Josh Bowen: Top 12 (and one) Fitness Motivation Quotes


imageIt is the middle of the week and this is when the weekend distractions start to hit. Use the following quotes from my book 12 Steps to Fitness Freedom plus an extra one to build a fire inside to workout today. Remember, all things through fitness…

1. “Strive for progress, not perfection” -Unknown

2. “The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race” -Unknown

3. “Never settle for second when first is available” -Lou Holtz

4. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”-Michael Jordan

5. “Procrastination is the assassination of motivation” -Unknown

6. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going” -Jim Rohn

7. “Ability is limitless” -Unknown

8. “To get something you have never had, you have to do something you’ve never done”-Unknown

9. “The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline” -Steve Smith

10. “Fear nothing, achieve everything” -Josh Bowen

11. “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will” -Mahatma Gandhi

12. “You want me to do something… tell me I can’t do it” -Maya Angelou

+1. “Happiness can only exist in acceptance.” -George Orwell

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: American Idol

10353579_10154263975915515_4282905237645892781_nSuper Proud Dad!!

Maggie made the cut to go to the Producer’s round at Disney’s American Idol.

And then she made the semi-finals round

And then Maggie won the semi-finals in front of an audience of several hundred –and was one of five to make it to the finals.

And performed in the finals that evening –just having turned 16 (too young to compete for American Idol) and about half the average age of the other four competitors.

Just incredible…and got reviewed by the judges as “Taylor Swift like” and ” a music producer and marketer’s dream” 


Like daughter like father

jyb_musingsThat was the thought today when Maggie persuaded me this morning to try out for Disney’s American Idol–after her great success making it all the way to the finals.

I was alone in a small room with an affable Disney female judge and with my daughter Maggie sitting in the corner grinning with anticipation. 

Judge: Can I get your name and is this your daughter?

Me: John Brown and, yes, this is my daughter Maggie and she made the finals at Disney’s American Idol yesterday. (Hoping to score a few points for myself with this fact.)

Judge (to Maggie): Oh my goodness! Congratulations!! I see up to 50 contestants a day and send maybe 1 to the producer who decides if that person goes to semi finals. You must be very proud, Dad.

Me: Yes, very proud for sure!

Judge: Tell me about your singing.

Me: (looking confused)

Judge: Where do you sing? Are you trained?

Me: Oh. No training. Just sing in the shower. Sometimes.

Judge: Ok. Well…great. Go right ahead.

Me: (Fumbling with phone to read lyrics and starting off with voice quavering. I sing 30 seconds of James Taylor and know I bombed except for 2-3 seconds where I really nailed it.)

Judge: Wow. That was nice. Really nice (Saying it the way someone would who says that exact same thing about 49 times a day would say it.)

Me: (Smiling stupidly and thinking to myself if she focuses on only the 2-3 seconds I nailed it and nothing else, I might get to next round….but knowing that isn’t happening)

Judge: If you could get some training in voice and practice singing and really commit to it, etc, etc.

Me: (Before she drops the “Congratulations for trying” bomb, I interupt) That is great and I really appreciate it but I need to let you know that for the finals competition (I look at my daughter), I am really busy this afternoon and can’t make it then. But I can do the finals competition later this afternoon or early evening –but it would have to be after 5pm. Sorry. But I have commitments I really need to….

Judge: (Most awkward smile I have seen in a long time) Ok, Mr Brown. Let me explain how this process works.

Me: (interrupting) I am just kidding. I know I didn’t make it.

Judge: Phew! OK. Wow! You had me worried there for a minute.

Me: Yeah. No need to tell me how close I was. I think the key was I needed a Valium. Then my voice wouldn’t have quavered.

Judge (laughs) Well…

Me: And if I had brought an extra Valium for you, too, I think I could have made it to the next round.

Judge: You are funny. If you develop your voice, you would be really good with the audience. (Then she wrapped it up like she does about 49 times a day so feelings don’t get hurt– and, mostly, to avoid losing contestants snapping and having a total melt down.)

I didn’t have a meltdown and my feelings weren’t hurt either. I shook the judge’s hand and left. I was disappointed I didn’t make the cut but glad I tried — and really glad I wouldn’t have to come up with several hundred Valium for the audience if I had made it to the next round.

And besides, my daughter rocked the finals competiton two nights before.

Lauren Mayer: The Sky Is Falling! No, Really! No, I Mean It This Time!

Over-reaction is becoming so common on the political scene these days, things have to go pretty far before they qualify as genuinely surprising over-reaction. But the furor over last week’s primary defeat of Eric Cantor definitely qualifies.

To put it in perspective, Cantor lost by 36,000 votes, which is about 5% of his voting-eligible constituents, which is about .002% of the 150 million eligible voters in the country. But that didn’t stop pundits from gasping in shock and declaring that this was a political game-changer, with miscalculation like “Dewey Defeats Truman” combined with “Real Housewives”-style national fascination. (Not to mention the fun of seeing Cantor’s opponent, an economics professor who advocates something called “Christian Capitalism,” unable to answer basic questions about the minimum wage . . . but I digress.)

This one low-turnout race has apparently led to everything from a resurgence of the Tea Party to the end of any hope for immigration reform to the realization that Democrats should just give up on 2014 unless turnout is boosted by major hurricanes in November that have female names (which apparently are viewed as less scary, so people don’t evacuate as quickly). Hello, people – it’s only one tiny district!

On the other hand, there is a Through-The-Looking-Glass surreal quality about one of the most obstructionist right-wing Majority Leaders in history losing a primary for being too liberal. So who knows, maybe the over-reactors are on to something . . .

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Thoughts of the Day

jyb_musingsThought for the day…(Footwear mindfulness)

Today I refuse to give in to the temptation to wear white socks with casual shoes –while wearing shorts–no matter how comfortable the footwear combination may seem to me. I will be deliberate and steadfast in my commitment –even into late afternoon while just walking around the house.


This moment is not one you ever plan for or think could ever happen to you.

If you were given a lie detector test a week earlier where you are asked if you will ever wear white socks and casual shoes you would swear it will never happen and would pass the test with flying colors.

10456464_10154269488675515_6387223089949654545_nAnd then one week later, when you are just minding your own business, you look down and see this.

It just happens.

This doesn’t mean you are a liar.

It doesn’t mean you are old.

It just means you have passed through a “shame threshold” that only others who can be seen dressing like this can fully appreciate and understand.

Erica and Matt Chua: World’s Top 5 Dance Performances

I never thought I would write about the top five dances to see around the world, but these performances moved me.  They were not merely entertaining they were mind blowing.  From the unbelievable Arirang Games in North Korea, which is the largest choreographed dance in the world to the spiritual ritual dance in northern India to help instruct Buddhists through the stages of death these five dances will give you a whole new perspective on each of the countries you watch them in.  They may even change your life and your transition into the afterlife.

1. The Arirang Games

Pyongyang, North Korea

Any attempt to explain the annual Arirang Games in North Korea are lost on anyone who has not witnessed the incredible show for themselves.  The “Mass Games” as they are also called enlist over 100,000 people to honor their “Eternal Leader” Kim Il-Sung on his birthday with the largest choreographed show on earth.  With performers practicing their parts from the early age of five and dancing as a part of the collective, every part of the show represents the communist way of life.  It is an incredible spectacle and one you have to see to believe.

2. Tango

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tango may quite possibly be one of the sexiest dances in the world, making it a must-see dance, and there is no place it is more ubiquitous than Buenos Aires.  The famous tango enclave of La Boca in Argentina’s capital has a cafe on every corner featuring a sequen-clad couple performing for tourists.  No trip to Buenos Aires would be complete without seeing live tango, it’s just a matter of deciding where to watch it.

Read the rest of…
Erica and Matt Chua: World’s Top 5 Dance Performances

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The mind of a child vs the mind of an adult

jyb_musingsThe mind of a child vs the mind of an adult. (Or how Sirius radio works)

A child’s view of the world is very different from how we view the world as an adult. When we are young we are naive and innocent. But as adults we are experienced and wise.

When I was 7 and 8 years old and being driven to Wilder Elementary School we would listen to WAKY radio. I had become a music fan and –though I loved the music—was mostly amazed by how I imagined, logistically, radio pop stations made it all work.

I believed that bands would come from all over the country to go into the WAKY studio and play one song and then leave and make room for the next band. Sometimes twice in one day if they had a popular song.

I figured commercials allowed the next band time to set up but suspected even with that extra time if must really be tough moving in and out the musical equipment for different bands all day every day just so each could play a single song.

Today I am an adult and am experimenting with Sirius radio. On Sirius, I can listen to whatever kind of musical bands I am in the mood for on the radio. And no commercials.

My adult mind is mature enough to figure out that since there are no commercials there is no way each band’s equipment gets moved in and out of the radio studio. My mature and experienced mind knows that the Sirius radio stations must already have all the possible instruments on hand for each band to use. And that’s how they manage to play music all day without commercials.

But as wise and knowing as I am today at 51, I don’t understand why AM and FM stations competing with Sirius haven’t figured this out and are doing it too.

Of course, some radio stations gave up altogether and just hire people to talk all day long about news. All these stations have to do is buy a whole bunch of musical instruments and they could have great bands in the studio playing top 40 hits all day everyday instead. Why this isn’t happening–even with my adult mind– is totally baffling me.

Saul Kaplan: Design Vibe

photo-saulI got a heavy dose of design vibe last week in NYC.  You know.  Hanging around really smart design thinkers and the places they hang out in hopes that some of it will rub off.  I designed the boondoggle around an invite by Business Week and Smart Design to sit in on an innovation and design discussion hosted by my friend and BIF-5 co-host, Bruce Nussbaum.  Bruce has gotten the design vibe thing longer than the rest of us and has a great new gig at Parson’s.  I needed to go over a few BIF-5 things with Bruce anyway so off to the big apple it was.

Bruce invited me to Parson’s so we could catch up and I could see the vibe up close.  The village and Parsons conspire to draw you in.  I also spent time with Helen Walters and Reena Jana, who cover the Design and Innovation beat at Business Week.  Interesting week for them as they learned McGraw Hill put Business Week up for sale.  The event I came down for took place at Smart Design (known for Oxo, and flip design) at their very cool (high on the design vibe meter) space in Manhattan.  The event was well done with an active conversation about design’s place in the U.S. economic narrative.  My visit was complete when I also got to spend time with my friend Alice Wilder of Blues Clues, and Super Why fame.

I left NYC charged up and more convinced than ever that design has an important role to play in transforming social systems, including health care, education, and energy.  I also left with a strong sense that the design community needs to move on from the incessant argument over the importance of design thinking and process.  It is time to claim victory.  Get over it.  The argument is boring. Design is important.  We stipulate that design is about more than sexy products.  We get that design is about delivering a compelling customer experience. Now, can we get on with putting it to work to solve real world problems?

No more books are needed to convince us that design thinking and process are a priority.  They are important tools.  If you want to convince us, stop talking about design thinking, and start putting it to work to mobilize real systems change.  I want the next book I read about design to be about the “how”.  I want case studies of how design enabled system experiments in health care, education, and energy.  I want to know what we learn from these experiments and how we can try even better system configurations to deliver value to the patient, student, and citizen.

I am grateful for a strong design vibe because it gives me hope that we can create a better future.  I just want the vibe to translate into trying more stuff and putting the tools to work rather than the navel gazing of today’s design thinking debate.  Time to move the design conversation to a new, actionable, place.


John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Thoughts of the Day

jyb_musingsIf you think about it there are a lot more “Thoughts for the day” offered than “Actions for the day.” 

Probably because thoughts are easier than actions.

And you probably think I am going to propose an “Action for the day.” But I am not. I am just going to let this observation count as my “Thought for the day” –and not rock the boat.


When did teenaged kids get so together?

At high school graduation awards ceremony and some of these kids have already accomplished more than most the parents in the audience. 

And look like it! All the male award recipients look like they carry business cards and one looked like he had to leave the office this morning to pick up his academic award.

I remember when I was in high school the administration was just hoping we could all sit still long enough to get through the graduation ceremony successfully.

My biggest disappointment today is that I forgot to bring my business cards to give out. Not to parents. But to the students!


My new theory about aging.

As I close in on my 51st birthday (or 2 score years and 11, as I am calling it), I am theorizing that as humans age into the second half of life, we don’t progess from “young” to “old,” but rather develop from mammals into some form of reptile. 

In other words, we don’t get “old,” just “lizardy” and “turtle-like.”

Julie Rath: Outfit Building Through Color-Linking

PS by Paul Smith Men's Henley

‘Tis true, I talk about henleys a lot in general as smart layering pieces,  but this  number ($310) from PS by Paul Smith is currently at the top of my favorites  list. Here, the devil is in the details: the marled wool and red button thread  stitching are just the right unexpected touches to make its wearer  stand out without being party-pants obnoxious. I got this piece for a client  during Mr. Porter‘s Friend’s  and Family sale a few weeks back, and in person the red button hole thread is  much more visible than in the image above. The cool thing about this detail is  that it allows you to wear red elsewhere in your outfit as a way of pulling an  entire look together. With that in mind, here are some ideas of how to style  it:

Under a sport coat…

GANT by Michael Bastian Prince of Wales sport coat

Opt for a neutral-colored fabric with a thin red line running through it as  part of the pattern like this GANT by Michael Bastian sport coat. (Red elbow  patches optional.)

Under a sweater…

Polo Ralph Lauren men's cashmere sweater

Because both red references are on your top half, wearing a red sweater like this one above, from Polo Ralph Lauren, is a bit of a  no-brainer. Bonus: if you want to tie in your bottom half, add socks that  have some red in them like those from Corgi below. Note that solid red socks would be  overkill.

Corgi men's socks


Under a sport shirt…

Bonobos men's check sport shirt

Another somewhat straightforward choice, throw it on under a sport  shirt that has red in its pattern, like this one from Bonobos, as an alternative to a v- or crewneck t-shirt.

With red footwear…

Red men's deck shoes

Red deck shoes like these from Polo Ralph Lauren and Shoo respectively are as bold as I’d suggest you  go for pulling in red elsewhere in your outfit. Of course, bright red  shoes are not for everyone, so as always, make sure to stick with what suits  your personality when choosing your look.

With red laces…

Diemme Roccia Vet men's boots

Wearing red laces like those in these Diemme boots is a more low key way of bringing your upstairs  and downstairs together.

Using the red button thread stitching on this henley as above is just one  example of how to subtly tie in any color in one part of your outfit with the  same color elsewhere. You can do this with almost any clothing detail. As  always, I welcome your questions and comments about how to accomplish this.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Love and Marriage

jybderby_1How well do I know my wife?

After being together 27 years and married almost 23 years, pretty darned well.

In fact, I can tell 10 times out of 9 when she is upset with me but doesn’t want to say anything. And I gently pester her to finally tell me what is wrong and we work it out.

That’s right, 10 times out of 9.

That means 1 out of 10 times when I think Rebecca is upset with me, she really isn’t. But I keep trying to get her to admit that she really is upset with me–even though she isn’t– until I irritate her to the point that she really is upset with me.

Which means I really know when Rebecca is upset with me but doesn’t want to say anything 10 out of 10 times– including times when Rebecca doesn’t even know she is upset with me but is about to be.

I think that’s pretty impressive.

It just takes time. And an observant and irritating husband.

jyb_musingsConversely, Rebecca realizes I am upset with her only about 5 times out of 10.

When I am upset with Rebecca and she isn’t aware of it, I subtly hint that I am upset with her by telling her outright what it is that is upsetting me. Then we are both upset with each other.

That means 5 out of the 10 times when I am upset with Rebecca, she gets upset with me too. Which means we get to do something together. But frankly, it’s not as fun as it might sound.

And the 5 times out of 10 that Rebecca does realize I am upset with her, she says nothing –which I know is her way of saying, “Don’t. Don’t do it. Because remember….it is better when just one of us is irritated with the other than when both of us are irritated with the other at the same time.”

And I know Rebecca is right.

The Recovering Politician Bookstore


The RP on The Daily Show