John Y. Brown, III: Maddie Yates

maddie yatesI didn’t know Maddie Yates or her family but my heart goes out to them tonight.

Maddie is the Louisville high school student who committed suicide yesterday after posting a video explaining her plan to kill herself and why.

The video is no longer on the internet but the transcript is. I just read the transcript and was drawn to this part:

“Remember how bad of a person I really am. I say awful things. Even if I don’t mean them, I say them. You don’t even want to know the things that I think; I am not a good person. I’m doing literally the whole world a favor.”

I was drawn to these words because I wish more adults would say from time to time –and say it so a young person can hear it:

“I say awful things that I don’t mean and later regret saying. I think thoughts that no good person would think. I sometimes wonder to myself how someone like me could ever be a ‘good person.’  But that doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me about average–and the same can be said for everyone else who has thoughts like this. We just aren’t very good at talking openly about the uncomfortable parts of ourselves… but maybe one day we’ll get better at it.”

JYB3_homeAnd I think if each of us adults would say something like that from time to time –and say it so a young person can hear it–I think we would be doing literally the whole world a favor.

Elisabeth Jensen: Kentucky Kynect the Right Remedy at the Right Time

elisabeth jensenI am passionate about healthcare for the people of Kentucky. That is why I am proud of the leadership Governor Steve Beshear has done with our Kentucky Kynect, which now covers more than 402,000 people in the Commonwealth. Governor Beshear recognized opportunity, and knew the remedy for at just the right time for the people he serves.

And that is why I am disappointed that Representative Andy Barr and Senator Mitch McConnell are still blind to the facts, maintaining even stronger attempts to undermine Kentucky Kynect for people who had no insurance.

I often say Kentucky moms like me get more done by noon than Congress gets done in a week.  So when I learned Congressman Andy Barr has voted 19 times to repeal healthcare reform I was disappointed.

Barr, along with Mitch McConnell, voted to end Kynect and let insurance companies drop coverage, deny care and charge women more.

Barr has been in office as 6th District Congressman since January 2013. Since then, he has voted at least 19 times to repeal healthcare. His latest effort was just last week, when he cast his vote for the disastrous Barr/Ryan Budget, which would also change Medicare as we know it. During his career, he has taken more than $148,000 in contributions from the insurance industry, according to

Overall, Congress has voted about 54 times to repeal the health care law. McConnell has even been criticized nationally for grossly distorting statistics, particularly when Governor Beshear’s office was reporting great success right here in Kentucky.

When I am in Congress, the families of Kentucky’s 6th District won’t have to be afraid of me serving special interests over their interests. And when it comes to their healthcare, I will protect Kentucky Kynect. When it comes to Andy Barr and me that is a big difference.

Elisabeth Jensen, as an executive of a non-profit and with deep experience in the business community, brings the tools and experience needed to get the economy working again. She is running for Congress to seek common sense, bi-partisan solutions to the challenges facing our country. See for more information.



Josh Bowen: Never Waiver


This week I needed something. I needed something that would instill positivity in my opinions of the world. Lately, all I hear about is death, disease, war etc. on the TV (one of the reason I do not watch television). And right on cue is a story about a young man with Down Syndrome who signed an NBA contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. A story about a boy who was his high school basketball team’s student manager who was given an opportunity to finally fulfill his dream of playing basketball…and made the best of that opportunity. This young man is unafraid of his situation and though his condition limits certain things, his enthusiasm and passion never waiver. It was refreshing. It was a feel good story. And maybe it is an example that could be applied to all aspects of life?


If you knew for certain you couldn’t fail, what would you attempt? Would you exercise more? Would save more money? Would you open a business? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

This young man has everything against him but shows heart and valor and a love for a game on par with the professional players he will be sitting with. He doesn’t think of failure, he thinks of opportunities and lets his passion lead the way.

I challenge you this week to think about what you would do if you knew you would not fail. Whatever that is, find a way to go do it. This young man did and his life is forever changed.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Diet Update

Diet-Meme1Week 10 of my diet and down 14.7 lbs (oh hell, let’s just day 15 lbs!)

My goal is 12 more pounds. Not sure why that is my goal other than Kent Oyler, who is my height and much fitter than I am, told me what he weighed when I was starting my diet and I decided I wanted to look like him. We were at an event at the Kentucky Science Center and talked about it. I never told him that because it sounds kind of creepy but it’s the truth.

I lost 12 lbs the first 6 weeks and only 3 lbs the past 4 weeks….but I am moving in the right direction–just slowly.

It may be summertime before I have my Kent Oyler-esque bod. But I looked at a picture of Kent and I on Facebook just now and I think it will be worth the wait. And that sounds really, really creepy and is probably something I should have just kept to myself. But dieting finds the strangest motivators and that is all I am trying to say.

And if Kent sees this post please know that just because I imagine your physique in my mind daily as an idealized motivator for my diet, I am not imaging your body in any kind of weird way that should concern Kathy. I swear. It is just a dietary tool and totally normal, I am sure. I hope. And thanks for being my inspiration. And I don’t mean that in any kind of weird way either. I really don’t. I swear.

jyb_musingsLook, all I am trying to say here is I have lost 15 lbs and have 12 lbs to go. And when I get there perhaps Kent Oyler and I can dress up like twins one day just for fun. OK, I know that is really, really weird and I am totally joking. Promise!!

Although…I suppose it could be kinda cool. But probably not. Not “probably not” that I will lose the additional 12 pounds but “probably not” that when I do Kent and I will dress in the same outfit one day. Unless, of course, Kent insisted on it. Out of respect for him I would have to consider it then. But it would have to be his idea. And even if I ageed to do it I would pull Kent aside and tell him I thought his idea was a little weird and I wasn’t completely comfortable with it. But I would do it anyway because Kent’s a good guy I respect a lot and I feel like I owe him.


Diet update: For the first time in 3 months, I went shopping for a new pair of pants.

3 months ago I wore a 38×29 (and was pushing it at 38 in and measured 39″) –but today fit comfortably into, get this, 35×30 pants.

That’s right. I have lost 4 inches in my waist.

But perhaps even more impressive, I have –apparently–grown an inch as well. And I wasn’t even trying to grow. Buying a pair of medium boxers ….well….that was just showing off.

Saul Kaplan: Squeezing Harder Won’t Work

squeezing toothpasteHere’s the thing about toothpaste tubes. You can squeeze all you want on one part of the tube and the toothpaste will only pop up in another part of the tube.  Many of today’s important systems operate much the same way.

The big challenges we face today including health care and education are systems issues that require systems solutions. These systems have evolved over a long time and are well intentioned. Players in the system work hard year after year to deliver value, improve their position, and create sustained incremental improvements.  It is not enough.  We need new toothpaste tubes.  We can’t fix these system issues by squeezing harder on different parts of the tube.  We need to design and experiment with new system level solutions.

Everyone loves to point fingers at the other players in the system as the cause of the problem.  Health care is a classic example.  Observing our health care system today is like watching an intense rugby scrum that is moving in slow motion hoping the ball will pop out.  Finger pointing and incessant public policy debates galore.  We love to admire the problems: It is the cost of drugs that is killing us.  It is the high cost hospitals that are the problem.  It is the insurance companies that are in the way of change.  Doctors are the ones who are resisting change.  If only the government would get its act together.  If only patients would take more responsibility for their care.  It goes on and on.

In education, the same movie is playing with different actors.  It’s the unions that are getting in the way.  Teachers are resisting change in the classroom.  Administrators don’t understand what is going on in the classroom.  Parents are not engaged.  Public policy makers can’t make up their minds.  If only private sector companies were more engaged.  Students are unruly, undisciplined, and disrespectful.  Everyone is blamed and nothing changes.

I’m not a cynic. I’ve seen and participated in many innovative initiatives that are trying to create systems-level changes within healthcare and education.  And some of them have indeed succeeded in creating incremental value. But where are the disrupters? Where are the systems-level game changers? The problem is that great ideas coming from one silo are tried but quickly bump into the other silos and constraints of the system.  Promising new solutions squeeze on one part of the toothpaste tube only to learn that when you squeeze on one part of the tube it just pops up in another. We need safe environments to design and experiment with new toothpaste tubes or systems.

photo-saulThe student and the patient should be at the center of our redesign efforts in education and health care.  We need to experiment at the systems level, trying new approaches to see what works.  For instance, we’ve proven that innovation works at the school level with hundreds of successful charter schools across the country.  Now we need to experiment at the district level to test new student centered system approaches that are not constrained by the way the current system operates.  That is the only way we are going to learn what solutions can deliver value to the student at scale.  The same thing is true in health care.  We need to design and test patient centered system approaches that are more about well care than about sick care.  We can’t get there by playing at the margins of today’s system. Squeezing today’s toothpaste tubes harder will not work.

Josh Bowen: Food Prep 101

“You either prepare to succeed or prepare to fail…there is no in-between.”


You have great intentions. You want to eat better. You want fitness results. But you didn’t bring any food to work today. So you go out with the rest of the crew and eat Mexican.

Is this you?

Professor JB here! I am prepared to take you through a course of food preparation. But first lets digress on why you would prepare your food:

1. Selection- I find that clients that prepared their meals ahead of time select better foods. Clients that do not prepare meals, tend to select whatever is available. Selecting whatever is available is a great way of messing with your fitness results.

2. Cost Effective- Today I fixed 3lbs of chicken and a half pound of rice. This will last for 10-12 meals. The total cost $60 or $5-6 per meal. To eat out and get the same meal would cost $10-15. That is a savings of $5-10 per meal. In other words, prepare your meals.

3. Results- Everyone wants results but few are willing to do what it takes to get them. If you want results, prepare your meals. It is that simple.

Now let us get down to the “nitty gritty” on how to prepare your food.

1. Prepare ahead of time- Take a day or two and prepare your meals for the week. Plan what you are going to have (in accordance of your goals) each day and only cook what you need.

2. Keep it simple- Try your best to keep it simple. A great protein source, a steamed vegetable and a small amount of carbohydrates (depending on goal) is a great way to prepare your meals.

3. Variety- If you want variety for taste purposes, use different seasoning and sauces to switch it up. Keep the additives to a minimum but also it is important to have fun with your meals. Getting a cookbook and trying different recipes is a great idea as well.

4. Fun- Try you best to look at this as fun, rather than a chore. This process is to help you see fitness results and keep you on track and more efficient.

For you enjoyment, here are some of my lovely clients food prep pictures:

food prep 2

food prep 1

food prep 3

Yours in fitness,

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Mysterious Adventures of Morning People

morning peopleI will never personally explore outer space or the mysteries of the ocean depths.

But after becoming a “morning person” in middle age I have discovered an exciting new world that I never knew existed between about 530am- 8am each morning. It doesn’t involve identifying new stars or planets or observing a new underwater species or rare coral growth. Bu…t there are some real characters, fascinating behaviors, impressive routines and surprising activities that I never knew about that exist in this mysterious “early morning” world.

jyb_musingsAnd you don’t need a spaceship or bathyscape to travel there. Just a functional alarm clock that doesn’t have a snooze button.

And astonaut helmets and swimming goggles are optional.

Lauren Mayer: Classic (and Sophomoric) Humor and Politics

like to joke that I have 3 boys, ages 17, 20 and 47.  (One is my husband – cue rim shot.)  Husband 2.0 came along when I was a single mother with really young kids, and he proceeded to endear himself to them by doing silly impressions (his Yoda and Scoobie-Doo sort of mesh together) and inventing a game he called ‘Dodgeball In The Dark,’ in which they raced around the backyard throwing whatever wasn’t nailed down.  But he really bonded with the boys via male humor – first Simpsons, then Family Guy as they got (almost) old enough, with a healthy dose of “that’s what she said” jokes thrown in.

Many writers have weighed in on why women are less amused by this type of humor – in fact, Google “Why men love The Three Stooges and women don’t” and you’ll get over 2 million entries, with a wide range of explanations.  I’m constantly trying to give my boys a bit of refinement and elegance, and moms are traditionally the ones who discourage rough-housing and bad language, but there is also something to be said in favor of letting our hair down a bit – especially since at my house it’s a losing fight anyhow.

I’ve learned to enjoy Family Guy (okay, it can be horribly offensive, but also really funny, and the song parodies are a riot), and I’ve been known to crack an off-color ‘that’s what she said’ on occasion.  Plus this week, when I was at my wits’ end trying to figure out a topic for my song, Husband 2.0 suggested I do something juvenile with the rhyming name of Hobby Lobby – and this is the result.  (Maybe we’re the reverse of the old saying about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, that he gave her class and she gave him sex appeal. . . I give him class and he gives me bawdy humor suggestions?)

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Choices

choicesNote to tape on my bathroom mirror to read every morning:

You know that thing you’ve been thinking about doing?

No. Not that one. The other one.

You know the one.

Yes, that one. That’s the one.

Don’t do it. Just don’t.

jyb_musingsJust…please… put it out of your mind.

I know. I know. Heard it all before. Remember about this time last year? Same situation and how did that turn out for you?

This would be yet another “bad choice,” as they like to say. And, really, haven’t you made enough of those already?

Just let it go. Trust me on this. You’ll thank me a month from now.

Don’t forget to brush your teeth. And why don’t you try flossing for a change?

Josh Bowen: How Bad Do You Want It?


how bad do you want it

Let’s be straight with each other, nothing in life is easy. It never has been and never will be. If you watch the video above, the voice overs talk about greatness, insatiable desire and not letting ANYTHING stand in your way.

“Your motive will push you, with no motive there is no push.” So what is your motive? What is your why? And is your why powerful enough and do you believe in it enough to propel you to greatness. Or will you make excuses?

Most people’s roadblock falls into three categories:

1. Afraid of failure- So many people are afraid to fail so they fail to try. Failure is inevitable but it’s not final. You fall on your face, you get back up. You fall on your face again, you get back up, again. No excuse for not trying. If you are afraid to fell you don’t want it that bad.

2. Afraid of success- What happens if I am successful? Then what? More responsibility and expectations shy people away from trying. Do not let this be you, keep pushing and when you start to succeed push harder. Do it for yourself…you’ll thank me one day.

3. No initiative- How many people do you know that walk through life with no plan and no direction, never capitalizing on their unique talents? In every person is the capability to be great at something. That something takes massive initiative and a specific game plan. For example in 2007 I went from training clients to operating 23 fitness clubs in 3 states…at the age of 23. Initiative is what allowed me to take that position, for which I sacrificed money, time and spend 275 days on the road…but I wouldn’t be where I am without taking that step.

The greats in every industry in every corner of the world have failure…many times. The difference between those that fail and those that are successful is very simply picking yourself off the ground and going back at it again. Driven by your why, consumed by your purpose and invigorated with enthusiasm, these are things that get you to any place worth going. Do not short change yourself, do not sell yourself short. Go out in the world and dominate it. There are no shortcuts. You want something bad enough? GO. GET. IT. Let nothing or no one stop you.

My rant is over…

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