By John Y. Brown III, on Mon May 13, 2013 at 2:00 PM ET
Click here to BUY MY BOOK!
A shameless and unconventional promo of my eBook.
Look…my eBook is ranked, ahem, 391,200 on Amazon.com.
Is that bad? It is only if you focus on the link underneath it offering to take you to the top 100 ranked books on Amazon.com. In other words, there are 391,101 that separate me from being in that group.
To some people who read a lot of books, that may not sound like a lot. But to me, well, even though I read a good deal….391,101 books …..is a lot. Quite a bit. A whole lot, in fact!
So I’m pitching this eBook one last time. And if I don’t break into the top, say, 281,200 on Amazaon.com, guess what? I’ll write another book! That’s right. If enough people don’t buy this one because they don’t want it…. there will be a sequel! Mark my word.
Next time I’ll try hawking two books in a Facebook post that other people don’t want to read, not just one!
Game on!! I’m serious. I’ll write it. I will. I’ll write a second eBook. I already have a title for it.
Title: “More….a lot more….Musings from the Middle: The sequel. II. And these aren’t very good at all –and seem to just go on forever. Just awful.”
Do you really want me to go there? Do you really want me to hawk a second and much worse eBook in a Facebook post? I don’t want to…and you don’t want me to either…but I just may. You’ve been warned.
By John Y. Brown III, on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
I don’t like to brag and it really is against my nature to do so…but I just couldn’t resist.
After several days of promoting my new eBook, not only have I broken through the almost impenetrable sales threshold of selling into the doubledigits (10 or more), I have actually skyrocketed all the way up to the highest teen number (19!) as of an hour ago.
Now, yeah, sure…that counts my own purchase and my mom’s.
But that doesn’t take away from these staggering runaway sales numbers that now seemed to have leveled off —but fortunately for now anyway– seem to be holding steady and not dropping.
Which means…maybe, just maybe, I should hold on to my day job.
On the other hand, the report below tells the tale.
What kind of tale? I’m not so sure. Just a tale where the number 19 is becoming increasingly my favorite new number and a number I haven’t ever given enough of a chance.
Hey, and look at the irony. Even my favorite band, Steely Dan, sang an entire song about the number 19. You and I both know it wasn’t about my eBook sales. But the fact that it could have been, means a lot to me. And makes me really proud in that mysterious, magical, low sales, Karma kind of way…. Very cool. And, again, forgive my hubris! ; )
“Latest report: # Net Units Sold Musings from the Middle 19″
By Jonathan Miller, on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 9:15 AM ET
Click here to review/purchase
The nation’s most exciting new publishing imprint — The Recovering Politician Books — has just released its second title, following the international sensation, Jonathan Miller’s The Liberal Case for Israel:
If the title sounds familiar, well d’uh — it is a collection of essays first published at The Recovering Politician — and some bonus new essays as well by our modern day Will Rogers — former Kentucky Secretary of State John Y. Brown, III. Our readers know that John is often insightful, usually clever, and always hilarious.
I loved the book — giving it three thumbs up.
But don’t trust me: Check out the first review of the book at Amazon.com:
I have not read this book yet but did write it. I don’t proof read so, I really can’t say that I have read it even while writing it. I do, sometimes, go back and read some of the posts in this collection after the get posted on the Recovering Politician blog I write for. So, I guess, in that sense I have read a little of this book.All I can say is that the posts I have read after they got posted, some of them were pretty good. As for the others I didn’t read, I tried to make them worth while but can’t comment any more than that. And I apologize for the spelling and grammatical lapses that come from not proof-reading. If you learn nothing else from this eBook, I hope you at least learn the value of proofing and editing.
And at most, I hope you chuckle a few times and say to yourself, “I can relate,” or “Maybe I’m not so weird after all if this guy thinks that way too,” or maybe “Wow, perhaps both of us –because we think like this –are really weird and everybody else is normal’ (although I hope this last thought doesn’t happen as often as the one I wished before it).
And if you have this last thought a lot more often than the one before it, don’t feel bad. I have a friend here in Louisville (whose name I won’t mention), who has these kind of thoughts too. So, really, there’s more than just two of us. There’s at least three. (His name is John Bell and he’s been a friend since high school. Sorry, John.)
I originally planned to write 5 reviews and give myself 5 stars in each review. Of course, that would require setting up 4 fake accounts and making up 4 fake names. And I’m not sure how to set up fake accounts and making up fake names takes more time than I want to give it. So, I’m just going to give this one real pseudo-review. And give myself 3 1/2 stars. My conscience –coupled with laziness–always seems to undermine my bigger plans.
Full disclosure: I rounded up to 4 stars.
And if you liked the review, you will love the book. Purchase by clicking here for only $4.95, while supplies (electrons) last.
Beware of random collisions with unusual suspects. Unless, of course, if you want to learn something new. In that case seek out innovators from across every imaginable silo and listen, really listen, to their stories. New ideas, perspectives, and value creating opportunities are in the gray areas between unusual suspects. It seems so obvious and yet we spend most of our time with the usual suspects in our respective silos. We need to get out of our silos more.
It’s human nature to surround ourselves with people exactly like us. We connect and spend time with people who share a common world-view, look the same, enjoy the same activities, and speak the same language. We join clubs to be with others like us. I want to belong to the non-club club. The only tribe I want to be in is a tribe of unusual suspects who can challenge my world-view, expose me to new ideas, and teach me something new. I founded the Business Innovation Factory to enable random collisions of unusual suspects.
I am reminded of the power of this simple idea as my friend Bill Taylor launches his new book,Practically Radical (a must read for all innovators). Bill is a magnet for innovation stories and a master storyteller. I’ve been a Bill Taylor fan since he founded Fast Company and was surprised when he showed up at BIF-1, our very first Collaborative Innovation Summit, back in 2004. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Bill loves searching for compelling innovation stories among the unusual suspects. He has attended all but one of our six annual summits to-date including co-chairing several of them. There have been countless random collisions. As I started reading Practically Radical I was immediately hit with a powerful reminder.
Read the rest of… Saul Kaplan: Practically Radical
It’s rare that a book so enhances your world-view that you think the author has taken up residence in your head. Henceforth What Technology Wants shall be known as my new playbook for understanding technology. It’s a must read for innovation junkies trying to sort the infinite possibilities of the 21stcentury. Many have tried to help us understand the meaning of technology. Few get below the buzzwords.
What Technology Wants captures the essence of our technological revolution and provides a lens to understand its origins. It provides a unique view from technology’s perspective shedding light on what technology wants and where it can take us. It’s a call to action reminding us of the opportunity and responsibility to remake our world in a way that deeply honors technologic potential around us. I expected the book to be great. Kevin Kelly has been an innovation hero of mine dating back to his days as the founding editor of WIRED. Every story during Kevin’s tenure at the magazine was a voice from the future that seemed to be speaking directly to me. It was a thrill to spend an entire day with Kevin when he came to the Business Innovation Factory recently to discuss What Technology Wants. Talk about being a kid in a candy store. My head is still spinning.
Kevin Kelly’s visit and book discussion stretched my thinking in both comfortable and uncomfortable ways. Let’s start with the comfortable leap. Kelly clearly asserts that humans are the evolutionary conduit connecting the cosmos, bios, and technos. He paints a compelling narrative arc asserting that the concentric creation stories of the universe, life, and the man-made world all share the same inexorable evolutionary path. I now know what Stephen Johnson meant by taking a long zoom view. Kelly traces the four billion year history of life through transitions marked by ever-increasing complexity of information flows. From molecules to single-cell organisms to language based societies to writing and printing to agriculture to scientific method, to mass production to ubiquitous global communication. It’s all one grand evolutionary arc and we are center stage.
I have always been fascinated by biomimicry, a design discipline that emulates or takes inspiration from nature to solve human problems. In What Technology Wants, Kelly helps us make the connections and intellectual leap necessary to see evolution as a connecting process, seamlessly working its magic across both the natural and man-made world. Technology doesn’t just mimic nature it’s a natural evolutionary extension of the human mind, which in turn is a direct extension of our cosmic beginnings. Kelly invites us to become one with technology. It’s a far easier invitation to accept knowing we share a common evolutionary process and limitless opportunities to explore the adjacent possible together.
The leap I am less comfortable with and still trying to process is Kelly’s assertion that there is an inherent direction to the evolutionary process. He claims evolution is a predictable process with predetermined tendencies. His argument isn’t theological but science based. It’s enough to make your head explode. Kelly claims there is an aspect of structural inevitability or predetermined outcomes built into the evolutionary process. He suggests that if somehow we could replay four billion years of evolutionary process over again we would see roughly the same outcomes. How can that be? The notion goes against everything I am wired to believe. I grew up incessantly arguing with my mom, who must have said a million times, if it is meant to be it will be. To which I always countered in full-throated argument, the only things meant to be are things we make happen. I never bought into mom’s fatalistic life view preferring the self-deterministic outlook that has shaped my life.
And yet What Technology Wants advances a compelling argument that complex adaptive systems will converge into recurring solutions given enough time. Kelly is claiming that evolution is reproducible. He sites the convergent evolution of eyesight as evidence. Evolutionary biologists have determined that a camera like eye evolved not just once but independently six times over the course of life on Earth. It seems that eyesight is an inevitable evolutionary outcome not a random event. Many other examples are highlighted in the book pointing to similar evolutionary convergence across the natural world including flapping wings which evolved independently three times in birds, bats, and pterodactyls.
Read the rest of… Saul Kaplan: What Technology Wants
By John Y. Brown III, on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM ET
Waiting rooms, magazine ads, and the grieving process.
It just occurred to me while thumbing through a magazine in a waiting room that I will probably never post pictures of myself on Facebook (or anywhere else for that matter) of a photo shoot of my modeling underwear in the forest.
I can’t say that I’m sad about that. Or that it ever occurred to me to ever want to do such a thing. It didn’t.
But something about closing in on 50 causes a mental shift. Instead of looking past a magazine ad I’ve seen before and thinking nothing of it, except perhaps, “I can’t believe that guy is actually posing like that. Embarrassing.”
There is a very subtle shift. Now I see the ad and say, “Geez. He’s really young. And fit. I’ll never look like that again. Heck, I never did look like that. But now it’s even worse. Not only did I never look like that….I never will. Ever. And I’ll never, ever be asked to do a photo shoot in the woods featuring my pecs.”
It’s not as dramatic as it sounds. Not really. I remind myself I never really wanted to do that anyway and that I used to roll my eyes at the ad, back when “potential” was still part of my vocabulary and could be applied to me.
And, no, I don’t want to buy the cologne being sold. I don’t hang out with 25 year olds in the forest with my shirt off. I’m not the target audience, I guess.
After shrugging, I turn the page.
And see the new Brad Pitt Channel ad.
And start looking for Highlights magazine to thumb through instead of the glossy grown up magazines? I’ve grieved enough for one day already.
By Jonathan Miller, on Fri Jan 4, 2013 at 10:00 AM ET
We at The Recovering Politician are proud to announce that one of our own, contributing RP and former Congressman Tom Allen, has published an outstanding new book, Dangerous Convictions: What’s Really Wrong with the U.S. Congress. Here’s a summary:
Click here to review and/or purchase
The rhetoric of the 2012 presidential campaign exposed the deeply rooted sources of political polarization in American. One side celebrated individualism and divided the public into “makers and takers;” the other preached “better together” as the path forward. Both focused their efforts on the “base” not the middle.
In Dangerous Convictions, former Democratic Congressman Tom Allen argues that what’s really wrong with Congress is the widening, hardening conflict in worldviews that leaves the two parties unable to understand how the other thinks about what people should do on their own and what we should do together. Members of Congress don’t just disagree, they think the other side makes no sense. Why are conservatives preoccupied with cutting taxes, uninterested in expanding health care coverage and in denial about climate change? What will it take for Congress to recover a capacity for pragmatic compromise on these issues?
Allen writes that we should treat self-reliance (the quintessential American virtue) and community (our characteristic instinct to cooperate) as essential balancing components of American culture and politics, instead of setting them at war with each other. Combining his personal insights from 12 years In Congress with recent studies of how human beings form their political and religious views, Allen explains why we must escape the grip of our competing worldviews to enable Congress to work productively on our 21st century challenges.
Already the book has garnered some impressive reviews:
”With historically low ratings, Congress is regarded as ‘dysfunctional’ by Americans of all political persuasions. Why that is so, and what can be done to reduce excessive partisanship, is the subject of Tom Allen’s well-informed and provocative book.” -Former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell
“This is an extraordinarily valuable examination of the most troubling concern of our time: the inability of our leaders in Washington to find consensus and forge compromise in the public interest. Readers will discover here a deeply penetrating analysis by an author who had unique opportunities to observe from the inside the causes and consequences of our current polarization. Anyone who wants to understand why contemporary politics so often results in failure cannot afford to miss this essential book.” -G. Calvin Mackenzie, Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of Government, Colby College
“Allen, a former Democratic congressman from Maine and current president and CEO of the American Association of Publishers, offers a panoramic critique of Congress based on his 12 years in office (1997-2009), covering policy areas from the budget to health care….Allen’s pragmatism and reason help frame major issues for Americans hungering for some legislative wisdom after the election.” –Publishers Weekly
As the new Steven Spielberg movie has reignited our national passion for our 16th President, we continue our series of posts from one of the nation’s leading experts on the topic: Dr. Matthew Pinsker, a Lincoln scholar, Civil War historian and college professor based at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA (and of course, longtime Friend of RP). For the last five years, Pinsker has personally trained more than 2,500 K-12 educators on Civil War and American history topics, and he has also been directing the House Divided Project, a digital effort designed to help classroom teachers use the latest technologies to promote deeper study of the American Civil War during its 150th anniversary.
Here is is second, cross-posted with Quora.com, with permission of the author:
Why do most people think of Lincoln as an anti-slavery President? Wasn’t he really more a pro-reunification president?
The best way to answer this question is to begin by defining terms. When Lincoln wrote on August 22, 1862 in his famous open letter to Horace Greeley, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery,” he was employing a word –”union”– that meant different things to different people (and still does, by the way). For Lincoln and the Republicans, the union was never merely a collection of states. Nor was it a centralized federal government or some abstract attachment to a paper Constitution.
This is the key point and what always leads to confusion. For Lincoln especially, the “union” was “the people” –as in “We the people” and what should properly be considered the fundamental and most revolutionary American doctrine of popular sovereignty.
Professor Matthew Pinsker
Look carefully at all of Lincoln’s wartime speeches and statements and you will see that behind the phrase “save the union,” Lincoln always meant to protect the results of the 1860 election which he believed had defined the popular will through a legitimate electoral process. That’s how he justified calling himself a unionist even though he led a sectional party. That’s why he refused practically all compromises during the secession crisis because he believed that they failed to acknowledge how much the election mattered. And that’s why he pursued increasingly “hard war” policies against the Confederacy, including emancipation, that ultimately turned the war into what he had once warned against, “a remorseless, revolutionary struggle.”
In other words, Lincoln was both anti-slavery and pro-union. In fact, he considered those positions one and the same, because he defined “union” as the popular will which by the 1860 election results had determined that the future of the country was to be free, or, as Lincoln put it at Gettysburg, to be “a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” He was always willing to reunify the country on those terms, and never willing to consider anything less. This is, by the way, exactly the question that Steven Spielberg’s new movie, “Lincoln,” intends to examine by focusing on the last few months of the war and what the movie-makers present as the fundamental choice that Lincoln navigated during that period between pushing for a Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery or pursuing potential peace talks with Confederates.
In 2005, after reading yet another inspiring book by Deepak Chopra, I gave myself a birthday present and attended my first Chopra Center weeklong class called, SynchroDestiny.
The title still excites me and I can tell you that it was fantastic. Dr. Deepak is a terrific presenter with a peaceful, engaging presence, and when he signed my book he was warm and present. At our farewell dinner we chatted about a mutual acquaintance and I felt, and do still, that he is swell guy and one of the most influential leaders of mind-body medicine in our modern world today.
It was at this Chopra Center class that I was introduced to meditation for the first time, and it was there that I thought meditation was baloney the first time, the second time, the third, and twice a day for the entire week.
I really did want the promised health benefits of optimum blood pressure, deeper mental and emotional stability, and a state of “restful awareness” that would ensure a stressless existence, but my struggle to sit still in silence seemed to indicate I was wasting my time. I could NOT calm my mind, I could not focus, I could not enjoy it and I certainly did not see a future in meditation for myself.
As you gain experience with meditation, you’ll begin to feel the reappearance of youthful energy and vitality that is being released from the deeper level of the nervous system. This is a very profound change and the real fountain of youth.
Perfect Health: The Complete Mind Body Guide, Deepak Chopra, M. D.
But I persevered along with the other 50 or so attendees because it was part of the deal and because I had paid for the entire Chopra Center experience with my birthday savings. And because I was loving the rest of the SynchroDestiny intensive.
So I returned home and went about life as usual and felt pretty good. For me, there’s nothing like a vacation that includes learning, great food, AND massage. And because I hate to give up before the promised results, I continued to try to meditate daily despite feeling I was getting nowhere.
And then something happened two weeks later, the day my handyman Elvis, worked in my attic.
CRAAAAAAAAASH! I looked up from my computer to see Elvis’s feet dangling through a hole in my second story hallway ceiling as huge pieces of paint and dry wall and ceiling continued to break off to expose his entire lower body.
I should add here that because we have vaulted ceilings from the living-room up, the distance to the closest floor is 40 feet.
Yes, a man was falling and holding on for his life, in my home, no joke. And he was screaming, and kicking his legs around in panic, just the way it looks in movies. The fear was palpable.
But I felt completely and genuinely calm, “Hey Elvis, don’t worry, you’ll be ok—just hoist yourself back up slowly and come on downstairs—I’ll make you some tea.”
What? Who was this strangely calm and reassuring being that had taken over my senses, my spirit, my own vocal chords?
Read the rest of… Lisa Miller: Adventures and Fun with Deepak Chopra & My Handy Man Elvis
By John Y. Brown III, on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 12:00 PM ET
Idea for bookstores to save the world.
Yesterday in Barnes & Noble book store I browsed three different sections.
Politics section. It seemed like every book title was about blaming somebody or some group or some thing for all of our problems.
Self-help section. All the titles seemed in this section seemed to be about taking responsibility for yourself and not blaming others and making the most of your life.
Humor section. Just fun and frivolous titles that make a mockery of our day-to-day world and help lighten my day and restore my perspective.
So, here’s my big idea to save the world.
Take the Self-help books and place them in the Political section. That way we will help end the blame game and start thinking about what we each can do to make things better.
Take all the books in the Humor section and place them in the Self-Help section. Frankly, having a good laugh or two each day is better than buying and reading an entire new book we won’t act on anyway.
And, finally, place all the books from the Political section in the Humor Section. Those books will then be properly categorized and are frankly a lot funnier than most the books in that section anyway when you take them at face value. And they will stop being confused for books that teach or inform us—and finally serve some useful purpose.