustainable financial model to deliver value to target customers. Successful executives are really good at squeezing more value from existing business models. In this context innovation means either revenue growth from new products and services or reducing operating costs with process improvements. For most, innovation is about finding ways to ring the cash register by pedaling the bicycle of today’s business model faster.

Institutionalizing innovation While there’s nothing wrong with an incremental strategy, there is a problem. Business models aren’t lasting as long as they used to, and most CEOs have only had to lead a single business model throughout their career. Going forward, I suspect CEOs will have to change business models several times over a career and establish an ongoing process to explore new business models — even models that might threaten the current one. Organizations must establish R&D for new business models the way they do R&D for new products and services today. Business model innovation needs a discrete focus or it will get marginalized, producing again only incremental change.

In today’s networked world, business model innovation means connecting capabilities across traditional boundaries. Companies, schools and government agencies all must rethink existing business models and all struggle with the capacity to explore and test new ways to deliver value.

photo-saulDon’t you wonder, as I do, with so much new technology available why we haven’t made more progress? Technology isn’t the barrier to business model innovation. It is humans and the institutions we live in that are stubbornly resistant to change. Everyone loves the idea of innovation, until it has a personal impact. I used to think that we could enable large-scale change and create more innovators by proselytizing. But that doesn’t get you past the buzzwords. I now believe in sorting the world to identify the innovators and finding ways to connect them in purposeful ways.

The best opportunities to create value will be found in the gray areas between silos, sectors, and disciplines. And progress on the big-system issues of our time will require a road map and manageable platforms for systems-level experimentation and change. It doesn’t matter if the customer is a patient, student, citizen, or consumer. R&D for new business models is imperative to remain competitive, harness technology, and deliver more value with fewer resources.

In the months ahead I will share personal observations from around the region in the hopes of catalyzing conversation, connections and action. Join the conversation and pass along your business model innovation stories.

This post originally appeared as the debut “It’s Saul About Innovation” column in Mass High Tech.

John Y. Brown, III: Sunday Morning Worship

sunday morning worshipSunday morning worship is for humans trying to do better not for people trying to pretend they aren’t flawed.

Great Sunday school class this morning: Biblical, spiritual, practical and relevant.

Left me feeling connected to my faith a little stronger than when I arrived this morning –and with a slightly larger calling for the week ahead.

JYB3_homeAnd even gave me the spiritual strength to try to forgive that asshole I wasn’t going to forgive until next week.

And maybe even apologize myself to people who were planning to wait until next week to forgive me.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Trending Thoughts (In My Head)

trending1) I can’t remember the other thing I forgot to do yesterday.
2) Oh, yeah, that was it.
3) Ooh! That reminded me of the other two things I had forgotten
4) I can’t believe he had the nerve to say that to me in at the meeting this morning…asshole…but I’m not going to say anything but he was being an asshole.
5) I need to workout again at some point. Maybe tomorrow. Or Saturday. Or sometime soon.
6) I’m starting to get hungry.
7) Need to listen to my voice mail messages.
8) Why is it taking them so long to get such a simple answer to a simple question?
9) Oh God! I am a nervous wreck about…something…oh yeah, paying for college for my daughter– 2 and a half years from now. That’s a ways off, though …But still….
10) I hope my wife appreciates how hard I work and all the things I worry about during the day. I don’t think she fully appreciates all the stress I am under.
11) God, that guy really was an ass this morning. Maybe I should say something to him.
jyb_musings12) I am probably going to need to get an extension on my taxes this year.
13) I’m getting really hungry now.
14) I hope I don’t get attacked by a gang if I go out for lunch. Zoe’s Kitchen is probably pretty low risk.
15) My life isn’t really as stressful as I want my wife to believe it is –if I am really honest with myself–but I want her to think it is anyway.

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