« February 2005 | Main | April 2005 »

March 26, 2005

Ok Einstein

I'm reading a great book right now, Brian Greenes The Fabric Of The Cosmos which is all about "string theory". If you're one of those people that always asks "why?" then you'll love this book. It's really fascinating. Now I'm one of those people that's into quantum physics, believes in parallel universes, thinks black holes and anti matter explain everything, that time travel is indeed possible and that for the most part, human beings merely exist and do not make a difference in their existence.

Once you read this book, it puts you, your life into a different perspective. Einsteins theory of relativity most simply stated is that everything that occurs is relative to something else. Or at its most fundamental level - if this, then that. If you're into the nature of the universe. Then buy this book.

Brian Greene is a remarkable man, a brilliant educator who is able to explain, in layman's terms, the world as we see it, live it, in the context of the cosmos. He was on Letterman the other night and absolutely articulate, funny and a regular guy - with an IQ of 175 or so.

It's one of those books that is a bit tough is the beginning but then you're are absolutely entranced with what he has to say, what he proves. 

March 26, 2005 in Books | Permalink | TrackBack

Thank God Lent is Over

I had always thought that the season of Lent went right up until Easter Sunday. Well, last night (Friday night) when I got home from work, my daughter Alexa informed me that Lent actually ends on midnight the Friday before. So, being the good catholic that I am, I quickly did some math and figured that it was indeed past midnight in Jerusalem and cracked upon a great bottle of White Oak Chardonnay! Oh yea, for those of you that haven't been keeping up, my sacrifice for Lent was not drinking any alcohol for that period of time.

Now, I did have a slip up here and there (probably two or three times) over the forty days/nights but that's the cool thing about being a Catholic - you mess up and then go to confession. You should try it, it works. No guilt here. Although Christine would always argue that I was born guilt free. For those purists out there, yes I am human, yes I do believe in choice and the freedom of self expression, so if you don't like it - oh well!

So tomorrows Easter, the kids are all excited, they still believe in the Easter Bunny (so do I but in my mind she looks a little bit different :-). Easter is the only holiday that I know about that isn't the same weekend every year. It's actually determined as the first Sunday, after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (btw, the vernal equinox is when the sun crosses the equator from south to north and the amount of daylight equals the amount of sunlight at that point - it always happens on or about the 20th of March. It's also known as the first day of spring. When it happens the other way, crossing from north to south, it's called the autumnal equinox - our entry to fall). So this year the vernal equinox is on the 20th, the first full moon is on the 25th and viola - Easter is on Sunday the 27th!

Another tid bit of information. The Great Sphinx - one of the 7 wonders of the world - was positioned to point to the exact spot of the rising sun on the day of the vernal equinox. Also, the vernal and autumnal equinox days are the only days when you can balance an oblique object on its point - that's why you can balance an egg on its end on the 20th of March every year.

OK, full disclosure - every vernal equinox I sneak to the fridge when no one is looking , take out an egg and try this.

March 26, 2005 in Religion | Permalink | TrackBack

March 17, 2005

St Patrick Rocks!

So for those of you that know me, I refer to my ancestry being Italian (from my mom - northern Italian) and then there's my dads side; his mom was an Irish Catholic (Gallagher) and his dad the Scotsman. Christine pokes fun at me because given the situation I tend to exaggerate the part of my heritage to fit the situation. You should have seen me after the movie Braveheart (btw-it's probably the best movie of all time). So today - I'm Irish! A great excuse to yet again honor my heritage, this time from my grandmother, Gertrude Gallagher. My grandmother died when I was 13 so there's not a lot that I remember (has to do with my own capacity) but there are three things that will stick with me for the rest of my life. First, after Nixon lost to Kennedy, apparently he made some snide remark to the effect of, "well, I guess my wife can always go back to teaching". Apparently that pissed my grandmother off, she hated the guy. You see, grandma was a staunch Democrat, my grandfather was actually the chairman of the Democratic party in NY during the Roosevelt era. She must have repeated that phrase to me 100 times over  the years - and it got very colorful when she was sloshed. Which brings me to one of the the other fine memories. Grandma could throw back a Manhattan. Could this woman drink. I had no idea what a Manhattan was at 8, or 10 or for that matter at 25, but almost every morning, I would ride my bike over to grandmas to check on her, and there we would be, 9:00am or so in the morning, making a pitcher of Manhattans. She'd then take the pitcher and either sit in her rocking chair in the "TV room" if it was cold outside, or out on the front porch during  nicer weather and sip on Manhattans all day. It's funny now looking back on it, I had no idea how much of her life was blurred by the glass in her hand. I'd sit next to her in another rocking chair on the porch and stare out over the Hudson River from her house that sat high on a hilltop and she'd tell me story after story, glass after glass, all about her childhood, her life, whatever. She usually got to the point where she would call me by one of her other grandchildrens names - I loved it. The other thing that will stick with me was a particular trip we made to the corner store together. She had an old Ford Fairlane that probably only had 5,000 miles on it even though it was like 15 years old. She only drove to the corner store and back, and occasionally to one of her 4 children's houses - three of which were within a half  mile and the other was about one and a half miles away (that's the way it is back east). So anyway, I was 12 or so, we hoped in her car and drove to the store. Little did I know how whacked she was on Manhattans - plus she had pretty bad eyes to make matters worse. The store is about a half a mile from her house. We hit every curb, we were up on sidewalks, side swiped a white picket fence - you name it. By the way, all the time she's smoking a cigarette that has an ash on it about an inch and a half long...and it never comes off! After loading up on 2 bags of groceries which cost all of about $5, she stumbles out. So I'm finally thinking that this might not be a good idea - her driving home. So, how does a 12 year old get his grandmother and a big Ford Fairlane home. He drives it.....very slowly. Made it back to grandmas, unloaded the groceries, and what does she do, yup - makes another pitcher of Manhattans. My grandmother didn't leave the house too much, she practically never drove - now I know why. She was the greatest grandmother in the world to me (although Stella was a very close 2nd), I loved her dearly and I learned a lot from her. Today....my Irish eyes are smillin. Here's to you Grandma.

March 17, 2005 in Biographical | Permalink | TrackBack

March 05, 2005

Getting People Into Action!

I got a lot of great feedback, emails, etc on my last blog "The Reality of Possibility" so I thought I'd continue down this path for a bit. Most of the feedback however was centered around - OK, got it, now - how do I get people to stop doing "Business as Usual" and to start getting creative. That's where leadership comes in. Bear with me here.


If we all accept the premise that Results are a derivative of Actions, then the real question is; how do I get people to change their actions? If I'm/we're not satisfied with the Result, how do I/we get someone, or a group of people to change their actions to produce the desired Result? Well, you might want to start with the question; Why does someone or a group of people take the actions that they take? Lets take an example; Why is it that a one 6 year old boy runs up to home plate, gets a certain look in his eye, digs his feat in and takes a mighty swing at the ball. While another boy will walk up to home plate sheepishly, look intimidated and take a half swing, and most likely miss the ball. BTW - I'm using this example because we've all seen it in one way or another. It applies to each and every one of us in differing situations, work, play, personal interactions, etc.

Slide1_1 Why the difference? Becuase the actions that someone takes are a direct correlation to what they see as being "Possible". If you think or see that something is possible, the actions that you take, minute by minute, day by day are perfectly correlated to that. The 6 yr old boy who runs up to the plate, digs in, etc, thinks/sees that he's going to hit that ball. Now he may, or may not but his actions are correlated with the possibility that he sees for himself. Business, same thing. I guarantee you that the employees that are jazzed about something see a great future for themselves in what they are doing. They see a great future for the company. It's true, check it out, have a conversation with that type of person and ask them what they think the future holds for them. btw - some people have a difficult time expressing that but you'll know its there. The converse is true as well. Employees that seem to be going through the motions, guess what kind of future they see for themselves.

You might be asking why certain people see different possibilities given the same set of current circumstances. We are who we are because we are shaped by our past experiences. No matter how much we like or don't like who we are, what we see as possible, our past experiences creep into the picture, consciously or sub consciously and alter what we see, what we believe in. Not much you can do about the past experiences, they are what they are. What you can do is alter how you relate to those past experiences.

So back to the question, how do I get people actions to change? Easy, change what people see as being possible for themselves - as a future.  This is where leadership comes in. It's a leaders job to coalesce people, to have them see what is possible, as a future for themselves, as a part of an organization. And have them see, have them believe in something big and bold. Get people excited about something and really believing in it and it's amazing what will happen. People will start doing things (taking actions) that you would have never thought they would take. And, low and behold, the results start to happen. It's not that difficult. There are fabulous examples of this throughout history, from Kennedy proclaiming "space - the new frontier" and setting the goal of landing a "man on the moon before the end of the decade", to Martin Luther King and his famous "I believe" speech. I use those as widely known examples but there are examples around us in every day life as well. I'm sure you can point to experiences in your life where you've been a part of a group that shared a special experience because you all believed in something. Whether that belief originated from an individual leader or a group of leaders - it doesn't matter.

What not to do: Tell someone what to do. In other words, go to work on changing their actions by telling them what to do. Sure, they will do what you tell them to do, but what happens when you're not there telling them what to do. Or intimidation - doesn't work! Yea, command and control will get an action and desired result but it will be a "Business as Usual" result, not something born out of creativity or a possibility that that person or group believes in.

So, the next time one of your family members, friends or employees seems down or are being unproductive - talk to them. Talk to them about the current situation and talk to them about what's going to be great in the future and why. And then notice the change you get. Notice the change in actions and ultimately, the results. It's amazing what people can do, what groups of people can do when there's a common goal that everyone is energized around. It's even more amazing when that common goal, that belief is out of the norm, where what needs to get accomplished has never been done before - that's where breakthroughs happen.  Get people to believe in something.

March 5, 2005 in Business | Permalink | TrackBack