John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Dear God

jyb_musingsDear God,

When you invented shaving every morning for men, what were You thinking? I know it was a long time ago and there was a good reason for it at the time. Just help me to understand.

P.S. I have lost 29 lbs this year. Since you don’t follow me on Facebook, you probably hadn’t heard. Pretty good, huh?

Hope the shaving question didn’t make You mad. Not questioning you. I am just curious. I think losing weight has given me more confidence and allowed me to be more assertive. And ask questions I wouldn’t have asked last year when I was heavier.

Let me know on the shaving thing.

And good job on most everything else.

P.P.S. I noticed in pictures of you at church you are carrying a few extra pounds than you probably should at your age. Do you know your BMI? I know we are all very busy, especially You, but we still have to take time to take care of our health. And that goes for You too. Since you don’t shave, maybe you could take those 5 minutes every morning the rest of us guys spend shaving and try running in place. Or doing jumping jacks. You will notice a difference pretty quickly.

Not judging. Just notice others wieght issues more than I used to. A more slimming and darker colored robe might help too. Just a thought.

Erica and Matt Chua: He Said/She Said: Saying Goodbye to China

Three months, 11,000 miles of travel and visiting more than 20 cities, we are leaving China.  After all this, what do we think of China?

HE SAID:

China brings to mind one word: wow.  I knew very little of China prior to coming here.  All I knew was that we had three months, where we would go and what we would do was completely unknown.  Wow, how time flew, we did so many things, traveled to so many places.  Wow, the people I met.  Wow, this country is beautiful.  Wow, the trains.  Wow, the people.  Wow, the history.  Wow, China, wow.

Some big, eye-opening wows I am not going to miss: etiquette and hygiene.  I found that no matter what, I can’t stand it when people chew with their mouth open.  I can’t eat when lips are being smacked together and half-chewed pieces of food are falling from people’s lips.  I can’t believe that children are expected to do their business on the sidewalk, when there are public bathrooms everywhere.  It is not that the infrastructure for cleanliness doesn’t exist, they have made an honorable effort, but etiquette and hygiene just doesn’t seem to be the cultural norm.  Wow, I look forward to being in a place where people are not spitting on bus floors and I have to dodge human feces on the sidewalk.

As good a place as any?
A father holds his child while it defecates in the middle of the Forbidden City, one of China’s largest tourist attractions.  A bathroom was less than 100 meters away.

The good, no great, wow, surpass my gripes.  My biggest wow was the honesty of the people.  I have traveled all around the world, dealt with people of all cultures, yet I have seen few as honest as the Chinese people I dealt with.  There was no foreigner pricing, what the locals pay, you pay.  I didn’t have to negotiate for a bowl of noodles like in Hanoi, worry about getting overcharged for entrance tickets like in Thailand, or worry about being robbed like on buses in Cambodia.  Sure, prices at markets are quoted to be negotiated, but the daily transactions, complete with posted prices, was amazing.  A few times I tried to round up my bill to not have a pocketful of change, but was forcedto take my change.  Wow, thank you China, for your honest people.  Clearly they exported all their shady people to the world’s Chinatowns.

Wow, the infrastructure.  China is pumping money into its roads, trains and national infrastructure.  It is clear that not very long ago this infrastructure was pretty bad.  We rode on many unpaved streets, riddled with holes, but were happy to see that brand new highways and streets are being built almost everywhere.  We rode every type of China’s trains and were amazed by their quality and service to everywhere.  It is true, you need to buy your tickets early or you end up in the “cattle class” of hard seats, but any higher class and “wow”, what a nice, affordable way to travel.  We rode the trains almost 10,000 miles and have no complaints.  Wow.

China is an amazing country.  If you haven’t been, add it to your future travel plans.  In the future, with all the changes, travel here will only get better.  I assure you communication will be a problem, but the people will work with you to help you.  The storekeepers will help you get what you need.  The trains will take you where you want to go.  Wow, I’m going to miss traveling in China.

SHE SAID:

Saying ‘goodbye’ to China will be like saying goodbye to a close friend, she has treated me so well and provided so many amazing memories.  I have to admit I was nervous about what people were saying about her before I came and how it might affect my relationship with her.  But, China has far exceeded any expectations I had and while not everything was perfect it wasn’t the horrible experience everyone warns you about, like when you room with your best friend in college.  Regardless about what people say about my new friend behind her back I will always defend her, because until you get to know her you have no right to comment.

Yes, there are the glaring examples of poor hygiene and bad table manners, but past that the other issues regarding travel in China are surmountable.  The vast distances to travel are combated with nice, clean trains even if you do have to plan ahead.  There is a considerable language barrier, but the people are surprisingly helpful in trying to understand you.  Best of all they won’t rip you off just because you don’t speak their language.  I was always shocked by the low prices of things and that it was the same price as the locals paid.

What I will miss most about China is the scenery, which never failed to amaze me.  Around every corner was a new panorama of breathtaking beauty.  The sights in China are so unique as well, no other country has a 5,500 mile wall, five holy mountains, including the best view of the world’s tallest mountain and countless awe-inspiring temples, monasteries and Buddhas.  The amount of things to see in China could keep you busy for years.  It certainly kept us running at a frenetic pace to see over 20 cities in the past three months, but it was more than worth it.  From back alleyways in Pingyao and the rice terraces of Yuanyang to the majestic mountains of Tibet, China’s superlatives will be hard to beat.

Next to the scenery the best part of China is the food, the sheer variety and incredible tastes of this vast country were delicious to explore.  I loved the skewers of meat hot off the grill and pitchers of beer for just a dollar in our first China stop: Qingdao.  Since then the Peking duck in Beijing, spicy Sichuan food in Chengdu and the interesting yak options in Tibet made for some of my best food memories thus far.  With meals costing between 50 cents and fifteen dollars you can’t go wrong.

The only thing that can make great views and delicious food better is sharing it with amazing people and China delivers on this front as well.  We met some of the most intelligent, interesting and well traveled people on the road in China.  From English teachers in Qingdao to fellow travelers on the hiking trail in Tiger Leaping Gorge the people we met in China will remain one of the highlights of China.  It was always fun to get to a new hostel and run into an old friend, many a times this caused us to be up until all hours of the night catching up on each others travels.  I will miss all of our diverse China friends.

I will try not to cry, but I won’t say “goodbye,” instead I will say “see you soon” because I will most definitely be back.  I know there will be a lot of changes between now and then so; “keep in touch, will ‘ya?”

Beth Gamulka: Worrying About Mom

Beth GamulkaDinner conversation topics in my home can vary from the serious to the mundane. My kids (all pre-teens and teenagers) still communicate with me in more than a series of grunts. They acknowledge each other’s existence. It’s fantastic. Imagine my chagrin when we spent a whole meal discussing their fears for my well-being. My kids are pretty aware of the world around them. They listen to and read the news. They also have a clear understanding of what I do every day. So, when they hear about health care workers who have contracted Ebola in Texas, it is no giant leap for them to worry about and for me. As a hospital-based health care worker in a city rich with citizens who hail from hundreds of countries, it is likely that there will be many Ebola scares close to home in the near future. I practice in a hospital that was at the epicenter of the SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003. While my children were too young at the time to remember it, they have heard about it and have even seen the movies-of-the-week that were based on it.

I remember the first child who had contracted SARS from family members who had already succumbed to the disease. When that child was admitted to hospital, my colleagues and I (all young professionals with young children, except for one single guy) looked at one another and tried to decide who would don the N-95 mask, gown, face-shield and gloves and care for the patient. Those early days in the outbreak were filled with many questions but few answers. We were faced every day with new instructions and new rules about how we were supposed to be screened, to protect ourselves and to care for our patients.   One of my colleagues, the unmarried physician in our group, selflessly volunteered to expose himself to that first patient so that the rest of us could minimize our risk to ourselves and to our young families. We all remained healthy throughout the SARS outbreak, which lasted for several months but the memories of working in those conditions are still quite vivid.

Now, my children are old enough to understand what might happen with Ebola. They are concerned for me, and for the fallibility of PPE (personal protective equipment). They ask me about resource allocation, too. What will happen if there are not enough ventilators or ICU beds for all the sick patients? Who will decide who receives intensive care and how will those decisions be made? Are all states and provinces approaching preparedness in a consistent fashion?

These are all excellent questions. Unfortunately, no one yet has those answers. The real risk of an Ebola outbreak in North America is low. However, past experience suggests that we will have to be prepared so that if there is an outbreak, we will have the answers to my kids’ questions before we need them.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: My Monday Morning

jyb_musingsMy Monday morning

My world

My way

My terms

My bed

Master of my universe

Then the alarm goes off

And all that’s left is

My alarm clock

Saul Kaplan: Something Is Wrong With the Way We Aspire to Success

Saul KaplanThis is the third of a 10-article series of conversations 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.

“If you’re in business today, you’re running for office every day.” So says Alan Webber, co-founder of Fast Company magazine and a progressive Democrat who recently conceded his bid for governor of New Mexico.

Webber promoted an education-focused, pro-jobs campaign platform that leveraged his background in social business. The only candidate in the race not formerly involved in the state’s government, his supporters valued his outsider perspective and resistance to local political cynicism.

Running for office may seem to be a tricky venture for a media entrepreneur with a blunt, provocative journalistic record. But to Webber, running for governor was a natural culmination of his career-long mission to understand and transform broken systems.

Webber’s talk at BIF9, last year’s Collaborative Innovation Summit, articulated the broken place he sees now in both business and politics. In both systems, he claimed, “something is wrong about the way we’re aspiring to success.”

In his talk, Webber recounted an article by entrepreneur Mark Fuller, published in Fast Company’s first issue. “It asked, ‘How did the United States manage to win every battle in Vietnam, and lose the War?’— because they lost track of the point of the exercise.”

To Webber, the same is true for American business and politics. “Every 10 years, we drive the economic car into the ditch,” Webber said, “It keeps happening because our systems are designed to create this outcome.”

At the BIF9 Summit, Webber’s ideas were welcomed. “Some conferences give you a feeling that all the talks were written by the same person, memorized, and then delivered as a Forrest Gump-ian box of chocolates,” he reflects. “The BIF Summit is different. The design specs are human-centric. With BIF storytellers, you get the feeling that there’s actual alignment between who they are and what they’re doing.”

Webber and fellow Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor used their magazine to rally for a major cultural shift in business, a phenomenon that Webber referred to in his BIF talk as “the disappearance of the man in the grey flannel suit.” The concept of the company man who put himself aside so that he could put food on the table was no longer sustainable.

“Work is too important to be alienated from your sense of self,” Webber maintained.

Fast Company used the conceit of the worker drone to criticize America’s toxic work culture. The magazine aligned itself against an economy built upon principles of pure financial return at the expense of sound business practices.

Fast Company wasn’t a business magazine,” Webber notes. “We had a business model, but we also had a philosophical agenda and a political sensibility about what makes for a good life. It wasn’t articles; it was a curriculum.”

Alan Webber is tough to interview.

He refuses set questions. “Let’s have a conversation,” he insists. He openly shares what he’s struggling with and compels the same. He compliments generously, but does not endorse. He has deep laughter lines.

Yet, when prompted to talk about his new home state, his eyes light up. He tells many stories: of what he learned from meeting an education specialist at the local coffee shop, of listening to the stories of struggle of 16th generation Acequia stewards, of the privilege of having an audience with Pueblo heads of state.

He talks about his state’s resilience and cultural richness. “Santa Fe’s the oldest state capital in the United States, but you rarely hear about the history of Spanish exploration living at Plymouth Rock,” says the former Boston resident.

Webber claims he has no plans to disengage from public service. In his letter of concession he maintained, “It was not only a campaign to elect a candidate — it was a campaign to make an argument about New Mexico.”

The state, under the administration of Republican governor Susana Martínez, ranks 50th in the country in overall child well-being and job growth.

“When you’re number 50, you have no time to waste,” Webber says. To him, it doesn’t matter whether the case for New Mexico is made from the business, political or ethical angle “because today, they are increasingly the same.”

“Politics is not something you’d wish on your worst enemy,” Webber jokes. Yet, he also says, “I think running for governor was the right thing to do. I have met an amazing group of people through the campaign, people who’ve asked me to help them with their projects.”

He adds, “It’s a real a blessing when people think you can help them.”

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.”

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Weird Pleasantries

jyb_musingsI just spoke to the guy who is helping us install a new shower in our hone and, after giving him the credit card number and paying, I thanked him for all his time and assistance.

He thanked me and said to keep him posted and let him know how the installation goes and if we are happy with everything.

I thanked him again and said, “When we get everything finished we’d love to have you come over to see it and take a shower in it yourself.”

I love being an over-friendly Southerner –and joking around with people.

Julie Rath: That’s What She Said, Vol. 1: Sara Davidson on Dressing for Attraction

I interviewed some of my most successful, smart, and gorgeous girlfriends to find out how important it really is to them for a guy to pay attention to his image and style, and I thought you might be interested in watching what they had to say. The first of these three interviews is with Sara Davidson, business strategist and marketing maven.

Click here or on the image below to watch our interview. You’ll hear what turns her on and off, and the one thing a guy did that completely changed the way she looked at him (and as a result she couldn’t keep her hands off of him).

Men's Style for Dating

After you’re done watching the interview, make sure you take my style quiz to see how you rate on a scale of 1 to 10.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Deep or Shallow?

When you lie down with dogs...

When you lie down with dogs…

Is it better to be a deep or shallow person?

I used to be shallow for a deep person

But as I have matured I feel like I have become deep for a shallow person

jyb_musingsAnd I think I like the deep part of the shallow end of the pool better. You don’t have to tread water…and you get to take off the water wings.

 

Josh Bowen: Don’t Drink And…Train?

68d5575d-dae6-4f15-b862-33d000b038f5A common question I get from clients, “can I drink alcohol and still get results?”

As with most questions I receive, there is no yes or no answer, it simply just depends. It depends on how much and how much of what you are drinking.

I am a firm believer in moderation and balance. I believe you can achieve your fitness goals and still have a drink or two, here and there. So for argument sake lets define moderation; no more than one alcoholic drink for women and no more than two for men, per day. An alcoholic drink is defined as 4 oz. of an “adult” beverage.

So JB what are the drawbacks to drinking alcohol as it relates to my workout?

Glad you asked, here are 5 side effects to drinking alcohol and working out:

Dehydration
Muscles are composed of 75% water.Inadequate water intake zaps the muscles of strength. When alcohol is in the system the kidneys must filter large amounts of water to flush the alcohol out of your system, causing dehydration. Too combat this, after drinking alcohol drink 32 oz. of water. This should help with the dehydration and lessen your hangover.

Fat Storage
Although alcohol is a carbohydrate, it does not convert to glucose like most carbohydrates but becomes a fatty acid and is more likely to be stored as fat. If you exercise and drink alcohol, it causes your fat metabolism to be put “on hold.” The caloric content of alcohol adds up to seven calories per gram. A 12-oz. beer, on average, contains around 146 calories, 13 g. of carbohydrate and a few vitamins and minerals. A shot of gin has around 110 calories.

Vitamin Depletion
Alcohol depletes vitamins A, B, C, calcium, zinc and phosphorus.This nutrients are vital in the retention and increase of your muscle. To combat this depletion, if you are going to drink take a multi-vitamin prior too. This will help decrease the depletion because you are taking in excess nutrients.

Lowered Testosterone
Alcohol increases estrogen in men, thus lowering the free testosterone in the body. Testosterone helps build muscle tissue.

Beer Belly
This could go with fat storage but a common characteristic of a man or woman that drinks too much beer is the beer belly. Because alcohol is a toxin, the liver must filter it out of the body. If taken in excess over the course of years the liver will secret a fluid that will build up in the abdominal wall. Causing the dreaded beer belly.

2 “Healthier” Options

There are better options to drink than others. Again, these options are lower in calories but anything in excess, regardless of caloric value, will derail your progress in body transformation.

Wine
Is the most friendly of all alcoholic beverages, averaging just 20 calories per ounce for most wines. Check below!

Wine Calories Per Ounce      Carbs Per 5-oz Serving
Chardonnay 20 0.4 g 100 calories, 2 g carbs
Pinot Grigio 20 0.4 g 100 calories, 2 g carbs
Zinfandel® White Wine 20 0.4 g 100 calories, 2 g carbs
Cabernet Sauvignon 20 0.8 g 100 calories, 4 g carbs
Merlot Red Wine 20 0.8 g 100 calories, 4 g carbs

“Hard” Liquor
Not exactly sure why it would be called hard but these are more caloric intensive than wine but not as bad as liquors, mixed drinks or some beers. Refrain from adding sodas to the mix or the calories will go up.

Hard Liquor Calories Per Ounce Carbs Per 1.5-oz Serving
Vermouth 32 0.2 g 64 calories, 0.4 g carbs
Coconut Rum 51 5.3 g 77 calories, 8 g carbs
Beefeater® Gin 65 0 g 98 calories, 0 g carbs
Rye Whiskey 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
Scotch Whiskey 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
White Rum 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
Vodka 69 0 g 104 calories, 0 g carbs
Cognac 69 2 g 104 calories, 3 g carbs
Tequila 69 5.3 g 104 calories, 8 g carbs
Gilbey’s® Gin 79 0 g 119 calories, 0 g carbs

A life with synergy requires balance and drinking alcohol has its benefits but also its drawbacks. Anything in moderation will be fine, the probably lies in excess and will lead to lower muscle tissue, increased bodyfat and lower quality of life.

Will Meyerhofer: Learning From Barry Manilow

Will MeyerhoferIt is remarkable how often I listen to clients worrying themselves sick over people who don’t even seem to like them.

The other day a woman complained she didn’t know how to handle a guy who’d treated her like something under his shoe.  He didn’t call, didn’t pay attention to her life or any of the issues she was facing at work or with her family.  He pretty much just talked, and cared, about himself.

But she couldn’t seem to get over him.

He called again, wanted to get together.

“Should I see him?”  She asked me.

The answer was obvious.  Every time she’d given in – and it had happened plenty – the same pattern played out.  He was considerate and nice for a week or two, then went back to the same old routine of ignoring her needs and focusing entirely on himself.

I told her she needed greater wisdom than I could summon.  She needed to listen to Barry Manilow.

You probably have some sort of opinion regarding the creative output of Barry Manilow – which is to say you probably either love his music or you hate it.

If you love it – really, really love it – then you’re a “fanilow,” a Barry Manilow super-fan.

A friend of mine visited Las Vegas last year with his two elderly aunts, and – mostly to humor them – went to see Barry Manilow play at one of the big resort hotels.  He posted his response up on Facebook:  “I’m a fanilow!”

He was wowed – like plenty of people who actually go to see this hard-working, talented performer who gives everything he’s got on stage.

Barry loves his fanilows.  He thanks them, he signs their programs, he tells them again and again that he owes them everything, that they’re the reason he can keep on performing and doing what he loves.  They love him – and he loves them right back.

On the other hand, I read an interview a few years back where the reporter got a bit snarky with Barry, hinting that his music was widely dismissed as camp, mere sugary trash.  I don’t remember Barry’s precise words, but he said something like this:  “I take my work very seriously, and if you aren’t going to treat it with respect, I’ll end this interview right now.”

He had a point, and he made it.  Barry Manilow does what he loves, and there are many people who celebrate him for it. He doesn’t need the haters.

You can learn from Barry Manilow.

Find your fanilows – and hold them tight.  Cherish them.  Celebrate them as they celebrate you.  Those are the people who deserve you in their lives.

The haters?  The critics?  The people who take you for granted or tear you down?  Push them away.

There are plenty of people in this world.  You can find some fanilows – starting with yourself.  No one loves Barry’s music more than Barry – and that’s exactly how it should be.

Here’s a good ground rule for dating (I call it “the Manilow Rule”):  Don’t even consider a relationship with anyone who isn’t a fanilow – your fanilow.  If the other person isn’t excited – thrilled – ecstatic –jumping up and down with enthusiasm about a date with you, push him aside and find someone who is.

Be your own biggest fan – and start a fan club.

If you’re hoping he’ll call, he’s not a fanilow.  A fan doesn’t leave you wondering – he lets you know you know he’s dying to see you.  That’s the guy for you.

Does surrounding yourself with fanilows sound a bit dangerous?  A bit too easy?  Would it turn you into a self-satisfied egomaniac, unwilling to hear criticism?

It doesn’t have to.  I’m sure Barry reads the critics, and he ponders their suggestions.  He takes everything into consideration – then he makes his calls, his own decisions about his music and his performances.

You can have a suggestion box, too.  And you can invite people to write down their suggestions and stick them in.  And you can read them, and consider each and every one on its merits.  If they have a problem with you, they can say so, and you’ll listen.

But at the end of the day, you have to make your own calls.  You decide who you want to be – your most authentic, best self.

Then you go out into the world, and sort through the haters – and the fanilows.

The haters you can listen to politely, and push aside.

But the fanilows are the ones who celebrate you, and make it possible for you to see what’s best in yourself.

Be good to the fanilows.  Treat them like gold.
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Postscript:

 

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My new book is a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance.

Please also check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way-Worse-Than-Being-Dentist

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy: Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

(In addition to Amazon.com, my books are also available on bn.com and the Apple iBookstore.)

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