John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Circling the Drain

jyb_musingsThat feeling you are “circling the drain.”

For some it signifies the end. For others it signifies being on the brink of a new beginning. And for others still it means the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning or, for extreme pessimists, the end of the end.

For me, though, it feels more like an extreme sport. Hangin’ 10. From near the drain. At least some days. Like today.


Some days I feel like I am hitting on all cyclinders and am a masterfully mindful multi-tasking maniac.

Other days I feel like my brain is operating aduquately for a 1963 model.

And every now and again it seems concerningly quiet and uneventful up there –like I am mentally moving at the speed of the video game Pong. And my side forgot to show up.


“I’m way deep into nothing special”

How I feel today (quoting Steely Dan, West of Hollywood)


Look, I get it. It’s not my post. You just aren’t in the mood to “like” something right now.


“It’s not personal; it’s just business.”

Really means for the person hearing this that it is no longer “business” and just became “just personal.”


Groups, ironically, seem to be the best place for us to learn how to be better individuals

–Leaving my men’s accountability group this morning

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Sunday Morning

jyb_musingsGet up!

If you are like me and plan on doing nothing at all this Sunday, you ought to at least have enough pride to get up early and start right away!

Anything worth doing –even doing nothing –is worth doing well.


Sunday morning vanity conversation leading to disappointment

This morning I was admiring my recent weight loss in the bathroom mirror as my wife and I were getting ready to go out for coffee. After my proud moment of self-satisfaction, I threw on a pair of jeans and wet my hair before combing it and began looking for a shirt.”

My wife walked in the bathroom to explain how our dog Macy was just showing off to her by proudly holding a spider in her mouth before it dropped out and ran away.

Wanting to change the topic back to my proud weight loss, I pointed to myself and said, “Well, what do you think?”

“What?” Rebecca answered quizzically.

“This.” I responded smugly pointing in a circular motion to my torso area.

“What? You got water on you?”

“No!” I said flustered. “I’ve lost 28 lbs.”

“Oh.” Rebecca responded laughing. “You are acting like Macy showing off having a spider in her mouth.”

“No I’m not.” I said defensively. “I don’t think it’s the same thing at all. First off Macy didn’t lose 28 lbs and, second off, I am not holding anything in my mouth.”

“OK.” Rebecca said laughing to herself.

“Do you have water on you?” I repeated to myself under my breath. “Really?”

“Well, I’m proud of both you and Macy this morning.” Rebecca offered in a consoling voice.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Rewards

jyb_musingsI got excited to see a late night email from American Express that I was receiving an “update” on my recent increase in Rewards points including a link to use them to shop for something right now.

My excitment grew when pictured under the notice was a picture of a brand new iPad and next to that JetBlue airlines and mention of round trip ticket to any of a long list of resorts.

So I click the link.

And find out my new “updated” Rewards point total is worth just under $28 and that the only purchases suggested for me from the Amex “store” is an eye liner or alternatively a rouge compact. But only with 170 more Rewards points.

Anybody out there want to trade me a new iPad for some Amex eye liner? And who also can spare 170 Reward points?

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Corporate Iron Man Triathlon

jyb_musingsI propose the Corporate Iron Man Triathlon

On the Monday following the actual Iron Man.

It will consist of 112 conference calls, sitting through 26.2 PowerPoint presentations and finishing with 2.4 hours of continuing education credits.

And in the spirit of the real Iron Man competition, the individual contests will lead to no particular destination but just be a test of endurance.

And, of course, wearing cool gear will matter more than it should.

I have already started training!

Lauren Mayer: Career Goals For The Real World

For generations, we’ve illustrated ‘the American Dream’ as being a place “where anyone can grow up to be President.”  But these days, one look at President Obama’s weary face& gray hair, not to mention the merciless way people can attack any public figure anonymously, is enough to scare off impressionable kids.  (Can you imagine the field day internet trolls would have had with William Howard Taft breaking the White House bathtub because he was too heavy for it?)

Interestingly enough, however, poor approval ratings don’t seem to have dampened enthusiasm for Congressional candidates.  (The lucrative revolving door between public & private jobs, as illustrated by Eric Cantor’s recent windfall, may help . . . )

When I was a kid, “Schoolhouse Rock” taught us about the 3 branches of government via catchy songs – so maybe it’s time for an update, about the joys of serving in Congress.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Inspiration

jyb_musingsAs we get older our ideals of what we can one day become changes too.

When we are younger we imagine ourseleves as one day becoming an astronaut, firefighter, pro athlete, Phd, movie star, CEO, President and the like. 

We line our bookshelves with stories about such people and line our walls with inspirational images and quotes from our idols.

And then one day we realize we have begun to ratchet down rather than ratchet up our hopes and dreams for oursleves —and have moved on to a new ideal of one day, with luck and effort, maybe becoming merely a wise and humorous companion.

And realize it is hard to find an inspirational book or motivational poster of Jiminy Cricket.


Inspirational thought for the day

“If you can’t ‘Just Do It,’ look bored and indifferent like ‘Just Doing It’ is beneath you.”

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: What employers should really look for in job interviews

jyb_musingsI just read several articles about what employers look for in job applicants. Each list I saw included qualities like professionalism, high-energy, confidence, curiosity, self-motivation, etc, etc, etc.

But on no single list did I see “sanity” or “stablity.” You may say that these are assumed. Really? Why?

I am serious.

I think most employers get in heat, metaphorically, when hiring a new employee and end up hiring the employee who is most exciting to date, so to speak, rather than the employee who is the best fit for marriage, i.e. a long term functional and useful business relationship.

Like the famous Pepsi and Coke taste test when most people picked Pepsi after one taste because it is sweeter. But sales of Coke continued to exceed Pepai because people got tired of the sweetness after the first few sips.

In other words, employers should focus more on hiring the person who can do the mundane things reliably –in other words, the person who they can rely on to lock up at night when they leave the office rather than the person who will make others the most envious at the country club.

Remember the new hotshot associate you are about to hire is to fill in a piece of a larger puzzle that is your organization and just because he or she looks big and colorful doesn’t mean that piece is more likely to fit. Just that it is more likely to drive you crazy until you find a place in your puzzle to plug it in.

John Y. Brown, III: Joan Rivers

JYB3_homeI was saddened to hear about the passing of comedian and entertainer Joan Rivers.

I was never a great fan but had great respect for her pluck and persistence.

Although none of the eulogies I have read mention it, I consider her an important as a woman who broke through and competed with great success in a profession dominated by men. Women comedians, in my view, have a tough time of it. Audiences like monologues that are raw, sometimes profane, personal and edgy.

But we don’t seem to like it as much when the punch lines are being delivered by a woman.

Joan Rivers didn’t seem to mind about that and did it anyway. Because she was smart and shrewd and richly talented and an indefatigable performer who made a lot of us smile and laugh out loud — and even think –during her 55 year career as one of America’s most prodigious entertainers..


John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Exciting New Product!

10378160_10154542366180515_8423975875231163213_nExciting new product! 

If you have an easily distractible husband who has difficulty keeping up with you and the family when shopping, finally there is the perfect solution!

The “Husband Travel Tether.”

Like the lightweight harnesses and leashes for children but sturdier for a more secure hold.

–Made of a leather to keep dads from breaking away. 

–Reduces fear of dads being separated from their families when traveling.

–Patented adjustable buckle to pull closer in crowded areas.

jyb_musings–Credit cards never more than 4 feet away. 

–Shoulder straps optional.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Internet

jyb_musingsNothing has revolutionized and expanded human intelligence more than the Internet. 

The Internet is solely responsible for raising the IQ of the average user by nearly 20 points simply by offering free online IQ tests that puts nearly everyone, by the third time they take the test, in the “very superior” or “genius” category. Including me. 

Thank you Internet for making me so much smarter than I was before.

And giving me a online certificate to prove it.


Facebook confession

I often look up words in the Urban Dictionary.

And sometimes rely on its accuracy more than even Wikipedia.

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