John Y. Brown, III

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Recovering Politician

THEN: Secretary of State (KY), 1996-2004; Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, 2007 NOW: JYB3 Group (Owner) -public affairs consulting firm; Miller Wells law firm (Of counsel) Full Biography: link

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Facebook, marketing and meaning

jyb_musingsFacebook does a lot of things like allowing us to network, connect, communicate, share and stay abreast of our world and circle of friends and do all of these things in real time 24/7. 

But behind all these useful activities there is something more basic that is happening while we post,follow, peruse and comment. We are, in a very real sense, marketing ourseleves on a poweful new medium. We create the image of ourselves we hope others will adopt of us. It is like a virtual version of high school except the audience is more discerning and sophisticated and harder to penetrate.

So we try different methods until we find one that seems to work best. It is usually the method that is most authentic and revealing in ways that resonate with others. And yes, it is usually the method that accrues the most “likes” from others.

The liking mechanism of Facebook reminds me of training a dog to do tricks by providing treats when the dog successfully performs. On the surface of Facebook it appears the Facebook audience is training individuals by how their posts and pictures are receieved. But really, at a closer look, it is each of us training ourseleves. We try out a new trick and if we are rewarded with likes we perform similar tricks and build our repertoire around related posts and images. And for those posts and images that don’t work, we modify or scrap until we have our image honed.

Our final product, so to speak (whch continues in process), is a reflection of what in ourseleves resonates most favorably with others. Again, not all that different from high school.

But is that who we really are? No, of course not. But as we are marketing ourselves and honing our public image are there any other reasons we continue playing on Facebook? I think so. And I think it is because of something much deeper at play in the human psyche.

At our most basic level we need to know that we are affirmed. Or liked. The pre-Facebook internet allowed for communication and engagement but was more, at the human level, like shouting into a giant cave and, after a pause, hearing our own echo. A response of some sort that validated that we exist in this vast digital world.

Facebook took it to the next level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Now when we shout into the vast internet black space –but do so through the virtual megaphone of Facebook and shout it in a certain manner and in a certain tone and with a certain purpose in mind — and pause, we not only hear our own echo but are affirmed. “Liked,” quite literally.

And that is a profound advantage that Facebook can boast over other all other internet mediums. And an advance that has far more to do with filling a basic human need than providing a new and cool technological advance.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Musings from Amsterdam

Something not to do when in Amsterdam. (Unless you are intro dressing up like a cheesy underworld figure from a bad video game.) 

Last year on our big family vacation I mentioned that my wife likes very structured and planned activities and I didn’t. I even said, sarcastically, that sometimes our trips feel less like a vacation and more like a program for continuing education credits.

But after it is all over I usually am glad for all the planning my wife does. Without it, I might just stay in the room and watch TV (if I can find an English speaking TV station). But that is not to say that all of her planned activities are winners. Last night we moved into record territory for worst planned family activity ever.

Rebecca did a wonderful job of finding fun and interesting activities for us during the day but last night she purchased four tickets at 10 Euros a piece to something called an “Ice Bar.” Granted, on the surface, it sounded like a promising activity. It seemed like it would be a tour of some sort of underground ice cave and we would see, we imagined, ice carvings or some creative use of ice that is common in the Netherlands.

Instead we arrived and were told to put on giant blue ponchos and gloves that were provided for each patron and to enter the “Ice Bar.” We did and found ourselves, literally, in a small ice covered alcove that was, well, a bar. With music and alcohol. And about a dozen silly looking people who, like us, had each paid 10 Euro to stand in sub-zero temperatures in a bar for an hour. We got a very good laugh out of it all and made the most of it by staying as long as we could keep laughing. And then calling it quits. About 53 minutes early.

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jyb_musingsMornings in Amsterdam

I was never an R.A. (Resident Advisor) in college. They always seemed like overly responsible, non-partying, uncool types who weren’t fun to hamg out with but who I would readily ask for class notes if i missed a class. And despite being slightly amnoying apple polishers they really did have it much more together than other students on the dorm floor.

Mornings in Amsterdam are solemn and sobering. The sun is coming up but the sky is overcast and there is a heaviness in the air like a bad hangover. As you walk the morning streets you smell coffee and baked goods and try to dodge places on the street spattered with vomit from last night’s excesses. It is peaceful and pleasant but the kind of peaceful and pleasant you feel if you live next to a fraternity house and it is Saturday morning and everyone in the fraternity is still asleep or achy and quiet.

10599340_10154534198235515_4941364976135923487_nAnd for the first time in your life you feel like at R.A. And you realize that R.A.’s on Saturday mornings probably surveyed their dorm floor and were reminded why they were willing to give up to be an R.A. type and were proud of their decision. And this morning, walking the streets of Amsterdam stone cold sober and sitting at a cafe drinking my coffee, which sits next to a Heineken beer bottle someone left from the night before, I feel proud to be an R.A.

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At various times today, my son and I discussed Burkean Conservatism, immigration policy, polling trends for the national Democratic and Republican parties and different dipping sauces that went well with french fries.

Here we are discussing the pros and cons of mayonnaise, ketchup, chipotle, and truffle dipping sauce, and the need for a spicier option for the American demographic.

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Being in Amsterdam makes you ponder all sorts of philosophical and personal questions that have never occurred to you before. 

Questions like, If you got a sex change and decided it wasn’t a good choice and then decided to get another sex change to reverse the previous sex change would others see you the way they had in the past (before the first sex change) or would both sexes look at you with suspicion about your current choice of gender —and at the very least consider you a person prone to being indecisive? And if all of this happened in Amsterdam, where marijuana is legal and pervasively used, would anyone even notice?

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John Y’s Musings from the Middle: My Revenge with AT&T’s Text Warnings

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John Y’s Musings from the Middle: My Favorite Things

jyb_musingsRemember Julie Andrews memorable song, “These are a few of my favorite things” where she taught us….


“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad”

But what if the “Favorite things” in the song, don’t really do it for you?
I mean, remember? The favorite things are things like
“Cream colored ponies” and “whiskers on kittens,”
“Bright copper kettles” and “Brown paper packages tied up with strings”
I never told anyone but none of those were on my “favorite things list.” Not one.

Now that I am older I think there must have been a little more going on with Julie Andrews back then that was lifting her mood than just thinking about cream colored ponies. After all, the song came out in the mid 1960s.

Regardless of the lyrics, I do love the Al Jarreau version of this song. And listening to it is one of my favorite things. And still works.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Matrix

jyb_musingsI watched the Matrix for the first time last night.

I told my son I had trouble following what….what was happening….and uh…um….what it was about …and meant. But otherwise liked the movie.

He said, although it was complicated, he understood most of it. But suggested I “Google it” for an explanation instead of him explaining it to me.

I didn’t tell him but I already had “Googled it” and still didn’t understand it.

My main take away is that Keanu Reeves must really know Kung -Fu to have played the part. And that I would not have found the movie so confusing if there had been more Kung-Fu scenes.

And the final scene, where Reeves character stops the bullets, was cool –whatever it meant. And now I get the reference spoofing that scene in Zoolander.

 

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: A Final Worthy Act

jyb_musingsThere is nothing noble about how Phillip Seymour Hoffman died. Nothing courageous; nothing thoughtful; nothing exemplifying caring for those who relied on him. And there was plenty to suggest deep pain, deceit, secrecy, and recklessness—all flowing effortlessly from a piercing drug addiction.

Professionally, Hoffman left an extraordinary legacy of achievement. But in his personal life, his legacy to his children was cut brutally and inexplicably short. Yet his will, leaving direction but limited resources to his three children showed, in my opinion, that he loved his children devotedly and cared deeply and thoughtfully about their well-being.

And proved again that love is better measured in time and thoughtfulness than dollars and cents.

One can hope, ironically, that this legacy Phillip Seymour Hoffman left to his children in death, may help in some important way to protect the children he loved from meeting the same tragic end that Hoffman himself did.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Great Opportunity!

jyb_musingsIf you are interested in splitting $8.2M with John Robart, ESQ, please go for it. (See below)

I just received this really nice email from Mr Robart, ESQ, even though we have never met. He is offering me a lump sum of $4.1M in money that he has access to in Benin, wherever that is.

Unfortunately for me, I have conflicts next week due to several business meetings and a dentist appointment I have already rescheduled twice –so next week is just a terrible week for me to try to get to Benin to help with this otherwise brilliant plan.

However, if anyone who knows me is available for a few days next week, this sounds like a great opportunity to pick up several million extra dollars without a lot of effort. (Note: There is a great budget airline out of Lexington, KY called Allegiant that has really reasonable fares and, for all I know, may even have a direct flight to Benin. It’s worth checking out.)

Thanks, John

(P.S. I do ask for a 10% finders fee from anyone who takes me up on this offer I received. And by the way, that will still leave you with over 50% because I negotiated with Mr Robart that if I agreed to help —either directly or through someone I find for him—we split the money 60%-40% in my favor rather than 50-50. Since 10% off the top of our 60% take is only 6%, that leaves my partner with 54% of $4.1M —or $2,214,00. Not a bad deal when you think it through with the extra bump I negotiated in for us)

The email letter I received is posted below. Thanks!

“BARRISTER JOHN ROBART ESQ
250 Porto-novo road republic du Benin

Dear John Y Brown III,
I am barrister John Robart personal attorney at law to late engineer Mr.Alaman Brown , a national of your country who was working as a militry engineer in calavi army barrack (CAB) republic of Benin, on the 20th of July 2008 my client Mr. Alamen and his family died in a fatal car accident along Benin to lome express way leaving the sum of $ 8.2million us dollar in African Development Bank republic of Benin since 2008 I have made several effort to locate any member of Mr. Alamen but all my effort seems to no avail

The Bank have informed me to provide his next of kin or the money will be confiscated since I was on able to locate his family member so I decided to track his last name in the internet that is why I have contacted you to present you to the Bank as my client Mr. Alamen next of kin since you bear the same last name with him so that the Bank will transfer the money into your Bank account and both of us will shear it 50% for you and 50% for me, I will provide every document that can protect you from any breach of the law all I want from you is your co operation and prompt responds to enable us see this deal true.

Contact me via my private email: b_robart@barid.com
Best Regards.
Barrister John Robart Esq.”

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Diet Update

jyb_musingsDone! 

Almost…

A little over six months ago I saw a friend, Kent Oyler, and told him I had just started a diet. He asked me my weight goal and I said I didn’t have one yet and he thought that was a mistake. I agreed and then asked Kent, since he was my height and in great shape, what he weighed. He told me and I said that was my weight goal. It was 27 lbs for me to lose. 

Last night I reported to Kent that I was actually only 3 lbs away from my goal of reaching his his weight. But Kent then reported that he had actually gained 3 lbs this summer and we were now at the exact weight.

I raised me arms in exultation….feeling, for a moment, like I had achieved my goal of attaining Kent’s weight. But being honest with myself my real goal is still about 3 lbs away and I’m hanging in until I reach, well, both goals!

John Y. Brown, III: Robin Williams

The life of a comedian is rarely a funny matter.

The deep source of humor for the professional comic almost always seems to be a survival mechanism that just happens to work better than all the other survival mechanisms tried before it that came up wanting.

Sometimes that defense mechanism —that life antidote— stops working, too. And there may be no back-up fortification for when a joke doesn’t work anymore. And that deep source of humor can cruelly transform itself into an all-encompassing darkness that envelops and even suffocates, figuratively or literally, the same person it served so well.

And for a brief moment, like today upon the news of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide, the world gets a glimpse of that over-sized and heavy heart and sees that you weren’t just a silly boy looking for the next pratfall and a few more well-earned laughs. But that you were working always on something far more complicated, serious and sorrowful than your comedy repertoire ever belied.

How ironic that the man who brought more laughs and lightness to the world over the past four decades —more than probably any single person on our planet—today leaves that same world so deeply saddened and distressed. Then again, the genius of so many great comics is that the flip side of their humor –pain and emptiness–is never too far away from their punch lines. And probably much closer than the audience realizes.

As prodigiously hilarious and zany as he always seemed to be, I believe Robin Williams was, first and last, a very serious and sensitive man. Who we never got to know all that well. But will certainly miss terribly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDJjq0Pd0RM

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Technology

jyb_musingsMy cell phone –an ATT Android–has a visual voicemail feature that tells me when I have a new voice mail message.

But wait, there’s more.

The visual voicemail app also, with some voicemails, will delay the notification for several hours. Or even a day.

I know what you are thinking. It must not work right. But I figured out what really must be going on.

This feature, I have to assume, somehow measures the enthusiam of the caller and will delay notifying me of the call accordingly –to the extent the person doesn’t seem eager to talk to me.

I mean, what else could it be? Right? There’s no other reason I can think of for the voicemail to work this way.

Dang. Technology sure is amazing.

Oh, so yeah. When you leave me a voicemail be sure you sound enthusiastic so I will get it right away.

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Trying to always find short cuts in life is, without realizing it, like having a full-time second job that pays nothing and that you hope no one ever finds out about. 

The only way to improve on the situation is to quit the second job.
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So many things to unsubscribe to; and so little time.

John Y.’s Video Flashback (1995):

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