Category Archives: Alan’s Monday Morning Memo

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 10/27/14

This week’s focus point: Here’s my theory on why underdogs win: The team on top can’t achieve the proper motivation, and the team on the bottom feels it has nothing to lose and everything to gain. I look at a tough meeting, speech, or debate as a challenge, as a chance to have fun and show what I can do. I’m never frightened, or worried about “losing,” or my ego being damaged, or what others may think. Bentley doesn’t refuse to chase the frisbee if the toss is high or far. He doesn’t worry about failing. LSU beat Ole Miss last night because they were pumped up to the nth degree to knock off a top team. When you face a challenge, are you intimidated or pumped up? Motivation comes from within, not some guy shouting platitudes from a stage, telling old stories, and crying on cue.

Monday Morning Perspective: Maturity of the mind is the capacity to endure uncertainty. — John Finley

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 10/20/14

This week’s focus point: Why do we panic at the irrational fear of Ebola spreading in the US but not at the carnage on the highways every day? It’s fascinating that some people demanding on social media that our government provide 100% protection are doing so by texting while they drive. George Carlin famously remarked once that the driver in front of us who won’t move aside is a moron, while the guy tailgating us is an idiot. We seem sure that if we have control we can always master our fate, but losing control causes panic. The greatest causes of stress I’ve observed are the feelings that you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and you can’t influence it anyway–a loss of all control. That’s a poverty mentality, believing you’re a victim. Live your life as if you own it and maybe you will.

Monday Morning Perspective: If the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin. — Charles Darwin, “Voyage of the Beagle”

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 10/13/14

This week’s focus point: You’ve probably heard the physiological admonition “we are what we eat.” I believe “we are what we tell ourselves.” People get up in the morning either eager to squeeze opportunity out of another new day, or dreading a slow, tough crawl through enemy territory. Our beliefs about ourselves create attitudes about our situation which are manifest in our behaviors. It’s not “them,” or technology, or the economy, or politicians, or your ENTJ label. The words you use to inform your behavior are your choice of determinants: talented or lucky; perseverant or stubborn; setback or defeated; unfortunate or unworthy? We control the words, and they control the results of our experiences. The preceding paragraph can help you. I’m not sitting here hoping you like it. I’m happy to have been of help.

Monday Morning Perspective: Let it be understood that we cannot go outside of this alternative: liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest; not liberty, equality, survival of the unfittest. The former carries society forward and favors all its best members; the latter carries society downwards and favors all its worst members. — William Graham Sumner, “The Challenge of Facts and Other Essays”

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 10/6/14

This week’s focus point: Our goal should be to build and sustain the kind of lifestyle we cherish, not to merely make as much money as we can. “Kerching” does nothing for me, but a beautiful sunset or great play does. TIAABB: There is always a bigger boat. Don’t allow “yacht envy” to rule your life. “Getting comfortable in your own skin” doesn’t mean the constant pursuit of money, but rather the rational pursuit of happiness. That differs for all of us, but for none of us is it simply a large bank account. I’ve met quite a few rich, unhappy people.

Monday Morning Perspective: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. — Harry Truman

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 9/29/14

This week’s focus point: There is a difference between aging and maturing. To age is to live longer and conform with the sizes and shapes common for that process. People conform to a certain range of physical attributes. Pine trees grow to a certain width and height. All cheetahs are within certain predicted ranges once fully grown. But maturing is about learning and cognitive growth, not merely physical growth. It seems to me that maturity is about using knowledge to gain wisdom, not merely seeking data to create information. Maturity is knowing when not to speak instead of trying to figure out what to say, knowing how to persuade and not demand, being resilient and not resigned. I always liked being called “smart” but I think “wise” is a rarer accolade. And “mature” is just fine, as in “fit for consumption.”

Monday Morning Perspective: The price of eternal vigilance is indifference. — Marshall McLuhan

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 9/22/14

This week’s focus point: I was in London just before the referendum on independence for Scotland. I find it ironic that many entities are seeking more tribalization in a world where communities will dominate. Globalization is not a vague term, but an indicator that success and power rest on an interacting world. (My extreme way of looking at it is that there are six billion potential retail customers out there!) Europe is trying to achieve community in order to continue to compete economically on the world stage. The U.S. has long been referred to as a “melting pot” or “mosaic” where diverse people can maintain their identity while working within a common set of community values. Many of you reading this work alone, or with small groups. Affiliation needs are important, be they with family, colleagues, clients, or others. I always thought it was a negative to be “voted off the island” on Survivor!

Monday Morning Perspective: Some day there will be only five kings in the world–the King of England and the four in the deck of cards. — King Farouk of Egypt before his ouster in 1952

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 9/15/14

This week’s focus point: I was detained in Heathrow Airport on Friday by a security supervisor, constable, two counter-terrorism agents, two dog handlers, and two dogs. (Read about it here: The cause was the machines detecting explosive or chemical residue in my bag, later determined to be “Quietude,” the spray provided by the Haymarket Hotel to help you sleep at night! The entire affair took an hour, which is why I show up everyplace early: the theater, business meetings, medical appointments, dinner. I can always amuse myself if I have to wait, but I can’t “buy back” time. Some of us are consistently late to arrive, physically and/or mentally. Take control of your life. Get your head in the game. And learn to sleep with your own “quietude”!

Monday Morning Perspective: The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. — Dostoevsky, “The House of the Dead”

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 9/8/14

This week’s focus point: My track coach (I was a sprinter) taught me how to stay low coming out of the starting blocks and lean as I approached the finish line. My dog, Bentley, trots by moving his legs alternately on each side, but sprints by moving his front legs together and then his back legs through the opening in the front ones. We have to change our form when we desire speed. If you want to write something quickly, stop self-editing. If you want to convey an idea quickly, stop giving background information. If you want to impress someone quickly, provide an idea immediately. Some people think life is a marathon. I think it’s a series of sprints.

Monday Morning Perspective: Government has proved itself capable of doing only two things with great effectiveness. It can wage war. And it can inflate the currency. — Peter Drucker in “The Age of Discontinuity”

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 9/1/14

This week’s focus point: Labor Day is dedicated to the contributions of workers in economic and social development. It was formalized in the U.S. in 1887 and about 80 countries celebrate a similar theme sometime during the year. “To labor” means “to work hard.” Traditionally associated with manual work, we know that today the work required is often mental, creative, and innovative. We need both kinds, carpenters as much as programmers, masons as much as actuaries. But the point is, we need to invest our cognitive and physical skills to produce value to society. We have no right to consume wealth–or happiness–unless we also contribute to creating it.

Monday Morning Perspective: Twenty Americans died at Yorktown. In the Napoleanic Wars, the British Navy lost scarcely 6,000 men. How are we to think of civilization disappearing in an hour’s time? Hard and carefully, that is how. — the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 8/25/14

This week’s focus point: Just as businesses grow through the increase in business, not by cutting expenses (no one ever cut their way to market leadership), if we’re not growing we’re not living. Plateaus erode, due to entropy. We grow and help others to grow by investing. The notion that we should reduce, and cut back, and return to simpler times is as incorrect as it is impossible. We are smart enough, innovative enough, and resourceful enough to avoid the forecasts of doom and gloom. From Malthus on, people have been trying to convince us that growth will kill us. It was predicted we’d be out of oil by now (we have more reserves and fields than we did in the 1950s), that the earth couldn’t support more than three billion people, and that everything of worth had already been invented. People who coast on a plateau usually sail off the edge. Onward and upward. (Note from Alan: Friends, I write to provoke and stimulate, not to be liked or gain consensus. If you don’t agree with me, I respect that, but I can’t debate it with you since I have hundreds of thousands of readers. And if you want to threaten me with unsubscribing to a free newsletter, you just make me giggle!))

Monday Morning Perspective: Optimumque est, ut volgo dixere, aliena insania frui. (And the best plan is, as the popular saying goes, to profit by the folly of others.) — Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis

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