Category Archives: Alan’s Monday Morning Memo

Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 7/28/14

This week’s focus point: What draws people to the oceans? What is there about the Atlantic pounding on the Jersey shore, or the vivid aquamarines of Polynesian waters that draw people to the edge? It may just be the unconquerable aspect of nature. We’ve explored the moon with more certainty than the depths of the Pacific. Sometimes the sea delivers up strange plants and animals, flotsam and jetsam, and sometimes it swallows things never to return them. We can stare out at the horizon, but never be sure of what’s between us and that point where the earth curves. We believed the coelacanth to be extinct for millions of years but we know now they are alive and well in the Indian Ocean. We know next to nothing about the giant squid. We look at the stars without understanding what my be beneath us. That may be the attraction. Three-quarters of the earth is a mystery.

Monday Morning Perspective: He would go to Halifax for half a chance to show off, and to hell for a whole one. — Mark Twain on Teddy Roosevelt.

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 7/21/14

This week’s focus point: It’s 6:30 am on the Jersey shore, and I’m watching some rather plump people run and walk on the boardwalk adjoining the beach, a few who are disciplined, others in movement to some inaudible scherzo. I see some of these same people stuffing themselves at the boardwalk food stands at night. Just as working out at 6 pm to relieve stress which you then experience all over again at 9 am the next day on the job is fruitless, so is pseudo-exercise. If you want to dramatically change something, attack the cause, not the effect. Bandaids don’t cure anything, the point is to avoid cutting yourself. Palliatives never address underlying cause, whether social, economic, or business. If you want to prevent weight gain, be careful about what you eat. If you want to avoid brain drain, be careful about whom you listen to.

Monday Morning Perspective: Poor Mexico, so far from God and near the United States. — Porfirio Diaz during the Mexican Civil War

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 7/14/14

This week’s focus point: When you’re perceived as an expert, people usually don’t quarrel with you or debate you, because they’re eager to learn from you. The accept your predictions, and elicit your advice. They will entertain contrarian and even radical ideas. They will cite you and be proud to have learned from you. They will not argue about your fees. The greatest challenge to being perceived as an expert is between your ears. You have to have the courage of your talent, the conviction of your value. In my coaching I find I’m right about 90 percent of the time. I can achieve that level of effectiveness because I’m not at all concerned about being wrong 10 percent of the time. Success, not perfection.

Monday Morning Perspective: Cet animal est très méchant: Quand on l’attaque, il se défend. (The animal is very wicked: When it is attacked, it defends itself.) — Daniel Patrick Moynihan at the United Nations

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 7/7/14

This week’s focus point: The world isn’t hostile to you and you’re not a victim. Once you accept victimhood you surrender all of your power and control of your fate. It’s always “they” who get in your way, yet you have no way to influence “them.” The unexpected and unfair happen to all of us, but the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get. There are those who want you to be a victim, so they can “fix” you and protect you against “them.” I never start with the assumption that someone else is damaged and needs “fixing.” Don’t blame others, make yourself accountable. You and your confidence can then travel in the high occupancy lane.

Monday Morning Perspective: Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. — former Senator Walter Huddleston (D-KY)

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 6/30/14

This week’s focus point: You area not your “terminal self” right now. That is, the person you are today is not the person you’ll be in a year. Is the person you were last year the same person you are today? We change, become new people. This isn’t the cliché about throwing baggage off the train, it’s about taking an entirely new train with new baggage. Think of the person you want to be in a year or two. Plan around that future, a moving target. The person you are today will disappear, which is good. Every day we write another page in the autobiography of our lives. If the pages repeat, we’re boring, and a story no one wants to read.

Monday Morning Perspective: I feel it is ludicrous for the publication to hide behind the First Amendment. It’s like someone practicing human sacrifice and justifying it based on freedom of religion. — Jeff Walt remarking on sensationalist publications.

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 6/23/14

This week’s focus point: Let me understand the World Cup. It unites people in a nationalistic xenophobia. Officials can make calls which reverse momentum, reward the devious, and penalize honest effort. Even the best players posture and pretend, trying to draw attention and favorable treatment. Some scores are accidents–rebounds, off one’s own players, or just bad bounces. You can be exiled from the community with a red card. Teamwork almost always outperforms solo effort, but at the end of the day some players always score more than others. There is obvious corruption and an international organizing body that is distrusted, abused, and not respected by most of its own members. No one is ever really sure of how much time is left at the end of the game. Now I understand the popularity. Soccer is a metaphor for life.

Monday Morning Perspective: C’est plus qu’un crime; c’est une faute. (It’s worse than a crime; It’s a blunder.) — Fouche, on Napolean’s murder of the Duke of Engheim

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 6/16/14

This week’s focus point: After World War I, the Sykes-Picot Agreement divided the middle east according to British and French interests (with Russia agreeing). The geopolitical lines drawn were arbitrary and capricious, ignoring tribes and historic settlement (and even common sense). We’re living with the consequences of such imperialism today. We will probably see a very different landscape emerge, for example, with the Kurds having an independent state, and parts of existing states (Syria, Iraq, Iran) perhaps forming a new one. At one point, a hundred years ago, only two African nations (Liberia and Ethiopia) were not ruled by an external power. My quaint idea is to try to help everyone become a “have” as opposed to a “have not,” so they have too much to lose through conflict and a great deal to gain through compromise. Of course, this requires visionary leadership.

Monday Morning Perspective: Having thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous spectacle of the revolution, our intelligentsia prepared to don their fur-lined overcoats and return to their comfortable houses, but the overcoats were stolen and the houses burned. — Rosanoff, describing the predicament of the Russian liberals

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 6/9/14

This week’s focus point: Logic makes people think, emotion prompts them to act. Hence, “paralysis by analysis,” and similar stalemates. The current debates about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s release after a prisoner swap reflect both logic and emotion. Decision making is never effective when it is devoid of either. Pure rationality involves no passion, and totally visceral urges neglect prudence. We need to acknowledge both, and create the synergy where they are most likely to create great outcomes. Facts are important, but so is one’s intuition if that person has been right before. Even in the law, if all things were black and white we wouldn’t need judges and juries, and impersonal robots would present facts instead of persuasive attorneys. I’m emotionally attached to action and speed, but that’s moderated with my understanding of limits and safety.

Monday Morning Perspective: A billion seconds ago it was 1951. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive and walking in Galilee. A billion hours ago no one walked on two feet on earth. And a billion dollars ago was 10.3 hours in Washington, D.C. — Alexander B. Trowbridge, former President, National Association of Manufacturers

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 6/2/14

This week’s focus point: It’s both sad and ironic that we pay so much attention to the frivolous–who wins a sports championship or what’s the best binge watching on Netflix–and so little to the truly vital, such as our children’s teachers’ competence and treatment, and our veterans’ health quality and access to medical care. Firing a school superintendent or Secretary of Veterans Affairs is a weak response and not the answer. The route to fix the problems is to create alliances of interested parties to apply the best and brightest talent to the issues. If we can stage a Super Bowl which creates millions spent on 60-second ads, or an Oscars night where a billion people watch around the world, we’re certainly capable of similarly celebrating out kids’ education and our veterans’ well being. We have the smarts. We seem to lack the volition and the leadership.

Monday Morning Perspective: As a king he was quite a different man, beginning to realize perhaps that it’s easier to criticize authority than it is to exercise it. — Thomas Costain on Henry IV, “The Last of the Plantagenets”

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Alan’s Monday Morning Memo – 5/26/14

This week’s focus point: Let’s honor those who have served our nation in uniform, who have been willing and ready to move into harm’s way to protect our freedoms and lives, and for those fallen, who have made the greatest sacrifice.

Monday Morning Perspective: He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for it he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. — Thomas Paine




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