Category Archives: Simplicity

Be the reason…

someone goes beyond their limits

someone laughs today

someone has a fond memory they cherish

someone learns something new

someone chooses life

someone believes more deeply

someone cares beyond themselves

someone knows they have unlimited potential

your boss can’t imagine delivering results without you

your employees can’t imagine delivering results without you

both can deliver results without you because you’ve taken the time to ensure they can

each person you encounter remembers your positive energy

your children know right from wrong

your children are independent and productive members of society

someone finds clarity

someone uses their imagination

someone thinks first

someone stops using lame excuses

someone steps outside of their habits

someone enjoys their day

someone smiles

someone is forgiven

the world is more beautiful.

 

Photo Credit:  Unsplash.com, Michal Grosicki

More Than a Few Lessons…

unsplash-massimo-mancini

I turned 50 a while back.  Although it’s just a number, it’s a big milestone.  Hopefully, it’s a halfway point.  During my first 50 years, I’ve learned some things and here they are in no particular order:

  • The quest for the Holy Grail is all about the quest, and less about the Grail.
  • Soft tissue injuries are much harder to get over than you think.
  • Execution is all about preparation. Prepare well, and you’ll be able to execute when called upon.  Wing it and your execution will be a crap shoot.
  • Preparation is difficult and requires discipline. Building and maintaining discipline is one of the greatest challenges in life.
  • No matter how smart, strong, tough, fast, or independent you think you are. You aren’t.
  • Nearly everything is easier said than done.
  • Just because you can watch someone do something doesn’t mean you know anything about what it takes to actually do that thing.
  • Doing is the key to enjoying. Stop talking about it.  Stop thinking about it.  Stop procrastinating.  Stop making excuses.  As Nike said so well, Just Do It!  You’ll probably suck at it at first, but so does everyone else.
  • The real “99% and 1%?” Ninety-nine percent of people will try something, suck at it, and quit.  One percent will continue the struggle (see discipline above), and incrementally improve.  They may even continue long enough to become a master at it.  Another variant:  only one percent will try something, and the other ninety-nine percent will focus on explaining why they can’t or won’t.
  • Whenever I’ve become the most anxious in life, I usually realize that I’ve skipped exercise or going outside to play for more than a week (it happens more often than I care to admit!). Exercising and playing are the best ways to build a foundation of clarity and calm.
  • Another thing I’ve noticed when I’m most anxious is that I’ve probably pushed gratitude out of my mind. When your mind is filled with gratitude, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for other things like anger, frustration, or negativity (this also happens more often than I’d like).
  • Vacations are nice. Travel is nice.  Seeing exotic places is nice.  But, there’s nothing like creating a life at home that doesn’t require a vacation for happiness.  Vacations should be icing on the cake.
  • Every person who lives in the US should spend at least two weeks in a foreign country…preferably when they’re young. That way, the lessons they take away from the experience can be applied early in their life.  Something I’ve found from traveling to at least 10 (maybe more) foreign countries is that the US is like Disneyland.  Even compared to modern and thriving countries, the standard of living in the US is noticeably higher.  It is easy to take all these differences for granted, or to be truly ignorant of them…until you spend time in a foreign country.
  • Tom Petty had it right: The waiting is the hardest part.  Everything in life takes longer than you plan in your head.  That’s probably because we plan and think in our head for a long time before we spring our thoughts on the “world.”  Or, things just really do take a lot longer than we think they should.
  • Jobs become obsolete (and so do certain companies). People don’t (and neither do companies) unless they allow it.
  • The best way to avoid obsolescence?  Continuous learning.  Continuous exploration.  Saying yes more.
  • Save early and often in your life. Those savings will yield a huge amount of freedom later in your life.
  • In the struggle between service and earnings, choose service every time.
  • The most beautiful sound in Nature is uncontrolled laughter.
  • The most beautiful sight in Nature is the smiling eyes of someone you love.

 

 

Photo Credit:  Unsplash–Massimo Mancini

 

Later…

Later creates room for compromises.

Later lives for tomorrow.

Later keeps lists.

Later allows us to avoid.

Later tells us why we’re preparing.

Later delays forgiveness.

Later is born from hope.

Later connects without really connecting.

Later captures what we imagine.

We often try to create what happens later by our actions today.

Later provides direction.

Later reduces today’s expectations.

Later can hijack the present.

Later is the carrier of our dreams.

Later gains power when it remains vague.

Later simplifies execution.

Later is where many careers will find their stride.

Later is where the craziest ideas go to die.

Later tells us it’s okay to delay.

Later is where big ideas find their future.

Later makes it okay to add complexity.

Later drags us reluctantly forward.

Later makes today easier.

Later makes today harder.

Later isn’t guaranteed.  It can easily turn into never if we allow it.

Later only matters in the present. By the time we get to later, there’s a new later that will once again seem more important than our new present.

There’s more to say on this subject.  I’ll probably get to it later…

“I’m bored!”

“Thems was fightin’ words” in our house when I was a kid.  If mom ever heard us utter those two words, she had a list of things for us to do.  We learned quickly to find things to do for ourselves, since mom’s list was definitely not a fun list (toilets, folding clothes, raking leaves, etc.).

I remember one summer, probably the one between 7th and 8th grade.  Our little crew had a solid plan every day.  It usually involved taking a mid-day “break” to watch Get Smart at Denis’ house.  I’m pretty sure they ran two episodes, back-to-back.  So, that took care of about an hour of entertainment.  The rest is a blur of football games, hide-and-seek, swimming at Marty’s, riding bikes, and just about anything else that would keep us from having to say, “I’m bored.”

I suppose it’s all those years of training, followed by “advanced” training in college, and then even more in the work environment.

Stay busy.

Keep moving.

There’s always something to be done.

Don’t be lazy.

If you aren’t busy, you better at least look busy.

Where’s your work ethic?

Aren’t you dedicated to this cause?

Focus on the task at hand!

Don’t be boring (even worse than being bored)!

Somewhere along the way, a lack of movement, or a completed task list, started to equate with the dreaded “b” word.  Somehow, a lack of movement turned into an example of laziness.

Is it even possible to do nothing and be at peace with it?  Or, do we have to tell ourselves that this momentary lack of movement is just a quick break before returning to another of life’s endless tasks?

When did doing nothing go from being a peaceful state to one of guilty boredom…or worse, an example of our laziness?  When did life become a task list?

The next time I’m faced with the challenge of doing absolutely nothing, I hereby promise myself that I won’t be bored (or guilty about my laziness).

I will enjoy the peace of that moment with gratitude.

What’s next? (just kidding)

 

Note to Self

Maybe it’s all the close calls, existential threats, newly-invented liabilities, newly-minted regulations, new competitors, old competitors, angry customers, happy customers, former customers, new customers, potential opportunities, new ideas, new methods, better mouse traps, and everything else that comes our way in business (no matter the size).

Maybe it’s the fight-or-flight instinct that gets honed to a fine edge through years of experience.  Knowing when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em…but always allowing room for doubt.  Knowing when the silent customer is more important than the loudest one.  Knowing that the employee you don’t see is just as important as the one you do see.  Knowing we always have a competitor, whether we realize it or not.

Maybe it’s that standard defensive posture that every business assumes at times, even when it knows that only a strong offense will win the day.  Understanding that this isn’t a game we get to win every day.

Maybe it’s just fear of failure, or more likely, fear of success.

Whatever it is that stops me from getting the most enjoyment from this business…now is the time to let it go.

Life is way too short to let the small stuff get in the way.

Here’s my promise to myself:

  • I will go on offense, every day
  • I will acknowledge my fears, but only if it helps create a stronger offense
  • I will focus on the next step forward, and let the past remain there
  • I will create opportunities for those around me
  • I will love and serve
  • I will let go
  • I will enjoy each day as the gift that it is.

I will do these things as a promise to myself, knowing that I’m not the One who is in control.

Relax, You’re Doing Fine

I saw this on a license plate frame.  When I first saw it, I didn’t give it much attention.  Then, as I sat at the red light, staring at those four simple words, I realized how freeing they are.

Relax, you’re doing fine.

You aren’t as far behind as you thought in the “race” of life.  In fact, life isn’t a race at all.  There’s no prize at the end for getting to the finish line faster than the other people.

You’re living in a great time.  Why is it so great?  Because it’s your time.  It doesn’t matter what else is happening.  The fact that things are actually happening, and you are here to see, participate, and have an impact is all that matters.  What impact?  That’s up to you.

What you do, how you do it, and the pace you choose are up to you.  I recommend you take advantage of your limited time on the planet.  Start moving, stay moving, always learn, and never stop teaching.  But, that’s just me.  It’s up to you and no one else.

Not as happy as you’d like to be?  Not as fulfilled as you’d like to be?  Worried that life is passing you by?  Worried that you aren’t as rich, pretty, strong, tall, smart, stylish, successful, or any other measure society places on us, as you’d like to be?

We all have the same seconds, minutes, and hours every day.  Our ability to define our time by the people we help, and the smiles we coax into the world are the only things we control.  The rest is going to happen with or without our involvement.

Enjoy your time.  Let someone else worry about all that other comparison stuff.

And, never forget:  Relax, you’re doing fine.

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me!

Disneyland-POTC_sign

If you’re like me, you know the only way to turn at the end of Main Street USA is left.  Left, toward Adventureland, and New Orleans Square.  Sure, you could go for one of the “speed” rides like Space Mountain over in Tomorrowland.  Buzz Lightyear (Astro Blasters) is a good one.  Or, maybe Thunder Mountain.  The Matterhorn is re-opened, if you like to have your spine compressed (not sure why they didn’t fix that problem during the most recent refresh).

But, the best rides are definitely in Adventureland.  The Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion.  Don’t even get me started on how awesome Tom Sawyer’s Island is.

The Jungle Cruise is all about the puns.  Indiana Jones is (mild) sensory overload and a neat cave walk to and from the ride.  The Haunted Mansion is a cross between Tim Burton’s vision of the world, and old school special effects that are still cool.

The best of all is Pirates!

First you’re in a New Orleans bayou.  Crickets are chirping, a few frogs are croaking quietly, and fireflies dart about.  It’s dark, quiet, and lazy.  The swamp guy sits on his porch, smoking a corn cob pipe.  The sound of slow banjo picking comes from his house.  Do swamp guys have CD’s?  Electricity?  Does he have a banjo-playing friend in the house?  Then, total darkness, a quick drop, and we enter a pirate’s lair.  It’s clearly seen better days.  Tons of treasure gather dust and cob webs.

I’ve never known what a New Orleans bayou has to do with being in a pirate’s lair, but over the years, I’ve learned it doesn’t matter.  “Dead men tell no tales!”  Just as you figure out that all the riches and treasures in the world didn’t do these dead pirates any favors, a foggy curtain projects an apparition of Davy Jones, warning us about the cursed lives of pirates.  Our boat ignores the warning and carries us into this cursed world.

We enter a pitched battle between a pirate ship with cannons blazing, and the shore defenses firing back.  It’s a desperate battle with explosions and lots of yelling.  Somehow the shots never hit anything vital, or do they?  The battle rages on, but we pass safely under the line of fire.

The harbor comes into view.  Not just any harbor, but a “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate’s life for me,” harbor from long ago.  Pirates are drinking and singing.  Some of the less fortunate are dunked endlessly in a well.  A vain search for Captain Jack Sparrow.  Others are sold as brides.  We see drunk pirates singing to themselves and no one in particular, scheming ways to find more treasure.

The scene shifts again to a prison where the only hope of escape lies in convincing a dog to give up the keys.  The dog never budges, but always looks like he might.  Hopefulness mixed with despair.  If only the prisoners would realize that their only salvation is to find a new strategy, a new direction.  Of course, they never make this connection.  We slowly pass under a collapsing ceiling, and back into the harbor.

The town is ablaze, but nobody cares.  We know the flames spell disaster, but that’s lost on everyone in the scene.  They continue to drink, sing, and chase each other in a search for the next moment.  Some fire randomly across the water at their friends.  “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a pirate’s life for me!”

The dichotomy of the celebratory singing and the evil that humans do to one another isn’t the point…or, maybe it is.  All the while, our boat floats lazily through the scene.

We begin our slow climb out of this cursed world as Jack Sparrow tell us to, “Drink up you laddies!  Yo Ho!”

What makes this ride so popular?  Definitely not the speed.  Is it the “escape” into another world?  Maybe.  But, is it really an escape?

Each of us can relate to being the pirate.  We’ve been dunked in the proverbial well…sometimes we do the dunking.  We’ve fired aimlessly at our enemies (and our friends) at one time or another.  Oblivious to the pain we may cause.  We’ve focused solely on the now.  Ignored the future.  We’ve looked for treasure.  Maybe we’ve found it…and yet, our search continues.

Are we nothing more than passengers on the boat, passing lazily through the scenes of life, yet never connecting to any of it?  Hopefully not.

A pirate’s life, indeed.  Time to get in line for the next ride!

 

Spare Me Your Bad PowerPoints

I thought the days of bad PowerPoint presentations were over.  I thought the 100’s (1,000’s?) of articles and posts about avoiding Death by PowerPoint were enough to stop the madness.  I was wrong.

Recently, I’ve been on the receiving end of a steady flow of bad PowerPoints:

  • The 37-slide(!) monstrosity that doesn’t know what it’s trying to say, so it just drones on with countless photos, graphics, and three-letter-acronyms (TLA’s) in a futile attempt to baffle the audience
  • The same 37-slide deck that starts off with three or four slides telling me how I’m an awful human being because I’m a businessman, and then expects me to continue watching the remaining 30-plus slides
  • The 15-slide deck that starts with a quirky animation of the title page, and brings in sound effects on slide four, that have nothing to do with anything…other than showing-off the presenter’s awesome skills with PowerPoint
  • The 10-slide deck that had a series of graphs and charts that might be making a point, but that point is obscured by the blizzard of graphics
  • Slides that have seven bullet points with multiple sentences per bullet point.

I could go on, but I’ve probably lost you already…

Here’s some key points to remember for your PowerPoint presentation, especially if you’re selling me something like an idea, a product, or a service…in other words, anything (in no particular order):

  • Less is more. My attention span is pretty short.  You’ll start losing me by about slide five.  I’m totally checked out by slide seven, and I’m thinking about all the other things I could be doing by slide ten.
  • Slides should have no more than 4-5 bullets, and no more than 4-5 words per bullet. Want more words or bullets?  Put them in the appendix, or give me a one-two-page note that has all the words.  That way I’ll have something I can file with all the other stuff I’m not reading.
  • Statistics, photos and graphics?   I should be able to fully understand their meaning in 10 seconds.  If you get this right, you can make a huge impact.  Get it wrong, and you lost me…maybe for good.
  • Got any slides where you’ll have to show me around for a while to help me understand you and your message? Dump them.  I don’t have the patience for you to show me around your slide.  I should fully understand your slide in 10 seconds.
  • Please know why you’re showing me your presentation. What’s your point?  What do I need to know?  What action should I be taking?  Why?  Get to it quickly.  Think elevator pitch.
  • If we get a conversation going, don’t worry if we don’t get through all the slides you brought. The conversation is the thing, not your presentation.

Pique my interest, and get me asking questions.  Create a conversation, and maybe your presentation will lead us to something great.

Otherwise, I’ve already forgotten what you were presenting and why it mattered.

What’s Not to Love about Carrot Cake?

I had my first piece of carrot cake in 1974, or maybe it was 1973.  We were at my uncle Denby’s wedding, and the cake they served was this oddly wonderful concoction of flavors I had never tasted.  Being one of the munchkins in the crowd, I did what smart munchkins did back then:  I eavesdropped on the adults who were talking about the cake.

They called it carrot cake, but this cake was a lot more than carrots, and it was awesome!

I don’t remember having carrot cake again until college.  I may have had it before then, but those memories are lost in a din of other information like the capital of North Dakota, the difference between an adverb and an adjective, why the earth rotates around the sun and not the other way around, and who shot J.R (we watched that episode with a huge crowd of Hilltoppers in a hotel bar in Rosarito Beach, but that’s another story).

Whenever I see carrot cake as a dessert option at a restaurant, I order it.  Carrot cake muffin?  Gotta have it.  I’ve sampled carrot cake recipes across the US, and even a couple in foreign countries.  Some are decent.  Claim Jumper’s is probably the best, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (everything is good with a scoop of ice cream).

When the time came to choose our wedding cake, Janet and I chose carrot cake.  Actually, I think Janet knew I’d love it, and it was her small wedding gift to me.  The only bite of that cake I got that day was in the cake-cutting ceremony.  We were too busy with all the other wedding stuff to actually eat any of the awesome cake we’d chosen.

As good as everyone else’s carrot cake is, none come close to mom’s.  Mom’s is the only carrot cake that captures the awesomeness of my first carrot cake experience in the ‘70s.  It’s simply the best.

Unfortunately, my love affair with all things carrot cake came to a screeching halt a little over a year ago when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance.  Someone asked me recently what I miss the most now that I basically can’t eat anything made with wheat, or containing gluten as an additive (it’s hidden in tons of sauces, dressings, and of course, beer).

The first thing that popped into my head was carrot cake.  It’s not that I miss the taste of carrot cake so much (but, really I do).  It’s the freedom to try everyone’s attempt at carrot cake…knowing that none will compare to mom’s.  I miss getting to have a huge slice of carrot cake at mom’s, and then getting to take about half of the cake home (since it’s not everyone else’s favorite) to enjoy every night for a week.  There’s nothing like a slice of carrot cake and a tall glass of milk after a hard day of whatever I did that day.

Thanks to gluten intolerance, I thought those days were gone.  Not so fast!

Turns out there’s an excellent gluten-free “all-purpose flour” available at Trader Joe’s.  What’s the first thing I thought of when I saw it?  You guessed it!  I need to get mom a couple pounds of this stuff so she can make some of her carrot cake with it, just in time for my 49th birthday!

We are about t-minus one hour from heading over to mom and dad’s to celebrate the September birthdays in our family (there are a bunch of them).  We’ll eat some barbecued steaks with all the trimmings.  But, more importantly, we’ll be trying the gluten-free carrot cake that she and my niece baked.  I’ve heard that it’s pretty good.

I know it will be awesome.  Why?  Mom (and my niece) made it, and that’s all that matters.

 

TEDx ChapmanU–August 20, 2015

TEDxSoldOut

Be curious. Open your mind. Challenge yourself to listen and learn. Respectfully explore new perspectives. Discover your own inner Icon\Genius\Maverick.

Great advice in any setting. Prerequisites for attending a TEDx event.

Here’s a summary of this year’s talks:

Stella Young—I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much. Stella was born with a disability that limited her growth, and confines her to a wheelchair. Is it difficult being disabled? Yes. Is she special because she’s disabled? She doesn’t think so, and her goal is that you won’t either.

Stella told a story that happened when she was about thirteen. Her parents received a call from a representative of their town council saying they’d like to give Stella an award for her community achievements. That was puzzling to her parents (and her), since she hadn’t really achieved anything for the community. She was more interested in watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dawson’s Creek than actually doing anything for someone else.

The real reason for the award was that she was disabled and could be an inspiration to others. But that’s just it. She says that being disabled shouldn’t be something special, or an inspiration. After all, isn’t the inspiration we feel based upon the silent (and instant) comparison we make to that disabled person’s difficulty…and our relief that it isn’t us? By comparing ourselves to someone we think should have lowered expectations, we give ourselves permission to have our own higher expectations, at their expense.

Stella can’t wait for the day when being disabled isn’t special: the day when we take our inspiration and lessons from the good within people, whether they’re disabled or not.

Dan Pallotta—The way we think about charity is dead wrong. How much should a charity spend on fundraising? How much overhead should they have? Is it better to have a bake sale and raise $375 with no overhead, or spend $350,000 to produce an event that raises $5,000,000? If you’re an MBA graduate, should you go to work at a for-profit company, or a non-profit?

Dan says the way we approach these questions, and the ethical standards we put on charities and non-profits, is shackling them and reducing their ability to grow. We should be focused on what they are raising, how successful they are at providing their services, and not their overhead rate.

He provided a number of examples of the ways we apply different standards to for-profits, compared to non-profits. And yet, for all the advantages that for-profit organizations have in terms of access to capital, access to talent, permission to make mistakes, and their ability to focus on growth; they are not equipped or motivated to provide the type of assistance (economic and otherwise) that’s required in the lowest 10 percent of our society. Philanthropy is the marketplace for love. We need a robust and well-funded non-profit community to meet the very real needs of those less fortunate.

To get there, we need to upend the way we think about non-profits. We need to remove the shackles and give them the room they need to grow and succeed.

Mina Morita. What you value is defined by what you risk. Mina’s mom risked everything to come to America from Japan when she was 20. Mina gave up her corporate job to pursue her love of theater. Through many twists and turns, she is now the Artistic Director of Crowded Fire Theater. She’s fulfilled and happy. Not because her life is perfect. It’s fairly messy.

She gets to tell stories and create unique moments that can only happen in theater. Theater fulfills dreams. It’s a place where failure and judgment are in the flesh…every night. She has missed a lot of life’s joys, sacrificed special moments with family and friends. But, she’s happy because her life is what she wants it to be. What you value is defined by what you risk.

Brian Vellmure. Brian is a management consultant, but his talk wasn’t about that. It was about how to prepare our next generation for the challenges that lie ahead. What does he recommend? Team sports and adventure travel.

Team sports show us how to work with others, how to rise to a new challenge, how to go beyond what’s expected. Most importantly, team sports show us how to respond and bounce back from failure…and the fear of failure.

Adventure travel makes us all kindergarteners again. We don’t know anything. We don’t know the language, the customs, the food, or the geography. Outcomes are uncertain. It’s perfect practice for dealing with the challenges that our future will bring.

Why do some people succeed while others fail? Brian says successful people have three things above all else. Curiosity. Grit. Character.

Ryan Gattis. Ryan is an author, but more than that, he is an explorer of life. In 2009, his life had bottomed. He boiled it down to a series of numbers and stats, and none painted a good picture.

As a storyteller, Ryan told us that every good story has five elements:

Hooks

The Unexpected

Cause & Effect

How did it feel?

Concrete specific detail.

All of these elements are nothing if the story (and the author) lacks authenticity. Authenticity is the invisible power that makes a story matter.

Ryan weaved three stories together that contained all of the elements. We heard about the depths of his despair in 2009 and the course he charted to climb out, followed by an intense meeting with a Los Angeles area gang leader, asking permission to do research for his next book, All Involved: A Novel of the 1992 L.A. Riots. The third story, and also an unexpected element within the first two, was something that happened when he was seventeen. He wound up on the receiving end of a punch from a football player named Lump. The punch destroyed and relocated all of the cartilage in his nose to an area on his cheek, without breaking a bone. Two reconstructive surgeries later, he was fluent in pain.

It was that pain that gave his stories their authenticity, along with all the other elements. He discovered that once he opened up to his pain, his prose opened up as well.

Doug Woo. Doug is the president of the Smart Display Division at FUHU. FUHU focuses on providing digital solutions for families and kids. They have a line of tablets, aimed at the unique needs of families. Their Big Tab displays are as big as seventy inches. They resemble large flat screen TV’s, but they act like tablets.

Their innovation was to create a whole new category, based on something that everyone thought they already knew. Tablets. Innovation is practical change, driven by desperation or inspiration. FUHU went “big,” and focused on how to connect the family with their technology. Their cause was bigger than just the technology. Togetherness, collaboration, sharing. These were their motivation, and the Big Tab displays are the result.

These tablets don’t isolate family members. Instead, the entire family shares in the immersive experiences that only the Big Tab can provide.

Dotsie Bausch. In the first minute of Dotsie’s talk, we learned that she was a fashion model, a cocaine addict, bulimic, and attempted suicide twice. This was all before she entered three years of therapy. As she made progress, her therapist recommended she take on a new activity, and she chose cycling on a whim.

By 2012, she had become an Olympian track cyclist. She won a silver medal in the team pursuit event. She says that she has a voracious appetite for winning.

But, that wasn’t the subject of her talk.

Her talk focused on the benefits of a plant-based diet. It all started when she watched a documentary about factory farms, and witnessed the cruelty that animals face on their way to slaughter. She considers it an act of Olympic-level compassion to eat a plant-based diet.

She says that a person who eats only a plant-based diet is consuming 200,000 less gallons of water per year than someone who eats a meat-based diet. Athletes who eat plant-based diets recover 50% faster than their meat-based counterparts.

She asked each of us to go meatless for one day to start down the path toward a plant-based diet.

Todd Irving. Everyone is someone’s child. Todd says this should be the dominant thought in education at all levels. Parents send their most precious possession to school, and they should be treated that way. Todd is the teacher, now principal, that we hope all of our kids get. What makes the most difference to a kid? Taking time to make a connection with them. Getting to know them, their dreams, and their fears…one-on-one. Every child needs to have hope, and that’s the job of every educator, and each of us in the community.

Lesley Fightmaster. Yes, that’s her real name. Lesley is a yoga instructor. She led us in a short, guided meditation. We started by focusing on our breathing and our posture. With our eyes closed, breathing a little more deeply, she guided us through a series of peaceful thoughts that we directed out to the world and then back within ourselves.

Meditation helps us focus on the present moment. This moment is great. Be there. Namaste.

Dr. Anthony Chang. Dr. Chang started his talk with some sobering statistics about the relative happiness of physicians in the US. Nine out of ten physicians wouldn’t recommend their profession to others. Only 6% are happy with their careers. We are creating a perfect storm for reducing physician morale. They are under pressure to see high volumes of patients in a short amount of time. They are inundated with data gathering, data entry, and billing challenges.

Dr. Chang gets his inspiration from his patients. He told us about three of his patients, Hanna, Elsie, and Shirley. Hanna helped him renew his idealism for his profession. Elsie showed him how important it is to take all the data we have and somehow turn it into wisdom for patients…intelligence in medicine. Shirley reminded him about the importance of innovation in medicine.

Dr. Chang wants to integrate artificial intelligence into the practice of medicine. When we were learning to fly, we watched birds. Our first attempts tried to mimic their method, and didn’t work. Only by learning the underlying characteristics of flight, were we able to solve the riddle of flight in our own unique way.

It’s the same with artificial intelligence. Rather than attempting to mimic the way our brains function, the best approach is to extract the lessons we can learn and create our own unique methodology for bringing intelligence to various fields, like medicine.

Dr. Brenda Wiederhold. Dr. Wiederhold is a clinical psychologist and entrepreneur. She uses virtual reality to create transformative therapies for her patients. Therapies that free her patients from the bonds of fear and anxiety, and help them regain control.

Virtual reality is an excellent tool for transporting a patient into another reality. A reality that scares them, paralyzes them, or holds them hostage. Once the patient enters this reality, Dr. Wiederhold can work with them in this safe environment, showing them how to control their emotions, and ultimately their subconscious mind. This frees the patient to use what they’ve learned in the virtual reality environment, in the real world.

Phu Hoang. Build your dreams over time. Phu is the co-founder and CEO of Virtium Technology. He says there are two types of entrepreneurs. One is the “reckless abandon” type that makes a breakthrough and dives into it without really knowing which way he’s going. We’ve heard of many of them, yet there are only a few of them.

Then, there’s the rest of us.

Phu’s advice is to always have a dream, but also a belief in ourselves. He always believed that if he put time into learning about something, he could master it. By continuously improving, he could become the best. Choose a niche in something that is already growing rapidly. Look where the big guys aren’t looking and take that bite size niche. Become number one in that niche and build from there.

It’s okay to build someone else’s dream while you’re building your own. When you’re ready, make the leap and work full-time on your own dream.

Rob Seitelman. Rob is the speaker coach for Chapman’s TEDx. His talk was a letter to his daughters on the power of failure. Everything worthwhile has to cost something. Sometimes that cost is failure. Create a fall-through plan, not a fall-back plan. Sometimes you can do everything right and it still doesn’t work. The reality is that life is all about family, friends, and most importantly, love.

Never let someone else dictate your happiness. There is such a thing as best, but it’s only what’s best for YOU that matters. What’s best for someone else isn’t necessarily best for you. Think about the “why” of things. The most important “why” is: for the benefit of those who will come after us.

Ahmed Younis. Ahmed is an Assistant Professor at Chapman University. He focuses on the architecture of social change, youth employment in the Arab World, global Muslim public opinion and Islamic reform for social change. He started his talk by saying that he’s been working on terrorism for the past fifteen years. But, he hit a wall about a year ago.

He began to lose faith. A vessel can only pour what is within it, and he feared that his vessel was empty. It’s his job to articulate hope, and yet he was out of hope. He went on a search for hope and found it in a surprising place. He found hope in graphic novels and comic books. His favorite comic books? Pride, Cairo, Captain America, Black Panther, and Ms. Marvel.              

Each tells a story where hope triumphs amidst tragedy and conflict. Each is a story of heroes rising up from nothing to take on a world of ugliness and darkness.

How we engage the ugliness determines our hearts, and gives us hope.

Mandy Len Catron. Mandy published an article in the New York Times in January of this year, titled, To Fall In Love with Anyone, Do This. It highlights a study done more than twenty years ago by Dr. Arthur Aron. It’s an experiment built around the intimacy that comes from sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self disclosure.

Here’s the premise (from the article): A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.

Intrigued, Mandy tried this experiment with an acquaintance. After they had asked each other the 36 questions, they stepped outside the bar where they were for the evening, and onto a bridge. They then stared silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes.

Did they fall in love? Yes, but that’s not the whole story.Her story received over 8 million views. Suddenly, she was an international news story. Unfortunately, so was her new relationship. The most asked question she receives is, “Are you two still together?”

She doesn’t think that’s the question we should be asking.

When you admit to loving someone, you admit to having a lot to lose. What she wants from love, and probably what most people want, is a guarantee that this love will last forever. That’s why everyone asks if they’re still together.

Falling in love and staying in love are two different things. Love is terrifying, and there aren’t any guarantees. That’s part of the deal.

Are they still together? Yes.

 

If there was one overarching theme from all the talks, it is that hope is precious. Without it, life becomes ugly. With it, everything else becomes possible.

Past Chapman TEDx summaries:

2013

2014