John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Obvious Shortcuts

jyb_musingsAm I the only one who thinks of these obvious shortcuts?

In line boarding a flight and listening to a plastic surgeon boast about all his recent cosmetic surgery successes.

Um, OK. That’s great and all.

But wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just make glasses for everyone with lenses that makes everybody else look thin and hot?

Pretty obvious.

There is always an easier fix for those, like me, who are willing to think outside the box. Or see things through a slightly different lens. Sigh.

Erica and Matt Chua: 36 Hours in Bangkok

 

My disclaimer on 36 hours in Bangkok is that no sane person should ever attempt to see Bangkok in 36 hours.  You certainly won’t be able to get through the aggressive timeline that I lay out below even if there was no traffic, heat or throngs of tourists to deal with.  That being said book a few extra days to see this remarkable city and learn the in’s and out’s of the city’s mass transit system because bypassing it will immediately change the way you feel about this Asian metropolis.  In fact if you really take the time to enjoy Bangkok you will find quiet wat’s off the beaten path and tree lined neighborhoods that provide a much needed respite from the chaotic city that surrounds you.

Friday

5 p.m.
1) RELEASE THE BIRDS

Visit Wat Indrawiharn and the 32 meter (over 100 feet) standing Buddha, which is the largest Buddha in the world.  To get your weekend off to a good start you can release birds, which is supposed to increase ones positive karma in this life thus leading to a better life in the next incarnation.

6:30 p.m.
2) GOLDEN MOUNT AT THE GOLDEN HOUR

Read the rest of…
Erica and Matt Chua: 36 Hours in Bangkok

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Flight Attendant Revenge

jyb_musingsI am on a flight right now and not speaking to my flight attendant. She asked me twice to turn off my “mobile device” and then checked to make sure I hadn’t turned it back on as she walked past me a third time before take off. And she said it to me in a really stern and authoritative way that made me feel like I was talking in class in 2nd grade, like the time Ms White at Wilder Elementary pulled me several feet out of my chair by my hair — in front of the whole class.

She doesn’t know I’m not speaking to her. She thinks I didn’t even notice her sassiness and that I was glad to have her remind me to turn off my cell phone before we start taxiing.

I would never want to do anything to endanger any flight I am on. I have volunteered many times to sit by the exit door in case of an emergency. She probably doesn’t even know that.

To get even with her, I am squinting my eyes at her while she isn’t looking. And thinking of the term “Stewardess” instead of “Flight Attendant.” But I know that is probably hitting below the belt, even though I am only saying it in my mind.

Oh brother! Now the guy two seats in front of me —who turned off his mobile device after she asked the first time —is joking around with the flight attendant and she is being all chummy with him. Teachers pet! And it is no accident he is just two seats away from me. She is trying to rub it in.

Here she comes with the beverage cart, I just shook my head “No thanks” when she asked if I wanted a beverage. Even though I am thirsty. I didn’t speak a single word. Silent treatment. I even let her look at my computer screen while I wrote this post. The font was too small to read but I think she knew she had crossed a line earlier with me by the way I gave such a pouty, wounded non-verbal “No thanks” to her free beverage offer.

And just because I am posting this on Facebook doesn’t make me petty. Seriously. I was already petty long before this. I just hope we both learned a useful lesson from this experience. Actually, I really hope only she did.

Put it this way, she’s just lucky they aren’t serving lunch on this flight for me to politely and non-verbally decline. Even though I am really hungry.

Saul Kaplan: Innovation Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom

photo-saulThis is the eighth in 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.

Innovating in Afghanistan certainly brings new meaning to the corporate term “change or die”. Over the course of the project, Col. Fritz had to resolve vast technological limitations and overcome cultural and language barriers. Together, he and his team synchronized the activities of 16 nations, spread across six geographical locations within Afghanistan, to build air power capability and ensure security for the country’s future.

The colonel, who in his spare time curates a blog at  GeneralLeadership.com and tweets management insight from his @fritzmt account to 95,000+ Twitter followers insists that lessons gained on the battlefield have many applications in the boardroom.

“People may not see innovation as one of the core competencies that come out of a military career,” Fritz says, “It’s actually the opposite — military leaders deal with change in complex situations every day.”

As a leader, “I am constantly finding ways to make my message connect with my team,” Fritz says. He considers himself a firm believer in “getting feedback and exchanging stories” — perhaps an unusual admission from a colonel who commands such authority.

Expected to deliver change on an incredibly tight schedule, Fritz encouraged his team to engage in conversation with their Afghan counterparts, in the hope of getting valuable feedback. The result: the coalition and their Afghan partners participated in one of the most open exchanges in the history of the mission. As a result, Fritz claims, they were able to “question basic assumptions and together, transform the training process.”

He adds, “Leaders often get wrapped up in the brilliance of their ideas and forget to include their teammates… Americans are used to doing things the ‘American way’; but in this case, what’s important was being Afghan-right.”

In conversation via Skype from Afghanistan a few weeks before his return to the U.S., the square-jawed, direct-speaking Col. Fritz makes it clear that he will not discuss politics (“because I don’t influence that”). He is a man of ideals – “more than just a guy in a uniform,” Fritz says.

One ideal Fritz lives by is that everyone should embrace “service” in their day-to-day lives, “in businesses, teams, churches and communities,” he says. He believes service should not be a concept singularly assigned to the military.

Fritz traces this ideal back to his grandfather, a shopkeeper in small-town Arthur, Illinois, who also served as the town’s mayor. Grandfather modeled for grandson the behavior of the ideal citizen — committed, engaged, proactive. “He used to say, “If it’s to be, it has to be me.’ That’s something I grew up with. Especially in a small town, you’re expected to participate in church, community and school; otherwise it just isn’t going to work.”

As a first step, Fritz recommends that we slow down and be more intentional. Talk to people, listen to them, see what they know, he says, just as his grandfather did while sweeping the sidewalk in front of his store.

Matthew Fritz looks forward to sharing his story this month at the BIF10 Collaborative Innovation Summit, a storytelling jam featuring transformation leaders, hosted annually by the nonprofit Business Innovation Factory (BIF) in Providence, RI.

How he helped to bring the Afghan Air Force to self-sufficiency is a tale about how to drive complex change management simply, a tale Col. Fritz is hopeful will resonate with the BIF10 community, a group he began to engage with via Twitter from Afghanistan.

He adds, “I hope to share a perspective into the military that might be a little bit different, and engage in the conversation.” He is “beyond excited” to be participating in his first BIF Summit. “I’m nervous,” he confesses. “I have worked with congressmen and ambassadors, but the folks at BIF10 are real movers and shakers. People whose work I’ve read and learned from, now I get to meet in person!”

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: 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.

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