John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Lost Baggage

jyb_musingsWhen you arrive home at the airport at 11:30pm after a long cross country flight and discover that the airline left one of your family’s three pieces of luggage in Dallas, it is easy to feel frustrated and angry.

But I try to avoid that selfish and petty inclination by keeping a broader perspective and reminding myself of all the positive things going on in my life right now to counter-balance this momentary and small inconvenience.

For example, we are coming home from a nice family vacation. We made it home safely. Our car started on the first turn of the key. We all have our health. And, besides, all of my things are in the two bags that made it home.

Julie Rath: 10 Quick and Painless New Year’s Style Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are so cliché, I almost can’t stand writing about them. But the truth is, when a new year rolls around, it’s nice to take stock and see what you could start doing differently. The usual suspects here are diet and exercise, and often such resolutions are overzealous and set us up or failure. So this year I’m here to help boost you up with some totally doable style-related resolutions that will require very little of your time.

Read on for this year’s top 10 style resolutions.

Men's Style Advice: New Year's Resolutions1) Try one new thing with your wardrobe. It can be easy to find one thing that you’re comfortable in and that feels easy to you. But it can also be really boring! Give 2015 a fighting chance and add some sort of new element to your look — maybe it’s starting to wear more color, or swapping out your logo’d/free event t-shirts for something nicer (here’s my guide for how your t-shirt should fit).

2) Don’t shop without a plan (or on an empty stomach). The last thing you want to do when shopping is make mistake purchases. And shopping without knowing what you’re looking for — or when you’re hungry — will put you on the fast track to a shopping fail.

3) Donate anything with holes or stains that won’t come out.  This one really doesn’t need explaining. I’ll just say that when you wear torn-up, crappy clothes, the message you send is that you feel torn-up and crappy about yourself. This then becomes an unfortunate vicious cycle which causes you actually to start feeling that way. (Confirm with whatever charity you’re donating to what condition they will take clothing in.)

4) Take your oversized clothes to the tailor. This is an instant, low-cost (at least compared to buying new things) option for upgrading your wardrobe. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to know what’s worth tailoring.

5) Think before you stink (a.k.a. avoid strong aftershaves). This one was on last year’s list, but I had to include it again. I did a lot of traveling in 2014, and one of the biggest conclusions I drew is that there’s an Old Spice epidemic in the US. Nearly every morning flight I took, I felt as if I might become asphyxiated by the scent of the man sitting next to me. Trust me, just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean others can’t either. Ask one or two lady friends with good taste to tell you honestly if any of the product smells you’re wearing are offensive. And if the initials for any of said products are O.S., drop it like it’s hot.

Men's Style Tips: New Year's Style Resolutions

6) Wear a watch. I get it, watches are no longer necessary since we all use our phones these days. But if you’re not wearing a watch, you’re missing out on an excellent opportunity to distinguish your look. Above is a serious arm party courtesy of one of my clients. You don’t need to break the bank when adding a watch to your look, however. There are plenty of good choices under $200 (including this one for $185 from Miansai). Choose something that resonates with you personally and that you’d feel good wearing — not what others would expect you to wear.

7) Make sure you have one suit that fits you like armor. Chances are, sometime in 2015 you’ll have a wedding, funeral, or job interview you’ll need to attend. And you’ll need a great-fitting suit for those situations — one you don’t have to think twice about. Often such events spring up out of nowhere, so it’s to your benefit to have a suit ready and waiting in your closet. And if you think you can get by with that old boxy one from ten years ago, think again. There are few things less flattering on a man than an ill-fitting suit, and there’s definitely no way to disguise a poor fit.

8) Buy flattering jeans. Most new clients I meet are in need of a jeans refresh. Even if you have a pair that was flattering when you bought them two years ago, chances are at this point they’ve stretched and faded, and it’s time to replace them. If you’ve never had a pair of jeans you feel great in, it’s time to add that to your wardrobe. Here’s my guide for how to find flattering jeans.

Men's Style Advice: Square-Toed Shoes

9) Lose the square-toed shoes. These were cool in the 90’s. But the 90’s is not now. Do yourself a favor and get them out of your closet so you aren’t tempted to wear them.

10) Take your dress shoes to the shoe guy for a cleanup and to be resoled. This is another low-cost way to refresh things, and in fact a good cobbler can make your shoes look almost new. If you don’t already have someone you use, look on Yelp or other user-review sites in your area for one with high ratings, or ask any well-dressed guys you encounter where they take theirs.

How many of the tips on this list are you able to implement? I guarantee that even if you do just 3 of them, you’ll be in great shape, and you’ll feel that much better about yourself.

Wishing you a very stylish 2015!

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Weather Reports

jyb_musingsA Layperson’s Weather Report

Today’s temperature is a witch’s teat minus 20 degrees served inside an ice cube tray.

That is without the wind chill factored in.

And if you have a body piercing you are probably going to re-think that decision this morning.

===

Today’s weather report:

No one will care today if it is going to be cloudy or not. It is too cold to look up.

===

Mornings this cold can make a coward out of a Super Hero.

If Louisville were Gotham City this morning, I could easily see Bruce Wayne deciding to put Alfred in a nursing home, selling the mansion and moving to a condo on the West coast with Robin and letting Gotham fend for itself.

===

I can’t help but suspect this morning’s frigid weather is more evidence of the Democrat’s (or is it the Republican’s) “War on warm weather.”

OK. Maybe not. I just can’t resist the American tendency of whenever we are uncomfortable to assume that there is a conspiracy by our political enemies to blame.

Josh Bowen: Body Image

bowenLast night I had the pleasure of seeing my little brother tie the knot with his beautiful bride. These are moments that you never forget and no matter how “tough” you are, will always bring a smile to your face. These are the times in life you just need to “smell the roses” so to speak to enjoy the moment and live in the moment. A great feeling from yesterday, for sure. Now onto the task at hand..

I was in an airport recently and I went to the magazine stand to look for some reading material. There were dozens of different magazines covering subject’s matters from money to parenting to exercise. However, I started to see a trend that did not set well with me. It seemed like every magazine cover was obsessed with physical characteristics highlighted by “Ripped Abs in 30 days” “Lose 30 LBS without Dieting” or my favorite, “Reduce Your Belly Fat by Eating this Fruit.” If that isn’t bad enough, the covers of these magazines make things worse. On the “Muscle Mags” you have an Incredible Hulk like figure with muscles in places most people don’t have places. On the other side of the coin the magazines aimed at women have relatively thin, almost emaciated cover models. What is going on here? What is the “media” trying to tell our society?

Now, I have no issue with the people on the covers of these magazines, they are in great shape (in most cases) and it’s their job to look like that. I myself have trained; physique athletes, a Miss America contestant and other “body conscious” athletes. I have no issue in competing in something that judges your body in some way. What I do have issue with is the projected image of what is beautiful and in shape. It is unrealistic for the average person that picks up one of these magazines and expects to look like these people. Most of these individuals have been athletes all their life, have put in the hard work to look the way they do and have a great genetic profile. Should that stop them from trying? No! But should it convince them that because they saw this on a magazine cover that they are inadequate if they don’t look this way? Our society’s opinion on what is acceptable, beautiful and realistic is warped.

I am by no means a small man; I am 5’11 and 200 lbs with relatively low body fat. By most standards, I am a bodybuilder (I do not compete). I was blessed with somewhat decent genetics but how can I expect to look like these individuals in these magazines? I cannot. This public opinion has caused people to go on a quest of something unrealistic and causing people to forget about what’s important; overall physical and mental health. Our self-image has become distorted because of what we see and what has been projected as acceptable. This happens to both women and men. Referring to women, it is unhealthy to look like a stick and have no muscle tone. Quite frankly it is more attractive to have muscles and maybe, just maybe a little body fat. This is just my opinion.

The reality of it is its OK to have a little body fat and have a little extra weight to lose. I cannot tell you how many times a client has brought in a picture of a Victoria’s Secret model and said, “I want to look like this.” My reply is, “No you don’t.” The perception of what is attractive and what is beautiful is altered by what we are shown everyday. We have a generation of young girls striving to be “skinny” and an age group of young boys wanting to be the largest my ripped person on earth. This is not healthy.

My conclusion is this; I am not attacking exercise related magazines, model related ads. movies with buffed up actors or actresses or the individuals in them. They work hard for their bodies but to expect to look like them for most people is unrealistic, de-motivating and in some cases doesn’t look good anyway. So from me to you, love who you are, continue to work out hard and use good nutritional tactics. Keep working towards your goals but don’t be discouraged by these “perfect” cover models. Love who you are, continue to challenge yourself and love your body.

John Y’s Musings in the Middle: Male Scarfs

jyb_musingsI have never worn a scarf. Ever. In my entire life. But I wanted to today. I have one. In fact, I have three. I just never get around to ever actually wearing them.
Why not?

I am embarrassed to admit this but when I see other men wearing scarfs they seem to be tied or folded a certain way and I don’t know how to fold or tie a scarf properly. 

Besides, just wearing a scarf makes me feel like I am being a bit of a dandy. And having to fold it a certain way —and knowing how to fold it—is just more dandified than I am comfortable with.

But I wore one today anyway. To my car, at least. Just around my neck. No folding. I don’t know how, remember? I just wanted to keep my neck a little warmer. And finally to see what wearing a scarf feels like.

By the way, it feels very bulky and didn’t seem to make a huge difference on my neck.

But I am glad to have it in the car now. And can use it to clean up a coffee spill since I don’t have any napkins and like to drink coffee in the car.

Of course, I still have two other scarves in my closet that I could still one day wear if I ever learn how to fold or tie a scarf. And have extra napkins in my car.

===

I have been wearing a scarf today for nearly 40 minutes even though I don’t know any of the fancy ways to tie or fold it. Like men wear them in magazines and upscale coffee shops.

So far, I am happy to report, it has kept my neck warmer and has not caused a statistically significant drop in my masculinity.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Spiritual Thoughts

jyb_musingsSpiritual Thought for the Day:

“Just for today I will avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of anger, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

And engage in sins that are merely physically unhealthy but not life threatening.”

===

When someone is rude to me in a public place and I can’t think of a clever retort, I sometimes wish there was a magic pause button I could push until I come up with a clever retort.

And a magic fast forward button I could push right after I say it.

===

When I say I fully intend to do something, I mean it. At the time I say it. And I think I mean it more than most people. Even a lot of the ones who do it when I don’t. And I think the depth of that conviction — despite the lack of execution– ought to count for something.

Erica and Matt Chua: Korean Food: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Korean food ran the gambit from the good, the bad and the downright ugly.  On many occasions Korean cuisine surprised us, apparently South Koreans are better at more than kimchi.  Who knew that South Korea makes the best fried chicken in the world?  I feel that I am uniquely qualified to make a judgement on the best fried chicken in the world because I’ve tried my fair share due to my husband’s  fried chicken addiction.  He even believes his future is in fried chicken and beer.  So, while I know your dying to hear about kimchi, let’s start with the ugly and work our way to the highlights.  I want you to enjoy Korean cuisine, so I’ll end on a high note.

You will enjoy Korean food if you avoid two things; Lotteria and pig’s foot.  Lotteria is South Korea’s answer to McDonald’s.  Everything from the menu to the value meals is a mirror of McDonald’s offerings.  While I’m not a huge fan of McDonald’s, we were told several times that we had to try Lotteria.  We decided we didn’t have too much to lose as it is a fast and cheap food option.  Little did we know that the similarities ended with the look alike menu. The cheeseburger we had tasted as if it had strawberry jam mixed with mayonnaise on it and I’m convinced the french fries we were served were made weeks ago.  In short avoid Lotteria at all costs.

The pig’s foot should have been more obvious than Lotteria as something to steer clear of, some may even say that I deserved what I got when I decided to try this local delicacy.  However, I am a firm believer in the old adage “when in Rome…”  We had heard of the popularity of pig feet, but it wasn’t until we saw it prominently displayed by every vendor in Seoul’s Namdaeumun Market that we decided we had to try it.  We hunted out the best pig foot we could find, not having any idea what you look for in a good pig foot.  Because quite frankly “good pig foot” sounds like an oxymoron to me.  However, even as I watched the woman we purchased our foot from working to dismember it in preparation for us to eat it I remained positive. When she set it in front of us it didn’t look too promising and then she gave us each a set of plastic gloves and my optimism started to fade.  Anything too vile to touch with bare hands probably shouldn’t be eaten, but against my better judgement I put a gelatinous piece of foot in my mouth.  It lived up to my worst nightmares, it was a fatty, Jell-O like texture and the taste was so bad I almost gagged trying to swallow it.  Then and there the award for worst item imbibed on this trip was given to the pig’s trotters.  We paid for our foot and passed on the remaining bits to the eager Koreans sitting next to us, laughing at our disgusted expressions.

Read the rest of…
Erica and Matt Chua: Korean Food: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Sleep

jyb_musingsI am about to go to sleep

After my insomnia lets go it’s grip on my brain
And sleepiness displaces restlessness
And I get ready for bed
And drink another warm glass of milk
And get into bed
And try to go to sleep
After I set my alarm
And check it to make sure it is set
And after realizing, again, it is far too late to be getting to bed
But feeling relieved that short sleep is nearing
And finally drifting toward oblivion thinking to myself

I am about to go to sleep

Saul Kaplan: 10 Reasons Companies Fail at Business Model Innovation

Companies fail at business model innovation because they’re so busy pedalling the bicycle of current business models they leave no time or resource to design new ones.

Most companies focus innovation efforts on new products and on driving efficiencies into current models. These are important activities, but not sufficient in the 21st century when business models don’t last as long and face disruption. This means business model innovation is the new strategic imperative. In this post I outline the top 10 reasons why businesses fail to innovate.

CEOs don’t really want a new business model

The most obvious reason companies fail at business model innovation is because CEOs don’t want to explore new business models. They are content with the current one and want everyone in the organisation focused on how to improve its performance. The clearest indication is when any discussion about emerging business models is viewed and treated solely as a competitive threat.

Business model innovation will be the next CEO’s problem

Let the next guy or gal handle it. There may be a disruptive business model on the horizon but we can beat it back, pass laws to slow it down and treat it as a niche player. Sound familiar? Today’s leaders have never had to transform their business model. Tomorrow’s leaders will. Disruptive technology is everywhere and trying to outlast it is a risky strategy. Leaving the challenge to the next CEO is not a good idea.

Product is king. Nothing else matters

The lines are blurring between product and service business models. Take the iPod. Apple didn’t bring the first MP3 player to the market. Yet, the company changed the way we experienced music by delivering on a value proposition that bundled product (iPod) and service (iTunes). Industrial era thinking forces a false choice between product or service focus. A proud product heritage can get in the way.

Saul KaplanInformation technology is only about keeping the trains moving and lowering costs

“I’m from IT and I am here to help you … ” Many companies fail because IT resources are disproportionately allocated to support legacy systems. Deploying new capabilities takes a back seat. The prevalence of enterprise systems is a barrier to business model innovation.

A change anywhere within the organisation affects every function, making it difficult to develop new capabilities, let alone an entirely new business model. Enterprise systems increase the efficiency of the current business model but can be a straightjacket-constraining business model innovation.

Cannibalisation is off the table

It’s hard enough being at war with competition, so why compete internally? When executives look at new business models they see them through the lens of the current business model and view them as competition. Organisations fail at business model innovation because they blindly take cannibalisation off the table, even if a new business model may have significant upside potential.

Read the rest of…
Saul Kaplan: 10 Reasons Companies Fail at Business Model Innovation

John Y. Brown, III: R.I.P Jim King

jyb_musingsI didn’t know Jim King well but as we have learned in our collective grieving the past 24 hours, everyone in Louisville seems to have a Jim King story, including me.

The first time I ever had an extended conversation with Jim King was just over 5 years ago when Jerry Abramson announced he would not seek reelection and Jim King’s name immediately circulated as a likely candidate for mayor.

A local community leader and mentor of mine called me and said “You have to meet the man who is going to be Louisville’s next mayor, Jim King. You will be very impressed!” I said I’d love to meet Mr King and that I had met him before but only causally and that I didn’t have a good sense of what he was like but would love an introduction and opportunity to get to know him better.

A meeting was set up and I went to one of Mr King’s banks and he met with me promptly at the exact time we had scheduled. He talked about his background, his business, and most of all, his vision for the city of Louisville and the kind of leadership he felt was needed and that he felt he could offer.

I was, indeed, very impressed.

After I left I called my mentor/friend and thanked him for urging me to meet with Mr King and introducing me to him. “What was your impression of Jim?” he asked me. “Do you think he’ll win the mayor’s race if he runs?”

“Jim King certainly has a very mayoral presence. That’s for sure.” I said. “He commands respect and has an even greater command of the issues facing our community and seems to care deeply and genuinely about our city. Those are all important qualities but I’m not sure that is what makes him stand out most as a possible candidate for mayor.”

“What do you think makes him stand out most as a candidate?” I was asked.

“Well,” I hesitated because I wasn’t sure how I was going to say what I was feeling. But it came out like this: “Well….I think after my one brief meeting with Jim King I would say that his greatest strength as a mayoral candidate is that….is that after you meet him you feel afraid NOT to vote for him.”

We both broke out into laughter before I interrupted. “I don’t mean that like it sounded. I mean that people want a strong personality for their mayor and a sense that their mayor will protect them. I felt that for sure from Jim King. He is a strong and forceful personality who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. The mayor is a CEO-type office and requires a CEO-type personality and Jim King certainly has that, too. He seems like the consummate ‘no nonsense, get ‘r done’ kind of leader. The challenge for people like Jim King in politics is that they sometimes don’t have the patience for the beauty contest aspects of a long political campaign. They just want to get on with running things”

My friend said, “Maybe so but no one will work harder or smarter than Jim King.” I agreed and that is where we left our conversation.

Jim King did run for mayor and, of course, didn’t win, but like the determined community leader he was he never let up and continued working away on behalf of Louisville and Louisvillians in the leadership role he did secure as Metro Council President. And he was relentless. A relentless worker but most of all relentlessly passionate about his work, and his family, and the betterment of the city we all had the privilege to share with Jim King.

After my first meeting with Jim King I had the opportunity to visit with him on several other occasions and these subsequent visits left a markedly different impression on me than my first. I got to see the other sides of Jim King. He was incredibly thoughtful and caring and compassionate in ways that ran far deeper than his seemingly tough exterior. He was a complex “big picture” leader, on the one hand, and yet also was easily able to singularly focus on every issue before him, no matter how small or big. And he was a local leader our entire community came to trust and rely on far more than we were ever fully aware.

After my first visit with Jim King there was never another time I used the word ‘afraid’ in conjunction with his name —until yesterday. When I told a good mutual friend that “I am afraid our city has just lost one of it’s greatest citizens.”

And we have.

RIP Mr King

The Recovering Politician Bookstore

     

The RP on The Daily Show

Sign Up For The RP's Email List!

*