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Where’s the TV Camera Operator?


Courtesy of Shutterstock – by Montri Nipitvittaya

Walls, fences,  barriers, moats, ramparts, fortifications, and silos are built to separate those on one side from those on the other side. Largely, except for ancient ones that we like to ogle like the Great Wall of China, or Hadrian’s Wall, or the Wailing Wall, or castles and forts from long ago are simply and notoriously hideous, and that’s before graffiti expletives are painted on.


We build them in our lives physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Many of them need to be eliminated.  I’m not sure if this revolutionary. I am not sure it will be televised. It likely doesn’t need to be. It is simply a way of life I believe is uplifting.

When we moved into our current home we had two fences. One that was half leaning into the woods behind our house. The other separated the backyard of our neighbor from our backyard. I couldn’t see the woods, the woods deer and turkeys were hidden, and I couldn’t play catch with my neighbor. Fences become infrastructure that needs to be maintained. Repairs are inevitable. Natural backyards provide wonderful vistas and friendship.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

You know you have them. We all do. Barriers to reaching others. Ramparts that hide our hearts. Ways of stopping the potential for injury, theft, hurt, and of helping others, too. I am sure you know what I am talking about. You wanted a date, and didn’t get one, so a stake was placed to set a line to stop further susceptibility. You lost someone through space and time, or death. Avoiding further relationships ends more pain. Or maybe, just maybe, you prayed without understanding what or how to, receiving no result. Stop Seeking and never be deceived again. It doesn’t work.

Have you ever noticed that well traveled cities are much more prosperous and energized than remote villages? This is true globally. We know the names of trade route cities because things happen there. We use terms like bohemian, urbane, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and worldly when describing people or cities of special positive characteristics.

What these all have in common is openness. Open to strangers. Open to outsiders. Open to new ideas. Open to exploring. While a zombie apocalypse may need to be fought, no siege engines will strangle this openness. The power to shape and grow exists in here.

Whether you find yourself inside an emotional or spiritual wall. [Insert Your Name] tear down this wall.


HL’s Glorious Day

lincolnThere are plenty of prognostications at this point. I made mine three years ago before we even knew who was running. Every one of us has an opinion. Every one I talk to regardless of voting choice, has a fear. But frankly, it is not the worst it has ever been. In recent years our Secretary of the Treasury hasn’t been shot dead in a duel with the sitting Veep. (See Hamilton-Burr) In reality, while it is messy, messy, messy, it is nowhere close to the worst it has ever been. For all the bravado and bluster, it is highly unlikely that any states will succeed in an effort to repeat the effort that failed seven score and twelve years ago  (152 years).

I’ve not been secret about my positions regarding the upcoming presidential election. Social media is where we openly have what used to be dinner discussions.  I have no idea if any of my postings have ever made anyone think. I really don’t. I’ve had plenty of debates and posited arguments to everyone but the Greens, socialists, and communists. Yes, I’ve debated with progressives, pluralists, moderates, libertarians. I know people of every stripe, and I happen to like people of every stripe. I just happen to disagree with people on constitutional issues, economic issues, and the relevance of a religious framework as the country’s founding or for its current running. Has anyone changed their mind or considered my arguments in their process of changing their mind? Does it matter? Not now.

Debate Later, Unify Now

E Pluribus Unum. From many one. Largely secularists in public administration, this was founders’ USA motto. Now is the time to take all these differences and as a people come together and love one another. The rule of the secular law that is this country’s Constitution needs to stand while we see a peaceful 45th transition from one Constitutional President to the next. We can disagree by simply disagreeing. Atheists, agnostics, deists, or anyone easily offended – fair warning – stop here, or be of an open mind.

Pray, Intercede, & Offer Thanksgiving

In the Christian Leadership Epistle 1 Timothy chapter 2

1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

I’m a Christian. I seek to live my life the way Christ said, and to live in the freedom of Christ-like discipleship that the book of Acts and the rest of the New Testament reveal. I’ve read, but not studied many religions, I can’t tell you what they all say, though I suspect broad support for “all those that are in authority”. Besides, which of us don’t want quiet and peaceable lives?

If you’ve read this far, that is my encouragement.

For Christians this is the Will of God as revealed through Paul to us. Those that are in authority need us – locally, statewide, and federally. For those not Christian, choose your own meaning as appropriate. Regardless support them too, even if my favorite atheist, H.L. is right and we have a glorious day this time.

Strengthen Cooperative Benefits


United States Treasury Public Domain From Wikipedia

Seven billion people. We will develop close ties with maybe a few hundred. We will associate with maybe a few thousand. That’s over a 60 – 120 year span. Rounding error on rounding error. These people we encounter, and these people we trust, these people we love shape who we are. We shape who they are. Can we change who we are by changing how we connect?

It’s inevitable. If you mix some seeds, say, corn, beans, and squash something amazing happens. They grow together better than they grow apart! You’ve heard of this. You may know it is good for a certain type of farming. Let me tell you, it is great for all types of living.

Sir Branson suggests that we travel to change our scenery to aid us in changing our thoughts. Quite right Emanuel Kant would agree. But it isn’t the scenery. It’s the people.

When attending the PITT Worldwide EMBA program, we had a series of classes that occurred in Prague, and in São Paulo. Four of us arrived early in Brasil. We were warned emphatically that we needed to stay on the hotel compound. We were cautioned even more emphatically don’t go to the favelas (sp) or villages. We went. We were welcomed warmly. Sure we stood out, and we didn’t speak the language, and maybe we were marks. So what. We went.

It is interaction with “other” that helps us grow stronger.

One of the things that is important, aside from us dispelling that everything was danger there, is that all the travelers changed. We all learned and expanded our understanding of people around us. This was true regardless of the country we originated from. Treatment of time is different. Treatment of each other is different. Interactions changed, and we all grew. We need to understand we are all on this planet together, and there is not one thing we can take with us, but we can leave a difference by loving those outside our 200 likely cohort.

Interact with the corn and squash if you are a bean. Live outside of being just with the few you know who are like you. Find the “other” and learn from them. Do it in your business,  on your street or complex, anywhere else you spend time. Better yet, travel elsewhere. Elsewhere can be a “dangerous” neighborhood, a mosque, temple, or church, or even another country. Meet people build relationships and learn that there is more out there than meets the eye.

We have to do this for peace, for love, for each other. Aren’t those all things you want in your life?

Excited Passion is a Necessity?

Getting employees (or volunteers) to perform together and independently at their greatest potential and without fear is something that causes me to jump up and down. Literally.

Connecting unrelated ideas and turning them into something unique that can reshape how people do their work – creating efficiency.

These performance, or efficiency enhancements do not have to be business related, but they often are. In a personal, or volunteer context for me it’s about what drives people to a greater effort than they would otherwise do alone.

Let me explain by way of a story from when I was working as a sales and business development rep for one of the original optical tint companies. I became friends with everyone I could in the company. We had our own printing press, and steel cut machine. I learned how to use it all, which was way outside of my job, but people were willing to humor me. What a trip it is to have to have every body part touching a secure place on a machine in order to prevent decapitation. I like my head being on my shoulders, so this was a good thing.

The scientists and engineers were eager to share everything they could with one of the people who actually sold the products. It made me a better salesman. It made them better inventors. How you say? I told them what our customers told me, whether on the phone, in person, or in the trade shows I went to every month. I turned this inside job into a business development job, because every time I went to a show, I would go to a customer during open periods. Why not? I was paid to sell, wouldn’t you do this too? It gave me great insights into how and why people used or stopped using our products. I brought opticians back.

The internal relationships became the real deal – an upset customer had a $10,000 machine worth another $5,000-15,000 annually in recurring consumables, that sat dormant for a year, due to a $2.50 part. This was 1984. That was significant money, and rightfully, the optometrist didn’t want to re-crate and pay shipping for a warranty repair. We weren’t sending an engineer out to repair it due to time and probably a $1,500 airfare. Remember these were the days before discount airlines. He stopped buying everything from us. I converted him, well WE converted him when the scientist and engineer that designed the machine identified the repair need, and were willing to take the risk that he would “void” his warranty by doing the repair. We overnighted the part, and the engineer walked the doc through the fix. A week later I received a $1,000 order for consumables and $250 more for other things he needed from us that he otherwise would have bought elsewhere. This innovation cost us a part and shipping.

Only when people from different backgrounds, different skills, and different goals realize that helping constituent parties (i.e. customers) is the only raison d’etre, can this occur.

From Ethereal to Real


In the early twentieth century, Fritz Haber, pulled ammonia and nitrogen from the air, and fed the entire world.

Recently, scientists working on carbon reduction pulled ethanol from air, creating fuel and reduced carbon. No drilling. Perpetual regeneration. Sustainable, predicted to be economical, and no one is talking about it.

In the last couple of years, a plane flew slowly, ever so slowly, using solar power, around the world. Setting a record. This thing will get faster. Once the technology supports 70MPH, or 100KPH won’t cars be fueled this way?

Elon Musk is promising standard roof shingles, or something similar, that will provide solar power, solving a number of problems at once.

Clean water is a critical requirement for all of us. Kopo and Rorus are at least two start ups addressing this for parts of the world where getting clean water can be a challenge, due to lack of sufficient infrastructure.

Aquion has developed a safe battery for storing solar power. It doesn’t explode, it stabilizes power. It is a simple saline solution.

What if the power goes out?

Wouldn’t you like cleaner air, cleaner water, and healthier options? These innovations point to ways of addressing problems in ways that work regardless of beliefs. Ultimately, these solutions need to be cost effective relative to the status quo in order to eliminate the economic barrier to change. In other words, innovation needs to improve the chances of cost savings not only in the long term, but immediately. Most of us will not change simply because it may be beneficial at some point in the future, we want economic neutrality in our solutions, don’t we?

For me, all of these are solutions to some of the issues facing the developing world, and this may not even be a consideration for the people who invented these technology advances. While visiting Blantyre, a city in Malawi, a country in Africa, I asked why all meals were cooked over charcoal on what I would call a type of light weight stove, they call it a brae, when they have an electric stove. “Why Bern, the electricity goes out all the time randomly. What if the power goes out? It may not go on and the food is wasted.” Wouldn’t you know it, we were heading to a dinner party that night, and the electricity did indeed go out for the next two hours. Solar, batteries, clean water, even in remote villages can address those problems.

We have the ability, in our minds, to mold our future. It is within each of us to develop plans and concepts that can revolutionize our own lives if not the lives around us, and just maybe create a global solution that will propel mankind forward.

(also published on LinkedIn Pulse)

Follow This Up

I can’t complain about my life by any stretch of the imagination (though sometimes I do), I’ve been able to live a life that has allowed me to help many people, raise great kids and be married to a beautiful wife, and have a career that has stretched me to become a divisional vice president of a 2.4B USD company, be a serial entrepreneur (both successful and not), and even get appointed to a government post.

But when I consider one of the things I am currently both the most proud of and most humbled by, at least professionally, is to have served as an elected local official. Keep in mind in this role, I’ve been accosted, yelled at, threatened with harm, and even sued, all for doing my job.

Imagine running for office, or for anything, and being part of the outs. The GOP hadn’t really supported any candidate in recently when I ran in 2009. In fact, the elected GOP members simply were Rs whose ties to the Ds were deep enough that the Democratic Party supported them! Now how’s that for a fine how do you do? Strange things happen in local politics.

I come along, I’m not originally from the area, though I had lived in the area for several years, and we had made it a home. We had been active in the life of the community through the swimming pools, the schools, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, and the church we attend. I even spent four or five years (I think I filled an unexpired vacant term) on the municipality’s planning commission.

Once while I was a commissioner, almost as a set up, a question was raised, “has anyone had a meal, or drinks with the developer?” I raised my hand, to the dismay of the developer, another person who didn’t step up, and even the person who asked. But I think it set me apart in the minds of anyone present, watching live on TV, or the recording of the broadcast. It defined my character.

Like most people, I fail at this more than I should, but I keep as a general rule not to worry too much about what others think or to tell lies to cover my actions. I learned early on in life, lies linger a long time. They are hard to remember, and bad things happen whenever they are involved, beyond basic compliments.

Nonetheless, I ran for office. I did get supportnanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participant from the collapsed GOP, who
insisted that I get signs; I walked to almost every door in my district, and won! The party has become energized including more involvement from the committee. It may not happen, but I still want to run for a state or federal role.

For now, what’s the follow up to that crazy idea, run for office? Instead of spending my November politicking, I’m writing a novel through

If It Were Only So Easy

When was the first time you realized that giving of yourself meant more to you than others? Reflect on this; it is the heart of the matter when it comes to getting anything accomplished.

The thing is we need to give in order to release our hold on one thing and accept another. have you ever tried to hold a basket ball in one hand? That’s my point, it takes two, to do so effectively, and it leaves room for nothing else. Releasing the ball enables the freeing of hands which can than be given something or somethings to fill the them.

Every year our church has an Italian buffet. I make twenty 16″ and 18″ pies, and another thirty or more personal 4″ pies. I have a blast. I receive compliments on this for weeks, every year. But it isn’t the compliments, it’s the serving that gets to the heart of it for me.

I contribute in the community, and have found that my ability to set a strategic direction and execute on planning leads people to elect me as chair, or put me on executive committees. One of the funnest and most exhilarating, non-business, public service times that I had was co-chairing an outdoor dining committee and crafting the law that we adopted.

The exchange of ideas to me is important. Solving a problem that affects people in multiple ways to me is important. I love mentoring, teaching, championing a direction, shaping events, speaking to audiences, and looking for new ways to improve myself and others. and otherwise hurtling through the air at 32ft/sec2 and wondering if the parachute will open, by being entirely involved in life’s events, is the ultimate thrill.

Here’s the thing. Sometimes, just sometimes, we find that our lives aren’t that dive, or that the landing site was 100 miles to the East of where we jumped. It’s okay. Get up and do it again, as Van Morrison would say. Keep giving. Keep striving for more, and life will always reward the curious, the dreamers, the adventurers who chose to move forward, or to take an obvious shortcut, that turns out to cross a field of diamonds that previously was unknown.

Look I’ve been sued, I’ve been yelled at, I’ve been threatened. Even with death. Some of it isn’t fun. Some of it makes Nietzsche smile it becomes so tough. But typically, we don’t die. Ultimately, we all, at least for now, are gurneyed into cold storage. In the meantime, facing life with every possible aspect of ourselves makes us stronger.

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