John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Credit Card Fraud

jyb_musingsI was just notified I have been–again–a victim of credit card fraud.

Someone in NY manually charged some product from Nevada that costs 99 cents.

I thought it was kinda pitiful. If I had met the man on the street and he’d told me about the 99 cents and that he was about to commit a major crime for it, I might have given him the money myself. Especially if it would have meant he would have left my credit card alone and I wouldn’t have to go through getting a new one. Heck, that would be worth maybe $1.50 to me. Just to avoid the hassle.

If you are out there and thinking of stealing my credit card information to buy something less than $1.50 (like this last guy), talk to me first. Let’s see if we can’t work something out. If you are interested in more than that, we are going to be negotiating for a while and I am not willing to be shaken down for more than, ohhh, $2. Tops!!

Julie Rath: Sweaters

Men's Holiday Gift: Cardigan Sweater

Question:

Hi Julie,

Happy holiday season! I hope Black Friday/Cyber Monday treated you well. I’m hoping you might be able to help me out with your amazing knowledge of the menswear market. I bought my husband Stephen a sweater at Mulberry (see photo attached) about 5 years ago (or maybe 6? or 7?) and he has loved the thing to death. It definitely needs to be replaced but I haven’t found anything else like it (Mulberry doesn’t do men’s anymore). It’s really really thick and has a high-ish collar and he raves about how warm it is. Do you know where I could find one like it? Are there any men’s luxury brands known for doing really thick classic sweaters? Thank you for any guidance you can offer!

-Jenny

Men's Holiday Gift: Cardigan Sweater

Answer:

Hi Jenny,

Thanks for your email and flattering words! It’s funny, I just got a client a similar sweater (in navy) at Barney’s today — from Shipley & Halmos. They do really nice heavy knits that look great on. Also, check out this sweater from Billy Reid, and this one from Ami Alexandre Mattiussi. Let me know how it goes!

 

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The New News Channel — A Proposal

jyb_musingsI am at a point in my life where I want a different kind of news station. One that currently doesn’t exist. One that is neither liberal nor conservative. One that is neither substantive nor opinionated. One that neither reports the real news nor comments on it. One that neither leaves me informed nor angry. One that has anchors and reporters that are neither beautiful nor all that interesting. Nor loud or charming.

I want a new news station that is presented by ordinary looking people who are slightly overweight, middle-aged and have kind yet forgettable facial features. And who don’t read the news but just talk to us the way we talk to each other when we aren’t on the news. Instead of reporting on emergencies or potential military or health crisis, I would prefer the new news channel focuses more on things like recipes and sales at local hardware stores and live coverage of people renovating a room in their house or washing their car (or hair). Maybe something about a couple divorcing in our community and what others are saying about them. Something on calories but not too much emphasis on health and none on beauty beyond stories of how limited cosmetic surgery can sometimes be successful but usually isn’t necessary. A nice regular feature story about some local business or organization that is doing better than expected and doing some good for the community too. Nothing about disease except how cures are progressing–and regular reports about people in our community who are feeling better than they were last week when they thought they were coming down with something. Nothing about war except noting we don’t have any near our neighborhood as of this afternoon. Not much on the weather except noting fair and mild days and maybe a brief comment about how it “could be worse” during a bad weather spell. Not many commercials unless they are really clever and not repeated over and over. You know the ones I am talking about –that are almost like an art form.

Not a lot of culture reporting but enough to be able to keep up in conversations with viewers’ younger bosses to let them know we know about the same cultural current events information that they do and a lot more history. A daily report on trends in meditation practices. Election results can be reported but only after 2am and at least a year after they occurred–and the reports have to have the German Chicken Song theme playing in the background to keep viewers from taking them too seriously and spending hours the next day writing about the elections on Facebook.

I would like for the news to start with someone who reminds us of Walter Cronkite meets Fred Rogers (of Mr Rogers Neighborhood). With about an 80-20 split favoring Rogers. And close with someone reminding us of a likable and sincere version of Martha Stewart (I like her voice) meets Fred Rogers –with a similar 80-20 split favoring Rogers. And in between a long list of nondescript female and male reporters who remind us of Fred Rogers meets Fred Rogers. And maybe opening with a song and partial undressing like in the original Mr Rogers Neighborhood. But nothing racy. Just shoes and a jacket. Just shoes if the guy looks a lot like Cronkite.

As for the close, it doesn’t really matter. The main thing is that it ends with the sense that nothing that happened that day in the news really matters that much—except what each of us did in our own lives. And that that is really the only “news” worth knowing or thinking about today. And pan to a miniature train choo-chooing as the credits roll.

Josh Bowen: Why I do What I do

thinkEveryone knows this iconic logo.

And regardless of your electronic preference, most people trust this company. Not for what they do or how they do it but rather WHY they do it. Apple’s why is ingrained in every aspect of their business. It is the main reason they are able to dominate their chosen field. They have beliefs. They hold those beliefs true and center their products around them. It is an amazing concept. Their why drives their massive conglomerate. One of the best companies in the world.

What strikes me as interesting about Apple is they are a company built on a belief to be different. Their competition has the same access to the smartest talent, best systems and unbelievable technology. Yet their competition pales in comparison. All things being equal, Apple beats everyone because they are built on their why.

Apple is also successful because they had a leader who knew his why (Steve Jobs) and created an environment on that. It was a company that inspired. Their purpose, their why and they vision all laid out the same.

This leads me to the purpose of my email tonight. Something I know very well but also something that needs to be told to the world. “JB, what is your WHY?” I thought you would never ask.

11 years ago I started down a path to get into the fitness industry and be somebody. What was a hobby for me (lifting weights) became a profession (teaching people how to lift weights). At an early age I realized how powerful I could be. How much impact I could have. And how my job really had nothing to do with fitness, it was a way of helping and improving people’s lives.

Without sounding cliche’ my initial why was to help people. However, this was more of a result. It is obvious that I wanted to help people but what was driving me to get up every day and work with clients and trainers? Their had to be something deeper. And there was.

Ask me any day about my client experiences and I will be happy to show the definition of being triumphant, fighting through adversity and overcoming all odds. From all walks of life, people I have worked with have done it all. My connection with them has been my driving force to push them farther than they can go. Thus pushing myself as far as I can go.

My “why” is my relationships and connection to people. Not fitness. Fitness is just my chosen vehicle to connect with people, establish a relationship and provide the groundwork for a better body, mind and life than ever before.

This is my gift. This is my “why”. This is what drives me. This is my purpose. This is what separates me from others. It is not a job and it is not a hobby. Its my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To end the sermon of sorts, I would like to tell you all about a daily habit I have established. Everyday I drive to and from the gym, I listen to motivational YouTube videos. These videos pump me up for the day and remind me to constantly keep pushing. Here are a few favorites of mine with some takeaway quotes for your memory bank:

Unbroken

“The only way to be truly satisfied is to do great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do”
“Fear kills dreams, will paralyze you.”

Hero

“They aren’t giving out success but you can earn it, take it.”

Desire

“When you die, die on E”

What is your why?

Let it be known.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Cancelling a Concert Tour

jyb_musingsI have some idea now what it feels like to cancel a concert tour.

The past week I have been listening to Pearl Jam every morning.

It has become too exhausting for me to tap into my inner Eddie Vedder every morning for an entire week.

This morning I decided I needed to take a break from listening to Pearl Jam due to exhaustion.

I am going to listen to Paul Simon instead. Who is smaller and has a much softer persona to tap into than Eddie Vedder. I am not cancelling the entire Pearl Jam tour, so to speak. I just need a few days of Paul Simon to rest and recuperate.

I may be ready to listen to Pearl Jam again as early as next week — especially if I focus on listening to Simon’s later works, which are akin to eating chicken soup. And may help restore my voice which has become a little scratchy from the Pearl Jam singing this past week.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: First Thoughts

jyb_musingsThey say go with your first thought on things.

I was never sure what that meant until this morning.

On my way to meet someone for an early morning business meeting, I got an email from someone else that he couldn’t make our meeting — a meeting I had set for the exact same time and completely forgotten about –because he had “something unexpected come up at work.”

1) My first thought was, “Oh wow! Thank you, God! That would have been humiliating. I wrote an email response telling him “No problem,” and that we could reschedule.

2) My second thought was I should put a little hint of disappointment in my response email to make him feel guilty for cancelling at the last minute.

3) My third thought was “Wonder who the heck he is meeting with who is so important that he had to cancel a meeting with me” –that I had admittedly forgotten and couldn’t make myself because I was meeting with someone else too.

4) My fourth thought was, “Maybe you should just email the response from your first thought and keep the rest to yourself.”

So, always go with your first thought. And if you can’t do that hold off until the fourth thought. And don’t dwell on the second and third.

A good rule of thumb is that genuine gratitude is always better than false indignation.

Erica and Matt Chua: 10 Minute Trip Planning

Traveling around the world is not one trip; rather it is a collection of many small trips.  Each country we visit brings unique challenges, especially arranging visas and transportation.  Given our travel experience, we can usually nail the logistics down in 10-20 minutes.  Here are the most important aspects we’ve learned in planning a trip to another country and pointers that you can put to use for your next adventure.

These steps are in order; they should be followed in this order, because the steps are dependent on each other.

WHERE TO GO

Obviously, you need to know the country or region you want to visit.  When we were doing some advance trip planning we ran into a challenge, which I will use as an example; getting to Patagonia in the right time of the year, from Europe, without paying visa fees.

VISAS

First and foremost, do you need a visa?  Is there a fee to enter the country?  We are budget travelers, we avoid these fees whenever possible.  To figure this out, I google “US citizen visiting [insert country name]” and look for the US State Department website, specifically the “Entry/Exit Requirements for US Citizens” section.  Also useful is Project Visa.  I avoid visa service websites, they try to steer you towards paying them.  If you are a citizen of another country, you should check your State Department equivalent.

OUR EXAMPLE: We will be visiting Brazil, but won’t have time to get a visa prior to our arrival in South America.  I checked to make sure we could get the visa while traveling (read: not only in our home country).  Chile and Argentina charge $120 for American citizens to enter their country…or so it seems.  This fee is only charged at airports, probably only Santiago and Buenos Aires, therefore to gain entry to these countries for free, you have to enter via land.  I have traveled overland between the two countries more than a dozen times, never having to pay.

OK, so we want to get to Chilean or Argentine Patagonia as quickly as we can from Europe.  What are our choices?  Looking at Google maps, the land borders are: Brazil (already ruled out), Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay or Paraguay.  Knowing we are flying from Europe, we need a major airport, major airports are generally in wealthy, commercial countries, making Peru and Uruguay the targets (no visa fees, good transport to Chile and Argentina).

Returning to Chile from my first date with LOCAVORista, I took a bus from Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile.  It was a grueling 56 hour ride…and Santiago is only halfway to Patagonia.  Even being a lovesick adolescent, I promised myself to never take that bus again, therefore, Peru is out.  That leaves Uruguay.  Checking out the US State Department page, I see there are no visa fees or needs for me to enter Uruguay.  Even better, it’s major airport, Montevideo, is a short ferry ride from Buenos Aires.

The more entry points that you have, the better deal you can get on flights.  In this case, due to visas and fees, our options were pretty limited.  Obviously planning around visiting one country is much simpler.

WEATHER

After knowing the visa situation, the most important thing to know is when to go.  Figure out what exactly you want to do, and what months are best.  January is summer in Chile, the best time to go to Patagonia, but the worst time to go skiing there.

I get this information from Wikitravel or, if I have it, Lonely Planet.

GETTING THERE CHEAPLY

This takes a little practice to get the hang of, but try it a couple times, it could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over several flights.

Figure out all cities that you could possibly leave from and arrive in.  Is there a reasonably short bus or train ride you could take?  For example, if you wanted to go to Paris, the cheapest could be to fly into London, Amsterdam or Brussels, then take the train to Paris.  The transport from another city is irrelevant for a moment.  Write down all the possible locations you could fly to/from.  Write departure and arrival country vertically on a piece of paper.

OUR EXAMPLE: even though I know my target is Montevideo, I am going to check prices for Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Sao Paulo, and Montevideo.  If the ticket price to Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Santiago are the same, it is cheaper to go to Montevideo, but it is possible there will be a fare sale and if flying to Buenos Aires or Santiago is $120 or more cheaper, per person, it is worth paying the high visa fee.

Go to www.kayak.com and type in each possible departure city, one at a time, and write the three-letter airport code for each city down.  If there is a code for the city, versus a specific airport, use that.  For example, “LON” is “London, England-All Airport” so you can search Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick and London City with one code.

SOME POINTERS:

  • If you want to visit Australia, you will probably go to Melbourne and Sydney.  If you are flexible in timing, switching the order you visit each may save you big money.
  • If you want to visit the East Coast of the USA, there are inexpensive buses connecting many of the major cities including the “Chinatown” buses between New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
  • If you want to visit Disney World you could always fly to Jacksonville or Miami and drive.  (And who doesn’t want to go to Disney World?  Random aside: My senior year of high school I went to LA to visit colleges.  My mother had a meeting the day I was supposed to visit USC…I never actually made it to USC, I went to Disneyland instead.)
  • If you want to visit South East Asia, you should look to fly to SIN (Singapore), BKK (Bangkok), or KUL (Kuala Lumpur).  From any of these you can get discount airline tickets or buses around the region.

Here’s the greatest thing about KAYAK.com: the ability to search for up to four departure and arrival cities at once!  Put in each three-letter airport code, followed by a comma.  Chose your travel dates and click “My dates are flexible” to see the range of prices you could pay.  Click search.

If you get a pop-up to set a “price alert” do it!  This allows you to watch the price for your itinerary, you can even set an alert based on price such as “flights from Minneapolis to Mexico for under $300”  Anytime a fare falls below this, you’ll get an email!  Seemingly at random, a link will appear in the left sidebar that says “Get a price alert”, allowing you to set it up.

Read the rest of…
Erica and Matt Chua: 10 Minute Trip Planning

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Credit Card Fraud

jyb_musingsI was just notified I have been–again–a victim of credit card fraud.

Someone in NY manually charged some product from Nevada that costs 99 cents.

I thought it was kinda pitiful. If I had met the man on the street and he’d told me about the 99 cents and that he was about to commit a major crime for it, I might have given him the money myself. Especially if it would have meant he would have left my credit card alone and I wouldn’t have to go through getting a new one. Heck, that would be worth maybe $1.50 to me. Just to avoid the hassle.

If you are out there and thinking of stealing my credit card information to buy something less than $1.50 (like this last guy), talk to me first. Let’s see if we can’t work something out. If you are interested in more than that, we are going to be negotiating for a while and I am not willing to be shaken down for more than, ohhh, $2. Tops!!

Saul Kaplan: Here’s Why It’s Not All About Your Personal Success

photo-saulThis is the seventh of a series of conversations originally published on the Time website, authored by myself and Nicha Ratana, with transformational leaders who will be storytellers at the BIF10 Collaborative Innovation Summit in Providence, RI, on Sept. 17-18.

Keith Yamashita vividly remembers one smoggy school day from when he was eight years old. He and fellow classmates at the local elementary school in Santa Ana, California, spent their recess corralled in the indoor gymnasium to watch a movie.“That film stuck with me for the rest of my life” Yamashita later recalled while sharing a tale of personal transformation onstage at the Collaborative Innovation Summit, a storytelling event hosted annually by the nonprofit Business Innovation Factory (BIF) in Providence, RI.

The 9-minute film, “Powers of Ten” by Charles and Ray Eames, begins with an overhead view of a couple lounging on top of a checkered picnic blanket in a park. The camera zooms out and appears to rise into the atmosphere, marking off the distance from the picnic blanket in powers of ten, until it is far outside our galaxy. Then it zooms back in, ending at the atoms in the husband’s hand.

“Up to that point,” he said, “I had no idea that anything existed beyond my house and school, existed outside of what I knew.”

Yamashita is the chairman of SYPartners, a fast-paced consultancy whose work has realigned the visions of numerous corporate titans.

SYPartners encouraged Nike to make a greater commitment to corporate responsibility. General Electric, a company with a 20-year track record of acquisitions, was helped to welcome internal growth. That SYPartners took Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on a field trip, visiting artisanal businesses and food shops to rethink the meaning of connoisseurship, remains an industry legend. Shortly after, Starbucks closed all of its U.S. locations for a day to retrain its staff.

“Companies that get the most stuck are often ones that have been very successful at doing something,” Yamashita observes. “It’s always easier to perpetuate what is, rather than to invent the new.”

In his talk at the BIF Summit, Yamashita used the Eames film to demonstrate the importance of collaborative perspective. From different viewpoints, the sun may be a mere pinpoint, while a proton may be a critical force.

It is no longer enough to aim for personal success, Yamashita tells his clients. Companies must adapt to see themselves as units within a bigger system; they must collaborate while being able to articulate what unique part they play.

Yamashita started his career at Apple, as Steve Jobs’ writer. “My job was to get on paper the things that were floating around in Steve’s mind,” says Yamashita. He credits Jobs to teaching him his first lesson on business innovation: “the power of galvanizing vision. Steve had this wonderful capability of permitting himself to see what the rest of the world did not yet see, and holding steadfast to that as a compass.”

Keith Yamashita founded SYPartners with Apple’s former creative director Robert Stone. The firm, headquartered in a sunny loft in San Francisco’s warehouse district, boasts an eclectic team of strategists — “designers and technologists, poets and MBAs.” They navigate their practice through a compass of innovation, devised from their collective experience. The compass has the following points: “See, Believe, Think, Act.”

“What we permit ourselves to see affects and challenges what we believe, which changes what we’re willing to think about,” Yamashita explains. Consequently, “what we’re willing to think about builds confidence and courage to take action.”

To Yamashita, “the process of innovation is going around that circle dozens of times to come up with something that disrupts and that’s valuable.” He adds, “They’re super simple words, but the practice of it goes deep.”

Though Yamashita spoke to a rapt audience at BIF’s Collaborative Innovation Summit, he claims his most meaningful experience there did not come from sharing his vision, but from sharing the visions of others.

“I remember eating lunch with three remarkable individuals — BIF storytellers” he says. Their table started a “round-robin conversation,” letting each person forecast the future of their industry.

Yamashita recalls that Carmen Medina, a former director within the CIA, predicted, that “in several years, open systems will be closed systems.”

Another luncher, Ben Berkowitz, founder of SeeClickFix, an app that enables citizens to report community problems to the local government, anticipated “an increase of people mobilizing not through structure or hierarchy, but by the will to contribute on their own terms.”

To the right of him sat Fast Company founder Alan Webber, (“my life-long mentor,” says Yamashita), who stressed the idea that our most pressing problems cannot be solved without better integration of government, business resources and public initiative.

“Over the past four years, all of those predictions have turned out to be true,” says Yamashita. “To me, that’s such an emblem of what the BIF Summit is about — convening with others to be able to see things that none of us could see on our own. I’m thrilled be to able to go BIF10 this year.”

The BIF Collaborative Innovation Summit combines 30 brilliant storytellers with more than 400 innovation junkies in a two-day storytelling jam, featuring tales of personal discovery and transformation that spark real connection and “random collisions of unusual suspects.”

Mona Tailor: KYnect Round 2

mona1November 15th, 2014 marks the opening of enrollment for KYnect, the Kentucky created health insurance exchange. KYnect has made so many strides over the year since they first went into place. They have been a presence at local fairs and events throughout the state. They have shared information about the options, educating the public, and passing out reusable grocery bags so the citizens are aware. Here in Louisville, I’ve seen them at WorldFest and St. James Art Festival. They even opened a store in the Fayette Mall in Lexington, KY this week. Finally, there’s even a mobile app this year! These ways of improving their name recognition are not in vain.

As Governor Steve Beshear stated in his NY Times op-ed last year, Kentucky ranks highly in all the wrong things when it comes to health- smoking, obesity, heart disease, lung cancer, and diabetes. Through the efforts of our state with KYnect supported by Governor Beshear and outgoing Lieutenant Governor Abramson, our state has made amazing strides to improve the health care of its citizens.

Prior to the ACA going into effect last year, 20.4% of Kentuckians were uninsured. Gallup conducted a poll in August, and our uninsured rate dropped to 11.9%. We along with Arkansas had the largest drop in the country in terms of the uninsured.

Beyond the numbers, as I reflect on our patient population, I have seen a drastic difference. To give you an idea, last year, we were so accustomed to having uninsured patients at our downtown Louisville clinic, that we were experts at the Wal-Mart $4 formulary. We knew what inhalers were the cheapest to get our chronic lung disease patients. We knew how to titrate the complicated twice a day 70/30 insulin because that’s what our patients with diabetes could afford. We knew the resources and financial assistance available to hook our patients into the system to be able to just get that imaging or that colonoscopy that would help us provide a diagnosis.

This year, I can count on my hand the number of times I’ve referenced the Wal-Mart $4 formulary. Instead, we are focusing on referencing formularies to find the medications that will be covered on our patient’s insurance plan. The inhalers our patients struggled to afford are now covered by their formularies. The easy to take daily basal insulins which better regulate blood glucose and improve diabetes are readily available for our patients. The only hitch we encounter with imaging and other tests is a matter of finding a time that works for the patient to schedule it.

The Affordable Care Act has had a very positive impact on our state. Not everything is perfect, but this is the best start we have had in as long as I can remember. Rather than repealing the entire legislation, it would be better to fix portions that have been difficult to implement. But please, do not take away this opportunity for affordable healthcare that Kentuckians have access to. Our health depends on it. I hope our Senator recognizes and appreciates this positive impact for Kentuckians as we begin the enrollment process for 2015 this weekend.

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