Cutting the Cord 2015 (Happy New Year)

A few years back we had television through cable.   I was frustrated by the fact that the cable company kept raising the rates.  They charged us for every box, they charged us for channels that I wanted to watch in the form of packages.  They charged us with confidence that we were either too lazy or incapable of finding other options.

The alternatives seemed just as bad.   Going to DirectTV or Dish would have cost the same or more.  I thought I wanted FIOS but when I called Verizon the options felt the same.  Additionally, I wouldn’t be able to get FIOS until it becomes available sometime in 2030 or never.

The cable bill was about $130.00 dollars at the time which to most folks that seems pretty inexpensive except it isn’t.   I can think of a lot of other things I can do with a $130.00 dollars.  The reason it wasn’t $200.00+ was because my wife kept calling the cable company negotiating the number.

Today our cable bill is for internet alone.  We do have a bill but it is a lot less than $130.00 and we have more options.  There are a few tradeoffs but for our family none of these impacted us to an extent that were lasting.

While there are many ways to cut the cord, I will give you a short list here of what worked for me.

This was my first post about cutting the cord. RaspberryPizzle.jpg

By the way,  I went online and did a search about cutting the cord.  What I read was mostly garbage that directs people to use services like Netflix or Hulu.

Getting it..

I have 4 televisions.  Two have what I would call full functionality and the other two are limited.  The two that are limited are only limited because I didn’t care to run a wire.   I have less local channels on those two.   At this time I can watch all local channels in my region and I have some augmented abilities to watch on demand content.

I was located in Virginia Beach when I started trying to figure this all out.   I used to enter my zip code.  It tells you what tv stations are in your area and what kind of antenna will work best for you.   I also used which helped me point the antenna in the right direction.   For me antennaweb worked fine and was enough to get me in the right direction.  Although, I did play with the app.

Since I was within 30-50 miles of the tv stations, it was easy for me to go with small fractal antennas like or

I bought the flat panel Mohu Leaf but I wouldn’t recommend it as being better than most of the other products I played around with.  As a matter of fact, the best results came from antenna built by my friend Rob.  As shown in the first post about cutting the cord.

I decided to run all my testing on one television until I could get comfortable with the results.  Ironically, the television I chose was the one that was used most often.    After a few adjustments on a clear Sunday morning, I was “dialed in” and  had about 30 local channels.   Where I am today, I have about 50 over the air (OTA).

I wanted to have some on demand capabilities as well and I didn’t want to miss out on our Sunday football games.   Generally in Virginia I couldn’t watch my football team every Sunday unless I had an NFL package which my cable company didn’t offer.  I would have to go somewhere else or watch over another device.

In order to get on demand I did something like this which turned a little computer into a media center for me.  It was about $50 bucks all said and done but it was sluggish and I had to do a lot of work to make it the way I wanted.  The plugin I use for on demand sports is “SportsDevil”

No doubt I wanted to stay with XBMC which is now called Kodi but I wanted it to respond faster and I didn’t want to have to work hard to watch anything.  Some folks like to just use Netflix, Hulu or Plex ( from here but I wanted a little more flexibility.

I used the Amazon FireTv and sideloaded the Kodi application on it

Here are some other links to devices and options for Kodi

What is Kodi?

The easiest way for me to put it is.. an open source operating environment that allows you to have a very custom multimedia experience.  You can stream content or gain access to content on demand.  You can use preconfigured software packages like TVMC or you can customize it yourself.  The only limit on what content you have is the amount of time you want to invest playing around with it.

You can actually purchase preloaded systems too.  I am not recommending this one, it is just an example.

For me it was easy to sideload the FireTV but I realize that folks may not have time or desire to load it on there and it isn’t straight forward.

It isn’t perfect 100% of the time and since it is a customized experience some results will vary but I would trade what I had with cable for Kodi any day.  In fact, I probably watch more media than I did in the past because I have access immediately to content I am interested in.   I think my favorite is being able to look at content around the world and get a glimpse of how others live.

Happy cutting.. if you choose to go down this road.  Post questions if you have any.. I am happy to answer.


















Knowledge Management and Healthcare

HealthCareCohenSaving Lives

In that moment when you realize that what you are experiencing is real and you have been shaken into the understanding that you are a human being; frail, fragile and living only for a short time this one moment can define or redefine your whole life.

Most of us live our day-to-day lives in a state of ignorance with regard to our health and our lives until we are faced with our mortality or impacted by someone close to us being sick.   People that work in the healthcare industry especially those on the front lines of medicine know all too well about human mortality.  That being said, it is still easy to get into routines and patterns of operation which create a narrow scope of perspective.  In other words,  being in a medical practice can create an intentional numbness.  Some studies show that doctors may suppress their emotions or their brains may automatically inhibit their ability to be empathetic in a short period of time.  The stress of being a person in an environment constantly being reminded that life is short and constantly fighting battles to save lives takes a lot out of people.  It also impacts their decision-making process.

My personal and professional experience has driven me to question why knowledge management is lacking in the healthcare industry.  This industry isn’t short of information but there are indicators that medical practitioners may not have the right information at the right time.


Chip and Dan Health wrote on KevinMD

The following is an exclusive excerpt adapted from #1 New York Times best-selling authors Chip and Dan Heath’s new book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and WorkHow a smart process helped Kaiser Permanente save lives, which was released on March 26, 2013.

One of the most fundamental problems of decision-making, according to psychologists, is that people get stuck in a “narrow frame”—they view their decision in an unduly limited way, often missing options that are available to them. To break out of a narrow frame, people need new options, and one of the most basic ways to generate those options is to find someone else who’s solved your problem.

For many health care leaders, this search for new options has become second nature. They’ve long since learned to “benchmark” competitors and absorb industry “best practices.” Sometimes, though, the practices that work for one organization may be incompatible with another, like an organ transplant that is rejected. (Imagine if McDonald’s, inspired by movie theaters, started trying to hawk $12 Cokes.)

That’s why we shouldn’t forget, when hunting for new options, to look inside our own organizations. Sometimes the people who have solved our problems are our own colleagues. That’s what was discovered by the leaders of Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest HMOs in the country with almost 9 million members.

In early 2008, Alan Whippy (her first name is pronounced uh-LANN), the medical director of quality and safety at The Permanente Medical Group in  Northern California, was staring at a set of data that astonished her. To continue pushing their hospitals to get better, Whippy and her team had asked the leaders of the 21 Kaiser Permanente Hospitals in Northern California to do detailed case studies of the last 50 patients who had died at each of their hospitals. One problem their hospitals had addressed aggressively—heart attacks—accounted for 3.5% of the deaths. But almost ten times as many deaths came from another cause that was barely on the radar screen at Kaiser Permanente or most of the other hospitals they knew: sepsis.

Dr. Whippy explained sepsis with an analogy: “If you have an infection on your skin, it gets inflamed–red and hot and swollen. The infection itself doesn’t turn the skin red, that’s the body reacting to the infection.” Sepsis is a similar reaction to an infection in the blood stream. The body’s inflammatory reaction spreads to the whole body, even to parts far away from the infection—a case of pneumonia, for instance, can trigger kidney failure or even brain damage.

What Dr. Whippy and her team realized was that physicians were paying careful attention to the infections, like pneumonia, but they weren’t aggressively treating the associated sepsis, which was often the true cause of a patient’s death.

Freeze there. Whippy had a problem on her hands: She needed options for improving Kaiser Permanente’s treatment of sepsis. Where could she find those options?

She located one critical connection within Kaiser: Dr. Diane Craig, a physician at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara. Craig and her colleagues had spent several years working on sepsis and had already shown some reduction in their sepsis death rate. They were frustrated that progress was not quicker, though—especially since the “recipe” for managing sepsis was known. In 2002, a provocative article had appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing that patients were substantially less likely to die from sepsis if they received quick and intensive treatment shortly after they were diagnosed.

It was easier said than done, though. As Craig knew from personal experience, the quick and intensive treatment was difficult to implement for two reasons. First, sepsis is hard to detect. A patient might look fine in the morning but plunge into crisis by lunchtime, and by then it was often more difficult to correct the cascade of internal damage.  Second, the protocol recommended by the article for treating sepsis—which involves administering large quantities of antibiotics and fluids to the patient—carries its own risks.

As Craig said, “It takes a while for people to get comfortable saying, ‘This patient looks good but I’m going to put a large central IV catheter in their neck and put them in the ICU and pump them full of liters and liters of fluids. And we’ll do all this even though they look perfectly fine at the moment.’” The research supports this early intervention. The risks are worth it. But it was difficult for doctors, with their “Do No Harm” ethos, to move as quickly and forcefully as the research said they should.

Craig and Whippy realized that, to fight sepsis, they had to overcome these two problems by making sepsis easier to detect and by demonstrating to staff the risk ofinaction.

With Whippy’s support, Craig and her team began to incubate new approaches to the problem at Santa Clara. One idea was simple but powerful: Whenever physicians ordered a blood culture—a sign they were worried about a blood-borne infection—a test for lactic acid was automatically added to their orders. (Lactic acid is a critical indicator of sepsis.) This allowed them to detect sepsis well before it began to influence the patient’s vital signs.

Other changes were intended to make the Santa Clara staff more aware of sepsis. Posters and pocket cards were printed up that highlighted the symptoms of sepsis. A grid on the printed materials showed the mortality risk for different patient circumstances. “People could see that this patient, right in front of me, even though they look good—they have a 20% chance of mortality. It was very powerful,” said Craig.

If the doctors and nurses spotted the symptoms of sepsis, they were asked to call a “sepsis alert,” the equivalent in urgency of the “code blue” called when someone is experiencing a cardiac arrest. The sepsis alert summoned a team that could assess the patient and, if appropriate, begin the intensive sepsis protocol.

These innovative solutions began to work. Sepsis deaths began to decline. Whippy, who’d been following the work, knew that the Santa Clara team was assembling a package of cultural interventions that she could spread to other hospitals.  Meanwhile, other hospitals, who’d been pursuing their own solutions, added other critical pieces of the puzzle, like a “pressure bag” that fit around an IV like a balloon, ensuring that sepsis patients would receive fluids quickly enough.

Within a matter of months, under Whippy’s direction, the sepsis protocol was being actively implemented in other hospitals. By summer 2012, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, composed of 21 hospitals serving 3.3 million people, had driven down risk-adjusted mortality from sepsis to 28 percent below the national average.

This solution has astonishing potential. If all hospitals could match Kaiser Permanente’s 28 percent reduction, it would be the annual equivalent, in lives saved, of saving every single man who dies from prostate cancer and every single woman who dies from breast cancer.

* * *

The leaders of Kaiser make it a priority to study their own internal “bright spots”—the most positive points in a distribution of data. For the treatment of sepsis, for instance, Dr. Craig’s team represented a bright spot, because of its lower death rate.

Bright spots can be much more mundane, though. If you’re trying to stick to a new exercise regimen, then your bright spots might be the four times last month that you made it to the gym. If you take the time to study and understand your bright spots—how exactly did you manage to get yourself to the gym on those four days?—then you can often discover unexpected solutions. Maybe you’d notice that three of the four occasions were during lunch, which tends to be the least complicated time for you. So you might make a point to avoid scheduling things at lunch time, keeping that time free for future workouts.

The wonderful thing about bright spots is that they can’t suffer from the rejected-transplant problem, because they’re native to your situation. It’s your own success you’re seeking to reproduce.

Both bright spots and best practices, then, act as sources of inspiration. If you’ve got a dilemma, and you need new options, you can look for new ideas externally, as with benchmarking and best practices, or internally, like Kaiser’s leaders. What’s critical is that we refuse to get caught in a narrow frame, considering only one or two options, and instead widen our perspective so we can see the full spectrum of options that are available to us.

Chip Heath and Dan Heath are the authors of the new book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, as well as the previous bestsellers Switch and Made to Stick


The Basics

In the book Decisive, the authors pointed out something that I found compelling but they glossed over.   The time it took from when the article from  New England Journal of Medicine was published until  Dr. Whippy could get the model into best practice was somewhere between 8-10 years.    Authors: Stephen Boone, MD; Christian Coletti, MD; John Powell, MD state in their quick reference guide on sepsis that:

Severe sepsis affects approximately one million patients and claims more than 250,000 lives each year in the U.S. It is the second leading cause of death in non-cardiac ICU patients. Early and aggressive therapy influences outcomes. Utilizing the Surviving Sepsis Campaign Guidelines improves morbidity and can decrease mortality by 25%.

If I am doing my math correctly, in the US alone healthcare professionals had an opportunity to attack 2.5 million cases of sepsis over the past 10 years and the indication is that most haven’t.   Regardless, this is a best practice that should be addressed.

This is about the right information at the right time.   I have written in the past about how in one hospital the leadership turned to a race team to learn how to perform an effective and efficient shift turn over.   I can’t think of any organization that needs to leverage knowledge management more than healthcare.  This is more than just money, this is about saving lives and wellness.onlinelogomaker-102613-2009

When I walk into the doctor’s office today, he is carrying his iPhone or iPad with him, he is managing his personal knowledge but how is his personal knowledge moving from his device to his team or his colleagues?

How many people do you know that have died or have had complications due to sepsis or septic shock?

This is one area of discussion, how many other opportunities are we missing out on?


Do you know any healthcare professionals?  If so, forward the sepsis guidelines and best practice guides to them please, you never know you may save a life!

Learning to Make Pizza Starts with a Mop ~ Real Knowledge Transfer

I started working at 11 years old delivering the “Co-op City Times.”   The job really was awful and paid $35.00 in total.   I would wake up in the morning very early and go down the lobby of my building to either wait for or pick up the Saturday morning paper.  My job was to drop off the paper to every apartment in these three buildings.

800px-APARTMENTS_OF_-CO-OP_CITY,-_A_VAST_HOUSING_DEVELOPMENT_IN_THE_BRONX,_NOT_FAR_FROM_PELHAM._THESE_BUILDINGS_STAND_ON..._-_NARA_-_549766It would take me a few hours because I would have to go up and down the elevator to grab more papers from the lobby.   We had four elevators, two were called locals and two were express, I would essentially irritate residents in the building by holding the elevator and stopping on every floor.   There are twelve apartments on every floor in the X pattern,  so I would hold the elevator and run to drop three papers on all four sides, then back to the elevator and the next floor something like 34 x 3.


I really hated that job, but I sure liked the 35 bucks when I picked it up.   There were times that I would leave the papers in the lobby and not deliver them properly or skip floors by setting papers right near the elevator when I stopped on a floor.   What I learned through that experience wasn’t the disappointment from my mother (although she was upset with me) but that I had failed to do what I was supposed to do for a couple of thousand people (literally).  I didn’t realize that for the seniors, I just made it hard for them or for people that didn’t want to go out in the morning, that if they wanted the paper, they would have to go out to get it.   I don’t remember how this job ended but I think I had enough of lugging the papers around over 100 stories.   I didn’t have the patience or the understanding to just stick with this job and had ideas of some other work that was better!

I did some other paper job for a guy that owned a New York Times paper route, that was a story for another day.    Somehow, someway.. (oh my memory hurts)  I wound up in Joe’s Pizza Shop.

Making Pizza

My first day on the job and mostly what I remember was Joe handing me a rag.   “When am I going to learn how to make Pizza?”   Joe looked at me and said “You need to clean up the store and you need to mop the floor”    I wanted to make pizza, isn’t that why I took this job?

It seems to me that most jobs had a job role that I saw and wanted to be in right away.    I didn’t want to wait, I wanted to make pizza.   Joe was having none of that, he handed me a mop.   I would mop the floor and clean the tables looking over the counter at the guys throwing pizza in the air.   I wanted to throw pizza in the air.   They made it look easy and it was awesome.   These guys would always do tricks and the pizza was always perfect.


Every night I would come home from school and head to the pizza shop to work.   Every night I would clean and mop.   I was getting frustrated that Joe wasn’t teaching me to make pizza.   I was losing my patience and my stellar performance on the cleaning job was lacking.

Then and NOW.. 

As much as I wanted to make pizza on the job, I had to earn it.   Believe me, I hated that.   I didn’t like to have to earn anything, I just wanted to do things.   I don’t think that I was any different than this generation in that I wanted to do what I thought I could, right away.    I didn’t want to clean the tables or mop the floor.   I wanted to make the pizza.   Joe wasn’t giving in.    From his perspective, if I couldn’t do a simple thing like mop the floor properly, how could he trust me with the job that made his business what it was.   From my perspective, I didn’t take this stupid job to clean tables, I took it to make pizza and be cool.   A pizza shop in the Bronx is sort of a big deal.

I didn’t learn to make pizza in Joe’s shop.   He never taught me and eventually I didn’t work for him anymore.   I don’t really remember if he sent me home or if I left on my own but regardless, I wasn’t there anymore.  My mother was of course disappointed but when it was time for pizza, I would still go to Joe’s and I had to carry my sorry self in there to face the music every time I wanted delicious pizza.  In other words, she held ME accountable not Joe.

That is the difference between then and now.


If  Joe didn’t teach me how to make pizza today, I might have my mother run down there and talk to him.  Why isn’t Howie making pizza?  Why is he mopping the floors?   Who do you think you are having MY son cleaning your shop, don’t you think you should hire someone specifically to do this?    I would submit that the desires are exactly the same but our reaction as parents, leaders and business owners or corporate stakeholders is different.

Considerations for Leaders Today:

The younger generation doesn’t like the way business operates and instead of waiting for the system to change by nature, they try to change it by being aggressive.  The problem is that companies give in.    There is value in mopping the floor and it is far more important to learn to do things we don’t want to do over things that we think we want to do.

It is also reasonable to recognize that business itself is moving at a different pace than it did just a few years ago.  That being said,  market changes don’t always drive a  need to change overnight and alter successful behaviors in business.   If Joe had given me the leeway it would have been reasonable to consider that I may had tried to change his process in some way.  In other words,  change his business.   Whether your 8, 18 or 80 sometimes taking an inch could look more like a mile.

What would happen if organizations big and small stopped trying so hard to adjust and accommodate?    There is nothing scientific for what I am about to write,  it seems that companies are quick to put the squeeze on the older generations and are more concerned with the needs of the younger work force.   While that seems to make logical sense on one hand, the lesson from Joe says something very different.

**break break** story update:

I worked in another pizza place, it was in college.   I finally got to make pizza (thumb at Joe).   Actually, Joe had the laugh and didn’t know it.   He never taught me how to make pizza the way he made it.  His pizza was absolutely delicious, each slice was large and the cheese and sauce were always consistent.   You would fold a slice of this pizza and the red oil would literally drip streams over the plate.   You didn’t have to add garlic or oregano to his pizza, it stood on its own.    I worked nights in the SUNY Purchase North cafeteria making pizza every night.   I would try night after night to make pizza that tasted like Joe’s.    The pizza was pretty good, but it was never the same.  I simply couldn’t duplicate what I didn’t know.  It seems simple enough, cheese, sauce, seasonings, dough,  heat the oven and throw it in.

A lot of companies today are scratching their heads asking how to get the work force to transfer knowledge.   I personally won’t look to share information with people that aren’t willing to listen or haven’t earned their right to that information.   I enjoy sharing information but I want to know that when I share, it will result in something positive.  

Final Thought:

The best place from my perspective to look for clear understanding on the value of mopping (so to speak) is the military.  Although the military has   changed DRAMATICALLY over the years it still holds some of the characteristics that I am talking about here.

In a reddit forum a fresh officer asks for advice from a Non Commissioned Officer (enlisted for those who don’t speak military)

Here was one response :

We’ve got a new LT around who loves to help out with manual labor (raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc). She thinks she’s just “being part of the team” and helping out. Which is commendable, but the moment you (the officer) do that, you commit every enlisted person there to continuing that task until you stop. Because if a CSM or 1SG or even a PLT SGT comes around the corner and sees LT shoveling snow while joes are taking a smoke break or whatever, then shit will hit the fan. Obviously that’s a subjective thing, but realize what YOU do determines what your soldiers can or can’t do (consciously or subconsciously). Along that same route. If you are a PLT Leader or CO someday, and you know that the only reason your soldiers are still at work is that they’re waiting for you to show up somewhere (say the MOPO), and you KNOW you’re not going to make it there when you said you would and it’ll be in indeterminate time before you’ll make it, just cut them loose if it’s your call. I promise that nothing the LT says can’t also be said by their NCO. Just call up the NCO, tell them whatever you wanted to tell them, and cut them loose (again, if possible. It might not be your call or it might be something you NEED to do yourself).

If you read the NCO creed, the third paragraph starts with “Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine.” What you should take from this is this: trust in your NCOs to accomplish your mission. If you need to lay out power cables for an inventory, tell your NCO that THAT is the mission, then leave it to him/her to get done. You don’t need to micromanage. You give us the what, we’ll figure out the how.

Understand that many NCOs just won’t take you seriously. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is. You’ll be treated with the respect that the rank on your chest has given you, but they won’t respect you as a leader unless they see you’re willing to learn how the army works, and put in your time learning the ropes before getting grandiose. Understand also that many of your NCOs will be older than you, and that just going to college doesn’t necessarily make you smarter than any of them. Hell, I’m of the opinion that most colleges these days are just money generating babysitting corporations. I’m sure I’m not alone in that respect.

According to your flair you’re in ROTC. Do not attempt to join in “war stories” about how tough ROTC is/was. It will backfire.

The only way that tacit knowledge transfer can occur with the people and technology of today is through trust.  No trust, no transfer.  Trust isn’t something that we get by being born and having wants, it is earned.    If I saw Joe today, I would thank him for his hard line.  It was good for me and it took a lot more lessons from others that had the same constitution for me to figure out that I had to learn to earn.

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?

“Quincy Magoo” You’ve Done It Again…

Do you remember Mr. Magoo?

Magoo says ” I should have known your type…” as he yells at himself in the mirror.  He is angry for all of the things that were done to him and he was the cause.

“Don’t waste your time and money..”

Magoo wanted to get dance lessons as he misread a letter in the mail.  He was thinking that he was invited to a dance when he read an advertisement  for something totally unrelated.  He was yelling about the mess he got himself into and was advising others that weren’t there not to waste their time or money on the dance lessons.  After all, the place he was in was run” like a gym.”  In other episodes, there were times that Magoo would run aimlessly into something that was not harmful.  Most of the time he would get himself into a situation where he affected others.  That is the point of the blog today.

Simply complex but simple.

I picked up a habit of carrying a whiteboard marker with me.  By chance you may have a whiteboard that I should write on and muddy.  The circles and lines that connect them are all simple thoughts.   I draw the line from here to there and tag it to show what the line means.   As the lines and circles start to grow and I am standing in front of the board, I am telling a story.    If you aren’t there from the beginning and you walk in towards the end, the board looks to be full of lines and circles and words written between.   It is impressive and complicated looking.   The truth is that it isn’t complicated.  It is just the whole story without all of the words all smashed together in a frame.   It is not meant to be understood without me.  Unless there was a video taken, you would be lost and you may wonder.

If you were to walk into the room and look at the writing on the wall, you would automatically take what I have written and frame it.  You would apply meaning in areas where there wasn’t any or you would rationalize the connections and relationships based on your perception.

In a sense, we all have some Magoo like tendencies.

The Magoo Problem

We frame the world actively at every moment and sew together a picture based on what we believe we see.  David Eagleman in his book “Incognito” pointed out that our brains are locked into a fully enclosed and dark space.   That is the physical case, but we see or perceive light.   It is manufactured by our input, our sensors.

That is our world.  We think that things are something when they may or may not be.    We have the unique understanding of the world from our perspective.  The problem is that our perspective if skewed too far can cross boundaries and have unintended consequences.   That is why it is important to understand “intent.”   Who could be mad at old Magoo?  He was just trying to learn how to dance?   In this story, he wound up destroying the gym.

The thinking person rationalizes everything to make sense of it.  We are forced to simplify the complex.   The complex as we see it, may become the world of Magoo.

Magoo Conflict

We are wired for the world.  We are wired to frame and create context and we are also wired to inter-relate to others.  Daniel Goleman writes about it in his Social Intelligence book and other places.

Excerpt  (

The first example Goleman gives of social intelligence is that of a group of American soldiers in Iraq paying a visit to a cleric to enlist his aid in distributing relief supplies. The local populace feared the well-armed soldiers. They were afraid they were going to arrest their cleric or profane their mosque. A mob quickly surrounded the soldiers. One can imagine what would have happened should a soldier, threatened by a gesture, shot off a gun. 

No one got shot and no one got hurt. In fact, the mob encounter ended amicably due, Goleman says, to the social intelligence of Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Hughes, who gauged the myriad social factors involved in record time and implemented a series of steps designed to defuse the situation: he ordered his men to kneel on one knee, point their weapons at the ground, and—most importantly—smile. Since a smile is a universal expression of friendliness, the confused Iraqi people began to smile back. The reverential posture and the signal that the weapons were not to be used also reassured them. Some of the now peaceably departing Iraqis even dared to pat the soldiers on the back. What could have been an ugly incident of resounding personal and international repercussions turned into a positive one because of the leader’s instinctive social intelligence.

It is a confusing world we live in.   We seem to stumble like the baby in the construction lot.  Somehow we make our way from girder to girder or we don’t.   When we don’t make it or we are victims of some event we are conflicted.  It seems to be the cause of so many problems that we have.   We can’t smile our way out of some of these things but we are naturally inclined to be connected and that is a good thing.   Oh, where was I going?  

Magoo Advice

I just watched him again this morning.  I initially had plans on writing about something else.  Maybe I just stumbled into Magoo?   He first appears in Ragtime Bear 1949.  He couldn’t see a thing and was pretty angry.  His perception of the world was always very far from what we see around him.   He only wanted “Peace and quiet, a man needs his rest.”   In 1956  Puddle jumper he bought a full-out electric car.   It is funny how he believed that the electric car was the better machine to drive.   How easy it is to think that Magoo has it wrong.   Magoo isn’t just nearsighted, he is perceptually mis-aligned.   His view of the world creates confusion, anger, cross talk, lack of clarity, and seemingly made him a bit crazy to us.   Although that is what comes across,  Magoo is forward thinking and has some old wisdom, he believes that his perspective of the world is the world and that others around him see it as he does and if they don’t, he instructs them accordingly.

What he is missing is the alignment to others.

The short of it

How Magoo relates to you.   We all see the world through our own eyes and though it may be obvious to us, the things we see and believe may be wrong.  If we consider that we are in some ways like Magoo; blind to things that we believe we see.   This may be a step in opening ourselves to other possibilities.  If we can manage and have the patience, it is possible for us to learn and teach.  In other words, Magoo didn’t always have it wrong.  After all, he loved the electric car in 1956 and we are just a few short years behind him.   He didn’t always have it right either and his mis-perceptions of the world caused devastation in a lot of episodes.  It takes a balance of ideas, knowledge, and patience and the ability to recognize that we individually may be wrong and further that we can only learn that we are wrong though discussion , open dialog and empathy.  If we open ourselves to this, we may wind up being wrong together or right together, regardless maybe it would lead to more happiness.

These are some of my thoughts this Sunday morning.   Cheers

How Microtransactions are Making you Bankrupt

It isn’t just In-APP

Microtransactions are commonly mentioned in or referenced in mobile computing.  For this blog I am saying that this is the transaction model for more than just mobile devices; this is now our way of life.   We need to collectively stop this from being the business model of our future.


A “Microtransaction” is

Microtransaction (also referred to as in-app billing or in-app purchasing) is a business model where users can purchase virtual goods via micropayments. Microtransactions are often used in free-to-play games to provide a revenue source for the developers, although they can also occur in non-game software. While microtransactions are a staple of the mobile app market, they are also available on traditional computer platforms such as Valve Corporation‘s Steam platform.

Free-to-play games that include a microtransaction model are sometimes referred to as “freemium“,[1] although applications offering microtransactions should not be confused with free applications that offer additional features via subscription services. “Pay-to-win” is sometimes used as a derogatory term to refer to games where paying for in-game items can give the player an advantage over other players, particularly if the items cannot be obtained by free means. The objective with a free-to-play microtransaction model is to get more players into the game and provide desirable items or features that players can purchase if they are interested in them – it is hoped that in the long-term the profits from a microtransaction system will outweigh the profits from a one-time-purchase game. –Source Wikipedia

… dolla

Microtransactions — In-Everything

  • Our payroll taxes went up 2%-That isn’t bad, right?
  • Cable goes up by 6%
  • Power company (here in Virginia) “the typical residential customer’s bill will increase by $1.85 per month”–Power Company.  Some articles show increases of 18 spread over the course of a few years.
  • Water
  • Sewage
  • Food
  • Bank fees
  • Phone fees.. phone taxes

The cost of everything is going up just a little.   Our taxes are going up and our salaries are staying the same or actually going down because of health care going up and other factors.

We all know about but this is beyond that.  This is about everyone.

You start adding up all of the services that you have that only cost $7.00 here or $5.00 there.

We are getting taken to the cleaners.

Cloud Computing  

From a business perspective, we are facing the same issues but the business media would have you believe that cloud computing, web services and other fee based services will save your organization money.

I say.. do the math.. we are getting lifted.   If you take the time to perform total cost of ownership and return on investment analysis that accounts for microtransactions, you may find that doing in the business in the cloud can cost you more.  This is especially true if you factor in a risk assessment.

Sure AM pointing out the obvious

At home, my wife and I look at all of our expenses on a regular basis.  It is almost a full-time job to account for all of the microtransactions.   If you don’t do it, you will simply wonder where all your money is going.

“How could we have spent so much money this month, we didn’t do anything different?”

This is different from budgeting for your monthly expenses because you now have to account for your son or daughter buying $1.99 worth of coins on Temple run.  The amount of money that is outgoing from small almost unnoticed transactions is insane.

Summary of considerations

  • Check your bills every month.
  • Look at the history of what you spent every month.
  • Call your service companies every few months and ask them about decreasing the service fees or current specials.
  • Set a budget for your normal expenses and put that money in a separate account . Note- You will learn quickly when you are spending too much or things went up because you will be out of money in that account. 
  • Learn to coupon.
  • Think about the small things. (Don’t look at $1.00 as “only a buck” , look at it as a part of your whole budget.
  • If you are in a relationship where you are working together on your income, talk to your partner about money.

I hope this helps.. people ask my wife all the time how she manages to save us so much.  I jokingly call her the “Executive Money Spender” but the fact is she is “The Executive Family Saver” and because she is diligent and persistent in watching our in and outbound flow of money, we can do the things we love to do as a family and have some left over for savings.








Co-op City ~ What did you experience?

Last week I wrote about how Co-op City influenced and shaped who I am today.  The sheer amount of people who were interested in this discussion was mind boggling.   I was essentially inspired to add-on to the blog in order to bring to light some other realities of living in Co-op out of fairness for those of us who experienced difficulties of growing up in Co-op.

We were all sitting behind one of the “Triple Cores” I think it was Richie and Blanqui’s building on a laundry vent that we huddled together on in the cold of winter and of course the conversation was about when the hell we would get out of Co-op.

Co-op was an island that was wrapped by the city.  It was different from living in Manhattan or even living in the Bronx.  We could easily find ourselves in the Bronx but Co-op certainly was something different.  We had everything you would need all in shopping centers that we could easily walk to from any building.

With all that we had access to and all of the people we knew some of us wanted to escape.  I know I felt there was a world outside that I didn’t know or experience.  In my last post, I was thinking about the positive and peaceful aspects of Co-op relative to the world I experienced when I left.   That wasn’t to say that Co-op didn’t have its fair share of problems including hate.   My point was that there was more harmony and acceptance of a person for who that person was as an individual as opposed to because they were black, white or other.   This brings me to two short stories that I feel I should share on behalf of those who mentioned to me that I didn’t necessarily paint a clear picture.

While there were many time that we fought as kids and dealt with some issues related to being different, there is one story that I want to share that some of my close friends observed while I was at Truman high school and ultimately led me to leave Truman for a school in the South Bronx.  truman high

I don’t really remember what happened during the day, I think it was a normal school day and I was just doing my thing being the cool and most popular kid on the planet that I was (just kidding).   I walked out the back door of the school towards this long line of steps.  I saw some of my friends and waved to hook up with them.   The doors coming out of the school were big metal doors with a big long metal bar on the inside, a lot of kids would kick the bar to open the door, I guess it was the cool thing to do.    The door would fling open and make a loud noise.    That is what happened on this day.  I naturally turned around to look and within a few seconds I was surrounded by a bunch of guys. ( Note, the friends I was referring to that I was waving to and walking towards were all girls.)

They started pushing me around and tripping me.  I didn’t want any trouble and I just wanted to leave so I started to try to negotiate my departure.   Then it happened, I knew I wasn’t going to get out of this when I heard “You know.. your people made us slaves.”   I looked to my right and I saw a young man named Sean that I was an acquaintance with sort of friendly over the years, never any problems and he looked me back in the eyes dead on and said “I am sorry Howie.”  The girls ran up the steps and tried to intervene but it was too late,  I was trying to fight off 5 guys by myself and unfortunately for me I left my Chuck Norris instruction book at home.   I was getting kicked in the back while two of the guys were holding me up and I yelled ” I had nothing to do with slaves, I’m Jewish!!!”

“Oh that’s worse.. ”

I couldn’t shake them off and I think at some point Marilyn, Blanqui, and Helen (forgive me if I forgot someone) pulled me out of the fist storm I was in.   I wound up in the hospital that night with a fractured tail bone from them kicking the crap out of me.   I think the worst part for me wasn’t the beating, it was that Sean didn’t have it in him to stop them or help me.  I couldn’t win that fight but I wasn’t going to lose without trying.

Yeah, it sucked but I still don’t think it was a racial thing, I always felt it was just something else.   There are plenty of stories like this that we can share and talking about it is good but I would rather focus on the fact that the girls who were my best friends were also black, hispanic, white and other.


One of the other memories that I want to share with you is of a kid named KC in Section 5.

We had to sit in the car for hours to wait for a parking spot, sometimes we would fall asleep in the car double parked.  This night my mother and I were in the car.  We drove around for a while, you would drive in circles hoping that someone would leave.  We came down this street.

section5No place to park

On the right side, you can’t see it from here, there was or maybe still is a security booth.   I don’t remember what year they put it there but it was sometime around 1989.    So, mom and I were in the car and we saw a car speed past and turn right almost make a full 360 degree turn.  The gun shots went fast.. it was automatic and we didn’t even see it.   I can’t remember what time of night it was but it was early enough for a lot of people to be outside.

A crowd gathered around this young man home from college.  I think two people were shot and unfortunately I only remember the initials KC and the name Kevin.   I didn’t know him but we met his mother, she was holding her son dying in her arms.    The police came before the ambulance and the crowd yelled and screamed and pointed to the police 45th precinct if I remember right. “They went that way!!!!” pointing to the left up the street.   “Get them!!!”   The mother was holding her son in her arms with people screaming and I don’t remember what else was happening because I only remember his mothers face and the police driving the opposite way that the people told them to go.

Unless someone can correct me, I heard that he died.   I don’t know what happened to him though from an authority of any kind.   I just remember what I saw.   He was black and the people who shot him were black.   I don’t think that mattered much to me or mom we cried just like everyone else.

As others I am sure could tell you Co-op had a fair share of problems especially when the young man from Howard Beach 1986 was attacked and ran from some white men out into a street and was killed.   It was an unfortunate series of events including street fights and unprompted attacks of which I can’t easily quantify.

I have a lot of memories from my youth in Co-op but in my mind’s eye and from my perspective there was more love, peace and understanding from Co-op City and no known boundaries on friendship unless people created those boundaries themselves.    Sure, I experienced hate and there were questions about culture but it was more subtle and more often than not children knew about cultural differences and consideration early on.

Later when I went to school in the South Bronx I first experienced a lot of hate or disinterest but within a short period of time, I was accepted for being Howie.

What did you experience?