“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
– Margaret J. Wheatley
For over a decade I have been a bit of a transient. At the end of my first major life chapter I was a divorced Dad sleeping on couches and traveling down to Maryland (or vice-versa depending on the day/month/year). When I wrote Reflections on Being Single I had just moved into an apartment in Bradley Beach, NJ. I slept on a floor mattress in Elkton, Maryland, and kept clothes in my car. Suddenly I went from seeing my then 5 year old daughter every day, to seeing her three nights a week and every other weekend. 12 years later I find myself married again, my daughter is now driving, and soon I will be changing diapers for a second time. Life has been good, exciting, and fulfilling. Yet living a life of moving every few years (I lost count over 10) the one thing I have missed is a community to call my own. Not just a place to live, but a place to settle down and grow roots. A place where you clean up a park together (as I type this it is Earth Day and I am headed to do just that), join a local theater company, know a local shop owner by name and care about their futures, and work to make yourself and your town a little bit better than it was the day before.
Yes. I admit that I drive from New Jersey to Maryland twice a week amounting to 12 hours in a car per week. I also get up at 5am to do this and get home generally around 930pm to then eat, do more work if needed or try and relax, and then do it again. I do this for my career, and yes it makes me tired enough to fall asleep for four hours on a Saturday afternoon after sleeping ten hours that night. But that isn’t why I am tired, or at least it isn’t why I am writing this post. I am so very extremely tired of the nonstop fire hose of bullsnozzle that is being spewed on a daily basis, from what seems like every human being on the planet twenty-four hours a day for the sole purpose of egocentric grandstanding. And I know. We get it. People are narcissistic on social media. What is he going to tell us next, “that a lack of sleep makes you tired?” No. I mean well yes a lack of sleep makes you tired. I am living proof of that, and I am sure I am slowly taking years off my life, but we already talked about that. I am not just ranting about the “people are ego maniacs on social media” thing. I get it. That is old hat as they say (in the early part of the twentieth century).
I have a lot of opinions. They change of course over time. Sometimes they change due to conversations. Sometimes they change by experiences. Sometimes they change inside me and I am not really sure why they change at all. I just know they change, and that’s part of growing, and that’s what I think wisdom feels like when you suspect you’ve gained some.
I’ve never really attempted to write about love. I’ve written songs, letters to others, or tend to find myself in conversations where I express these ever changing opinions about it, but every time I want to sit down and attempt to capture any of my thoughts on the matter, I come up with some distraction to delay the inevitable another few months (I started this post three years before publishing it so months is a bit of a misnomer). Yet to be honest I think about people, and connections, and relationships, and that allusive four letter word a lot. I’m fascinated with the mystery of it all, and I think I’m in good company based on thousands of years of art, music, movies, books, and so on. Continue reading “Selfless Love and Taxes”
Polished shoes. Sharp freshly pressed suit. A whistle on my lips and a spring in my step. I remember the first time I went into New York City for an interview out of college. Head in the clouds and ready to change the world. Now I would love to say over 15 years later that fateful day changed everything, but then I would be lying. In reality I went on a handful of interviews in the city that never sleeps, and in the end I ended up working at a real estate company in Morris Plains, NJ, because as a sales associate my Mom was able to get me an interview. Equipped with a Bachelor of Science in Economics, a Bachelor of Arts in Music, and a minor in Mathematics, I began my professional career as a Project Coordinator for a real estate recruiting department, which was a made up title for the new guy who did whatever my boss asked of me (my boss incidentally had just started in his new job in this recently created department a week before).
My first project is one that I will never forget and laid the foundation for the advice I would give to anyone starting out in the business world. Monday morning my boss came into my office, which was comprised of four cubical like work areas, and dropped a bag on my desk. This was it! The big show. The moment I had been waiting four years for was finally here! All of the classes. All of the studying and papers. All of the thought provoking debates till 3 a.m. with roommates (also 2 a.m. runs to Dorians for their mouth watering Hot Turkey and Bacon toasted sub). In this bag was the start of my rise to the top! Business books about my life will contain this bag and the unknown contents within it. Was it the financial records of my company and I was going to be asked to cut 30% of the budget? Was it a new proposed merger and I needed to analyze whether or not to go through with it (I may have watched The Secret of My Success a little too much as a teenager)?
When implementing social business changes into a company or organization there is a lot of talk about “changing culture,” and “digital immigrants,” and other random buzz words or phrases someone read in a “game-changing” book. Yet if you have ever tried to implement “knowledge management” or “social business,” you know that you are going to meet three different kinds of people. Those that hate change and won’t change. Those that are indifferent to change as long as they don’t have to do too much, and those that love change and are evangelists for your cause. The thought process usually goes like this, “We need to change the culture. Tom may be set in his ways, but we can change Tom to think in a new way.”
I love airports. Many people don’t I think. I have never conducted a scientific study to determine that statement, yet I think most people view them as a necessary evil. There is the whole dealing with security and the inevitable lines as you get shuffled through the process. Until you finally find your seat on the plane, and then wishing and praying you sit next to an interesting person (at least that is what I wish for, I know others probably wish they don’t sit next to me, since I may actually talk to them for a bit and get to know them). Prior to getting on the plane people are always busy moving about seeking their gate, a magazine for the flight, a loved one that is returning home, or getting in that last bathroom break that doesn’t involve an aisle walk.
I am not saying I am not busy doing all of those things as well. I mean I literally give myself the absolute minimum time needed to make the flight, so I am definitely that guy who is running with a laptop on my shoulder to catch a plane. That sort of gets me to my point actually.
In many airports when rushing off to your gate you have the option of speeding up your walk by walking on a moving walkway, or if you are not rushing you can just stand and relax as you get moved along to your destination, or at least the next walkway.
Next time you have the opportunity, instead of just walking up to the moving walkway and stepping on it, I suggest you give yourself a little kick start and jump onto the walkway. Obviously your technique is up to you, but I prefer the surfer stance on landing (arms out and everything). Not only is it fun to get a running start, but it applies a very important principle that many of us forget.
Remember that time we were in fourth grade and we…and then in sixth grade we…wow that was nuts when…those were the days right?
If you have ever been in a conversation like this where people are referencing childhood memories like they just took place a few weeks ago, then you will have experienced something I rarely am able to grasp. I have forever joked that I must have been abducted by aliens a number of times when I was younger, because when it comes to happy childhood memories most of them are a collection of images that I have either done a good job at repeating in my head (staring out the window of the family car as we drove somewhere far away because we couldn’t afford to fly, and wondering if the trees could communicate, as they danced slowly back and forth as if they were whispering to each other some ancient secrets), or they are a collection of fake images that I have compiled through parents and family members telling stories of my childhood. I am not even sure if they are real, but I have created them to fill in those gaps in my memory.
Crippling is the fear to know ones true destiny. Staring into its eyes there is nothing but a blank stare in the other direction. Are we meant for such knowledge? There are those that claim they can see into times playbook. It is impossible to judge such a statement, since I have never met a person that can undoubtedly perform such an act. However, I believe it is a possible act. The extent of the human mind is so vast that anything truly is possible. It is a frustrating debacle being so primitive. We peer into greatness only to find a genetic error that must be a problem. To hear a symphony and then play it back like a recording, yet not being able to form simple sentences is not an error or a genetic malfunction. It is a glimpse into our potential, a mere peek at the capabilities of the human mind. Have you ever sat daydreaming and a song enters into your head? The song is played exactly as the true recording had been played previously, even if heard only once before. Note by note an entire symphony is playing inside your head. Every clang of the cymbal, beat of the timpani, phrase of the violin, is played beautifully by your vast mind. Yet, try to hum the symphony as you hear it, or recall every note as your mind has just played it and you will probably fail. The reason is the human mind is like the fierce wolf who roams the countryside devouring a farmer’s livestock at will. The wolf will hunt and at times stay still so that you may actually see the wolf, but in a flash it is gone. The farmer may set up traps to cage the wolf, to trick the wolf into revealing itself, but no cage can hold the beast. It is not meant to be captured, but to grow and breed traveling from one farm to another. Learning more and more as it goes, the beast like the human mind will never stop its pursuit of the hunt. It will grow and grow and to our dismay stay concealed in the wild trapped in our primitive form. Damn the beast they will say, but it is the beast that keeps us hunting. As the beast hunts so shall we. We will hunt until we have met our maker, our seed giver, our God, creator, our reason for living, and when the hunt is over we will begin a new journey in search of more answers.
I attended a conference a few months ago and had the pleasure of giving some thoughts on social media behind the firewall and a product I manage called Jive SBS.
Jive then featured my company and showcased my video and picture. I was surprised to see myself among CEOs of major companies, and had a good laugh at my presidential photo dreamed up by Jive marketing, but it is nice to get some recognition for the work I do in the Government. As a contractor we are seen as the mercenaries who work behind the scenes to make things happen. For most of the awards we have received, someone else from the Government has had the honor of accepting, but my team and I are the ones who did the work and pushed forward the principles behind the products.
So here is my small pat on my back and some minor showboating for the work we normally do behind the scenes.
“Go around the middleman; get your music straight to the people, … You’ve got the Web now. Do it. Don’t even hesitate. Because people want to hear real music, and there’s a lot of talented kids out there, millions of them as far as I’m concerned, and they really have something to say. And they just needed their medium, and now they have it. That’s what I tell them. Go to the Web … but do it.” – Richie Havens
Over ten years ago I had an idea to change the world of the creative. Then life happened, and here I am ten years later still slowly trying to bring my idea to the world. I have made some progress, and through my career in the social web I have learned many things, but in case I get hit by a car I thought I would share some of it.
There are millions of creative people in the world who will never share their creative talent with others due to lack of determination, skills, desire, money, luck and a slew of other reasons specific to each person. These millions of people have millions of creative ideas every day in every genre that never amount to anything due to a lack of education on how to bring that idea to the market. Whether the market exists in the creative arts or business, each idea lost is a loss for the world. Some say if a good idea is out there someone will think of it at some point, but how many years have gone by in that time, or how many people could have benefited from that piece of music or business venture. There is no way to determine the amount of ideas never to reach fruition but the problem itself by definition has an impact on societal advancement, or at minimum on society itself. To solve even a portion of that problem you have the ability to change the path of culture.