Bruce Katlin Creates And The Running Artist

Friday, December 18, 2009

Jews-A-Runnin' - Peace-Is-A-Comin'

I have a deadline for this post: sundown.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw these two conservative, Jewish men running up the Queens Borough Bridge on Friday, as I pedaled my way over to Manhattan. Most runners I see give no clue to their religious inclinations but these two left no doubt.

So many questions, so little time. "Where are you running to?" I asked.
Heshie, the slighter gentleman on the right side of the photo answered, "Just out for our daily run. We have a family now and need to stay in shape.

"Aren't you a bit uncomfortable running in those clothes?"
Heshie's friend,
Moshe who seemed a little guarded replied, "No choice, these are our clothes, for everything."
"But at least the shoes?" I tried persuading. "Can't you at least get a black pair of running shoes?"
Heshie and Moshe looked at each other and chuckled. "These shoes work just fine," M
oshie said. "Besides, why should we spend money on special shoes?"
"You might get injured," I suggested.
"Why would we get injured? Our shoes have rubber soles just like your expensive, big shot running shoes,"
Moshe proudly countered.
They got me thinking about how many pairs of running shoes I go through in a year and that maybe I should head over to Harry's in the City and get a pair of black dress shoes with Vibram soles.
"You know," I said,"Jews really aren't known for their athletic prowess?"
"We know, we know. But we like to run."

I looked around and there was no else on the bridge but the three of us. A thought popped in my head. "What if we started a running team made up of Jews and Palestinians?" Hershie and
Moshe looked at me as if I had one eye stuck in the center of my forehead. "Think about it," I said. "Running, teamwork, goal setting brings people together. Even people with huge differences. Think of the Olympics. Well, don't think of the 1972 Olympics but think of the possibilities."
Hershie stroked his beard. "Maybe. Maybe you have something."
"It could be a wonderful thing," I said with too much excitement. "Think of the marketing, the publicity. You caught my attention, didn't you?"
Hershie stopped running, took a deep breath. "Okay, maybe we'll go and look for special black running shoes and then maybe we can talk more but first we have to finish our run."
"Yes, we have to finish our run,"
Moshe confirmed. "You know," He leaned in closer to me and I smelled the sweat coming from his tallis. "If we have a team who would be the leader, us or them?"
I considered carefully before answering. "Think of a team as one entity or as "us" and not "them" or "others". You and they become "us" or "we.""
Hershie stroked his beard again only this time more slowly and pondered, "Hmm, interesting. But I don't think we could. We don't mix. Them and us."
I reminded them how their running brought us together on the middle of an East River bridge.

"What if?" I began. "What if..." I stopped. I know the issues, the fears, the ignorance on both 'sides' and standing there straddling by bike, talking with these two sweaty and runny-nosed Jewish men about running would have to be enough for today. Maybe I planted a seed with them or maybe upon their return home they would tell there friends and family at Temple about the guy on the bridge with the crazy idea about running as an instrument of peace. Maybe...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hat Maker Sticks to Her Stitch

Terry Graziano is a hat designer whose work was featured in this week's issue of Time Out New York's Holiday Shopping Guide. Why should this matter to you? Because her determination, dedication and passion can be inspiration for you to go after your dreams.

It's not easy running your own business and the work never ends. but it's worth it says most entrepreneurs. When you run your own business you get to run it the way you want to and not how someone else thinks you should. With that, of course, means that you have all the responsibility but you get all the the rewards.

With years of toil, Ms. Graziano is happy to know that more people may get to see her hats and why they are unique. As she describes it, "My hats are versatile as well as eco-friendly, I use only designer mill-end surplus fabrics in luxurious textures and colors while personally handcrafting each hat with great care and attention to detail. Each hat is fully lined for comfort and durability, and they are adjustable for head size and shape to create an ideal fit. For me, it’s all about flexibility. A shirt, a skirt, a pair of pants: these can be worn many ways – why should hats be any different?"

So take your lead from this incredible designer and go after your dreams one stitch at a time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Sell" is Just a Four-Letter Word

Sell is just a four-letter word. So is "help".

Most people I have spoken with including sales professionals have a certain aversion to the words sell or sales. "I don't like be considered a salesman," one salesman told me. "How so?" I asked. With a crusted smile he proceeded to tell me that people including customers and potential customers, equate sales people and selling with shadiness, aggressiveness, and dishonesty. Maybe this is why so many people hate to "sell" themselves or their services. Everyone in an organization is a sales person. How many times have you heard, "As an employee you represent the company"? Or, "To acquire top talent we have to sell our company and its people."? But if sales people are one of the highest paid
professionals in the world, why do so many people shy away from "selling"? Me thinks the answer lays in one's intentions.

Think and or feel the difference in intentions between "selling" and "helping". The former means to some, convincing a buyer to purchase something. The latter refers to providing assistance; to aid, to guide and support. Helping, in a sales context, provides service to what is needed and or desired. Of course, influencing can create desire.

One of the best "salesman" I knew was a man who sold insurance. Arthur knew how to help and he also provided excellent customer service. His greatest skill was listening and through listening in showed a lot of understanding. Art knew his clients very well and his clients trusted him in return. That trust allowed Art to suggest additional insurance products to his customers. The suggested products were not unreasonable or extravagant. "You never know...You have good coverage now but if you want to be on the safe side of safe consider this coverage as well," Is what Art always said when his clients would have considered additional insurance. In helping his clients Art's revenue grew along with his reputation for being a trusted adviser. Art's intentions were to sincerely help his customers feel safe and secure. It also helped that he really cared about his customers as fellow human beings.

About influencing: Influencing and selling are two different things. You can't sell if you don't first create desire. What is desirable to one customer may not be desirable to another. Unless you understand what motivates a customer you won't be able to influence them to trust and purchase your products and services. So, think about making a "helping" call instead of a "sales" call. Consider your intentions before you make that call. Your sales revenue, referrals, and reputation and standing within your industry and community will increase ten-fold.

Art retired a very rich man.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Twenty-Two Miles of Resistance

What or why do we get up everyday, bathe, eat breakfast and go to work? What causes us to continually move forward? Is it in our DNA? Or, is it deeper that our genetic makeup?

When asked the above questions others have answered, "What's the alternative?" They got me there. So, I guess that's why I kept putting one foot in front of the other on a recent long and uncomfortable twenty-two mile training run. Even though the views of the newly landscaped Randall's Island are spectacular and the fall bloom
of Central Park magnificent, I just couldn't get out of the question, "Why am I doing this?" (Resistance possibly?) Besides the obvious that I committed to run the NYC and Philadelphia marathons with two friends and that I like my runner's waist line, I was focused on the question of who has more courage, the finisher or the quitter: the survivor or the felo-de-se? I think that it takes a lot of courage to get up everyday and continue on in the face of adversity especially, in today's political and economic climates. So too does it take courage to move through debilitating depression and anxiety which, causes some to think and feel that the best option is to stop keeping on.

I do have mild irritation over the industrialized world's mantra of work hard, amass more. The empty and commercial driven "just do it's" and the get aggressive corporate messages. (Try "assertive" instead of aggressive.)

I can't tell you exactly why I keep on keepin' on. One of the reasons is the post run benefits. After an ice bath, stretching
and a power plate of pasta, I sit and wait for the wonderful calming endorphins to kick in where I enter into the world of Bliss. These free wheeling, natural chemicals make me feel like I'm floating on a Whitman "greenshine" pool in a rubber raft without a care in the world. And I guess, this is why I do it six days per week. Do I have courage or is it to keep the scary mooglies at bay? I don't know. I do know that there is something that keeps us humans moving forward, striving and driving and whether it's self-preservation or fear of the "alternative" I'm going to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Monday, September 28, 2009

First Day of Work & We've Thrown You a Party

Imagine, it's your first day on the new job. You're not expecting much but are hoping that the new firm gives you a warmer welcome than your last. (The desk they assigned you came complete with a half-filled cup of curdled coffee, a greasy computer keyboard and a chair with a wobbly leg.) You've been down the on-boarding road before, attended the mandatory and boring orientations and each time you've hoped for a sincere appreciation for committing valuable time, energy, and creativity to the "man".

Maybe the "man" should take his cue from an elementary school in Connecticut. On the first day of every school year, this particular school throws a welcoming party for its students. Balloons are released, music is pumped through loud speakers and the teachers meet and greet each and every student. (At one job, I was met with jeers and groans when I offered my hand to my over-stressed new colleagues.) Wouldn't that be something if you were met on your first day at the office with balloons as part of the welcome package?

Employees need, yes need to feel valued and first impressions are lasting impressions. If the attitude at the organization is, "you're lucky to have a job, get to work" think of the quality of work the new hire is going to produce. There are many ways to steal from an organization and resentment creates more theft of productivity and profitability than anything else. Sure, maybe your company gives out pens, coffee cups and memo pads with their logo imprinted but what's behind the toys? What's the intention of the gifts? Do they come with a "we're really glad that you decided to come and be a part of our team"? Or, are they just give-aways
that everyone gets?

There are businesses that get it right. They do on-boarding really well and I certainly want to know if yours is one of those businesses. Unfortunately, they seem to be the exception not the norm. When the economy turns around and the ratio to hire moves above the unemployment rate, workers will expect a little bit more on their first day than an electric pencil sharpener.

Monday, September 21, 2009

No Legs and The Food Stinks

No buttocks, no legs, no problem. Except for the food.

Meet Jose R. who's missing a body from the waist down. I met him last year on Roosevelt Island where I offered him a "push'. On his permanent gurney, (he can't turn over nor sit up.) Jose wheels himself around the island for exercise and a way to break the tedium of hospital life. I ran into Jose today outside a bodega where he was hoping that some kind soul would buy him a turkey sandwich on rye with mustard and lettuce. I asked him if the hospital where he lives feeds him and he said he can't eat "that stuff" anymore. "I'm sick of it. Would you please buy me a sandwich?"

This is the third time we've shared more than salutations and I've never heard Jose complain about anything until now. No legs, no buttocks and all he can find to complain about is institutional food? I don't know but if it were me on that stain soaked gurney I'd have a whole lot more to wail about than beige hospital food. Maybe that's why our paths crossed today. Maybe the Universe or the Grand Station Master heard my pitiful grips and said, 'you think you got problems, check this guy out, again.' It's true, I do need to be reminded from time-to-time. Not often but now and then. We forget sometimes just how good we have it and then a Jose rolls by to snap us out of our mournful abyss.

After I gave him a dollar towards his sandwich, Jose said, "Cheer up, it's a beautiful day."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Run NYC Marathon Free!

Achilles Track Club is looking for walking guides for the NYC Marathon!
Looking for guides who are willing to commit to 7.5+ hours. I still need about 5-7 people to assist our early start athletes who will be doing that time and longer. Send in a guide application ASAP to my email. Here is the direct link to the guide application.

In addition, Achilles needs volunteers for the NYC Marathon weekend to help at Expo, Start Line, and Finish line. If you are interested or know anyone who may want to help, please email Here is the breakdown: Thurs. Oct 29th- Expo 10am-8pm Friday Oct 30th-Expo 10am-8pm Sat Oct 31st -Expo 9am-5pm Sunday Nov 1- ALLL DAY need about 15 volunteers for Start and 50 volunteers for the finish.

Hope to see you on the bridge!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Watch Turns Three Thousand

It's a huge accomplishment for a watch; clocking over three thousand miles in a little over five hundred and thirty hours. Okay, the watch didn't have to do much work, just sit on my wrist as I cranked out the three thousand plus miles. Day-by-day the miles started to add up until Sunday when my Garmin Forerunner's digital face read 3025.78.

When started running (again) April 2007 I had no intentions of ever running seriously. That was until the running bug bite and the results started to show. Just like any new skill there was the normal levels of learning progression except, my body, mind and soul was the instrument for which the new skill inhabited. I took on the new (novice) learning with excitement and progressed rapidly (intermediate) which, last week turned into joy (advanced: experience using the new skill for a prolonged period of time). And I would gladly share this new found "joy" with and new learner.

With any new learning there are different ways that adults learn and subsequently develop. There are too many learning theories to list here. However, the three basics that must be present for all adults to learn are: (1) because it is important to them; (2) it must be practical: and (3) they need to 'try' out the new learning as in experiencing it for themselves and not be lectured too.

Running has enhanced my 'life' in countless ways especially with regards to discipline, creating a plans both short and long term; and being present and in each moment or step of the Journey. I am confident barring being run down by a reckless car driver that I'll be around to see my watch flip over the three thousand, ninety-nine mark to four thousand.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Through the Learning Curve

The break through with learning something new usually comes when you least expect it. After days or weeks or even months of learning a new skill suddenly, you find yourself using the new skill with greater ease. That was my experience this week. I was doing an interval run workout and when I commanded my legs to turn on the speed I couldn't believe what took place. The ease to which my body responded to the requested effort was an incredible sensation. It was as if a turbo engine was turned on and revved. Wow! Now I want to 'learn' more.

Keep studying, keep your eye on the learning and the lesson not just the goal. Learning never ends and the rewards grow in tandem.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sacrifice the Gift

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, 'I've never seen anyone run like that before.' It's more than just a race, it's a style. It's doing something better than anyone else. It's being creative." - Steve Prefontaine

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ready To Take the Plunge?

Are you ready to take the plunge? If so, do you feel your heart pumping, palm sweating and your skin tingling? Take a deep breath, let go and push over the precipice; the rewards will be beyond your expectations.

No matter what you maybe wailing and gnashing over, once you make the decision to "go for it" and your get into the stream of the unknown and exciting you will know what it's like to have courage. And people who have experience with courage know that each dive over the cliff builds more confidence and strength. From going back to school to changing careers to delivering to facing up to your liabilities, making a decision to change takes courage. And courage as you know is not the absence of fear. The fireman-woman, the EMT worker, the middle school teacher, blind athlete running all move through fear with courage when they take that plunge.

How old do you need to get before you go after what you really want? How long to you want to keep your dreams in prison? How many more people do you need to see get in that 'kayak' and slip off the rocky edge before you take a risk and "go for it?" Only you can answer that. Sometimes people need help getting in that little vessel. You don't have to do it alone. So, dare to dream really big and get in that kayak!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blind Man Running

Less than there weeks to go until the New York City Half-Marathon and I have already won the race for happiness.

After training for several months with blind runner Dale Layne and the WABC Run with Heidi Program I've become as close to anyone as I possibly could. Literally. Take a look at the interview with Dale that aired this evening and you'll see what we all see: one person helping to inspiring others. I keep telling Dale that I'm getting more out of our relationship than he is but he doesn't understand. In the training and development industry we would call this Observational Learning. There is definitely a difference between inspiration and pity. I feel no pity for Dale only respect and love for a great blind man running.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Long And the Short of It

I am never ceased to be amazed over the parallel of life and running. There are good days and bad days in both. A happy, successful life takes a certain amount of skills and with practice it gets easier, better and more fun. The same goes for running.

When planing goals, there is the over all goal, "I am going to run the New York City Marathon and I am going to run it in 4 hours." In order to get to the long-term goal we need to set short term and mid-term goals all of which have tasks attached to them. And the goal of any task? That's right, to complete them. Along the route to accomplishing your long-term goal you'll reassess your short term goals and tasks. When you meet the goals that you have set for yourself a sense of accomplishment, confidence and pride will begin to fill you. And those feelings will beget more success. I never thought that I'd be able to reduce my marathon time by twenty-five minutes within eight months but with hard work, I did.

Yesterday, in the park with video camera in hand I captured the runner in the above video. I noticed his easy gait and powerful stride and thought, "What a good analogy for life": easy does it but do it.

After revealing myself to "Ben" he told me that he was training for the Chicago marathon and that he was in the "cool down" stage of his day's run. (Warm-up, cool-down. The same goes for life's activities.) We shared some thoughts on running and then parted ways. With "Ben's" approval I put a little humor into the above video. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To Do or Not to Do?

"If you really wanted it badly enough you'd do something about it!" Many people have said this to me and others countless times in the past and some of this statement holds truth however, some of us just can't seem to do anything "about it" no matter how badly we want it. What’s the matter, fear of success, fear of failure? Does it really matter? Well, it doesn’t matter any longer to me because I’ve been around long enough to know that ‘it’ won’t happen unless I take action. Even if that action is just one small step. If you’ve just had a twinge of anxiety after reading the last sentence than this is about you. Has this ever happen to you: driving down the road at a snails pace or standing online at the motor vehicle department a great idea hits you between the eyes. Your follow-up thoughts to this great idea of yours may have been, wow, I can’t wait to get started! Or, that’ll never work. Besides, someone else has probably already thought of it. Okay, you know the drill; you believe you are what you tell yourself you. You also know that there are countless examples of people, other people who actually took action on their ideas and made their dreams come true. We’ve all read about ‘them’ and yet, it hasn’t propelled you to take action. Can you relate?

All those ‘other people’ out there are just that, people. They are no different from you and me. The only difference is that they took their ideas and took action. Maybe, their first step was to take an hour to investigate if their idea is doable or, they ran the idea past a supportive friend or colleague to get their take. Here’s the secret you’ve been waiting to read: the idea, the dream, the new life won’t happen unless you take action. Impressed? I thought you would be. You’re probably thinking, this guy’s a genius. I know I need to take action but I just can’t seem to get started. Here’s secret number two. Are you ready? Hold onto your seat because it’s so simple a concept that you’ll probably smack yourself in the head after reading: it’s okay if you do nothing. Really. It’s absolutely fine to do nothing at all but daydream. You’ll still be loved by your friends and family but and this is a big BUT will it be okay with you? Will living with the thought If, I had gone through with that idea I had I could be living the life I always wanted, be all right with you? If you answered yes then that’s fine. You’re the only one who can make that call. However, if you continue to do nothing and have an ongoing and accompanying mental thorn in the back of your head that talks to you on a daily basis and says, something’s not right, please change it! Then it’s time to take action. Then ask yourself, what tiny, teeny action can I take today? And on a daily basis ask yourself, are my actions bringing me closer to achieving my goals or further away? It’s truly that simple. The work of getting what you want is just that, work. Even those “other people” whose vocations are their avocations still have to do things that are not their favorite tasks. Start somewhere. Start today, right now. Ask for help. Have an idea party. Stop daydreaming and start day-doing.

Feel free to contact me with questions which, is an action that will bring you one step closer to getting what you want.

Monday, July 13, 2009

An Apple a Day

Benjamin Franklin coined, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Franklin had no idea when he wrote his now famous phrase that consumers would one day have to differentiate between apple the fruit and Apple the computer giant. I like apples. Particularly Gala apples. I eat a lot of apples to satiate my sugar cravings instead of processed sweets.

When I want to satiate my need for excellent customer service I go to the
nearby Apple Store in Manhattan. It's truly a fantastic experience and I say this as one who designs and delivers customer service training programs.

I visited the Fifth Avenue store as the "x" keypad on my MacBook Pro became loose while I was cleaning the keyboard. Because Apple has their act together, I was able to make an appointment online for the day and time that was convenient for me. Upon entering the store I made my way to the Genius Bar where I was promptly greeted and my appointment was
confirmed. The Genius behind the bar was friendly, knowledgeable, (one would expect that from a genius) and expedited my loose pad problem quickly. My "x" key, as you can see is in fine working order thanks to the great staff at the Apple Store.

Because it's such a pleasant and wonderful environment I went searching for an external drive for my wife's computer. Jason, one of the many smiling and helpful Apple associates asked if I needed direction and within five minutes I purchased the appropriate device without having to wait in line for a cashier. (All sales associates at Apple carry their own wireless checkout machine and zipo-presto I was out the door and into the sunshine.) Now that's turning a 'problem' into a sale: I spent $150 when I had no intention of doing so.

As I rode my eco-friendly bicycle home, I felt a smile grow on my face and attributed it to the great experience I just had at Apple.) How many times have you had a smile put on your face by a retail store?) I wish that I had regular experiences such I this from other companies that I do business with but sadly, that's not the case.

So what does Apple do right? Here's my thoughts:

  • Constant innovation
  • Excellent products and service
  • Exceed customer expectations
  • Friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff both in-store and online
  • They always put the product in your hand - they let you touch it, play with it
  • Their customers are appreciated and recognized
  • Their stores are well organized and merchandised
  • A purchase is not a chore but a pleasurable experience
Those are just a few of the ways that Apple gets it right and for these reasons and others I will savor my Apple everyday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Horses & Pigeons Save The World

On Tuesday after one of our runs in Central Park, my friend Dale and I were talking about the world's troubles, with all of its strife, hatred and senseless warring. We agreed that all hatred and killing came down to the ego and its irrational fear; fear of losing something: one's security for example. We also agreed that one ingredient towards a peaceful existence is tolerance. You can witness this exemplary behavioral practice on any given day or hour of the week on a New York City Subway. It takes a lot of tolerance to live in a city like New York underground or above. So, if we can practice tolerance on a subway car why can't we practice it elsewhere?

It's been said many times that we can learn a lot from animals and I agree. Take the example of pigeons and horses as pictured above. Everyday before the horse-drawn carriages (I disapprove of this business completely) in Central Park are loaded up with tourists, they are fed a bucket of oats. Within seconds of the bucket being placed in front of the horse, a flock of pigeons alight at the horse's feet. They know that in order for the horse to swallow it needs to lift its head after licking up its morning carbs. (The metal plate in the horses mouth doesn't make eating any easier.) Pigeons are extremely smart as well as friendly and trusting of horses and humans. When the horse lifts its head out of the bucket the pigeons jump onto and into the bucket pecking up the nutritious oats. When the horse has swallowed and leans in for another mouth full, the pigeons acquiesce. This sequence is repeated until the bucket is emptied. Both the horse and the pigeon get what they need. The horse could obviously take out a one-pound bird with a quick kick to the head but he doesn't. He's tolerant of the pigeons. Maybe, he even has a willingness to share?

Why are we humans so afraid to tolerate and or share? Why do we have such a need for greed? Why do we not look after and care for each other more? Why do we not learn from all our past mistakes? If we are so much smarter than pigeons and horses, why as a species do we kill each other at such an alarming rate? (In Iraq alone, an approximate 100,000 civilans have been killed since 2003.) And yet, we're considered the most intelligent and most highly developed species. How many horses were killed by other horses last year?

My philosophy is that you don't not need to like me. Nor do you even have to respect me but you can not touch or harm me. That's pretty basic. The respect would be nice but hell, I'm giving that one away as a freebie. Just don' hurt or kill me is all I'm asking. Think of the effect this credo would have on the Middle East situation. I'm not even suggesting that the Israelis and Palestinians
share the Strip and the 1950 Armistice Line blow away with a desert wind although, in my wildest dreams that's exactly what would happen. They too have pigeons and horses in Gaza. Don't they see how they get along?

Thousands of miles away from the fighting in Iraq, Israel and oops, I forgot, Darfur, is the place where you live and work. How much tolerance and sharing takes place there? Are you lifting your head up to see what the 'pigeons' need? Do you tolerate those that you may not understand or like? The Bucket is very large and there's enough inside for everyone. Go ahead, show the animal world that you really are the smartest species around and share.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The French Baguette Meditation

I still can't get over the beauty of homemade French baguettes. Addicted, now I'm baking two double batches per week. Baking is a meditation for me just like for some gardening or the Rosary. Working with your hands, connecting with the dough as it takes shape is akin to sculpting. These beauties picture here are whole wheat with black and white sesame seeds. Oh yea, they are really good. Now, where is that butter?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Put em' All to Sleep

Ever been to a presentation, lecture or seminar and all it motivated you to was to sleep? I think I just heard an unanimous "Yes!"

So, who does them well? Who delivers really great in-person or video presentations? Do they use special skills ? Do they have special personalities? Are some people just better at it than others or can anyone learn to deliver inspiring and motivating presentations?

As an actor, writer, director and producer and someone who has had to sit through my fair share of really dull corporate presentations and training programs, I write with experience and complete confidence that anyone can learn to design and deliver great presentations. Anyone. Are some people with extroverted personalities better at it than their introverted colleagues? No. Just because the extrovert likes to talk a lot doesn't make him a better presenter. When teaching presentation skills I've had the pleasure of experiencing some incredibly powerful presentations from those who were considered wall flowers. Not all actors are effervescent and not all 'good' presenters are naturally good at it.

Through my years working as an actor and director in theater, film and television I learned a lot of performance skills. Besides researching and preparing to play a character I learned to, "act as if." As if I was a prince in Denmark, as if I really had shopped at Piggly-Wiggly Supermarkets, and as if I was an aging and washed up comic. So, if you're that shy and anxious wall flower and are tasked to present to your department during the next team meeting, act as if you are confident and experienced; that you know your topic and your main message and that you really won't die if something goes wrong. Anything can be learned and I can teach you the same acting and presentation skills that I have used to deliver powerful presentations that create lasting impact and positive change.

An actor in a play or a movie wants you, the audience to believe that they are the character that they are playing. If you don't believe them they'll start to lose interest and possibly head for the emergency exit so, start acting "as if."

For group presentations skills training or one-on-one presentation skill coaching, contact me and I'll show you how to get a standing ovation at your next presentation as well as the one after that.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Obama Says, "Stay. Wait."

Change we can believe in? Here it comes. Wait. Don't be so impatient. Wait. Keep waiting....

On Friday the Obama administration championed the Defense of Marriage Act, a law the president said he would do his utmost to try and repeal if elected. He was elected in large part by the votes of dedicated democratic lesbian and gay when he promised that he would uphold the Constitution. But now it seems he's moving away from that position, equal rights for everyone, because it doesn't fit those who are most afraid of equal rights for everyone. Maybe he meant equal rights for everyone only in theory and not in practice. Or maybe just on the campaign trail and not in the Oval Office.

"The president made very explicit and emphatic campaign promises that he opposes DOMA and would provide leadership calling on Congress to repeal it," said
Jennifer Pizer, marriage project director for Lambda Legal. "This brief is not consistent with that promise."

He also pledged to gay activists that he would repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell'' policy, which allows gays to serve in the armed forces if they don't tell. ("OMG! You are gay too! What the H-E-double hockey sticks is going on around here?! Drop em' and give me fifty private!") But Obama as politician is delaying taking any action that will bring change We can believe in.

Supporting gay marriage is not the only topic the president seems to have gone amnesiac on. Remember, (I hope you do) how he promised to replace curious George's practice of using military commissions to prosecute 'suspected' terrorists? Now, by golly he supports them in "some cases" by giving detainees a better choice of lawyers and by limiting hearsay evidence. Did I say hearsay? I did hear the president say that he would close Gitmo, stop using military commissions to prosecute suspected terrorists and that the gay community would have a friend in the White House. Don't even get me started on Afganastan.
A basic tenet of excellent leadership is, do what you say you will do. If you can't then tell us why. Be honest. Not saying or doing anything is not honesty.

It's depressing that our president, whom I proudly voted for, is sounding and acting a lot like many of his predeccessors. Change we can believe in? Keep waiting. How about, "status quo as it goes"?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Clandestine Coaching & The Little Napoleon

Once, I was asked by a manager who I thought of as, our company's Little Napoleon, to coach a colleague without her knowing it. I reminded little Napo that in order for coaching to be effective there needed to be full disclosure and that the coachee would be in agreement with said coaching. After all, coaching is a partnership. "Do it anyway," the little general commanded. Needless-to-say I didn't because, I don't know how to coach secretively, it was out right wrong and I respected the coachee too much to insult him with dishonesty. It turned out to be the correct the decision.

Coaching is not training, descipline, remedial action or therapy. It looks forward and only to the past as a guide to how someone's behavior might be affecting their current behavior and or performance. It was too bad that our Little
Napoleon never learned the simple and powerful skill of coaching but when you're insecure, ego centric and power driven just like the real Napoleon Bonaparte, helping, guiding and inquiring are not to be found under your epaulets and bicorner hat. It's sad to say that many of today's current leaders are either not given the opportunity and resources to learn how to develop their staff through coaching, think that it will take too much time or, just are not interested. That's too bad because a little goes a long, long way. If I asked you who your favorite teacher was in grade school and what made him or her your favorite, you'd probably tell me that he/she paid attention to you, was nurturing, and respected your developing soul. Adults want and need the same qualities in their professional leaders.

No one, not even a Na
po wants to be ignored or told what to do. We want our managers and leaders to be open and honest, especially when it comes to what's important to us. Learn a lesson from a page in the history books: rip off your epaulets, take off that rediculous hat, put down that sword and start asking a lot of questions and start coaching.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Goodbye Jesse

Every Father's Day brings the same feelings. He's been gone thirty years; died when we were both too young.

I didn't get a chance to say, goodbye or thank you or what do you think about this or that or what was the war really like? The ignorance and arrogance of youth kept me from paying more attention to and time with a wonderful man. Take heed all ye youth: you only get one chance at this father/child thing. And the ironic and cruel thing about metamorphosing from child to adult is, not until you become one can you truly appreciate what your old, un-cool and over demanding parents were all about. Their struggles in navigating not only their own lives but yours as well. Health, education, relationships, oy-vey the relationships; the mortgage payments, the doctor bills and sibling rivalry. Maybe that's why I don't have children of my own.

Life is unfair. That's a Universal Law. It stinks but it's true. If only we could go back like in a game of Whiffleball and call "Do over! I wasn't lookin!" There are no do overs when it comes to losing a parent but there are opportunities where we can fully engage with others.
Opportunities to give the world's greatest gift to another: to listen. To really hear them.

My father and I used to play "airplane" when I was five or six years old. Settled into the front seat of his 1960 Chevy Impala, he'd play the pilot and I his co-pilot. Covering his hand with his mouth he'd ask the tower for permission for take off and an in an instant that Chevy was flying over the neighboorhood with its wheels up and wings outstretched. And at the moment when we we're airborne, I would look over to my father, the pilot and feel so safe and secure and happy and would then put my hand over my mouth and talk to the tower and relay that "Flight 1735 is up and away!"

A few years later I didn't want to play "airplane" any more. It was for "babies." The intimacy of our relationship began to wane. My choice not his. My father's offers to take drives with him to the bank or the pharmacy were met with, "No thanks." I was a long way away from metamorphosing. I had a lot of left turns to take before the news of his death came over a sixteen hundred mile telephone line.

And now, all these years later wouldn't you know it, I would jump at the chance to play "airplane?" Regret and sadness come every Father's Day. I can't do it over and if I could I don't know if it would effect the Outcome. I miss him dearly and so does my mother and siblings. Life is unfair and that I accept but I don't always like it. So, since I didn't get a chance to say it before, Goodbye Jesse, I love you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Legs Movin' & Heart Pumpin' Tunes

Sometimes you need to get a groove on to get up, get out, move a muscle and change a thought.

My current iShuffle contains the below kick-butt rock & roll, blues, gospel and southern rock to keep your legs movin' and your heart pumping:

Arleen (Live)- Widespread Panic With The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Up All Night -Widespread Panic
Naked Eye (Live) - The Who
Baby Don't You Do It - The Who
Baba O'Riley - The Who
Love Reign O'er Me -The Who
Young Man Blues (Remixed Live)-The Who
Baba O'Riley (Live Sheperton Film Studios)-The Who
Eminence Front-The Who
The Whole of the Moon-The Waterboys
Astral Weeks Van Morrison
Beautiful Day (From the U2 "Go Home" Live at Slane Castle -U2
Love Is Blindness-U2
She's On Fire Train Drops of Jupiter-Train
Where Will You Be -Tessie Hill
Homecoming -The Teenagers
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana- Traffic Jam
Clare Island-The Saw Doctors
Samba Pa Ti (LP Version) [Live]-Santana
Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Live, South America)-Santana
Hard Times-Ryan Bingham
Bread & Water-Ryan Bingham
Southside of Heaven-Ryan Bingham
Halloweenhead-Ryan Adams
Goodnight Rose-Ryan Adams
Too Little Too Late-Ruth Brown
Under My Thumb-The Rolling Stones
When the Whip Comes Down-The Rolling Stones
Miss You-The Rolling Stones
You Gotta Move-The Rolling Stones
Honky Tonk Women-The Rolling Stones
Time Waits for No One-The Rolling Stones
Dance, Pt. 1-The Rolling Stones
I'll Wear a Crown-Rev. James Cleveland & The Angelic Choir
The Lord Brought Us Out-Rev. James Cleveland & The Angelic Choir
Get Right Church Let's Go Home-Rev. James Cleveland
It's Bad You Know-R.L. Burnside
Let My Baby Ride-R.L. Burnside
Come On In (Live)-R.L. Burnside
Purple Rain-Prince & The Revolution
Sexy M.F.-Prince
No Bad News-Patty Griffin
I Can't Turn You Loose-Otis Redding
I'm Amazed-My Morning Jacket
Scare Easy-Mudcrutch
Lover of the Bayou-Mudcrutch
Crystal River-Mudcrutch
Rocky Mountain Way-Mountain
Mississippi Queen-Mountain
Nantucket Sleighride (To Owen Coffin)-Mountain
Theme for an- Imaginary Western-Mountain
Never In My Life-Mountain
Hard Times-Mountain
I Melt With You-Modern English
New Man In Town Mighty- Sam McClain
Pancho and Lefty-Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson
Shriner's Park-Melissa Etheridge
I Want to Come Over-Melissa Etheridge
Got to Give It Up (Live)-Marvin Gaye
Got to Give It Up (1980)-Marvin Gaye
Running Like The Wind-Marshall Tucker Band
Can't You See (Live)-The Marshall Tucker Band
Ramblin' (Live)-The Marshall Tucker Band
Boom, Like That-Mark Knopfler
What It Is-Mark Knopfler
Blinded By the Light (Live)-Manfred Mann's Earth Band
Caught Up In a Dream-Luke Mulholland
Cottonfields and Crossroads-Los Lonely Boys
Dime Mi Amour-Los Lonely Boys
I Walk Alone-Los Lobos
Bertha (Live Album)-Los Lobos
Easy to Slip-Little Feat
Willin'-Little Feat
Spanish Moon-Little Feat
Walking the Dog-Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials
Pride and Joy-Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials
Everything I Do Brings Me Closer to the Blues-Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials
You Done Me Wrong for the Last Time-Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials
Old Oak Tree-Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials
Change My Way of Living-Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials
Hold That Train-Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials
Bring Me Some Water-Koko Taylor
Change-Kimberley Locke
Madman Blues-Kevn Kinney
Baby I Just Wanna Go Home-Kevn Kinney
(Welcome To The) Sun Tangled Angel Revival-Kevn Kinney
Ro-Jr. Walker and the All Stars
Tell Me 'Bout It-Joss Stone
You Had Me-Joss Stone
Super Duper Love-Joss Stone
Jet Lag-Joss Stone
Carolina-Johnny Neel
Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone-Johnnie Taylor
Change-John Waite
If I Die Sudden-John Mellencamp
My Sweet Love-John Mellencamp
The Healer-John Lee Hooker
Ethylene-John Hiatt
Through Your Hands-John Hiatt
Seven Little Indians-John Hiatt
Real Fine Love-John Hiatt
Through Your Hands-John Hiatt
Child of the Wild Blue Yonder-John Hiatt
Cry Love -John Hiatt
Longshot-John Fogerty
Somebody Help Me-John Fogerty
Hey Hey What Can I Do-Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes
Rock Me Baby (Live)-The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Like a Rolling Stone (Live)-The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Driving South-The Jimi Hendrix Experience
That's What Love Will Make You Do-Janiva Magness
There Was a Time (Kenny Dope Remix)-James Brown & The Famous Flames
I'm a Soldier-Institutional Chor Of The COGIC
Hold My Hand (Live)-Hootie & The Blowfish
Look Away (Live)-Hootie & The Blowfish
Be the One-Hootie & The Blowfish
Penny Waiting on Change-The Homemade Jamz Blues Band
Right Thang Wrong Woman-The Homemade Jamz Blues Band
Voodoo Woman-The Homemade Jamz Blues Band
1,000 Feet Ahead-Hitman Blues Band
Green Thing-Hitman Blues Band
Busted-Hitman Blues Band
Bad Liver and a Broken Heart-Hayes Carll
Livin' Lovin' Maid-Gov't Mule
Painted Silver Light-Gov't Mule
Look On Yonder Wall-Gov't Mule
Bye and Bye-Georgia Mass Choir
Till You're Gone-The Gabe Dixon Band
Find My Way-The Gabe Dixon Band
Five More Hours-The Gabe Dixon Band
Travelin' Shoes (Live)-Elvin Bishop
When My Baby Left Me-Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson
Never Gonna Change-Drive-By Truckers
The Living Bubba Drive-By Truckers
Lookout Mountain-Drive-By Truckers
The Righteous Path-Drive-By Truckers
Romeo and Juliet-Dire Straits
Telegraph Road-Dire Straits
Wild West End-Dire Straits
Duane's Tune-The Dickie Betts Band
Drown In My Own Tears-The Derek Trucks Band
Down In the Flood-The Derek Trucks Band
Fortunate Son-Death Cab for Cutie with Sean Nelson
Blue Is the Color of My Heart-Danny Cowan Group
You Got the Soul-Danny Cowan Group
He's the Man-Danny Cowan Group
Lonesome Heart Blue-Danny Cowan Group
I Been Mean-Danny Cowan Group
Runnin' from the Devil-Danny Cowan Group
The Whip-Danny Cowan Group
Drivin' Back to Texas-Danny Cowan Group
When the Blues Follow You Home-Danny Cowan Group
Backwards Shuffle-Danny Cowan Group
When the Gates Swing Open-Clara Ward
Wade In The Water (live)-The Chambers Brothers
Wherever You Will Go-The Calling
I've Got My Eyes On You-Buddy Guy, G. E. Smith & The Saturday Night Live Band
Midnight Train-Buddy Guy & Buddy Guy featuring Johnny Lang
Stay All Night-Buddy Guy
Baby Please Don't Leave Me-Buddy Guy
Heavy Love-Buddy Guy
Love Her With a Feeling-Buddy Guy
She's Nineteen Years Old-Buddy Guy
Too Broke to Spend the Night-Buddy Guy
Where Is the Next One Coming From-Buddy Guy
My Lucky Day-Bruce Springsteen
My City of Ruins-Bruce Springsteen
Paradise-Bruce Springsteen
The Rising-Bruce Springsteen
Mary's Place-Bruce Springsteen
The Fuse-Bruce Springsteen
Further On (Up the Road)-Bruce Springsteen
Worlds Apart-Bruce Springsteen
Countin' On a Miracle-Bruce Springsteen
Radio Nowhere-Bruce Springsteen
Devil's Arcade-Bruce Springsteen
Long Walk Home-Bruce Springsteen
Last to Die-Bruce Springsteen
I'll Work for Your Love-Bruce Springsteen
You'll Be Comin' Down-Bruce Springsteen
Radio Nowhere-Bruce Springsteen
Better Days-Bruce Springsteen
Born In The U.S.A-Bruce Springsteen
Badlands-Bruce Springsteen
March Donegal/Mamo's Delight/The Road to the Mountain-Bohola
Sunday-Bloc Party
This Modern Love-Bloc Party
Mercury (CSS Remix)-Bloc Party
Better Than Heaven-Bloc Party
Your Touch-The Black Keys
Busted-The Black Keys
Stack Shot Billy-The Black Keys
Just Got to Be-The Black Keys
My Morning Song -The Black Crowes
Twice As Hard (Live)-The Black Crowes
Miracle to Me (Live)-The Black Crowes
Cursed Diamond (Live)-The Black Crowes
Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway) [Live]-Billy Joel
A Change Is Gonna Come-Ben Sollee
Deep Freeze-Fillmore Auditorium 1969-Albert Collins

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Buy In 101

"Get buy-in before you start on that project." You hear that all the time. But how do you do it and how do you know when and if you've got it? What follows is getting buy in 101.

There are only two things that motivate people: (1) something they will gain, such as respect, knowledge, prestige, a promotion and material gains; or (2) something they'll lose, such as respect, power, money and security. Understanding this is fundamental in preparing your buy-in strategy. People also want to know that if they buy what your selling, i.e. a new platform, training initiative, or strategy they'll be recognized for helping it to be perceived as successful. (That's the respect and security elements.)

Of course, there's more to it than that. Below is a partial list of things to consider for getting buy in from others:
  • Determine what management values
  • Understand what motivates them
  • Lear how they make decisions
  • Propose your ideas and projects in terms they can understand: not tech terms
  • Learn to think like they do
  • Show them what's in it for them
  • Let them think that they developed the idea
  • Know your facts and figures: be the subject matter expert
  • Break it down into palatable chucks
Lastly, keep in mind that their reputation is always on the line. Help your manager to be a better manager than they really are. Coach them without them knowing it. That's part of your job.

You'll know when you have "buy in" when you hear, "Good, now run with it."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Teenagers Invade the Office

Did you hear what she said today at the meeting? I mean, I can't believe it! Is she for real?...Are you gonna eat that doughnut?...Oh, look who's talking about getting fat...Oh yea? Fine, I'm going back to my desk.

No, the above conversation did not take place in the local high school cafeteria. And no, teenagers are not taking over the office. My theory is that a lot of office workers react to their co-workers (management included) just like they did in high school. As pack animals we humans need to feel well, part of the pack and when we don't we become afraid and angry and then we take our revenge which, comes in many forms: gossip, 'practical jokes,' inappropriate jokes, back stabbing and more gossiping. If you were ever the odd one out you know what I'm talking about.

Whenever I mention my
theory to professionals they laugh and say, "That's true, they do act like teenagers." Notice the word "they" in the previous statement. In fact, I recently completed a soft research project and when project participants were asked if they act like teenagers in the workplace they answered "No" however, when asked if their coworkers ever acted like a bratty teen they unequivocally answered, "Of course, all of them."

So, is the workplace like high school only everyone is older and has a bit more discipline and a wee bit more decorum?
That depends upon who you ask. We don't need to be more serious in the office, we already have an abundance of seriousness. What's needed is self-reflection, awareness; and sensitivity and understanding of the people we work with.

Class is dismissed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Who You, Mature?

Are you a self-actualized and mature adult professional? If not, you may want to stop reading. This is a post about one question that every parent and manager needs to ask themselves: what are my intentions?

If your child comes home with a less than satisfactory report card, is it your intention to shame and blame them or to coach and develop them? You probably answered, coach and develop. If so, then what did you say to them when they sheepishly revealed their grades? Did you react with frustration by saying, how the heck did you manage these grades! Or, did you study?! Do these statements represent care, coaching and development or shame and blame?

Take the above scenario to the office when it comes time for employee performance 
appraisal. Your employee who has been under performing is sitting across the desk from you as you peer down at his dossier. Your goal is to get his production levels up so, aptly you say, what are we going to do about this? Are your intentions to develop or to enhance your own ego by shaming and blaming? This is where self-actualization, maturity and professionalism come to play. If your ego is at peace and you are confident within yourself then shaming and blaming will not become a component of your conversation.

Parents, managers and leaders must lead by example - a really great example. So, before any interaction I always ask myself, "What are my intentions? Am I here to help and guide this person or do I want to humiliate, embarrass, or shame?" If, my goal is to coach and develop an employee who reports to me, I would ask a lot of questions when it comes time for his performance review. "What is your understanding of our performance agreement? Did I give you all the help that you asked for. Did I help you in the way that you needed? Are their circumstances here or at home that are preventing you from reaching your performance goals?" Of course, if your intention is to develop this employee, as that should be your objective and it is your job as a manager, then your language and tone will be one that reflects caring, understanding and helpfulness.

With the one-hundred plus management models available out there in the learning and development world none of them will be effective if you are not fully aware and honest about your intentions. To do this on a consistent basis takes maturity, discipline and knowledge of our true intentions.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Loving Deena Kastor With Bruce Springsteen For Coffee

National Running Day was yesterday here in the USA and I celebrated in part by serving my wife warm humble pie.

One of my favorite professional runners is Deena Kastor and she was in town (NYC) yesterday to celebrate National Running Day and do a lap around the
Central Park Reservoir with us common folk. You have to understand that this bionic-like woman runs five-minute per mile marathons, so to actually run with her is something of a stretch. Anyway, back to that pie. I told my wife that I wanted to snap a picture of Deena at today's run but she said that I would never get close to Deena with all her runner fans want to to meet her too. "Well, we shall see," I said. My wife again assured me that I was dreaming of pie in the sky and I, equally assured said, "We'll see who's dreaming. All I have to do is ask."

Being that is was National Running Day I expected to see a lot of people running but that wasn't the case. It rained and for some that means staying in doors. For me I say "Horray!" Rain means staying cool, staying cool means running faster. It also means less runners desiring to meet Deena Kastor.

I arrived the festivities fifteen minutes late and decided to sprint as fast as I could around the bridle path. There were several hundred other runners stepping through mud puddles while dipping their heads under bent and swaying cherry trees. There wasn't any hoopla but never-the-less we were all running and getting really dirty which, is a sort of badge of honor. Coming up to Engineer's Gate, the unofficial start and finish of the loop I saw a small, Artemis-Mercury-like figure in standing in the middle of the path. "Be still my beating heart. Could it be? It must be but could it be?" I cranked up my pace and low and behold, it was her. It was DEE-NAH! I had seen her once before as she walked by me in Central Park last summer but she had just finished running a race and I couldn't and wouldn't interrupt her but today, she was here for me, I mean us to meet and Fate arranged it and there she was standing, smiling being cute and athletic all at once and I said, "Deena, you're my hero can I take a picture with you?" You're my hero? I can't believe I actually said that. "Of course, please," her Speediness responded. All I had was my lousy phone camera and the kindness of another runner to snap the above shot. A profeesional photograher was standing near by and said, "Wait, I wanna' grab one of you two." And the camera shuuter clicked and we were captured together forever. Ahh, I was so happy, I got to meet Deena. Lovely Deena. I couldn't wait to run back home to tell my wife that I got the picture that she said I wouldn't be able to get. And just when I thought that it couldn't get any better someone ask Deena to autograph his sweat stained running shirt. WHAT?!! Wait a minute, I want in on this! I keep a small Sharpie in my bag for those 'you never know when you'll need something to write with' moments. "Huh, Deena would you mind signing my shirt too, please?" She smiled sincerely and said, "Yes, of course." (She is extremely friendly, accomodating and real.) And on my left shoulder of my blue, short-sleeve techincal shirt that I will never wear again, bares Her name.

I beamed the entire six mile run back home. Everytime my legs felt a little fatigued, I glanced over at my Mighty Isis signature on my left shoulder and the rockets kicked in. "She is going to be so surprised when I get home." My wife was surprised but happy too. "I'll take a slice of that humble pie now," she said. "Okay, but don't eat too much,"
I told her. "Bruce Springsteen is in town and I plan on asking him out for coffee." She paused, cocked her head and said, "I guess if you never ask you'll never know."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Take Heed Ladies: Size Doesn’t Matter

Remember Alex the parrot who taught us that size doesn’t matter? That even “bird brains” like Alex have the capacity to analyze, compare shapes and colors and calculate just like human children? If you’re not familiar with this wonderful and famous avian Einstein, check out a copy of Alex & Me by Dr. Irene M. Pepperberg.

After reading Alex & Me I was struck by how hard Dr. Pepperberg worked to not only get her project off the ground bit to keep it going for thirty years. She was met with constant skepticism as well as sexism. But Dr. Pepperberg had a secret weapon: determination. She didn’t let a few hundred “no’s” to her groundbreaking research get in her way because she believed in what she was doing. She turned naysayer negativism into positive energy and proved her critics wrong. She never stopped believing that what she was doing was really important, even when she had little money, support or a permanent home. “Just as things seemed darkest…that wrenching episode proved to be the gateway to three years of extremely productive work…”

For every person that tells you “that’s not a good idea” don’t listen to them if, you really believe in yourself and what you want to do. No matter how small you think your idea is, size doesn’t matter. Perseverance, tenacity, and courage is what matters.

Dare To Dream Really Big

Sunday, May 31, 2009

At Death's Door

Donald needed a heart; his was failing. Donald waited an agonizing year before a donor match was found. Unfortunately, someone had to die in order for Donald to go on living. Donald not only survived the transplant operation, he went on to a full recovery and started running 26.2 miles.

Listen to the transformational experience of heart transplant recipient Donald Arthur, as he shares his story of going from death's door to completing his
quest to complete fifty marathons.

Dare to Dream Really Big

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Real Men Come From Guyana

Dale Layne came to New York City from his home in Guyana, South America to find a treatment for his congenital glaucoma. He found a treatment but not a cure and at age nineteen lost most of his sight. Today, Dale is twenty-seven and his eyesight has not improved. He’s blind and is among the approximate 21.2 million people who reported experiencing vision loss in the 2006 National Health Interview Survey. (Link)

Here in New York, the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (link) estimates that there are 120,000 blind New Yorkers and nearly 1 million New Yorkers with vision loss. Of those 120,000 blind New Yorkers, I currently know three intimately. When we meet, we're tethered as we run through the park. Today, *Dale and I tethered to together during the Run With Heidi Program where we're training along with four others to run the August 16, 2009 New York City Half-Marathon.

Dale and I met through the Achilles Track Club where he has been running about four to six miles twice per week. Dale said that the idea of running for thirteen miles is exciting and a little scary but since he lost his eyesight he is determined to face new challenges. He hopes that by running thirteen miles he can be an inspiration to others.

Today, Heidi Jones posted to her blog that Dale, "has a quiet, but impressionable demeanor that captivated all of us." After hearing more of Dales' plight I agree and add that a real man came from Guyana to help inspire us all.

*My May 12, 2009 blog post stated that Richard Bernstein would be my blind running partner. Richard has since left the team.

Dare To Dream Really Big

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Perserverance Pays Off for Italian Designer

May 20, 2009 New York, NY

Italian hat designer, Terry Graziano is chosen for this week's Time Out New York's Express lane

Perseverance truly pays off. "Keep putting things in the funnel and something will eventually come out," is what I tell my clients. Not only is Terry Graziano a coaching client, she's my wife. I'm very proud of her.

In an industry where most designers struggle to make a living, press helps. It's not a guarantee of sales but it's exposure. Terry's been toiling away for many years creating incredible hats and the people who have seen or purchased them are always blown away by their unique style, function and craftwomanship. Now, maybe some more people will get to see what they've been missing.

As any sole-proprietor will tell you, it's a seven day a week job: the marketing, the design, the networking, the paperwork. What's it take to "make it"? One thing is consistent perseverance. Check out Terry's line of multi-functional, handcrafted hats.

Dare To Dream Really Big

Monday, May 18, 2009

Disabled Parking Now Available at the North Pole

Think you're cold and have trouble parking?

A disabled parking sign was raised at the North Pole on the 100th Anniversary of the first successful polar expedition. David Shannon became the first person in world history with quadriplegia and in a wheelchair to reach the Pole. Davis along with expedition co-leader, Chris Watkins, developed "Team Independence 09" to promote breaking barriers to accessibility and greater community inclusion.

I can't imagine what their journey was like but I am really in awe of their accomplishment. It's like they say, it's all in the mind.
This was not like taking the dog out for a walk on a blustery winter's morning. Mr. Shannon's spinal cord injury compromised his ability to maintain body heat. During the final push to get to the pole, body heat retention became a problem and was compounded by a significant infection, which caused increased susceptibility to the life threatening cold temperatures. Och!

Dare To Dream Really Big

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Our Little Nancy Pelosi

I love the Family Circus cartoon strip where every time mother Thel asks her son Billy,
"Who did this" referring to a broken vase or a spilled glass of milk. And Billy always answers, "I don't know."

But we, the reader, know that Billy broke that vase and spilled the milk.
Yesterday, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi pulled a Billy when she said, "I wasn't briefed, I was informed that someone else had been briefed about it" when questioned about her awareness of the CIA and the Bush Administration's use of water-boarding detainees on their the war on terror. Poor little Nancy. Like most politicians she has selective memory recall especially when it suits her cause best.

Speaker Pelosi and the majority of Democrats and Republicans approved the use of torture in the war against terror. What were they thinking at the time, 'do it but just don't tell me about it'? What's so telling about the Associated Press article is Pelosi's excuse for looking the other way about using torture because she was focusing on getting congressional control away from the Republicans so her party could change course.

"It was clear we had to change the leadership in Congress and in the White House. That was my job — the Congress part," she said. What about the part where we as a nation practice what we preach? Things like honesty, integrity, and our refusal to torture?

What's so Billy-like is Pelosi's, 'I don't know who did it but it wasn't my fault but if you keep asking me I'll find someone else I can blame it on' attitude. And just like Billy, Speaker Pelosi takes on the cartoon persona of her namesake whenever she's in a jam. Ernie Bushmiller's "Nancy" is a precocious eight-year old who is constantly daydreaming and is easily confused. In the April 26, 2009 strip our adorable Nancy sits daydreaming in a pink sleeping gown when Aunt Fritzi calls to her repeatedly from another room. "Nancy stop ignoring me!" And cute, little Nancy musters the strength to pop open her sleepy eyes to say, "Sorry Aunt Fritzi. During the school year my brain takes weekends off."

This is not the time to take a brain vacation Speaker Pelosi. This is the time to be honest, to practice the change that you and the Democratic party promised that you would bring after gaining "control." So grow up little Nancy and admit your faults and mistakes. Even your lazy pal Slugo Smith would do that.