Am I LinkedIn™ or LinkedOut?

Hampton Roads is taking a beating when it comes to jobs.  I guess that isn’t news to anyone but the folks getting let go.  People that work for the government are getting furloughed.  The current news reports that the days that government workers will have to take off will be reduced; it still has an impact on them that in some cases will be very harmful.    The defense industry work force that supports the government is getting cut not furloughed.     Defense workers are getting pay reductions, two week notices or less.

Whether you are sympathetic to this situation or not within itself doesn’t matter.   The reason is that it may and most likely will affect you.    In my post (, I linked to a congressional report that estimated over 2 million jobs being impacted.   I think those estimates are themselves short sighted.  Let me give you an example, if I am buying a book today, I go to Amazon or B&N online or another online store.  Those items that we are buying are not part of our local economy.   It is certainly reasonable to think that the loss of a few jobs or diminished income for a few would have little impact on the many.   It is unreasonable to think that wide sweeping job loss and income reduction would not impact other areas of the US and potentially other markets.

I have no idea what the real net impact will be but frankly, I know that I myself alone can’t change the economic and political climate.   What I do know is that I have a network.   It is a network of friends, family and work acquaintances that I made through my years of work.    What I have been able to do through this network is help individuals find work and/or at least an opportunity for an interview.

What is different today?

Normally, we have to look out for one or two people and what that may amount to is a phone call or a simple email.   Today is different; there are a lot of people coming off contracts, and being cut.   As an individual, I alone can’t manage as a recruiting, retention and transfer service.   Additionally, dealing with recruiting services has some of its own challenges.   I am thankful that they exist but also understand that in a lot of cases, they are a last resort.   For the record, there is nothing wrong with headhunters or technical service providers.  They provide a service to their clients and labor respectively and they are normally upfront about the conditions of the service.    The bottom line here is that under these circumstances and conditions we need to start pulling our networking efforts together and shift into a new gear.


In December of 2006, I joined LinkedIn™ and I started using it as I believe it was intended.   When I meet people or if I have a relationship with them already, I ask if they are on LinkedIn and I connect with them.  I check LinkedIn on a regular basis and I update my status.  I have LinkedIn™ connected with Twitter and I am a part of many groups including a group that I have on IT concerning the defense oriented computing.   I also started the Forge.Mil group when I worked with the team supporting DISA on that effort.   All in all, I have a professionally established network on LinkedIn™ of over 1000+ people.   In the past I have referred to Dunbars Law which states that people can only manage about 150 relationships with any real depth of context or tribal type of relationship. Seth Godin talks about this on his blog at ( if you have any additional interest on this subject.   I have in previous posts linked an authoritative source for this study.   Essentially, you can know of a lot of people and you can have a large network but it is not possible to push the relationship boundaries for normal people over the 300 person mark.   What this means is that on LinkedIn, the people that I know who have chosen to use this service are mostly acquaintances.   It doesn’t matter if I met them at a party and they got the essence of Howie, they mostly don’t know to care much more about me than somebody that they used to know (there is a joke in there Goyte ).

In addition to LinkedIn™, I have an application that I use to manage relationships called “The Brain”, feel free to ask me about it but I have over the years advertised for them enough.  I just use it to tie people to areas of work or systems and other things.   In addition to this I have other social media outlets.   I try not to use Facebook for anything business related except that when I blog it does go to Facebook.  I also use Google+ the same way as Facebook.  I will say that Google+ does seem to appeal to me more.  All that being said, LinkedIn™ is the place where I expect to pull most of my professional network together and the place I can go where people keep their information up to date.

It Seems to Be Failing Me

It is taking me a long time to get here, I apologize.   LinkedIn is not working the way I expect.  Is it because I use the freemium version?   If Jeff Weiner CEO of LinkedIn™ wants to double tap me, I think not.  I am giving him content, in my view that content is worth more weight and value than the $240.00 a year that he expects me to pay them for the service.  As a matter of fact, he should incentify me to put information into LinkedIn™ by offering me something.     Last week was the first time that I have ever reached out to my whole LinkedIn™ network at one time for anything.  I didn’t reach out to them for myself; I did it for someone else.   When I put out a post asking for a response for a person who I know has skills that are in demand at this time, I got very little back.   When I say little, I will be clear (two likes and one email ).    In order to get some opportunity going, I had to work as hard as usual to make phone calls and send emails and do all of the things I would have to do regardless of LinkedIn™.    Maybe I am using LinkedIn™ incorrectly?  I get hundreds of appearances on search and I get about 7-10+ views over the course of a few days.  Most of them don’t amount to anything unless I initiate a conversation.  I could do that without LinkedIn™.    The discussion threads in LinkedIn™ are almost useless.  I said almost because I haven’t found the value in them for the most part.  On occasion there have been good threads or linkages.   Those occasions are fleeting.   In terms of social analytics or metrics, I wonder what the ratio of active engagement is relative to named use.    I digress.

Outside of LinkedIn™ and Beyond

If LinkedIn™ is just a resume service, I have one of those with VisualCV™ and that service does a better job of resume management within itself.   I get more responses or hits from Facebook and Google+ on my blog than I do from LinkedIn™.  Maybe Google+ or Facebook can replace it?

On Jobs

“It is very hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”

If you are still reading this blog, I am going to assume you care about others.   I am also going to assume that you care about yourself.   In other words, there should be the realization that we are all connected and that those connections and tethers far exceed our ability to understand the cause and effect relationships in our current view.    I believe that it is our personal responsibility to help each other.  I am not talking about a charity or hand out.  I am not talking about a donation of GoodWill or a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.  I am talking about helping each other with a micro transaction.   A little help can go a long way.  Do you know that (insert name here) they losing their job or getting cut?  Is (insert name here) a good person?  Is he/she competent?  Can he/she benefit another organization or group that you know?   If so, make the connection.  It is good for them and it is good for you.  It is a situation that is mutually beneficial.   I haven’t always been successful in these efforts but I am not going to quit doing it.  I am not a recruiter and I don’t make any money from my efforts.  I am no better a person than anyone reading this.  I simply believe that helping others is a responsibility and a blessing.   Helping others pays dividends, not necessarily to you or me explicitly but it may help that person in a big way and the world in ways that we can’t comprehend.


A lesson From Matt S (You know who you are dude)

Matt teaches “Howie, if you want people to do something, you have to tell them what you want them to do and it has to be actionable.”

If you see that I post something on LinkedIn™ or any social media outlet and I am referring to a person that needs some attention or help.  I want you to pass that on.  If I have 9 million people in my extended LinkedIn™ network, there is no reason why one person out of 9 million won’t have an opportunity to offer.    At the very least pass that name on and tell them when you pass it on that you don’t know the person but you have a second or third degree connection.    Results will vary but the effort itself as small as it may be is that something that you can do that will make a difference even if that difference is simply to you.

The Leader You Are.. Courage as a Factor

Living in the shadow of yourself is an interesting place to be .

I don’t know about you but I live in my own world sometimes.  It isn’t that I am making up my own reality as some people do, but more that I feel comfortable with my conditions and that allows me at times to escape the challenges that I face.

I will give you an example.   Have you ever thought about what will happen when someone close to you gets sick or dies?  Most of us have been there in the situation where we are in the hospital with the person or at the funeral.   I am searching for words to describe the feeling but the best way I can describe it is surreal.  It feels like a dream that you are in at that moment and when you escape it, you can have normal again.  

In the story of our lives, we all deal with these emotionally charged and life altering situations.   I used the concept of illness or death to bring us to the extreme of this situation but there are scaled down situations that are similar in nature and have this effect on us.  If you are working and you find out that you are losing your job.  If you are dealing with someone who is abusive.  If you are stuck in a situation that you may have put yourself in but have awoken to this moment where you blink and realize “this is real, what am I going to do”?

Living in the shadow of yourself is dealing with the reality and feelings of your inner self or your true self as no one else but you would know as opposed to the outer self or the face we show to the world.

Clearly there are many discussions that we can have over the religious implications in this area of thought but my objective for this particular post is to talk about dealing with the challenges we face and finding the courage to do what we know we should.   It isn’t really about doing the right things per se but more about dealing with the reality of a situation as is and finding the strength and courage to plow through it.  It doesn’t take the biggest or strongest person to find his way over the hurdles in life.  It takes a person, any person the inner strength to envision a positive outcome and press for this vision even in the face of the darkest times.

Death is final, if we allow our worldly perspective to bind us to that conclusion.  Failure is imminent if we allow our situation to govern our behavior.  We are constantly faced with challenges that allow us to sink deeper into fear, if we allow it.

I was talking to Erin (my wife) the other day about leadership and how I have a bookshelf and tablet full of leadership books.   I have read them all and some of them twice.  I have watched people who were called leaders for years and have observed their behavior.   I have worked with military, defense and corporate leaders and what have I found?

We all share the same type of feelings and concerns regardless of position regarding business.  I could frame this another way.

Five days in the sun with Maslow


On the first day, you are happy and concerned with nothing more than realizing your greater purpose or value.  Where do you fit in and what difference in the world can you make?  How can you reach your full potential?  It is a fair question.  Once you have this level of security in terms of the basics, you can focus on these “other things.”  The sun is beating down but you have all you need food shelter even some company with your friend Maslow. Maybe you can do something or build something that can be shared with others, something for the greater good of mankind.  Even though security is an illusion, this perspective based on what you have lifts a weight or burden on the psyche that allows for some clarity of thought. It is time to shine!  

On the second day, you have less resources but still have enough to meet all your needs.  Achieving your full potential is great but what about that feeling of accomplishment?   Sweet sweet goals and objectives, that feeling of getting things done. Accomplishment in the sun is sweet but lonely, maybe it would be something if you had some others aside from “the Maz” to share your accomplishments with.  

On the third day, you have been creative and innovative and accomplished many things but only with your friend Maslow and he isn’t much fun to be around.   It would be much nicer to have your loved ones to share your accomplishments with.  How wonderful it is to share your love, your hopes and your dreams.   Some of  your loved ones and friends arrive to hang out.

Wouldn’t you be willing to even give some of your ultimate goals up to share your life with others.  The sun is getting hot on the third day and you have less than you had the past two days.  As a matter of fact, you are running low on water and the rain this night took your shelter out.    

On the fourth day, Maslow left… I am not sure why.. all of your friends and loved ones that you had over started bailing out as well.   Your water supply is pretty low and the shelter was damaged from the rain last night.  Suddenly, the things that were important yesterday aren’t so important today.  You are bound to be here in this place one more day.  This is starting to get uncomfortable.  

On the fifth day,  just absolutely exhausted, the sun is beating down on you and there is no water left, no food left and your shelter is destroyed.  This is unreal, in fact it is surreal, how did this happen? Why did this happen?  How could you have prevented this?  What is important? What is important to you?  The sun is now a fireball instead of a low hanging gift of art from the universe. It alone has stolen from you.  It conspired with mother nature to destroy everything you had and you stand alone under the blazing sky contemplating your next …. move.


Lucky for you and of course the rest of the world that this was just a short trip and that you can forget about all this madness as you head home from this horrible experience.  It is absolutely true that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a model is not being accurately reflected here but the point is consistent with his model.   The key question that looms on the outside of this story is with respect to leadership.   Where does leadership fit in and play a role?  Would a leader only stand tall on the first two or three days when there was comfort and all of your needs were met?

Title doesn’t dictate character.  Although, Randall from the movie “Clerks” told us otherwise.  There are variations of leaders and degrees of leadership.  We are wrapped around the idea that we are to be led and that this leadership carries some rank or status with it.  I have written many times before that we must lead from where we are.  We must lead as the situation requires.  We must follow as the situation requires.  Regardless, some will stand out from others and some will fall into the crowd but it takes courage to do what it takes and lead in any capacity where you can when the time comes.  

It takes courage to see a situation from the point of view of an active observer as opposed to being a participant and find the strength to see the possibilities related to the “big picture” as opposed to the image of the moment.   

Leadership isn’t a thing.  It isn’t something we can hold in our hands.  There is more to leadership than courage but if leadership is a multi legged beast, courage is one of its primary limbs.  

What do you think?

Decertification ~Cleansing Your Career~

Binding Labels

You are so much more than your certification.  Recently, I was consulting with a technical organization to help understand the requirements for a custom system configuration.    When I walked into the server room I was greeted by a very nice man in his late 40’s or early 50’s.   His job for the past five + years was to build, maintain, support and grow a fairly complex system to support multiple custom written applications for his client.   Unfortunately, his work is being transitioned to another organization and he faces personal uncertainty with this transition.

We stood in the server room as he described in intimate detail the web of connections between this system of systems.   Through the years he had to add different technologies and make connections to other systems as the requirements came in.   I didn’t have days to evaluate the system or his work, only hours.  As we walked the halls of the building, I noticed that we couldn’t get more than about  10 feet without someone asking him for help.

We sat down in his work area, it was full of nuts and bolts and old computer parts.  It was a familiar sight to me as I had worked with a lot of shipboard engineering technicians and this was something that these guys would practice.  The “No parts left behind” philosophy is even something I have been known to subscribe to.   I decided to ask him about his day.     Are you pretty busy all day, or is there a lull?  What is a normal day for you like?   What is your schedule?  Do they ever call you in the middle of the night to come out here?

Turns out, most of the day he is helping people with day-to-day tasks.  It could be that he is helping someone with an excel question or something about one of the custom applications they are working on.   It could be that someone needed to find the “any key”  and he had to show them where that was.   The point is that while I was there for that short window of time, he was busy helping people even through my disruptive questioning.  I had a lot of questions about the servers and services but to him those things were simply in the background of what was important to him.  I found that interesting because it was the reason I had come in the first place.

No Certification for Tacit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge simply put is knowledge we may have that we don’t know we have or knowledge that is hard to transfer.   Tacit knowledge transfer requires extensive personal interaction and more importantly; trust.

I sat down with the management team on site and asked them a series of questions concerning their system, requirements, mission, vision, scope, objectives etc.   I asked them about the tasks associated with the custom applications and found that they had very little information themselves about the system that they owned.

If you aren’t bored yet and are wondering where I am going.. it is happening now 🙂

My job was to figure out how to replace this person running the system.  It wasn’t specifically to replace HIM but to find out what the system does so that if we are to put in someone else that operations would run consistently and there would be service continuity.  

I went back to the office with all my notes about the system.  The problem for me was that I had more notes about the person, the process of his work as he had explained and the thoughts about all those people who stopped him or grabbed him in the very short time that I was there.  The Program Manager asked for me to deliver a position description along with a short order report on the system findings.  In all the time and discussions, I never once asked what if anything this person was certified in.

I wrote up a fairly short position description that was titled IT Generalist,  I didn’t include any certifications as requirements.  I did put stuff like “Ability to work well with others.”  I submitted the document to the Program Manager which included a description of the role, daily responsibilities, some of the technologies that were involved and some of the requirements that the client had discussed with me.   The response to my description was  “This document is insufficient, where are the certifications?”

  1. Certifications never came up.
  2. How do you certify something that is custom and then create a certification or qualification for that and fill it?
  3. How do you certify whether a person is nice enough to approach to ask questions or not?
  4. How do you certify “ability to work well with others?”

I broke down the common technologies used for the operating system, any common applications, the switches and routers into categories and then came up with certifications that would line up.  I resubmitted the description with more of a technical focus and it was well received.

Certification Rehab

Hi, my name is Howie and I umm… I am A+, Network+, MCP, Cloud etc…  I have been certifying for over 15 years and now I am seeking detox .. I mean ..decertification.  This business of certification doesn’t put the “H” in business, meaning the “Human Factors.”   Are we robots? Are we supposed to be addicted to spending thousands of dollars a year on adding the letters to our name?  Aren’t we more than our certifications?  What just happened in this story is that human resources filtered out the very person who is currently doing an outstanding job where he is.   He created the job and he isn’t qualified for it anymore?

It made me wonder what certifications successful business people have.   Instead of pulling out old Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, I decided to put someone else in recent news out for consideration Sheryl Sandberg current COO for Facebook and author of a new book about women in the workplace.   I searched the internet for her certifications and you know what I found?  NOTHING.   She went to Harvard.. and umm she met her employer Mark Zuckerberg at a party a Christmas party at that!   Wow wow..

Sheryl in a recent interview on her book said that she wasn’t saying that all women are as privileged as she is or had the “CONNECTIONS” that she does but…  In other words, it is all about people.   IT IS ALL ABOUT PEOPLE.

Certification FILTER

I have an idea!  On your job application that you are posting for new hires ask

  1. Name the last five books you have read?
  2. Name the last three to five articles or documents you have read online?
  3. In three to five sentences tell me what you do now.
  4. How would you rate your ability to interact with others?
  5. How would others rate your ability to interact with them?… ask them and tell us the results.

Otherwise you are going to get exactly what the organization needs.  You are reading that correctly.  The organization needs by someone’s list of certain knowledge, skills and abilities and certification is supposed to pre-qualify people for these jobs.  The problem is that certification is a business and it doesn’t take into consideration the needs of a business other than itself. More to come on this in this perspective in the end of this blog.

Clarity on Certification

I personally read every night and study all sorts of information all the time.  I hold certifications and I enjoy the fact that I have learned the information from the courses and these studies.  That is not all that I am.   It shouldn’t be the lens or filter that tells the story of what I can do for an organization and if it is, then I want to be certified in everything or certified in nothing.   My MBA stands with my A+ next to my name, but my MBA represents a body of work that was so comprehensive that I would have tears and brain pain associated with the thought that went into my papers and my testing.  My A+ certification represents something I did over a weekend of cramming.

When I was a computer technician my primary repair guide was YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, before Google stole the show.   I was a self-taught technician and my career has been all self teaching but I am certified in XYZ.    The real and true nature of me is my connection to people and the nature and depth of those relationships. My ability to know when I need help and ask for it.  My ability to share ideas and thoughts and learn from others.  My love of people and my passion for what I do.  You don’t see that in my certifications.

Should We Certify?

My Human Resources degree tells me that we need some mechanism to filter people and find potential qualified candidates for jobs. Certification should be a weighted factor in the big picture of a position.

Francis Bacon said “If you will begin with certainties, you shall end in doubts, but if you will content to begin with doubts, you shall end in almost certainties.”

There are various tools available for decision analysis and consideration of human factors.   How much money is spent on hiring the wrong people?  We need to consider certification as part of continuing education but not the sum total of a persons qualification even as a filter by itself.

What Happened in the End?

I submitted my report with the position description to the PM and followed up with a note concerning the man I met.  In this note, I talked about how this person had a connection with the others in the office and how he may not have a technical certificate but the work performed has met the needs of his management.   I also discussed the costs associated with a transition less a “Tacit Transfer” and that his business value should be considered relative to the custom applications over the known or common factors.    My expectation based on the PM feedback is that he will get  reasonable and fair consideration relative to my commentary and additional factors.


Should you get certified?  Yes, as long as it isn’t the only objective.  Certification should be a demonstration of some K/S/A’s aka Knowledge, Skills and Abilities.   It should be a helpful indicator and potential weight for consideration of employment.  It should not be THE factor and should not be THE filter.   If that is the criteria for success then I want to be Bill Gates or Sheryl Sandberg or Andy Sandberg for that matter because he is funny.   I am sure that he doesn’t have the SNL certification.  If this is the case of certification then it is my desire to be just “Howie Cohen” and my certifications and other explicit knowledge factors will live in resume as a point as opposed to on my name as part of who I am.



Decertification is just the idea that we are not represented as “Person x MBA, PMP, C|EH, CISSP, EIEIO, XYZ, ABC” but simply “Person x” and those other points of education don’t define WHO we are just some of our accomplishments.

To Compromise with The Sun

The Who of You

Sam sold fruit in Spanish Harlem, he would travel every day from his home in New York City to open his fruit cart and sell his fruit.  Sam could speak at least 3 languages including english and spanish.  What we know about our family is really very limited isn’t it?  Unless you are into genealogy or your family member was famous.  What we do know is that these people shared something with us that may go beyond a simple transfer of DNA.  It is our love and hate, our fears and hopes that are transferred in the hidden undertones of our upbringing.  It is more than white noise because it is thematic.  Even if you were raised by a family other than your own biological family, you will carry some familiar theme.  It is what it is.  As generations are born and raised maybe some of the themes are altered a bit and some things can change but there are still faint remains.   I expect that is what is meant when my grandmother would say to me that I remind her of my grandfather whom I never met.  I didn’t meet him physically but through my father I am given the good and maybe some of the bad as well.    We are who we are and there is no grand bargain that can change certain aspects or characteristics of our being.  If Stephen Hawking could change his condition wouldn’t he?  If he did would he be able to contribute to our world and to science as he has over and again?

To Compromise

“The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter’s stomach, is an absolute.

There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube.”
― Ayn RandAtlas Shrugged

A compromise is a settlement.  You have to let go of something and make a concession to compromise.  Can you compromise with your being?  In other words, we still don’t have the technology today to compromise on all things.   As a matter of fact, there are many things that we can’t compromise on because we don’t have the power to do it.

Compromise is the issue of today.   It is THE issue because so many of us are unwilling to do it when we can and others demand it when it isn’t really warranted.  There doesn’t seem to be a good balance today when it comes to compromise.   It doesn’t even seem to me that we are looking at compromise from a reasonable and rational perspective.

We can put on some very basic hats and come up with fairly intractable conflict.  Just for quick reference (IC)

Intractable conflicts are clearly different from other conflicts. The major characteristics of intractable conflicts can be summarized as follows:

  1. In terms of actors, intractable conflicts involve states or other actors with a long sense of historical grievance, and a strong desire to redress or avenge these.
  2. In terms of duration, intractable conflicts take place over a long period of time.
  3. In terms of issues, intractable conflicts involve intangible issues such as identity, sovereignty, or values and beliefs.
  4. In terms of relationships intractable conflicts involve polarized perceptions of hostility and enmity, and behavior that is violent and destructive.
  5. In terms of geopolitics, intractable conflicts usually take place where buffer states exist between major power blocks or civilizations.
  6. In terms of management, intractable conflicts resist many conflict management efforts and have a history of failed peacemaking efforts.

Here we are in 2013.  Martin Luther King had a dream of people being simply being treated fairly as people.   It started with compromise, didn’t it?

Now we have what I would call a dysfunction compromise system.   This is a system where we recognize that we need to make concessions or that we have a desire for concessions but we act in ways that are counterintuitive and counter productive concerning concessions.

For example, we should respect all religions except that SOME religion directs us towards violence.   We must make every effort to compromise.  This also is interesting because religion (at least in the past 30-40 years) is changing.   Religion is being forced to compromise with desired outcomes.   I want to state for the record that I am simply talking about this by observation.  My issue and concern isn’t about any one particular thing, it is about our sociological disconnect from reality that is becoming the new normal.  Hot topics of the past 40 years are racial, religion, women’s rights, jobs, economic and political gridlock, global trends, global warming, freedom and democracy for people of the world.

What changed?  I can pull open a newspaper from the 1900’s or the 1800’s and see similar issues if not the same exact issues.   And, so.. I go back just a few short years ago, maybe 50 or 60 years ago.  A middle aged guy named Sam, he gets up every morning and puts his pants on one leg at a time.  He kisses his wife or just yells goodbye as he heads out to sell fruit to his customers.   To sell fruit to people in Spanish Harlem, he had to learn to speak spanish (that was something he had to do) they didn’t compromise with him.    Sam and other immigrants from
“the old world” or from Italy, Ireland, Spain and other places came to America in search of something new, something different.  They had to change their behavior to become American but the interesting part is that they were unwilling or unable to stay where they were .   No one really talks about that part too often.  Why couldn’t they just stay where they were and work things out?  Why couldn’t they compromise?   There is a delicate balance in life, it is give and take but there are also factors in which we have little or no control.  No matter how much we want men to bear the burden of carrying a child, science isn’t there yet.   Should it get there, I am sure some group somewhere will stand up and demand that women have been carrying children for their families for far too long and that men have an obligation to share this extremely difficult burden.   You may read this and think that I am being unreasonable or maybe just because I am saying this that I am being sexist.  Well, that is exactly why I am writing this today.  If I say something that is true even if I don’t believe one way or the other that it is right or wrong, it creates conflict.  We can’t even talk about it because it is offensive.  It is offensive because we have compromised ourselves into dysfunction.   If people wonder why we can’t anything done in Washington DC, this is the reason.


The next time you write something on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, your blog, my blog, your website, company post, newspaper, chat and the list goes on and on, just consider for a moment that false compromise isn’t always the answer and further that if you have an honest belief stand up for it.  If you have room to truly compromise, consider that as well but be mindful of the truth and your intent, the world will be a better place for it.

The Actualizers **Something Positive for Home, Work and Beyond**

The Actualizers

I got a phone call on a Sunday evening asking if I would come out to watch a movie about Israel called “Israel Inside.”  I normally wouldn’t go to something like this but I on this day I agreed.   I met up with a few friends the next day and headed a little reluctantly to see this movie.  I didn’t really know what it was about but I thought it had something to do with the conflict in Israel.   I didn’t need to hear anymore about conflict but I just decided to give this movie a chance.   What followed was simply eye-opening.  It was framed around Israel but it really was more about people and community. For this reason, I have decided after a great deal of thought to share this with you.

From the pages of Akvia 

In 55 minutes, this insightful and uplifting documentary sidesteps the usual conversation of politics, conflict and violence, and tells the story of the Israeli people – a resilient and dynamic nation – whose spirit has brought the tiny country of Israel to the forefront of world innovation and progress.

The film’s narrator, Dr. Tal Ben Shahar, also weaves his own life into the documentary and takes you on a journey to understand what being an Israeli is all about.

Tal, who is a highly successful academic, public speaker and author, gave up a prominent position as Harvard University’s most popular lecturer to return to his homeland, Israel. Tal explores core Israeli character strengths – called “actualizers” – that enable the country to succeed against incredible odds. Through Tal’s eyes we discover that deep-seated values such as education, family and responsibility to the world, directly contribute to Israel’s accomplishments in the economic, technological and humanitarian spheres.

“None of these actualizers are in and of themselves unique to Israel, but in combination, they are bringing about an almost unparalleled progress, success and contribution to the world,” Tal says in the film. “These actualizers have not only made Israel what it is, they also have the potential to help us all enjoy happier, more successful, more productive lives. Through them we can contribute. We can make the world a better place.”








Maybe You Watched — Maybe Not..

I believe in reuse and of course credit.  I am sharing a written definition and commentary on Actualizers from Business Improvement Architects (  Since there are six actualizers I will add Adversity to Advantage.

Five Actualizers for Success

by Sally Stanleigh
Success is an elusive and time sensitive condition that is usually not a constant. Yet some people experience it in their careers and lives more consistently than others. So what is the secret for achieving success? I recently watched an interesting video called, “Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference” that demonstrated the innovative products and inventions from Israel. It provided some interesting insights into some of the things that have contributed to Israel’s achievement of success.The video featured the observations of a Harvard psychologist and PhD, Tal Ben-Shahar who speaks of a unique combination of actualizers that have contributed to the success of Israel as a country. Yet these actualizers are not limited to countries, they may also provide us with clues as to how to ensure personal success in our lives.
Caring, Supportive and Nurturing Family
According to Ben-Shahar, “Family is the soil in which growth takes place.” When children are raised in warm, caring and nurturing family units, they receive a strong foundation in life that ultimately allows them to experience a greater chance for success. The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” points to the responsibility of the entire community in fulfilling this task, regardless of a child’s biological parent(s).Warmth and caring early in life makes for confident adults who feel secure and empowered. These individuals naturally strive to become independent because they feel able to fulfill their life’s dreams. And with emotional strength, comes resiliency; the ability to bounce back from adversity and be able to overcome the obstacles and challenges that life throws at each of us. Hence a caring, supportive and nurturing family unit in which everyone takes care of each other is a powerful actualizer for success in our lives.
Chutzpah–a Combination of Boldness and Determination
What is chutzpah? Chutzpah is the quality of audacity, for good or for bad. It derives from the Hebrew word “huspa,” meaning “insolence” or “audacity.” However, the modern English usage of the word has taken on a broader meaning that may be interpreted as the amount of courage, mettle or ardour that an individual has. In this context it is a combination of boldness, gall and fearlessness. Chutzpah means not taking “no” for an answer. It also means challenging the status quo. Chuzpah is what allows us to “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.” It is another powerful actualizer for success.
Education is an obvious predictor for success in life, which is why so many Western societies have advanced. However, the greatest value of education is that it encourages us to ask questions. Through questions we are motivated to find answers. Seeking these answers is what allows us to learn and uncover opportunities for success. Interestingly, the more we learn, the more we realize what we don’t know and this continuous cycle of exploration allows us to seek more answers to our questions. The outcome of learning is that it teaches us to challenge the status quo and in this way begins to foster innovative thinking and creativity; making it a very powerful actualizer for success.
Taking Action
The first three actualizers prepare us for success but do not guarantee it. We must move our ideas into action to succeed. Taking action is likely to involve significant effort and dedication and not taking action is often the barrier to success in our lives. Taking action may require help and support from others as well as personal tenacity and firm resolve when our plans run into snags; but it is a critical actualizer for success.
Achieving Focus and Meaning through Tikkun Olam—Repairing the World
“Tikkun olam” is a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world” (or “healing and restoring the world”) which suggests humanity’s shared responsibility (with the Creator) “to heal, repair and transform the world.” In a broader sense, it means taking responsibility for the welfare of the society at large and promoting goodness through positive social action. Tikkun Olam forces one to question the value of what we do in the context of improving the state of the world and helping others. It gives us focus and adds meaning to our work; helping us to act for something that is greater than ourselves.Think about the greatest heroes, inventors and leaders in history and what they contributed in the world. Their actions ultimately moved the world forward because they helped people; they made lives better in some way and added value to the world. While not all of us may hope to become a: Ghandi, Sister Theresa, Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk or Albert Einstein, we can and do make a difference when we dedicate ourselves to promoting goodness for those around us.If we apply the concept of “tikkun olam” to our everyday lives on a smaller scale; thinking about the good we can do in our personal circles of influence, we improve our chance for success. It begins when we ask ourselves, “What can I do to improve my life and the lives of those around me?” Or, “How can I use my unique talents and strengths to help others?” Promoting goodness through “Tikkun Olam” motivates us; propelling our efforts in a significant and meaningful way; it gives us meaning and purpose in life and motivation to succeed. This is why it is a significant actualizer for success. © Business Improvement Architects, MMXII

Adversity to Advantage

We all face adversity in our lives.  It could be that you grew up in a tough situation or that you had to walk to school barefoot up hill both ways.  It could be that you were shunned for being who you were or many other things.  The question is what did you do with that adversity?  Did you turn that into something positive?   A few people from different walks of life can come to mind, Rosa Parks, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and many others.  Your hardship and challenges are the stone that sharpen you.  These challenges make you stronger by exercising your character, your determination and your skills.


As we all know and some of us forget (including me), we are only here for a very short time.  In a blink your life has brought you to where you are.   What matters is that we have from moment to moment an opportunity to grow, change and reframe our perspective.  Choice is a gift.  Having purpose is a driver.  Our purpose and the choices that we make will help sculpt the outcome of our being.  I will personally continue to study these “actualizers” in order to help keep focused on positive outcomes.. how about you?