A Memorable Experience at the Tax Office

Can you say oxymoron? Sure, I knew you could. I’ve had plenty of memorable experiences with government-run entities — 100% of which were negative. Let’s face it there’s little joy in these necessary workplaces. The “customers” who visit are more than likely to be in a lousy mood, their minds pre-occupied with 1000 things they’d rather be doing. The typical scenario –You get in a line that is moving at a snail’s pace, and you notice everyone has their worst “resting bitch face” on. There are uniformed agents all around, so it feels like you are in line for the cafeteria at San Quentin.

America’s Favorite Pastime!
1 Ticket to Paradise

Finally, you get to the entrance into the waiting area. You say to yourself, “At least now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The door agent refers you to another agent standing by a machine who orders you to enter some basic information, and the machine spits out your ticket to paradise. (right). Then you walk into a large room with hundreds of chairs (one touching the other) and you look for a friendly face to sit next to and there are none to be found.

Certainly, you’ve seen this movie before. It’s like the sequel to Friday the 13th.

No friendly faces here

So what made my visit memorable?

While I was in line, I couldn’t help but notice this smallish older woman behaving strangely. As people entered the dungeon, she was greeting them with a big smile and a heartfelt, “Good Morning!”. This was not some automaton. She was obviously kind, and full of energy. Sadly, the vast majority of the patrons, weren’t responding to her greeting. Some were but it was barely audible.

My visit that day didn’t last long. I was starting to think my ticket number R3673 meant that there were 3,673 people in front of me. Patience thin, I made like Wayne Gretsky and got the puck outta there.

Go figure, when I returned to the crowded lobby, I heard that lone sweet voice still greeting the latest victims with a cheery, “Good Morning”. I couldn’t resist. I had to go up to her and tell her what a wonderful job she was doing. She smiled and said thank you then whispered to me, “Unfortunately my supervisor is very disrespectful!” Apparently, he doesn’t approve of her being cheery and welcoming to people as they enter the building. I could comment on her supervisor, but it would violate the PG-13 rating of this blog! I just told her, the world needs more people like you, keep up the good work. I wanted to hug her; we fist bumped instead. She made my day! I hope I brightened hers.

As I walked to out of the building, I decided my experience with “Little Miss Sunshine” was “blogworthy”. I needed to complete my mission at the tax off office the next day and I was sure I’d run across her again. My goal was to finish my business and wanted to grab a quick selfie with her to include in this article.

I walked in craning my neck to see if she was in the lobby and as far as I could tell she was not. I quickly advanced into the less crowded torture chamber, took care of my business and walked back out into the lobby expecting to hear her pleasantly greeting people as they entered. Unfortunately, all I heard was the other guards barking orders — “This line for car dealers, this line for personal business” blah, blah, blah.

I began walking around to find her. It was obvious I was looking for something so one of the guards approached and asked me with a tone of suspicion, “What are you looking for?” I described my new friend as, “The one who says good morning to people when they enter the building. Is she here this morning?” His response was terse, “No, I have no idea where she is; they probably assigned her to another building or something”. Fortunately, I was able to muster up enough self-control to refrain from kicking him in the shins!

There’s always another side to the story…

Maybe my little lady never shows up on time or she or she’s a constant complainer, or she had done something more egregious. All I know, in the cold, sullen atmosphere of the tax office, she was doing her best to brighten someone’s day…and I respect that.

Posted in change, culture, Customer Service, employee engagement, perceptions, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

That Little Voice in Our Heads

I had an easy childhood, growing up in suburbia at a time when suburbia was the ultimate setting for a middle class family. My Dad, like many fathers in our neighborhood, commuted into NYC on the Erie Lackawanna, leaving the house before anyone was up, and getting home at 5:30pm almost every evening. He made a good living and was, in my mind, the ultimate provider. I have no recollection of ever going without any of the basics. I’d call it comfortable.

Most of the Moms stayed at home (remember those days?) and took care of the day-to-day. My Mom was an evangelist for positive thinking; a walking inspirational quote. “If you think you can, you can!” “Smile and the whole world smiles with you”. “Don’t forget to count your blessings!” “Money doesn’t buy happiness”. “Look at the glass half full!” There were more where those came from. She didn’t always practice what she preached, but her intentions were good.

The litle voice in your head is a bully
Been there

As we all know there’s a fine line between staying positive and “looking at the world through rose-colored glasses”. My family never spent much time talking about the negative stuff. I grew up believing everything would be fine if I focused on the positive and my Mom (especially) swept the negative stuff under the rug. My parents did the best they could. They instilled in us noble, humble values. Positivity never lost its perch at the top of the list. For a long time I blamed them for not talking about the negative. I felt like it left me ill-prepared for the real world. However, I couldn’t be more thankful their focus on positivity.

This is one way – if you’re a pirate with a bird on your shoulder.

I’ve been a self-help junkie for most of my adult life. Most of what I’ve read revolved around life’s bottom line – HAPPINESS. It started when I was a neophyte in business. I was so naïve back then. I thought I’d naturally figure things out and was shocked when I realized not everyone had the same view the world as me!

That little voice in my head had always been with me, it was a whisper, until I stepped out into the real world. In my formative years that voice was on a pretty even keel, but as the years went on, it became louder, more critical and more negative. For years I was under the impression I couldn’t do anything about it. I felt like most people do – I am who I am. My mind and my brain were what they were and trying to change any of it was virtually impossible.

Throughout most of my career I had to deal with that little SOB, constantly harassing me about this, that, and the other thing. Sometimes it would be especially boisterous, cruel, and critical. It called me names, told me I was a failure, and it had the audacity to undermine my positive thoughts.

It was especially loud and obnoxious when I’d get up in the morning, expressing disappointment in my lack of achievement the day before. I used vigorous physical exercise in the morning to defend myself — it worked, but the results were temporary. I got into reading self-help books (never finished one) but was able to get the gist of each after the first few chapters. I attended seminars featuring motivational speakers, like Zig Ziglar and others whose names escape me. I even attended a class on “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, the philosophy made famous by Dale Carnegie. And NO, he didn’t teach the class – He died when I was still in diapers (1955). These short stints proved to be beneficial but never solved the problem I was having with that little voice in my head.

Now before anyone draws the wrong conclusions, I was relatively happy most of those years. I had my family and friends, who I knew loved me unconditionally. I enjoyed a fair amount of success in my career, I have two incredible sons that continue love me and I think like it when I’m around. I’m so fortunate to have experienced good health throughout the journey. Things are good now, but that obnoxious little Chatty Charlie is still with me. The difference now, is I’ve become much better at managing it.

What allowed me to get the upper hand? SCIENCE! I’ve read 35 books over the last couple of years (more than a couple chapters per book). These books are different than the ones I read early in my career. Back then the authors wrote about their philosophies and they were 98% opinion and 2% mother-in-law research. Now, I don’t think you can get published in the self-help category unless what you say is backed by research. When there’s tons of research done all over the world with mice, rats, cats, dogs, monkeys and all types of humans, they call it SCIENCE!

The scientific evidence convinced me that I could actually manage that yappy little voice, but it would take significant work and discipline. I learned about neuroplasticity and a human’s ability to change the way their mind and brain function. As I continued reading and exploring… quieting the mind, was becoming a recurring theme. Quite honestly, I shuttered at the thought of sitting down for 20 minutes and being alone with my thoughts. Now I’m an advocate and 100% committed to starting my days with a morning meditation. A drastic change for a serial extrovert and truly a difference-maker for me.

Don’t underestimate the power of that little voice. It will continue to ruin your day if you let it. It’s okay to listen to it, because, as much as I’ve blasted it in this article, it can be helpful at times. The key is to let go of its negative rhetoric (noise), and every single day feed your mind with a large helping of positivity!

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Tis the Season…

Written the week before Christmas 2021…

It starts sometime after Thanksgiving when we say to ourselves, “I can’t believe Christmas is right around the corner!” More often, than not it is expressed with a feeling of anxiety and in some cases dread. Is it me or is this attitude becoming more and more prevalent? I was thinking maybe it has to do with getting older. Until the other day… I asked a 30-something “Are you ready for Christmas?” without hesitation, she finished my sentence — “to be over!” The next day I asked another 30-something the same question and he had a similar response. (Sophisticated research, I know!)

What’s causing the holiday “tude?”

It’s the dough…

I get it. Christmas is a pressure-cooker for many. It’s filled with expectations and emotions that run higher than at any other time of the year. Typically, the cash drain is considerable and most Americans find it easily justifiable to break out the plastic. Anything goes when it comes to Christmas, or so it seems.

Then there’s the family…

Instead of a bonus, Clark receives a subscription to The Jelly of the Month Club

I strongly recommend taking a break to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (circa 1989). For the uninformed, this is must see TV. This classic is right up there with A Wonderful Life, White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street. Some may think it is sacrilege to include this on their holiday viewing list. I say the benefits of 90-minutes of laughter are just what the doctor ordered during this time of the year. For enhanced enjoyment pour up your favorite adult beverage while viewing.

Morristown Square

What about the shopping?

Who in their right mind would leave the comforts of their own home to go to a mall? This is when I’m thankful for Al Gore*. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have the internet and online shopping. As sad as it is that shopping on main street is becoming a thing of the past and malls are being converted into Amazon warehouses, I’ve never been a fan of holiday shopping.

Case in point. A couple of years ago I had to take a “quick trip” to the mall, for a last minute Christmas gift. The place was packed (duh). The worst part was fighting the traffic on the way out.

I was in the left lane of what I thought was a 2-lane exit. Suddenly it turned into a single lane and I accelerated to merge into the right lane. A woman in a B.A.T. (Big-Ass Truck – lots of those in Texas), for some reason did not want me to get in front of her and she too hit the accelerator. Suddenly, we both slammed on the brakes. She looked down at me in my SUV, flipped me the bird and mouthed the words, F*&# you (multiple times). I motioned to her to roll down her window and she obliged. Before she could get her window all the way down, I smiled and yelled in my jolliest voice, “Merry Christmas to you too!” Ah, yes the joys of holiday shopping.

The Tradition Continues in Morristown

My dislike for holiday shopping began with traumatic events I suffered through as a small child. Here’s one that sticks out… It was a perfectly enjoyable day, the week before Christmas. I was playing at home and got kidnapped by my Mom and my two sisters to go into Morristown, just a short drive from the house. I was not informed the purpose was last minute Christmas shopping. My mother knew, the only way I’d go without kickin and screamin was to tell me we were going to visit the “Morristown Square”. The square was an extraordinary place during the holiday season. From the day after Thanksgiving through January 1st it turned into a magical place for children. The trees were all lit up and the decorations were astonishing to a 6-year old. There was a Santa’s workshop, reindeer, a bunch of elves running around and an occasional visit from the jolly one himself! Talk about a Christmas buzz! I was high as a kite. Much to my chagrin my female loved ones had an ulterior motive. Suddenly, my euphoria turned to dread. The next thing I knew I was being dragged across the street and into Bambergers, for hours of Christmas shopping monotony. I’ve been scarred ever since.

So it’s time to remember the rest of the lyrics to the song. Tis the season to be jolly fa la la la la la la la la! (Did I get all the las?) I hope your Christmas weekend is filled with love, joy, and laughter.

A funny Christmas story from Wanda Sikes

“I love my family but my family — they’re the type of people that never let you forget anything you ever did… I was in the first grade Christmas play — I’m playing Mary. Now, during the course of the play, I dropped the baby Jesus… They still talk about this. I go to my family reunion, and one of my cousins just had a baby. So I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s a cute little baby. Let me hold the baby…’ And my aunt runs over, ‘Don’t you give her that baby! You know she dropped the baby Jesus!'”

Fun Facts

*Despite the multitudinous derisive references to the supposed quote that continue to be proffered even today, former U.S. vice president Al Gore never claimed that he “invented” the Internet, nor did he say anything that could reasonably be interpreted that way. The initial idea of the Internet is credited to Leonard Kleinrock after he published his first paper entitled “Information Flow in Large Communication Nets” on May 31, 1961.

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Kind Words Do Make a Difference

I love to write. Whenever I have time, which hasn’t been often lately, I write about customer service, sports, and other stuff I think I know a little bit about. 

Back in high school, I was one of only a handful of males, who scored high in verbal and low in math on my SATs. I don’t remember my exact scores but there was a significant spread between the two. I just thought it was because I stunk at math; not that I had any special verbal talents.

During my senior year in high school, Mr. Bianco was my English teacher. (Do they still call it English?) He had high standards and, what must’ve been, a closet full of red marking pens. He was meticulous when reviewing our work. I’m sure he suffered from writers cramp after grading papers. I got more than my share of that red ink. To this day, I hate typos, misspellings, bad grammar, and poor punctuation, thanks to Mr. Bianco.

 During and post college, I rarely wrote unless I had to for a course or an occasional thank you note to my grandmother. Writing for pleasure was never part of the equation. It’s hard for an ADD serial extravert with the attention span of a gnat to sit down, let alone write something compelling. 

As I pursued a career in marketing, writing became more important.  My writing was good enough to get me by, but I never took the time to hone what skill I had.  There were too many other activities to occupy my time. You know, the usual… parties, watching Happy Days, hanging with my pals, playing hoops, going to the shore, smokin cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo. Eventually marriage, kids, career, resulting in the perpetual excuse, “I don’t have time”. 

About midway through my career, I worked for a guy who didn’t understand the concept of “constructive criticism”.  Oh, he had the latter c-word down, but the former – not so much.

I’ve never been a fan of the annual review. This boss wanted your version first so he always started the review with this insidious question: “What would you say about your performance over the past year?” I knew this was his game and went in prepared to answer the question.  I thought I did good. When I concluded, he gave me his perception of my performance invalidating 50% of what I said.

At the end of the session, I realized I’d forgotten to mention what I believed to be my biggest strength – my writing skills. In hindsight, I should’ve quit while I was ahead. I didn’t realize I’d opened a can of worms. He responded –That’s interesting.  I don’t think you are a very good business writer at all.  He continued your writing is too wordy, your key points get lost in the fluff.  You can literally say the same thing with half the words. His direct feedback stunned me. 

Before I had a chance to recover, he did share a valuable nugget. After you’ve finished writing go back and eliminate the words that aren’t necessary to make your point.  It’s like cleaning out the garage, “When in doubt throw it out’”. My business writing improved, so taking the gut punch was worth it.

Social media has fueled my passion for writing.  For a while, when I was between jobs I was posting a couple times a month and a handful of people were reading my stuff. I’d get some likes and a couple of comments which made it worthwhile. Early this year, I stopped posting and didn’t think anyone would notice.

I’m fond of Facebook for a variety of reasons. Politics aside, there is no better way to stay in touch with friends and family. I’ve always been a sort of sappy sentimentalist. When people reply to my comments, I reply to theirs as often as I can, and sometimes results in a relationship renewed virtually. One friend was reading my blogs more often than I realized. We had been responding to each other’s posts for a couple years. Recently, our comments and likes have become more frequent.

A couple weeks ago she reached out to me and asked me if I was still writing. I messaged her back letting her know I haven’t been and provided the age-old excuse regarding my lack of time. Her response was short but sweet. “Do it. You’re Good”.  That’s all I needed.  I’m grateful to my friend for the encouragement. Hopefully she’ll read this and realize it is a long winded thank you note.

A final point… I don’t know if it’s moral decay, political unrest, or the biased media (on both sides). Whatever the reason, our society seems to have forgotten the power of a few kind words. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all took a few seconds each day to encourage a handful of people with a few kind words?  

Posted in american values | 2 Comments

Is the Lombardi Trophy Coming Home?

I have literally been in love with the Green Bay Packers for as long as I can remember.  I am not sure I can recite the starting line ups from the Lombardi Era; however, I know I can come darn close.  Growing up in Northern New Jersey, I became a devout fan of the Yankees and the Knicks.  I liked the New York Football Giants, but never truly fell in love.  It was nothing against the franchise, I was simply mesmerized by the Green and Gold.  Sure, they were perennial winners in the 60’s. However, it went way beyond that.  It was the Legend of Lombardi, the personality of Hornung, the grit and guts of Nitschke and Taylor, the cool calm leadership of Starr.  It was Lambeau Field, the small town, and the wicked winter weather.  I vividly remember the TV shots of the town of Green Bay during a game. Completely deserted. Not a soul to be seen.  Every self-respecting citizen of this tiny Wisconsin town was either at the game, in a bar watching or at home with the family, glued to the TV.  It was so unique, especially to a kid growing up in the shadow of the Empire State Building.  I couldn’t get enough of it. 

At the age of 13 I got to experience an event that is permanently filed in my brain and imbedded in my heart.  It was special because I got to share it with my Dad. We watched in what we referred to as the recreation room at our home on Appletree Lane.  It was me, him, The Green Bay Packers, The Dallas Cowboys and Ray Scott. Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that Ray Scott did the play-by-play in the first half and Jack Buck called the second half. Frank Gifford was the color guy, in the booth. Pat Summerall, and Tom Brookshier were the sideline reporters (not an ideal assignment in the elements that day).  It was the NFL Championship Game played on the Frozen Tundra (before the Frozen Tundra was even a thing) in front of a packed Lambeau Field. It was -16 at kickoff and the field conditions were basically “ice rink”. 

No need to chronicle the entire game.  Anyone who is a fan of the NFL knows what transpired that day. My Dad and I were so into it.  With 4:50 left in the game the Pack started what would be their final drive from their own 32-yard line. Down 17-14, it was early evening by then as the temperature continued to drop. It was still anyone’s game. Bart (Starr) was now playing against 2 foes – the Cowboys defense and the clock. Bart and the offense chipped away at the yardage with Donnie Anderson and little-known Chuck Mercein carrying the bulk of the load on short passes and smashmouth running plays. It was nothing short of a miracle when the Pack arrived at the Colts 3-yard line, first and goal with under a minute to play. On their first attempt, Donnie Anderson ran off tackle for 2 yards leaving them less than a yard from pay dirt. They called the same play on second down.  Anderson slipped on a patch of ice – no gain. Bart called a time out with 16 seconds remaining. He ran to the sideline to confer with Coach Lombardi.  Bart mentioned a QB sneak and Lombardi responded, “Run whatever you want and let’s get the hell outta here”.

Bart, behind Jerry Kramer, executed the perfect QB sneak and got in for the touchdown. I leaped in the air and slapped the ceiling in utter jubilation.  I remember that moment like it was yesterday. Another NFL Championship for the legendary Green Bay Packers.

Frozen Fans at The Ice Bowl watch their Packers defeat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17

After Lombardi left, it was like the Packers organization fell into a dark hole. From 1968 – 1991 there was little to get excited about. It was 23 years of futility. The head coach position became a revolving door. Between Phil BengtsonDan DevineBart StarrForrest Gregg, Ray Rhodes and Lindy Infante they could only manage one winning record and 3 (1 and done) playoff appearances over 24 seasons.

In 91, Packers president, Bob Harlan brought in Ron Wolf to take over football operations. At the time I had no clue Wolf would be our “Knight in Shining Armor!”  He operated with an extreme sense of urgency.  His first move, prior to the 92 season was to hire Mike Holmgren as head coach. Mike had made a name for himself as the offensive coordinator for the very successful San Francisco 49ers.  His next move was as risky as it gets.  Wolf traded a #1 pick for Atlanta’s backup quarterback.  A kid from Kiln, Mississippi with a last name nobody could pronounce. There were many reasons this was a bold move. The Packers already had a QB by the name of Don Majkowski who, despite injuries, had shown enough promise to earn a nickname, The Majik Man. The kid from Kiln was a wildcard of sorts.  He was not getting along with Atlanta’s head coach, Jerry Glanville.  Glanville was never in favor of using the 33rd pick in 2 round of the draft on a virtual unknown. Before coming to Green Bay, Ron Wolf was Assistant GM for the New York Jets that year and they had the 34th pick. He had convinced the Jets brass to draft the Mississippi State grad, just to get derailed by the Falcons.

 Glanville never referred to this kid by name.  He called him “Mississippi” and mocked him constantly.  He used the rookie as a sideshow of sorts, making him throw balls into the upper deck at Fulton County Stadium, during training camp.  While it was impressive, Glanville made it seem like it was this guy’s only talent. It was borderline abusive.  Ron Wolf had an incredible eye for talent.  He had done his homework and now, as the Packers GM, he was determined to make a deal for Brett Favre.

While Brett was a bit of renegade, Mike Holmgren was just the guy to get him to straighten up and fly right, without totally clipping his wings.  For any of you millennials out there you have Ron Wolf to thank for the last two decades of championship football in Green Bay.

During the Favre and Rodgers eras we had so many special seasons filled with highlights and special players. The Packers won early and often, winning two Super Bowls in the process. I could dedicate an entire book to this time in Packer football history; but I want to fast forward to January 2021.

As I sit here, less than 48 hours from kick-off, I like our chances. Take away all the hype, all the build-up, all the talk about Aaron’s MVP season and the other Aaron’s damaged ribs. Forget about the pins in Goff’s thumb, and the intrigue of the match-up between two of the NFL’s best and brightest coaches.  None of that has anything to do with why I believe the trophy is comin home to Green Bay.

I just think it is our time. It has been less than a year since we were annihilated at Levi Stadium by the one-year-wonder 49ers. Let’s face it.  You pick the descriptive word – devastating, humiliating, embarrassing, depressing, frustrating.  It was all of that to me as a fan, just imagine how the players feel.

We have what I believe to be the best group of coaches since the Holmgren era. It starts with LeFleur. He is a leader. Sure, he inherited a talented group, but you don’t go 26-6 your first two seasons without being an outstanding leader. The players genuinely enjoy playing for the guy and truly believe he can take them to the promise land.

Then there’s the GOAT. He made the short-term sacrifice (mastering LeFleur’s offense), for the long-term gain.  He and the young head coach meshed. Going 13-3 last year was remarkable considering the circumstances. This year the Packers are a significantly better team playing their best football at the right time of the year.

The team has the perfect balance.  There is a nice mix of veteran leaders and high energy younger players. They are extremely talented and dedicated.  Each man knows his role and is focused on doing his 1/11th. One game at time, one play at a time. To a man they live, eat and breathe the team philosophy.  It appears, even the young guys, are enjoying the ride, having fun along the way, while staying focused on the mission.   

Above all, this team believes. They are a closely knit “band of brothers” who legitimately care about each other. They believe in their coaches. They believe they can win. Regardless of how they fare in the playoffs, this is a team to remember. Barring any unforeseen circumstance, they will be in Tampa under the bright lights in February. Cherish every moment. 

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How Do We Get Out of This Mess?

My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones due to this damn Corona Virus. I can’t even imagine the despair and suffering the victims and their families have had to endure.

What about our healthcare workers?  Those individuals who have been on the front line, literally risking their lives, to take care of patients fighting for theirs.  As if their jobs weren’t challenging enough before Covid-19.  Since March, I would imagine their level of stress has doubled or even tripled.  At times, I’m sure it has been unbearable.  These heroes should NEVER be taken for granted.  They cannot be thanked enough.

Then there’s the rest of us.  Life hasn’t exactly been a “bowl of cherries” but we haven’t been punched in the face by the virus.  Our loved ones are healthy (so far) and we haven’t gotten sick.  We’ve struggled to get our favorite brands at the grocery stores, we’ve been required to shelter-in-place, our kids have had to attend school virtually and we desperately miss watching our favorite sports in person and on TV.  Probably what’s been most difficult for the “lucky ones” is our inability to travel and feel safe and the postponement of special events like weddings, graduations, vacations, etc.  Don’t get me wrong this pandemic has been a gross inconvenience for everyone.  Even though we haven’t been impacted directly, it sucks, no matter how you slice it.

It’s been 17 weeks since the World Health Organization made the assessment that     Covid -19 could be characterized as a “Global Pandemic”.  As we sit here today, it has caused over 500,000 deaths worldwide and over 130,000 deaths in the US.  Last I checked, 32 states have experienced significant increases in the number of cases over the past several weeks. Many experts are warning us about a second wave in the fall that could be even more catastrophic.

Everybody has an opinion or a theory about how we got here.  The left blames the right, the right blames the left. The media makes it worse by spinning their stories to achieve an outcome favoring their network’s bias.  I refuse to go any deeper because my intent is not to stir things up.  My purpose is to share my opinion on what needs to be done to get us out of this mess. If you are looking for something revolutionary, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Here’s my advice:

  • Turn off the TV (at least the news)
  • Stop debating, arguing, theorizing, discussing how we got here and who’s to blame
  •  Keep in mind… This is not about politics.  It’s about saving lives and restoring the American way of life.
  • Support the healthcare workers.  Help families who have lost a loved one.
  • Whatever you do, follow the rules.  You know the ones that have been pounded into our heads time and time again over the last 17 weeks?

I can understand forgetting from time-to-time but I can’t understand refusing to comply.

As elementary as it seems, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include another reminder:

Keep your distance – Stay 6 feet apart

Wear a mask in public

Wash your hands often

Don’t touch your face

If you didn’t believe it before, we have to believe it now – This virus isn’t going away quietly.  We can’t do anything to prevent what has already happened and it doesn’t matter who is to blame.  We need every single American, on every single day to abide by these 4 simple rules as if their life depended on it; because it does.  Stay positive and encourage others.  We are all in this together.

 

 

 

 

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Unexpected Gift

Dear Social Media Friends, Associates & Contacts,

Have you ever received a gift out of the blue; something you weren’t expecting? It happened to me this summer.

I still receive alerts for job openings left over from past job searches. I usually don’t pay much attention, however, on one particular day in July, I decided to peruse the latest job listings in the area. At first glance, it seemed like I was seeing the same uninteresting jobs that were out there a year and a half ago. I was just about to hit delete when a headline caught my eye:

NO RESTRICTIONS GOLF LOOKING FOR BOARD MEMBER!

I was instantly intrigued and couldn’t wait to learn more. Reading through the board member responsibilities, I found myself hanging on every word. It made me wonder, could there be a more perfect “give back” opportunity for me?

I have a deep passion for the game of golf that was passed down from my WWII Veteran Dad. I’ve always wanted to give something back to the heroes who have made such enormous sacrifices to protect our freedom. Surely this was a gift created specifically for me.

I couldn’t wait to contact Scott Millman, the founder of the NRG Foundation in North Texas. I sent an email expressing my extreme interest in the position. He wrote me back and invited me to a board meeting. Shortly, thereafter I was asked to be a member of the board and it took me all of a millisecond to accept. I couldn’t be more thrilled about the chance to help this organization achieve its objectives.

NRG’s mission is to provide rehabilitative golf-support programs for veterans and first responders struggling with physical disabilities as well as those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Our services don’t stop there as we welcome all individuals dealing with physical disabilities to learn or re-learn how to enjoy the game of golf.

 

To accomplish our mission, it’s our goal is to conduct as many instructional “adaptive” golf events as possible. Scott is an accomplished USGTF Master Golf Teaching Professional with 30 years of experience utilizing adaptive golf techniques to build and enhance the individual’s golf game. We take pride in creating an inclusive environment that aims to improve quality of life for veterans, others with disabilities and their families.

 

Of course it requires money for adaptive golf equipment and necessary fees to host these events. I realize my social media friends and associates have so many options, when it comes to donating to worthy causes. In a situation like ours, I believe in a large number of people making small donations. The Alexanders, the Abrahams, even the Georges, are everything in this campaign. We’ll leave the Benjamins up to the corporations and local businesses!

 

Please click GoFundMe link below. Thank you in advance for any support you are willing to provide. As I’m sure you know, it takes a village.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Bill

 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-veterans-amp-first-responders-with-pts

www.norestrictionsgolf.org

www.facebook.com/NRGFoundation

The N.R.G. Foundation is a project of United Charitable – a registered 501(c)(3) public charity. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law

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A MEMO TO THE YANKEES BRASS

27ARISTOTLE-jumbo

 

MEMORANDUM

To: Hal Steinbrenner

From: Me

cc: Brian Cashman

Re: Signing Manny Machado

Don’t do it!

I want to preface all of this by saying Manny Machado is tremendously talented.  Here’s is why signing Machado or Bryce Harper (or any other big-ticket free agent that’s not a pitcher) makes absolutely NO SENSE!

Let’s start with a relatively short stroll down memory lane, back to the glory years of the mid to late 90’s/ early 2000’s. We won a lot of games between 96 and 2001 – 582 to be exact (an average of 97 per season). While some might say, “This is a new era” or “The game has changed” I’d argue that you had the blueprint for success back then. Whether you know it or not the concept came from Aristotle who said it best sometime around 340 BC –“The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts”. It works whenever anyone is trying to build a winning team.

In those wildly successful years you built around a nucleus of farm hands (The Core Four, you remember those guys… Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Petitte) They shared so many positive attributes. The most important was their will to win. They exemplified the Yankees culture. One might refer to them as blue-collar. They came to work, did their job and did it consistently over 162 games for multiple years. They became superstars because of their grit and determination. They performed at a high level on the game’s biggest stage.

The Core Four became household names but think about the players that surrounded them:

Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, Chad Curtis, Ricky Ledee. Not to mention Luis Soho, Jim Leyritz, Clay Bellinger, Joe Girardi, Jose Visciano and Shane Spencer. (just to name a few)

Although they are in my Hall of Fame, I can’t see any of these players being enshrined in Cooperstown any time soon. O’Neill’s career BA is .288, Tino’s .271, Brosius batted .257. Even Bernie didn’t crack the .300 lifetime mark when he hung up his cleats.

You remember there was no such thing as a “slash line” back then, no cybermetrics, no laptops in the dugout. Batting average was the most important measurable. For you, it was just part of the equation. You brought in guys that had the intangibles that complemented The Core Four – Good guys who played hard and expected to win. Players who hustled down the line, pitchers who wouldn’t give in, who could have a bad inning then gut it out to keep us in the game. Guys like Cone, El Duque and David Wells.

Think about it this way. Other than Jeter, is there anybody you’d rather have at bat with the game on the line than Paul O’Neill. You look up “tough out” in the dictionary and there’s a picture of Paul. Or what about Scott Brosius? Clearly his career numbers are pedestrian; 3 rings and a World Series MVP are not. He got it done when we needed it most. Those are the type of guys I want on my team. I’m sure you agree.

In recent years, I’m happy to say, you’ve gone back to this philosophy. You started on the farm with a nucleus of high character guys who have the right attitude. You’ve surrounded them with like-minded players and allowed them to gel. Take note. I’m talking about Judge, Torres, Montgomery and Sanchez. You are surrounding them with youngsters who are still developing and bringing in role players like Neil Walker and Luke Voit who have proven their ability to come up big in pressure situations.

Now, hopefully, you are expanding this same philosophy to the pitching staff. While CC’s best years are behind him he’s still a grinder. Father time has taken away a sizzling fastball but CC’s the prototype. He never gives in. He never wants to come out. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. He shows up and gets you a big win when you need it.

It appears you are on the right track, signing Happ and The Big Maple. You are allowing Seve to continue to grow and develop. You’ve got a couple of arms down on the farm that are going to help you in the long-term. You say you are 1 arm away from taking Boston down. I agree but remember ERA and a mid-nineties fastballs are not the only things. Before you pull the trigger on the guy who will round out your rotation think about the hearts and guts of Pettite, Wells, Cone and El Duque. Make sure whomever you choose is a gamer – A guy who wants the ball in Game 7 with everything on the line.

I look back on those teams of the late 90’s with fondness, as I’m sure you do. However the past is not all unicorns and rainbows. There’s one last important piece of history.

I know it wasn’t your fault – The Boss made you do it. On February 15th 2004 Alex Rodriguez became a Yankee. I have the advantage of hindsight but I swear I didn’t like that deal at the time. A-Rod seemed like a prima donna. He’d put up gaudy numbers but my gut was telling me he wasn’t a fit. This was before any of us had a clue he was getting a shot in the ass every other week to help him post those numbers. I contend that deal screwed up the chemistry. It was uncomfortable at first. Then we all got used to it. He had one good post-season. He did help us win a World Series, I’ll give him that, but 1 in 10 years? George had to be rolling over in his grave. Not a great return on $125 million dollar investment.

Fast forward to Jan 1, 2019. Let’s just say Machado says yes. Before you say yes to Machado keep the A-Rod deal in mind. By no means am I saying Manny is the same as Alex. What I am saying is BEWARE! The culture that has developed with this young group of Yankees is precious, similar to that of The Core Four. It’s too early to tell if they’ll earn a similar nickname, however they seem to be headed in that direction.

We averaged 5.22 runs per game last year, second only to the Red Sox. We were far and away the best homerun hitting team in the majors with 267 bombs. We all know that we were a pitcher or two away from making a serious run at a our 28th World Series Championship.

Hal, Brian – I hope you enjoy the holidays. Put your feet up, relax and enjoy your families. Before you reconvene with Mr. Machado ask yourselves:

“What Aristotle would do?”

#pinstripesforever #babybombers #Aristotleisstillright #cultureiseverything

 

 

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Big Shoes To Fill in Titletown

looking-towards-n-packer

I’m sick.  Still in a state of disbelief.  Mike McCarthy is no longer the Head Coach of The Green Bay Packers.  In my opinion, Coach McCarthy was the most underrated Head Coach in the NFL.  During his 13 years in Green Bay he never got the props he deserved.  All he did was lead the team to 9 playoff appearances and a Superbowl Championship! Not to mention:

  • Best win-loss ratio to start the first 25 games of a career among active coaches, setting the record for the best coaching start in Packers’ history.
  • Led the Packers to a 13–3 record in his second season.
  • Second in number of Packer victories to the legendary Curly Lambeau.
  • Finished 1st in the NFC North 6 times including 4 years in a row (2011 through 2014)

This is  the resume of a great coach.  No matter how you slice it, as a die hard fan, I’d take McCarthy-like numbers over the next 13 years.  It’s been a glorious run. However, the WON/LOSS record doesn’t come close to painting the full picture.

Like most Packer fans, I’m proud of this team’s heritage.  Even if you don’t root for the Packers there’s something oh so special about this iconic football franchise. Mike McCarthy was meticulous in upholding the Green Bay Packers standard of excellence. In my opinion, he was born to be a football coach and he was a perfect fit in Green Bay.  Over the years, I have followed him closely.  He’s a meat and potatoes guy who understands professional football at its deepest level.  He was brilliant from 2011 through 2016 when he led the Pack to the NFC North Championship 5 out of 6 years.  All of a sudden he’s not creative enough? He’s got a lousy relationship with Aaron Rodgers?  He hired the wrong defensive coordinator?  He failed to develop Brett Hundley?  He intimidates his players?All of this is BULLSHIT in its purest form.

While his football resume speaks for itself, his leadership capabilities separate him from his peers.  Mike McCarthy is a class act. In his 13 years at the podium, he never threw a player “under-the-bus”.  I never heard him respond inappropriately to some of the dumb-ass questions he was asked by the media.  Could he be gruff? Of course.  Sarcastic? At times. What do you expect from a football coach who has to field the same questions day in and day out?  Heck, Coach McCarthy is warm and cuddly compared to some (see Bill Belichick). Most importantly he represented the Green Bay Packers in a way that would’ve made Vince and Curly proud.

He didn’t put up with crap in the locker room.  Guys with big egos and loose lips weren’t going to make it on a Mike McCarthy team.  Call me old school, but that’s the way it should be.  He took care of issues and never aired the team’s dirty laundry for public consumption.

The pundits are all trying to find out WHY Mike lost his job.   When they can’t find anything sensational enough they make up stuff, like the supposed feud he was having with Aaron or the lack of creativity in his offensive scheme.  Of course, I’m just a fan.  I don’t proclaim to have the inside scoop on why, but here’s my opinion.

It all began on October 15, 2017.  The Pack took their 4-1 record into Minnesota and #12 went down with the broken collarbone – out for the season.  When the team finished 7-9 they blamed it on McCarthy.  Then, the decision was made to rearrange the furniture in the front office, putting Ted Thompson out to pasture and promoting Brian Gutekunst to GM.  I’m not sure what precipitated the rest of the changes, but many on McCarthy’s staff got their walking papers and they decided to perform an extreme makeover on the offensive playbook. Not a bad idea in concept, however the Packers stumbled when it came to execution.   That combined with several strokes of bad luck has us where we are today 5-7-1 and without Mike McCarthy.

The record is temporary.  The decision on Coach McCarthy is permanent.  This gives me an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.  How in the name of Vince Lombardi do you replace a coach who was the second best coach in Packers history?  It’s easy to fire someone but now the work gets hard.  Essentially the front office, has to make up for this huge mistake.  Oh and by the way, there are only 8 NFL teams interested in McCarthy’s services.

I would wish Coach McCarthy good luck but he doesn’t need it.  You see leaders who are bonafide winners don’t need someone to wish them luck.  Through hard work, determination and doing the right thing, leaders make their own luck.

Now it’s time for Mark Murphy to make his own luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Days Of the Week – Perception or Reality?

When I think about the days of the week, I can’t help but harken back to a one hit wonder — “Friday On My Mind” that soared to the top of the charts in 1966. (Originally sung by an Australian group called The Easybeats!)  The first verse described the days of the week as follows:

Monday mornin’ feels so bad
Ev’rybody seems to nag me
Comin’ Tuesday I feel better
Even my old man looks good
Wed’sday just don’t go
Thursday goes too slow
cuz I got Friday on my mind!

Throughout the history of mankind, an ingrained perception of each day of the week has developed and ultimately become set in stone.  In a rudimentary way, the Easybeats hit the nail on the head.  I think it’s fascinating how our perspective, even our mood can change based on the particular day of the week.

Mondays are sometimes plagued with a hangover from the weekend. Not necessarily the type caused by over indulging in adult beverages. I’m talking about maybe a lack of sleep hangover or even that groggy feeling from too much sleep. Or sore muscles from various weekend warrior activities. Mondays seem to be a day of survival. “Get me through Monday and I’ll be okay”, I say to myself, “Tuesday will be markedly better just because it’s not Monday anymore”. By Tuesday the weekend past is a distant memory and the coming weekend is too far in the future.  On Tuesday we got to put the pedal to the metal to make up for our lethargy on a manic Monday.

Because there are 5 weekdays, Wednesday got tagged with a legendary nickname – Hump Day! It could’ve just as easily been named Hope Day. Reality is, because it’s Wednesday, you feel like you have a chance to make it to Friday without something blowing up in your face! In our minds, the clouds from Monday and Tuesday begin to part and the sun appears intermittently on Wednesday afternoon.

I know Geico commercials can be as irritating as a mosquito buzzing in your ear, however the camel bopping around the office amongst the cubicles is a classic.  This rendition, by far, is the most viral Geico commercial ever made.

Thursday is a nondescript day. It’s plain vanilla. When they decided in what order the days of the week would fall, Thursday got the short end of the stick.  Let’s face it, you ain’t gonna get much love when you are the day before Friday.   If Friday is Sinatra, Thursday is Mel Torme. It’s Spiderman vs. Hello Kitty. Thursday had the misfortune of being shoe-horned between the two most famous days of the week — HUMP day and TGIF! However, Thursdays have one redeeming quality. Around 5:00pm, Thursdays can turn from frog to prince. Many look at Thursday evening as the perfect opportunity to jump start their weekend! The mindset is LET’S PARTY!  Friday is such a great day, I can deal with just about anything, including a lack of sleep and an alcohol induced hangover.

And then there’s Friday.   It sits upon its throne, high above all the other days of the week.  There’s little doubt that Friday rules the weekday kingdom. Heck, Friday is so famous it’s got its own acronym;  they even named a restaurant after it. The mood swing from Thursday to Friday is palpable.  People stand up straighter and walk around with  an added pep-in-their-step. Smiles abound. Jokes that were stupid on Tuesday are funny on Friday. Those critical deadlines you obsessed over Monday through Thursday seem less critical when the weekend is just a few short hours away. No matter how determined and dedicated the individual, the productivity graph begins to plummet south starting Thursday afternoon. By Friday afternoon it has red lined.  Even the bosses throw in the productivity towel by 3:00PM on Fridays.

As blasphemous as it sounds,  Friday can be better than Saturday and Sunday!  Why?  Because anticipating a fun weekend can cause a higher adrenaline rush than the weekend activity itself.  I have no research to back this statement — just my gut telling me it’s true in some cases.

Are these perceptions good or bad?  The psychologists would probably say they are bad.  If you believe we get what we think about, and you believe Mondays suck, then guess what?  Your Mondays will suck!  How many of us sit at our desks on a Tuesday wishing the rest of the week away?  There’s that little voice in our heads whispering over and over again, “I can’t wait for the weekend, I can’t wait for the weekend”.  I’m sure you agree, time flies by fast enough on it’s own.  The last thing it needs is boost from our minds.

What can we do about it?  The skeptics would say – not a whole lot.  However, those who study how our minds work would advise us to stay in the moment, let go of past and future thoughts – focus on the NOW!  I’m not a skeptic nor am I a  neuroscientist, but I am willing to learn.  They say there’s a way to teach our minds that there is no difference between a Tuesday and a Friday, if you are able to gain control of your thought process.  Seems like swimming up stream but it may be worth it to avoid the Monday morning blues and make your Fridays more productive!  What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

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