Life’s Rubik’s Cubes

In adulthood, life presents us with challenges that are often neither simple nor straight-forward. Rather, they are complex – full of possible outcomes, variables and unforeseeable consequence or benefit. When we make correct choices we continue on in our life’s journey. When we don’t we tread in place, march backwards or simply twist in the wind.

To solve a Rubik’s Cube you must rotate individual squares in the proper sequence so that you end up having six sides with matched colors. One blue wall, one red wall, etc. There are 54 squares. There are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible moves. Not so simple.  And much like life’s challenges.

Google supercomputers determined that the Rubik’s Cube puzzle can be answered in 20 moves. It has been solved in a record 7.08 seconds. It took Graham Parker of Porchester, England 26 years. The estimated 27,400 puzzle-solving hours took a toll on his wrist and back according to Parker, and on his marriage according to his wife.

Will it take 7.08 seconds or 26 years? It’s usually up to you.  Safe to assume the first person knew and executed the correct 20 moves, while Mr. Parker explored many of the 43,252,003,274,489,855,980 wrong ones. Much to the dismay of his wife, and at the cost of a lot of back and wrist pain. One wrong twist set him back hours. Repeated mistakes cost years. Much like life’s challenges can do.

Take time to learn the ‘right 20’. There are books, experts and a myriad of other resources that can help you. Others have faced the challenges that you are facing. Learn from their mistakes, and mimic their successes.

By |June 30th, 2012|Blog, Mindsets|0 Comments

A Crappy Day, Really?

The alarm buzzed at 5 am that morning. I was quite miffed about it. I poured down coffee to wake up while showering, then got dressed. I was on the road by 5:15.

I had a training class to conduct at 9 am, the drive was at least 3 hours. Even more with traffic. I went over my presentation a few times in my head, and an hour later felt prepared. Now what to do with the remaining two hours? I turned on KFI AM 640. Bill Handel started one of his daily rants. I started getting pissed off too.

This drive sucked. It was the second time this week I’d had to travel. I was tired and I was sick of driving. I was sick of hotels. I started looking around at other cars and making mean faces at the drivers to pass the time. On or about my third dirty look (this directed at the driver of a truck that was about to pass me) I felt a tinge of guilt. I had given my best meanie face to the driver. He responded by smiling at me while motioning hello with his breakfast burrito.

Right now I hated happy people. His smile mocked my foul mood.

As the body of his truck aligned with my window I noticed the slogan on his truck…“We Go Where You Go.” I then saw the hose apparatus attached to the truck and realized what this was.

He was the guy you called when your septic tank needed pumped.

Suddenly I began feeling like a huge ass.

Here I was, off to a nice hotel to eat a hot breakfast before presenting to thirty-five or more people who wanted to listen to me talk. And […]

By |June 14th, 2012|Blog, Mindsets|0 Comments

Jerry Springer and a ‘Box of Chocolates’

If getting life right were easy, there would be no people to appear on the Jerry Springer show. There would be a lot less reality TV shows on air. Maury Povitch would be out of a daytime job.

Life’s not simple.

Life is also not like a box of chocolates, it’s like a box of Rubik’s cubes. It’s not true that you “never know which one you’re gonna get.” A chocolate covered cherry is a chocolate covered cherry. The really crappy syrupy one is the really crappy syrupy one. Once you bite in, no more surprises. You know what you got.

Life isn’t that straight forward. Things aren’t always what they appear to be after the first bite.

Life would be like a box of chocolates if the chocolates sometimes changed flavor mid-chew. If they started out as chocolate covered cherries, but then sometimes morphed into the crappy syrupy ones. Then later became the chewy carmel ones. Then just when the flavors stopped morphing and you begin to taste them in their final form – someone comes along and throws two more in your mouth and you have to start all over. That would make life like a box of chocolates.

Don’t embrace what is easy, embrace complexity and challenge.

By |May 20th, 2012|Blog, Mindsets|0 Comments

Seems Like it is Always Thursday

It’s interesting what comes from a chance encounter in an elevator. Usually awkward silence, sometime exchanges of pleasantries. Never a pearl of wisdom and an attitude check. Not until today.

I always comment that it feels as though it’s always Sunday night. The workweek flies, the weekend passes, and here I am again getting ready for the Monday morning wake-up call.

So I get on the elevator today on my way to an appointment, and the elevator stops two floors below me. The door opens, in walks a woman of her late fifties with two arms full of newspapers. Obviously heading to the recycle bin I think to myself.

I offer to help her, as it was clear she was carrying far too many papers – this from the Sunday edition I observed narrowly balanced on top of the paper peak. Ready to fall with even a hiccup. No thank you she says.

Again – pleasantries. Me – “How’s Your Day?” Her – “It’s great, happy it’s Thursday. Doesn’t it always seem like it’s Thursday?” Me – “No, it feels like it is always Sunday night to me.”

To which she responded – ahem – “Maybe you should look at your weeks a little differently. Thursday is the new Friday – and then the fun begins. Seems like you are looking at things the other way around.”

Thank you Miss Random Elevator Riding Newspaper Lady. You are right!

By |April 26th, 2012|Blog, Mindsets|0 Comments

5 Surefire Ways to Stay Relevant at Work After 50

The older we get the harder it can become to keep up. The changes that touch the workplace cannot be ignored. The more unfamiliar we are with the reshaping occurring in communication and technology, the greater the risk that we become irrelevant in the workplace.

The fax was cutting edge in the late ’90s and early 2000s – not so much today. Flash drives used to be the way to keep work with you during travel, now Dropbox and other cloud based storage have all but replaced them. Even email attachments are going the way of the dodo – in favor of FTP, YouSendIt and services such as Google Docs.

The way that business is done continues to evolve, thanks in part to Web 2.0, and in equal part to other technological advances made in the digital revolution. The way that we connect with one another has changed – conversations that used to take place in person or by phone now occur across texts, status updates and even Tweets. The way that we evaluate products and services is now to read online reviews, seek peer recommendations/ likes  and to use dedicated review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. Even business processes have changed – for example,   sales prospecting now takes place as often on LinkedIn and Facebook as it does via direct contact.

In today’s world, the digital revolution is raging full steam forward. To fall behind is to eventually undermine your job security.

Here are five surefire ways to stay informed;

1) Buy new gadgets – I have always been an avid gamer, so it was a no brainer to purchase the Kinect system as an add-on to my X-Box 360.  If you are unfamiliar, Kinect uses body […]

By |April 25th, 2012|Blog, Business, Mindsets|1 Comment

Solving Complex Problems

In ancient days, the Phrygian nation faced a dilemma. They had to determine who would next rule them. They needed a king. They therefore did the most logical thing an ancient society might do. They consulted the Oracle.

As the legend is told, the Oracle proclaimed that the true King of Phrygia was to arrive momentarily. He would be known to them by the wagon he rode in on. In my opinion this is the first historical example of the Oracle doing something that was later to inspire the phrase “dodging a bullet”.

Enter Gordius, a peasant on a leisurely wagon ride to town with his wife. You can imagine his surprise when he was greeted with cheers, and the throne of Phrygia. As a show of gratitude Gordius dedicated his ox cart to Zeus. He tied his offering to a nearby post with a most intricate knot that he believed only a God could untie. The Gordian Knot. For years the solution to the knot remained elusive. Many tried to untie it, none succeeded. Apparently not finished with the visions and proclamations, the Oracle later declared that whosoever should untie this knot would live on to become the ruler of all Asia.

In 333 B.C. Alexander the Great arrived in Phrygia. Like so many before him, he tried to unbind the cart but couldn’t find the ends to do so. As the legend is told, Alexander abandoned his attempts to solve the knot’s puzzle. Instead he unsheathed his sword simply sliced the knot in half.

The Gordian Knot is spoken of today metaphorically when describing an intricate problem solved by a bold stroke.

By |April 11th, 2012|Blog, Mindsets|0 Comments

Fun Transcends Cultures

I was once in a business trip in Finland that culminated in a meeting with six businessmen from Japan. We met in the lobby of a hotel, and the night began with a ceremonious card exchange. For those who do not know, the Japanese place importance in one’s business card, it is therefore accepted with two hands (not in one) and read thoroughly.

A very formal beginning. Fast forward to the end…

At the final bar we visited, after we each sang our favorite karaoke songs, we ended the evening with a modified game of bar frisbee. One of the businessmen had fallen asleep at the table. The other five men and I were flinging coasters at him, trying to land them in his open mouth.

Two lessons here.

Fun transcends all cultures. No matter how formal your first impression of a person may be, there is very likely an inner child waiting to be called to the playground for a game of frisbee.

And be careful not to pass out at a bar when I’m around.


By |March 30th, 2012|Blog, Mindsets|2 Comments

Writing Compelling Stories

First, if you are reading this it is because you have story to tell and you are interested in sharing it with our community – so, thank you for your interest!

Where to begin and what to say is the toughest part for me when I write, so I thought that  I would provide some tips and suggestions for you to help you tell your story.

1) Create an attention grabbing title.

– My first entry in the Story category of the blog was about the many things I did in my forties. I originally titled it – “My forties by Pmac” – a straight-forward but vanilla title. I have since changed it to “Around the world and almost in jail in my forties by Pmac”. It’s long, but at least it makes you curious

2) The opening

– The first one to two sentences usually determine for the reader whether or not they will continue reading. Having a killer, provocative opening sentence is critical if your story is long, less critical if your story is brief.

3) Sentence/ Paragraph structure

– Long, multi-sentence paragraphs often are intimidating to readers, they say “this is going to take a long time to read” and “I am going to have to focus on this to understand it”. Many blog readers are either multi-tasking or reading between events (appointments, calls, meetings, etc). If they think it will take long they may not read.

– 50% of web views are on mobile devices. even a short paragraph looks long on a smartphone or tablet.

4) The story

– Be direct, be transparent, be honest, and make fun of yourself whenever it’s appropriate

– Don’t write in “writer’s speak” – if you wouldn’t use thus in conversation, don’t use it here.

– […]

By |March 23rd, 2012|Blog, Mindsets|0 Comments

Learning From Jewels

After the fourth consecutive kick landed to my crotch it occurred to me that I may be doing something wrong.  I had begun training in Kempo Karate six months prior, and at the start of this day was feeling confident in my stance, footwork and combatives. I had watched many UFC fights, carefully studying then emulating the fighter’s moves. My fight style had worked very well in the mirror, and proved highly effective versus my heavy bag. I was ready for whatever my studio threw at me.

After the fourth crotch kick I asked why. My sparring partner told me that I was broadcasting my kick attempts. I was also ‘squaring up’ on him before my kick. I might as well have painted a bullseye on my ‘area’ with neon landing strip lights and a welcome mat with “kick me” printed on it.

I was quick to adapt.  Now with a new and less squared side-stance, my front foot was swept. And again swept. And again…Every time I moved in to punch I apparently shifted weight noticeably to my front foot. I was spun around, a lot. My ankle hurt and I was feeling dizzy. I was glad when the buzzer rang and it was time to move to a new partner.

This round I would not repeat either mistake. I would instead reach deep into my toolkit to find a fresh new one.

I had been practicing my spinning heel kick. I successfully landed it with 90% accuracy on my heavy bag. It was time to unleash it now on my unsuspecting new opponent. Mid spin I felt a missile hit my ribcage. Three stumble-steps later I thudded onto the mat. He’d seen a spinning heel kick before.

The rest […]

By |March 23rd, 2012|Blog, Mindsets|0 Comments

Lemons and Lemonade in the New Normal

When life gives you a lemon, make lemonade? In the past four years, some of the lemons that “life” is giving out are gigantic – and sometimes they are also remarkably sour. And when life gives you one of those monstrously large lemons in the later years of your career (especially the extra tart ones), it can be more difficult to squeeze them into lemonade.

During my forties I was touched by corporate downsizing on two different occasions. I recreated myself in 2001, shortly after a company I had worked with for over thirteen years was purchased by its largest competitor. I was recruited into a completely different industry, however saw downsizing there as well after only three years. Several years later, when the New Normal began, millions of Americans went thru similar experiences as I did.

At age forty-nine, and as a result of these really big lemons, I have become a committed Second Starter™. In simple terms, this means that I will not allow myself to be caught in a reactive situation again, personally or professionally. I am keeping my skills sharp and at the ready, in case I am surprised with another abnormally large lemon to make lemonade from.

I have made a pact with myself, here’s what it is;

I am committed to living a healthy lifestyle, complete with proper diet and exercise, so that I can bring a focussed and energized version of myself into every interaction and have mental acuity in times of great challenge
I vigorously self-educate on world events, financial markets and developing trends in business in order to provide valuable, forward thinking insights and contributions
I do not allow myself to fall behind the technology curve, and am an active participant in […]

By |March 22nd, 2012|Blog, Mindsets|0 Comments