My lovely wife Rebecca has, again, failed to fully appreciate me and the gifts I possess.
Tonight, or this morning really, Rebecca woke up to me making clanking sounds in our closet as I pushed unneeded hangers into the garbage can. I was so proud of my work. I had stayed up much of the night clearing out and organizing my side of the closet and knew Rebecca would really be excited. Actually, I just hoped she wouldn’t be mad because I did make a lot of noise the last 30 minutes and did wake her up.
Well, you guessed it. She wasn’t really happy or proud of me. She instead seemed irritated with me–just like she was when I stayed up late at night cleaning out my closet in November and woke her up. (The closet had gotten disorganized again since November.)
Rebecca didn’t say “Thanks” or “This looks great” but rather the more disappointing and familiar “John, this is not normal behavior.”
“Well, you know what?” I offered, “I’m not completely normal. OK? And that’s a good thing. In fact, I think my behavior is probably a sign of something that is very positive. Like above average intelligence.”
“Oh really?” Rebecca said while grinning in a state of disbelief. “No. It’s not.”
Oh, yes. It sure is. I remember reading that many years ago in college in a book by Jim Fixx called ‘Running.’ The book was about the benefits of jogging —which I didn’t do–but that’s not the point. In fact, part of the reason I didn’t take up jogging is he died of a heart atrack right after the book got published but that’s not the point either. The point is that in some part of the book the author mentions he is in MENSA, the high IQ society, and lists some of the behavioral traits of highly intelligent people he has met in MENSA. And one of those traits of highly intelligent people is that they need less sleep.”
“Oh, that’s nonsense.” Rebecca blurted as she rolled her eyes and walked away.
“Not at all.” I countered. “He lists a lot of different traits of highly intelligent people and I rememberer that one clearly because that was the only one I really had in common with MENSANS and it allowed me to hold out hope I might have some kind of giftedness. So, you see, this is just part of who I am. Part of the John Brown package and there are, admittedly, some annoying traits mixed in but that’s just part of the whole really good –on balance– ‘package deal’ you got with me.”
“Oh really?” Rebecca said chuckling. “Well, then, we are about to start going through this package and throwing out a lot of the parts in it.”
“But you can’t do that.” I explained. “It’s all one integrated system”
“I always throw away accessories that aren’t needed.” Rebecca said unconvinced.
“That won’t work here. Look, if I had gotten you some big…some big…machine ….for Christmas, like a vacuum cleaner –you know, something you put together– you wouldn’t look at the different pieces and throw out the ones that you didn’t like. You need all the pieces or it won’t work. You see?” Rebecca still seemed unconvinced. I went on, “Think of this piece of me that is irritating you this morning as being attached to the motor –my motor—that is me. You can’t throw away a piece of a motor. The machine stops working then. You don’t want that to happen, do you?”
“Oh Lord.” Rebecca said exasperated. “Are we going to church?”
“Yes, of course.” I agreed. “But would you mind running out and getting us both some coffee first? My motor could use some fuel right now. The good part of my motor, that is. The non-annoying part. The part that you like”
Rebecca left to get the coffee and I couldn’t tell by the way she was walking really fast —like she does when she is trying to leave the room before she says something she doesn’t really mean— I couldn’t tell if she was really convinced about my whole “high intelligence–motor –cleaning out the closet half-the-night” theory or not. I just didn’t know.
But here’s the funny part. I made it all up. Seriously. The truth is I couldn’t sleep and cleaned out my closet and was being annoying –but tried to make Rebecca believe my odd behavior was really a reflection of something grand or gifted about me. But it really isn’t. At least I don’t think it is.
Is it? Who knows? Heck, maybe it is.
Hey, at least I made myself wonder if there’s something to my theory, even if Rebecca doesn’t buy it. And that has to count for something.
One thing about winter that gets me more excited than I probably should is BOOTS. Boots pretty much rock my world, and I’m thrilled that it’s time to start looking at what’s in stores this Fall.
Here’s why boots are so awesome:
1) Boots are a great way to distinguish your work clothes from your “going out” clothes.
2) [this one’s sneaky] Since boots often have thicker soles than regular shoes, they can give you a little help in the height department.
3) There are loads of different boot styles that allow you to create your own unique look (we’ll go over a few below), and designers are always coming up with hip new details.
4) Because boots are not as ubiquitous as, say, regular dress shoes, wearing stylish boots will set you apart as someone who is “in the know” about style.
And here are 3 great boot picks for this Fall in various price ranges:
Up to $250
Topman – $100 Don’t let the buckle scare you. It’s a subtle touch that will only be visible when you’re sitting down.
Rag & Bone – $450 – The roughed-up suede makes them gritty and masculine, but the half captoe maintains the polish.
Officine Creative – $690 – These boots are made from a gorgeous glossy cognac buffalo leather and will look great with both your jeans and dress pants.
Have you ever worn boots before? If not, I’d love to hear why. Leave me a comment below.
I inadvertently purchased a “slim fit” shirt for myself over Christmas. And grabbed it and put it on quickly this morning before realizing what I had done.
At first I thought I may have unknowingly been taking steroids. Then I thought perhaps it was my son’s shirt. Or about anybody else’s shirt but mine. By the time I realized what happened, I was already in my car and several miles down the road and already running a little late so I was stuck.
I tried best I could to conceal the issue by standing as straight as possible and sucking in my stomach and trying to look like I wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as I appeared to people looking at me and noticing my overly-strained shirt buttons trying not to snap off if I exhaled too fully.
I tried to give a look to others that said, “This shirt fits me fine. It really does. I may have picked up 2 or 3 extra pounds over the holidays that may make it seem a little tighter today than it really is. But that is just for today and a silly holiday thing. This shirt fits great and is shaped perfectly for me.” That is a really hard look to maintain for nearly 13 hours. Heck, that’s a hard look to maintain for 13 minutes. Or even 13 seconds.
But I did it anyway. Which says something about me. Mostly that I am able to go nearly 13 consecutive hours taking only short shallow breaths.
If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times, fitness impacts everything about ourselves. From personal relationships to our jobs to our self confidence in ourselves, working out actually enhances ourselves to be better at many things. BUT life is busy and often times other people take priority over ourselves. Our spouses, our friends and family and our jobs take precedent over our own needs. It is a huge dichotomy over what we need to do and what we want to do.
I train people all day. I often think about my clients needs before I think of my own. For example my toe. I have a staph infection and for 10 days refused to do anything about it for fear I would miss a session or something would be off. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze into an appointment between clients and all was great. However, my unwillingness to take care of myself could of caused a big problem.
I also focus a ton on my client’s mental and emotional well being. This is important to me because if the mind is cleared and focused anything physically will be a piece of cake. I often find that people do not do a good job of taking care of their selves in one manner or another. So I compiled a list of 5 things that you should start doing for yourself to make life a littler easier and a lot more enjoyable:
Start Spending Time with the Right People
These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways. They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally. If someone does not do any of the above, think about the relationship you have with them and what can be done to improve it or eliminate it.
Start Appreciating What you Have
It is easy to look at what other people have and become envious. It is also natural. However, when it becomes a battle internally on why someone has something you do not and then you take it a step further and continue to beat yourself up for it, this becomes a vicious cycle. I challenge you to look around you and see all the things that you do have and just how special they are to your life. Worrying about what you do not have is a waste of time.
Start Giving your Dreams a Chance
In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Most of the time you just have to go for it! And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win. Fear nothing, achieve everything.
Start Accepting Things When They are Less Than Perfect
Remember, ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good.’ One of the biggest challenges for people who want to improve themselves and improve the world is learning to accept things as they are. Sometimes it’s better to accept and appreciate the world as it is, and people as they are, rather than to trying to make everything and everyone conform to an impossible ideal. No, you shouldn’t accept a life of mediocrity, but learn to love and value things when they are less than perfect.
Start Concentrating on Things You Can Control
You can not control what happens to you but you can control how you handle it. Concentrating on things you cannot control is the biggest waste of worry and energy. When you start to worry, ask yourself “what can I control?” If the answer is nothing then there is no reason to worry about it. Give yourself the credit you deserve by concentrating on things you CAN control. Life will be much simpler then.
Life is hard and will beat you to your knees if you let it. However, how we handle ourselves defines how we handle life. By implementing the above you can take your happiness and life to the next level, which will only help you fitness goals.
Before we “retweet” anything it is important to ask ourselves:
1) Are we doing this because we really think it is a Tweet worthy of retweeting (for the sake of humankind)?
2) Or is it worthy of retweeting more as an inside joke to an inner circle of our friends?
3) Or are we trying to curry favor with the Tweeting person even though we don’t believe the Tweet is all that special?
4) Or are we retweeting a Tweet because that person recently retweeted one of our Tweets (and we’d like for them to do that again)?
5) Or are we just trying to encourage a friend who rarely Tweets anything to hang in there and they will eventually “get” Tweeting?
6) Or are we retweeting to just let others on Twitter know that we know about retweeting and how to do it properly?
7) Or because we just want to cast out some virtual action into the vast abyss of cyberspace in hopes it will momentarily make us feel that we really do matter and can have some impact, however marginal or meaningless, on an impersonal universe?
I am declaring (for myself anyway) that January 12 at 630 pm is the official end of having to ask people you talk to for the first time this year if they had a nice holiday and happy new year.
Unless you are genuinely curious and sincerely want to know. Or can’t think of absolutely anything else to say.
So to all friends I see for the first time this hear after tonight, we will have to wait until 2016 for me to ask you if you had a nice holiday and happy new year.
(Note: I originally intended January 12 at 430 pm to be the deadline but just finished a conference call with people I didn’t know well and extended the deadline for that call.)
“The pride of India” is India Railway’s undeniable slogan. The train system is a marvel, moving hundreds of millions of people annually. There is nothing in India that works with the efficiency and scale that the railway does. It’s not world-class in any sense, but to get around and interact with Indian people, the trains are the way to go. Serving as an artery to connect nearly every city, this is how nearly every person, caste, and family gets around. The conversations that can be had in a compartment will be at least as memorable as the trip itself. Here’s how to get train tickets when you need them to maximize your time in India.
An Second AC (2AC) cabin. Not too bad…but either is the much cheaper 3AC.
THE CLASSES OF TRAVEL
In most trains there are five classes: First Class (1AC), Second A/C (2AC), Third A/C (3AC), Sleeper (SL), Second Seating (2ND) and General Seating (GS). On some trains there are AC Chair cars which are exceptional for daytrips, but this is not recommended for long rides as it’s basically an economy class airplane seat.
As you can see there is a huge difference in cost, First Class costing over 12 times the reserved seat price. With such a price difference you can be assured a totally different clientele in each, providing a different perspective on India in each class. Most budget travelers opt for Sleeper class. Due to the noise, dust and grime that come with open windows we always preferred 3AC. 2AC is hard to recommend, while substantially quieter than 3AC due to less families, the cost differential was too much for us as the bed itself is the same.
If you gamble with General Seating you may end up squeezing in this close as we did on a train to Agra. (Read about that experience here)
India Railways does an admirable job to ensure that tourists aren’t delayed by lack of tickets. There is a quota of tickets available only for foreigners on almost every train. To get these tickets you must purchase them at a station, in-person, with your passport. Touts and tour agencies will often tell you that tickets aren’t available for certain routes, trying to steer you onto a commission paying bus, but always check the station in person for Tourist Quota before giving up on the train. Buying tickets at the station is relatively painless and will save you big money on commissions and hassle from tourist agencies.
Read the rest of…
Erica and Matt Chua: Easily Score an Indian Train Ticket
Family vacations are full of wonderful moments that create even better memories.
But don’t be fooled by happy Facebook posts. Every family, including ours , has periods during a family vacation that are less than festive. There are inevitably occasional periods that are unpleasant where everyone is exhausted and irritated.
But when that happens in our family there is a silver lining.
No matter how bad things get we have a safe place we can go where we are all on the same page –and it is this: Each family member can agree that they don’t really like me and that I am to blame for everything. And that includes me!
It may not sound like much but at a vacation low point it means a lot when all family members can be reminded there is still a unifying point where we all can be on the same page together –disdain and disgust toward Dad. And from that agreeable touchpoint we always seem able to work our way out of our petty and momentary frustrations and get back on track toward moving to a happier place.
How many times have you heard the expression, you’re preaching to the choir? As if engaging with people who share your values and relate to your point of view is a limiting or bad thing. The adage implies that we should find other people, not yet indoctrinated, to engage with. It took me a while to figure it out, but the age-old adage is wrong. You should preach to the choir because that’s the only way to mobilize transformational change. If you want to transform anything find people who want to change, connect them with each other in a purposeful choir, and enable them to create an entirely new song. Proselytizing doesn’t work. You can’t make people join the choir if they don’t want to. Focus on people who want to be in the choir and make it easier for them to sing.
I used to believe that proselytizing worked to catalyze transformational change by convincing people who didn’t know they had to change that they needed and wanted to change. Over a thirty-year career spanning industry, consulting, and government I believed in and implemented a proselytizing model to enable change. For years I believed that if I just yakked long and loud enough, if I just put together and presented one more smart consulting deck, and if I adopted what I call my ‘Jewish Aunt” approach to management by nudging I would ultimately wear you down and you would change. It didn’t work. If people don’t want to change they don’t. Sure, there was the occasional convert and a solid track record of enabling incremental change to the way things work today. However, my goal has always been and remains transformational change. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how smart and eloquent I deluded myself into thinking I was, people who didn’t want to change, didn’t change. The 21st century screams for transformation not tweaks. We need a new theory of change worthy of the 21st century.
I have completely changed my approach and theory of change. Ten years ago I founded the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) to put this new theory to work in the real world enabling leaders to design and test new transformational business models in education, health care, and government. Now, instead of proselytizing I believe in a catalyst model of change. Don’t waste time trying to convert those that don’t want to change, find people who want to change and preach to the choir. You will make more progress that way. Allow your choir to grow organically. Trust the choir to create the playlist. Inspire everyone in the choir to be a songwriter. Celebrate and welcome diversity in your choir. The more diversity the better because the gold and best value-creating ideas are in the grey areas between our silos, sectors, and disciplines. The most effective choirs for change welcome voices from every range, weight, and timbre.
Leadership and mobilizing transformational change in the 21st century is about being a catalyst. It’s about getting a reaction started and then getting out of the way.
I remember back in high school and college chemistry learning about catalysts, the reagents used to get chemical reactions started. We need more human catalysts to help us get the transformation we all know we need started. Catalysts know the reaction isn’t about them. They know they’re starting something bigger than themselves. The social system transformation we need is bigger than any one of us. Catalysts have an important role to play but know social change will only happen by getting the choir started and getting out of the way to let the choir’s siren songs work their magic. I also remember from science class that the catalyst doesn’t get used up in the reaction surviving to catalyze another day!
A catalyst model of change is about creating the conditions so people who want to change can connect with others like them to create purposeful choirs. Leadership is no longer about command and control or about moving human capital around the organizational chessboard. Leadership is about inspiring random collisions and connections in purposeful ways to solve real world problems. It’s about creating the conditions to catalyze engaged choirs both within and outside of the organization. A catalyst model of change isn’t about pushing ideas down trying to convert the uninterested masses it’s about pulling ideas up to find their choir. We need to catalyze self-organized choirs around the world enabled to explore and test transformational ideas and approaches at a scale equal to the scope of the social challenges we face. Go ahead and preach to the choir.
I told the story to my son about how my grandfather (and his great grandfather) got the rarefied and much coveted opportunity to argue before the United States Supreme Court. He lost. But had one of the bolder moments of an attorney before the Supreme Court. Probably too bold.
Of course, for such an august task as arguing before the Supreme Court, an attorney would be well served by a strong self-esteem and command of the courtroom. But John Y Sr, in… the middle of his oral argument, became irritated that Justice Arthur Goldberg didn’t seem to be listening and instead was shuffling papers. John Y Sr stopped his argument and said something to the effect of “Justice Goldberg, I have looked forward my entire legal career to have the opportunity to argue before the U.S Supreme Court and I would appreciate it if you would stop shuffling those papers and listen to my argument and allow the other Justices to as well.”
Justice Goldberg complied. But Justice Goldberg also was assigned the task of writing the majority opinion, which was unfavorable to my grandfather. Coincidence?
Who knows. But I suspect Justice Goldberg took a request from a Southern attorney for common courtesy as something closer to a brazenness. Again, who knows.
But thanks to my cousin Benham Sims for finding this gem. We both are surely proud of our grandfather and are grateful for the long list of amusing and memorable courtroom stories he left behind as part of his legacy.