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: Wendell Ford

jyb_musingsA very special evening.I attended the annual Wendell Ford dinner tonight.But someone was missing, the honored guest himself, who is home tonight battling lung cancer courageously and magnanimously. Even cancer, as sinsiter and destructive a force as it is, must be ashamed to find itself hosting someone so beloved and beneficient as Wendell Ford. (And, yes, someone also so ornery and determined.)

Wendell may not have been in attendance but no figure has ever– in my experience– been more present in his absence than Sen Ford was at tonight’s event attended by at least 700 friends and political supporters.

Story after story about the iconic Kentucky politician was told by the various speakers, but none were really about politics. The stories all seemed to hew to the personal instead. They were about Wendell Ford the man, who just happened to be a great political leader at the time these memorable and meaningful personal interactions occurred.

The stories could easily have been about great legislative heroics or profiles in political leadership. But each and every one centered instead around little acts of kindness observed and experienced from Wendell Ford when nobody else was watching. Because, it seems, that is what stands out about Wendell Ford’s legacy most profoundly.

I chose this picture of Wendell to post –an action picture of Wendell with sleeves rolled up engaging with others while smiling broadly and contagiously rather than a blow dryed head shot behind his senate desk. The latter would be a picture Wendell just posed for. And Wendell was never a poser himself–or had patience with those who were.

wendell fordHe was, as a friend of the family would say, “The Real McCoy” and “the genuine article.” He is obviously still with us tonight and hopefully for a good while longer. And that is important to note because we may not see another quite like him again. Politics has changed…yet didn’t change Wendell.

Wendell Ford, it is true, is a Kentuckian who has walked with kings. But he is perhaps best described by the elevator man at our nation’s Capitol who proudly boasts that Wendell Ford is “the kindest human being to ever walk these Capitol floors.”

And that is an awfully fine legacy for 700 friends and supporters to celebrate tonight.

 

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Losin’ It (Not a Diet Post)

jyb_musingsLosing it! 

After receiving 3 calls in less than 5 minutes from a telemarketing company—and all 3 interrupting an important business call– I decided to retaliate. 

I called back the number and got an answer from a robotic telemarketing sales rep and I said, “Hello. How are you doing today? I’m interrupting your day to try to sell you some s**t you don’t need. Do you have a few minutes to talknow?”

And then I gave the real reason I was calling and asked that my number be removed from their call list.

But he hung up on me.

Cold call sales is just hard like that.

(Note: Forgive me. I try never, ever to lose my cool and mostly succeed. But this wasn’t one of those times. But I’m all better now. And even feel a little guilty. But only a very little.)

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Disconnect? 

Is it possible to receive a monthly phone bill from your phone carrier so detailed with information that it takes 8 full pages to report it all, but nowhere on this detailed bill is there a single reference to a phone number for your carrier if you have any questions? 

Yes, it is.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Instant Personality Test

10303467_10154373371790515_6291638683637281803_nMy new instant personality test. 

You are driving along in no particular hurry to get anyplace and notice your gas tank has just over a quarter tank of gas left as you are about to drive by a service station. 

What do you do? 

1) If you pull over and fill up, you are typical and are probably a responsible person who doesn’t leave things to chance but carries an extra jacket (or even blanket) in the car during the winter. They will likely be suited for middle management level positions. Or own a gas station. And likely coach little league and teach Sunday school. They sometimes teach courses in “How to” do things. And have fond memories of being a Boy Scout and even remember the hand sign that shows you are a scout.

2) If you keep driving and figure you’ll get it filled up next chance, you are probably a procrastinator and don’t know why. Oh, you say you know why and can list a dozen different reasons to others why you procrastinate but none really ring true. You are often late and some people think you are reckless at times. But those same people find you charming and fun at other times. Still other people find you irresponsible and unreliable and when you try to be charming and funny around them they may smile but will make the gagging expression by pretending to put their finger down their throat as soon as you leave. There is a certain adrenaline rush these individuals get from procrastinating and taking unnecessary risks. These individuals are often well suited for being an entrepreneur or CEO or entry-level assh***s who hop from job to job and borrow money from people who get gas earlier than they do.

jyb_musings3) If you drive past the station and then get nervous and do a U-turn and drive back to fill-up, you are a very tentative and indecisive person who can never remember where he was driving in the first place or why and is probably still out driving right now but still has at least a quarter tank of gas wherever you are. But not much else.

4) If you drive past the station but make a note to fill-up soon and later that day stop by a service station to fill-up, you show strong leadership capability and the ability to asses situations on “the fly,” and make bold decisions. These people aren’t as much fun as #2 and often feel like an older male family member who acts like he or she knows it all but can get on your nerves easily. They are almost never the smartest person in the room except occasionally when they are in a room by themselves. These individuals seem to be good at fewer things than they imagine but they compensate for it by an assured smugness that propels them into much higher paying jobs than their skill set could justify. You feel bad for them so just play along and let them think decisions they make (like not getting gas now when it is easy and right there but delegating it to later in the day) are really wise and make them destined for leadership roles.

5) If you read this and are horrified that you would ever be driving with a gas tank this low, you are a great supporting cast member and loyal employee. These people have great skill for being the number two person who does most of the important work. But when these people have dinner parties they, naturally, play it safe and serve ordinary hors d’oeuvres that don’t look very good or taste very good either and tell stories about how they “averted disasters” recently–but others find these stories a little tedious and overly-dramatic. Especially the story about the time they were driving with less than a quarter tank of gas but somehow made it home anyway. But friends eat their hors d’oeuvres anyway–and compliment them– because they appreciate all these people do for them.

6) If you don’t understand the question because you have never had more than a quarter tank of gas, you probably have the most job options off any personality type but they are all minimum wage level jobs and have little future in them. You go to the gas station almost daily but only put in one or two gallons at a time because you fear if you fill up the entire tank, you will feel like a poser and fraud and like you betrayed your peers who like the idea of surviving day-to-day even though it’s much easier than they want to believe and doesn’t take nearly as many stops to gas stations. But it’s a pride thing.

7) If you don’t own a car and just use ride sharing services and ride a bicycle most places, you don’t count for this personality test. But you are probably pretty cool. And aren’t missing out on very much.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Tooting my Own Horn

jyb_musingsThere’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn from time to time. If you don’t, who will? Right?

As baseball legend Dizzy Dean famously said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you’ve done it.”

Well, this morning it finally happened for me. I was the very first customer of the day at the Springhurst Starbucks in The Summit (or whatever they are calling it now).

I didn’t win a prize of any kind and the Barista wasn’t even going to tell me until I asked solicitously if I was, in fact, today’s first customer. After a brief pause while she fished through the cash register for my change, she looked up and without making eye contact, sighed and said, “Yep. You are.”

Those words, “Yep. You are,” were just what I was hoping to hear after so many mornings asking that same question and getting a “Not quite,” or “Almost,” or “No,” or “Are you serious?” (Followed by whispers to a fellow Barista.)

Finally, today is the day, fittingly on the day we celebrate our nation’s birthday, that I finally made it as Starbucks “First Customer of the Day.”

Dizzy Dean was right.

In fact, I’m thinking of taking the rest of the day off. But only until tomorrow morning.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Dear God

jyb_musingsDear God, 

Don’t get me wrong and please know I am just trying to help.

I appreciate you keeping up the regular supply of much needed water to us. But splashing us every few days with water everywhere with these rain storms just makes it seem like you aren’t keeping up with the times. Nobody down here is saying anything yet about your old fashioned water deliver methods but I worry they eventually will–you know how we are. And who needs that?

For example, I was at a Thornton’s early this morning (the one off Shelbyville road in Louisville, KY across from the Starbucks) and out in front there are, like, 50 cases of bottled water all lined up in neat rows. (I think it’s that fancy water that comes from the French Alps. And if the French can transport tons of water in neat little bottles, I know you can come up with something even better than that!!)

Look, it’s 2014 and there are all kinds of ways to deliver water to us that are way more efficient than the old way of just raining it down on us every few days without notice.

If you want me to ask the bottled water guy at Thorntons for some ideas for you, I will but won’t tell him I’m asking for you. We can keep it between us.

Just trying to help,

John

John Y. Brown, III: The Maverick

jyb_musingsMavericks can be good guys

So long to James Garner who made us smile more than he made us think– because his characters seemed always to have a short-cut line to the obvious.

Commonsense, plain talk and good-naturedness made Garner’s characters both relateable and admirable to us watching at home. And always, of course, endearing. 

James Garner’s characters never quite rose to the level of charming because charming connotes some degree of manipulation being at play. And whether playing a Maverick or plained clothed Rockford detective, Garner’s characters were always defined by their transparency. They were mischevious, yes; but never covert or manipulative. His characters were certainly known for cracking wise — but the emphasis was always on the wise part rather than the cracking part. He always was, underneath it all, a gentle man playing someone tougher than he was meant to be…but happily playing along.

James Garner always seemed to play the guy you wanted to hang out with but never got the chance to.

And now he’s gone. But it was sure nice knowing him Thanks for all the smiles, Mr Garner, especially the knowing smiles that were your trademark. You will be missed.

And we suspect you have already found something in Heaven that is causing you to smirk to yourself –gently, as always. It’s just too bad we can’t be watching.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: “I wouldn’t have done that if I were you.”

jyb_musingsWhen I was 14 and staying with my father for the summer, I was in a hurry one day about something and knocked hard on the aging condo door and hit a spot of deteriorated wood and immediately got about a half dozen splinters in two of my fingers.

Thee door was flung open by my father’s lady friend who informed me my father wasn’t back yet and then noticing me holding my fingers while trying to hold back tears asked me what was wrong. I explained about knocking into some dead wood on the door and getting splinters to which she paused momentarily and then mustered the response, “If I were you, I wouldn’t have done that.”

I looked up at her in disbelief that she really said something so completely unhelpful. I decided she just really didn’t care that much and it was probably a hassle for her to come up even with that lame response.

They didn’t date for very long but ever since then when I find myself in a situation that catches me off guard and I have no desire to help with or feign concern about another person’s misfortune, I think to myself (and sometimes even say out loud, “If I were you, I wouldn’t have done that.”

So last week when the car dealer where we recently bought a car called me to check up on how we liked our car so far I told him we were very pleased. But when he then explained the salesperson had forgotten to charge sales tax on our car and I was going to need to pay them an extra $1300, I paused dumbly and then had a ready answer for him.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Has this Ever Happened to You?

10440762_10154361866075515_5869913408984617896_nHas this ever happened to you?

“Unbelievable!” is all you can say.

You walk out of a coffee shop back to your car and notice a new and severe crack down the rear right side that wasn’t there when you parked. You utter in frustration, “Oh man! How did this happen?” startling a women walking in with heels so high the break in concentration almost causes here to fall.

Not wanting to cause any injuries you stop talking out loud to yourself as your mind starts racing about how much this is going to cost you to fix and how unfair it is since you just got your car fixed less than a month ago for something else that wasn’t your fault (even though it really was your fault).

jyb_musingsAnd then you realize your car is actually in the space behind the car you are fixated on and is just as you left it 20 minutes earlier.

And you pull out feeling the universe is, after all, a pretty fair place. And like you got your first good break of the day already and it’s not even 730am.

 

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Facebook Diet Update

 

10422129_10154374013165515_2145931767846929601_n10338713_10154374013220515_5125868687903418794_nSo, I got a haircut.

And I lost 23 lbs.

(Jan 2nd 2014 vs July 2nd 2014)

I’m calling it the “Facebook Diet” because a key motivator is regular Facebook updates on my progress.

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Out with the old –and too big.


21 months ago I bought a pair of jeans that are 34w as an incentive to fit into them 2 months later. 

21 months –and 21 lbs– later I fit into them. Not what I would call “a comfortable fit” but I am wearing them anyway.

And got rid of all my 38w pants today along with a few other (now) oversized clothes.

jyb_musingsOff to Evolve consignment store and Goodwill.

And 19 months late is still better than never. Or even 20 months later.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Young People Think They Know It All

10410272_10154358431965515_4148588039968334087_nYoung people –especially young men in their 20s, 30s and even 40s– like to think they know it all.
And it is embarrassing but critical as they get older to re-evaluate and correct long-held but wrong assumptions.

jyb_musingsFor example, in your 50s you start to realize that the blow dryer on the wall in men’s restrooms that you have been using to dry your hands for decades is actually for drying your pants.

Or maybe it is just practical creativity and innovation that comes with age.

And necessity

John Y.’s Video Flashback (1995):

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