Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mentally Strong Characteristics

Some time ago I came upon a list of 18 Things Mentally Strong People Do with a wonderful graphic. While it was a great list, it did not give any advice on how to achieve these 18 Things. What I would like to do here is expound upon this list with some insight. While having a list is always good, reasons behind the list are usually better in getting a person to act and grow. As Amelia Earhart’s quote goes, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity.” So, let’s all decide to act towards being a stronger, better person!

1. They move on
I would put it more like they do not dwell on things that they cannot control. They fully understand their limits and realize when the return on effort nets zero (or something less than zero). As Helen Keller put it, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Those people who are mentally tough see those new open doors.

In addition to moving on, they just keep moving. “Sometimes life seems a dark tunnel with no light at the end, but if you just keep moving forward, you will end up in a better place.” They know life is going to give you a lot of setbacks, but to get past them; you have to get through them.

2. They keep control
Not so much keeping control of everything around them, but of themselves. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them,” as Maya Angelou succinctly puts it. Self-control is the key to mastery of a mentally strong character. As Rumi states, “The intelligent want self-control; children want candy.” This quote is more salient that it appears as children tend to throw temper-tantrums when they do not get what they want. Mentally strong people are able to stay in control and look for other ways around the problem and ultimately come up with a plan get past it.

3. They embrace change
Most people hate change. Why? Because it brings uncertainty and risk. Mentally strong people know that the only way to grow is to change and they understand that, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,” as George Bernard Shaw so eloquently put it. Mentally strong people understand that, as Winston Churchill put it, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” This desire for self improvement is key to why they embrace change.

4. They stay happy
This is a tough one for most people because they are often mistaken in believing that something will make them happy. Groucho Marx sums it best when he says, “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.” This can also be followed up with Martha Washington’s quote on happiness that is, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” So you kind of make yourself as happy as you want to be.

So why is being or staying happy so important to mentally strong people? Mostly, because they have a belief that attitude is everything and when you are happy things tend to work themselves out, as Gordon B. Hinckley claims, “Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.” As I like to say, “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but its effect will make it worth the effort.”

5. They are kind
And by kind, just not generous with their time and money, but genuinely thoughtful of other people, about how they feel, and always willing to lend a helping hand. Intelligently strong people seem to understand that life is much, much more than just being wrapped up in themselves and as Emerson said, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” Adding to the sentiment, Theodor Isaac Rubin says, “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” So, to be kind at a minimum is also to be wise.

But mentally strong people know it is not just about being kind to other, but being kind to themselves as well. They not only forgive others for their transgressions against them, but also forgive themselves in forgiving others because as Jonathan Huie says, “Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”

6. They are willing to take calculated risks
Oh what is life and living without some risk? Still, what separates mentally strong people from everyone else is the number and frequency of the risks they take. Leo Buscaglia says, “Risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.” Yes, this is true, but being reckless or foolish in risk taking is not the answer. As old blood and guts himself, George S. Patton, once mentioned, “Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.” It is in calculated risks that mentally strong people excel.

7. They invest their energy in the present
We all want to be happy, but most of us do not invest the time, today, in achieving that goal.. ever. “Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present,” as Jim Rohn declares. That means, you need to invest your energy in the present. Seneca says, “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future,” and for almost 2,000 years he has been correct.

Nobel laureate and philosopher, Albert Camus understood the value of putting your energy in the present when he said, “Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.” The future will come what may, and mentally strong people understand it will never come unless it finds you working today.

8. They accept full responsibility for their past behavior
The absolute worst thing you can do is to live the past. As Robin Sharma says, “Stop being a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future.” Why is this so important for mentally strong people? Because they know you can never change the past. You can only learn from it, or drag it around with you like a anchor. It is acceptable to have made mistakes, but it is not ok to keep reliving them

As I like to say, “Do not let your past insecurities ruin your future victories.” I have met people who are so obsessed with past mistakes or hurts that they are literally frozen in their thinking and actions. If you want victory, accept what you did, take responsibility, learn from it and jettison that anchor around your neck.

9. They celebrate other people’s success
This is one of those things that you would not think mentally strong people would do, but as Helen Keller quoted, “The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” When you are envious of others’ success, it only makes you small and miserable.

“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others,” as Martin Luther King, Jr. so aptly put it. The author of How to Win Friends and Influence People states “You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” This is one of the keys to being mentally strong. Another is as Tony Curtis says, “Service to others is the rent we pay for time on this earth.”

10. They are willing to fail
Together with accepting failure in the past, truly mentally strong people are willing to take calculated risks and fail, and as RFK adds “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” They understand that failure in itself is not something to avoid, but a learning experience as James Cameron states in, “If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success.”

Adding to this is that mentally strong people not only are willing to fail, but see it as a conduit to their happiness for as Robert Louis Stevenson says, “Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.” While for most people failure is equated with defeat, Robert Kiyosaki believes that “Failure defeats losers, failure inspires winners.” Essentially, for mentally strong people, having a setback energies them to double down and get on with getting on.

11. They enjoy their time alone
We all need alone time, and for many, being alone is not a pleasant experience. Many have the outward need to always be with someone or doing something. Essentially, they do not like having self reflection during “me-time.” As I say, “You will never be alone if you like the person you are with when you are by yourself.” Mentally strong people know that alone time is growth time; that you can recharge and reflect on strategies, successes, and living with less stress.

In addition, mentally strong people know that sometimes doing it alone is the best way. As Diane Grant wrote, “It's better to walk alone, than with a crowd going in the wrong direction.” They do not waste mental cycles trying to convince a crowd that they are wrong, they just do what they know to be right and are willing to let the chips fall where they may.

12. They are prepared to work and succeed on their own merits
“Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers,” would be the quote mentally strong people would adhere to. Veronica Shoffstall is right. You have to grow your own garden because nobody promised you a bed of roses.

Mentally strong people understand that you have to, “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs,” as Farrah Gray advises. For, “There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way, and not to give others absurd maddening claims upon it.” Mentally strong people understand the wisdom of Christopher Morley and seize on the fact that their success is dependent on themselves, not someone else.

13. They have staying power
Ben Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Mentally strong people understand that this staying power allows us as individuals to pursue and conquer our goals. Oprah Winfrey adds to this by saying, “Sometimes faith is knowing that you will make it through. It's believing in abundance and your own worthiness.” That staying power will in the end gives you that abundance you desire.

There is a quote I use often when talking to fellow entrepreneurs, “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. The desire and ability to press on has and always will solve the problems of the human race and divide those who achieve from those who might have been.” Mentally strong people want to solve those problems.

14. They evaluate their core beliefs
“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters.” Alan K. Simpson’s quote goes right to the heart of what mentally strong people believe and adhere to. Without integrity, we are nothing.

While integrity is the linchpin of mentally strong people’s belief system, they also realize a strength in Cecil Beaton’s quote, “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” This quote goes with mentally strong people ability to take and accept risk.

15. They expend their energy wisely
We have all been exposed to emotional vampires. Those people who just suck the life out of you with their drama and neediness. Mentally strong people understand that time and how they spend it is as Denis Waitley puts it, “How you spend your time is far more important than all the material possessions you may own or positions you may attain.”

Mentally strong individuals expend their time and energies in improving and refining the one thing they have any control over, themselves. “Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others,” saliently states H. Jackson Brown in this quote. Mentally strong people are always too busy with self improvement to really care about trying to change things they have no power to change.

16. They think productively
Johann von Goethe once said, “To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.” Mentally strong people are able to do this and realize as the proverb states, “Every man is the architect of his own fortune.” Thinking productively is not done in a vacuum, but in the furnace of life's experiences.

“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Albert Szent Gyorgyi is actually calling out a mentally strong person’s ability to use productive thinking to see those things that are invisible to others.

17. They tolerate discomfort
No one likes criticism, hardship, or adversity. Then again, no one said life was easy. Mentally strong individuals realize what Ben Jonson states in, “He knows not his own strength that has not met adversity.” It is through hardship, that the mettle of a person is forged.

And, “Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny,” as C.S. Lewis states. This is a core tenet of being mentally strong. These types also understand as Franklin wrote, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, and most fools do.” They avoid the downside of blaming others and get through the discomfort.

18. They reflect on their progress
There is an old saying of what gets measured, gets done. Mentally strong people understand that every day is a chance to get a little bit better. As Denis Waitley says, “The most splendid achievement of all is the constant striving to surpass yourself and to be worthy of your own approval.”

In addition, being mentally strong also involves a bit of humility and the ability to remember where you came from. Bill Gates states, “It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” Being mentally strong means realizing that success is a process, and with time and effort, all things are possible.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Post Turtles

Yes my friends, as we get to the final end of the 2016 Presidential Election, I am reminded of an old story dealing with politicians call "Post Turtles."  It pretty much describes perfectly what is a politician, no matter how good or bad. Enjoy...

An old farmer was getting his hand stitched up after an accident at his cattle farm.

He and the doctor start into conversation, which leads into politics.

The old farmer explained, "Well, as I see it, most politicians are 'Post Turtles'."

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked what a 'post turtle' was. The old farmer explained as best he could, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle on top, that's a 'post turtle.'

The doctor remained puzzled. The farmer continued further.

"You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while up there, he's elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb arse put him there to begin with."

Monday, October 31, 2016

Same Bird

What if I told you the left wing and the right wing are of the same bird?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Shared Economy

In collaboration with Barry Thornton.

In the Shared Economy two or more parties (or companies), each of which has a significant part of what is needed to cause a transaction to occur, come together and pool their resources and in the processes also take part in the sharing the revenues of the transaction. In the “old sense” it is almost like a barter situation, but in the new sense it is more complicated. It is actually the thought of sharing the risk and sharing the rewards. A good example today would be something like a UBER, AirBnB, and Zipcar.

UBER has become successful not by buying fleets of cars and hiring thousands of drivers, but instead sharing a know resource (car owners with free time), to solve an existing problem (getting someone without a car from point A to point B). UBER makes its money by offering a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that allows car owners to charge clients a fare for their rides, much the same as a taxi does. Unlike a taxi service, the deployment of the driver/vehicle and the payment for the reserved ride is handled entirely through UBER rather than with the driver.

In this way, a company I am involved with a startup called ManeGain (which regrows hair naturally) used the same model to propagate its service. The company takes a very expensive device (called a HairGrowerTM), that not only regrows hair in men and women but also strengthens, thickens and volumizes it too. The right customer base for this therapy (service) is found in high-end hair salons. The problem is that the salon cannot afford the machine and the customers want this services. In addition, the hardest place to place anything new is in a high end hair salon.

So the Company had to come up with a better approach that “shared” the risks and rewards of our service equitably. The solution was to do a revenue sharing approach. What that meant is that the Company would place the HairGrower machine in the salon for free, train everyone in the right way to use it, allow in-salon personnel to sell the therapy, control the actual sales transaction with the customer, and ultimately share the revenues with the salon owner and stylists.

Of course the internet makes this “sharing economy” possible. Through the web, we can manage the customer relations, billing, appointments, the HairGrowerTM machine, and the experience. We give the stylists a better ‘canvas’ to conduct their art with, we compliment the salon’s goals, take a load off of the salon staff, and make sure everyone shares the wealth. Essentially, it is a win-win-win-win.

The Company has tested this business model for over a year and it works fabulously. It is a new revenue paradigm for an old brick and mortar industry, and in the course of a year makes much more profit than using the traditional method of selling the units to Doctors. Thanks to some crafty software and an internal computer the machine needs no special operator or technician, the customer just sits down for twenty five minutes and reads a magazine, does email or surfs the web while their hair grows and thickens. Bottom line is that the Shared Economy is hard at work bringing a better life through advanced technology.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Startup Funding and Reg A+

The new-new in fundraising is crowdsourcing, and what makes crowdsourcing so powerful is a concept known as the long tail. Traditionally, the concept of the “long tail” was used to describe the declining part of the product life cycle (see below). It is usually called “end of life” or declining phase. It might have been used to describe the portion of product distribution that represents a period in time when sales for less common products return a profit due to reduced marketing and distribution costs. That would make a “tail” a period of time when sales are made for goods not commonly sold as standard products. The period could be short or long. This term was hijacked by Chris Anderson in 2004 when he coined the term “long tail” to describe a phenomena where products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, but only if the store or distribution channel is large enough. Today, that is what long tail is most often referred to.


The long tail is about the idea that something starts with some volume, may grow, but then fades. In most situations the product and specific market will disappear, on others the demand and fulfillment continue at a highly reduced level but the product doesn't change.

So the long tail comes into play when the cost to distribute 1 unit of a product drops to a point that you can profitably sell one unit for only a fraction more per unit that if you sold 10,000 units. Essentially, the economies of scale no longer come into play. This now applies to film, books, records, etc. Now, you can “ship” one song on the internet and it costs me under $0.01 to do so. Before, I needed someone to “make” my album. This would involve expensive studio time, pressing vinyl, marketing the album, stocking and distributing the “physical” products. The “ENTRY FEE” to do that made it prohibitive for “start ups” (i.e. bands) to make their own albums and as such the ecosystem for any band to generate awareness and become an “overnight success” involved the recording companies and radio.. And speaking of radio, the over the airwaves radio is losing out to on demand and streaming stations (again the long tail). The long tail also allows something called “mass customization” but that is another article.

As an example, incredibly AMAZON does NOT exploit the long tail for retail, but they do exploit the long tail tools of the internet to help with their marketing and distribution. That is why it took them over 10 years to make a profit. Actually ETSY started out using the long tail for its products, and as such, started making profits much quicker that AMAZON.

So, think of the long tail this way: millions of markets selling hundreds of “items” instead of hundreds of markets selling millions of a few items. Take the music industry. It is moving from the short tail: a handful of artists selling millions of records, which are heavily promoted by a handful of record companies that make millions of dollars; to the long tail: tens of thousands of independent artists doing what most successful small business Internet entrepreneurs do now – niche and localize their market. Most artists may not become multi-millionaires, but by marketing locally they will be able to establish a niche following. As search engines and content delivery methods become more and more individually tailored, localized and instantly delivered, services will be offering a massive inventory of unsigned independent artists. Music distribution has the potential to benefit from a long tail effect online. That’s a good thing for artists.

Here is a good example of how most people do NOT know how to exploit the long tail and explains why 97% of Excite’s business was in the long tail and why they did not understand the power of it.

In doing calculus, the area that is yellow is 33 times larger than the area in RED!!! You know the real reason Excite went out of business? They could not figure out how to make money from 97% of their traffic. The just could not understand that the long tail, all those queries that were as asked only once a day, was where ALL the money was hiding.

Overture figured it out, Google perfected it and we all know what happened from there. Those guys figured out something revolutionary -- the long tail of search was an advertising marketplace bonanza. But it was not a traditional advertising marketplace like television, where a handful of large advertisers reached out to a handful of very large markets. It was a special kind of marketplace where small advertisers could reach small markets efficiently. You know, where the cost to reach one person is so low, that economies of scale no longer apply. It was and is a revolution to the traditional economics of advertising (where the cost of producing and distributing advertising requires large markets to justify the expenditure). Online search is a classic “new” long tail business and that is the source of its power and profit.

Now, there is a new-new coming with fundraising that is using the power of the long tail to its advantage, Regulation A+ (Reg A+). Reg A+ allows a company to bypass the traditional investment bank / broker-dealer / VC / Money Manager ecosystem and efficiently and effectively deliver stock to non-accredited investors through the power of crowdsourcing. We have seen the success of crowdsourcing with crowdfunding in Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Now we will see this same principal be applied to deliver registered stock to the new investor class that heretofore has not been able to partake in the startup infrastructure of early stage investing until now.

According to a 2008 BusinessWeek study there are 5 million accredited investors in the US. On average they invest $10,000 to $50,000 in a startup. In the US, about 55% of the people own stock, but there is an estimate is that 70% would invest in a startup if they could. So that is 255 million people in the US who might put $1,000 into a startup if they were given a vehicle to do so cost effectively. The resultant figure is $178 Billion larger than what Venture Capitalists and Angels COMBINED invest ($77B in 2015). Are you getting my drift yet about the power of the long tail? Now, with Reg A+, any company can sell stock all day to the average Joe and Jane and these “new” investors can now reap the rewards of a startup returning 5X, 10x, 50x or 100x on their investment in a relatively short period of time. Something that in the past, only the most well heeled investors were allowed to partake in.

Of course, Reg A+ is not for everyone. It seems to be more geared towards consumer facing products and services (i.e.: think Virtual Reality devices, hoverboards, personal grooming, cosmetics, nutraceuticals, pet products, restaurants, distilled beverages, snacks, home gadgets, and video games, etc.). Still, as technology becomes more pervasive, and consumers become more aware of the power of technology to help their lives in general, you might see Reg A+ be used in startups focused on B2B concepts as well. This will all come about because of the power of Reg A+. It is in its infancy now, but in 10 years, Reg A+ may be the preferred way companies raise money, essentially bypassing the venture capital and angel networks entirely.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book of Verses

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám (Persian: رباعیات عمر خیام‎‎) is the title that Edward FitzGerald gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and numbering about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyám (1048–1131), a Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer. A ruba'i is a two-line stanza with two parts (or hemistichs) per line, hence the word rubAYOT (derived from the Japanese language leaves for “a million”), meaning "quatrains".

Here is one of my favorite verses of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám from this translation:
“A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Guns, Violence, and Statistics

Many people jump up and down whenever the topic of guns, gun violence, or gun control is brought up. Personally, I have to believe that our Founding Father’s believe that a well armed population is the best counter balance to a corrupt government. For as Thomas Jefferson once stated, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” In actuality, when people think of the causes of the American War for Independence, they think of slogans like “no taxation without representation” or a cause célèbre like the Boston Tea Party. In reality, what finally forced the colonials into a shooting war with the British Army in April 1775 was not taxes or even warrant-less searches of homes and their occupation by soldiers, but one of many attempts by the British to disarm Americans as part of an overall gun control program, which included seizure of firearms and powered. So, for this very reason it is understandable why the Founding Fathers made the 2nd Amendment, the second most important in our Constitution. But aside from that, we have to take the emotion out of the discussion of guns and actually look at facts, and being an engineer, I like dissecting numbers and statistics, so this is what this article will do, bit by bit.

OK, here are the fact: There are 30,000 gun related deaths per year by firearms. That is not disputed as a fact of American life, sadly.

What is never shown or talked about though, is a breakdown of those deaths to put them in perspective; as compared to other causes of death.

• 65% of those deaths are by suicide which would never be prevented by gun laws
• 15% are by law enforcement in the line of duty and justified
• 17% are through criminal activity, gang and drug related or mentally ill persons
• 3% are accidental discharge deaths

So technically, "gun violence" is not 30,000 annually but drops to 5,100. Still too many!! So let’s see how are those deaths spanned across the nation?

• 480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago
• 344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore
• 333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit
• 119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington DC (a 54% increase over prior years)

So basically, 25% of all gun crime happens in just 4 cities. All 4 of those cities have strict gun laws so it is not the lack of the rule of law that is the root cause. Maybe it is gang violence and the lack of the historic family unit with a father and a mother, or poor schools, or lack of job opportunities? Whatever the root cause, we are left with 3,825 deaths caused by guns in the rest of the Nation, or about 75 deaths per State.

That is an average number because some States have much higher rates than others. For example, California had 1,169. Alabama had 1. Putting this in quantitative amounts, California alone accounts for 25% of the gun deaths alone. So, with the four cities and California you now have 50% of the gun deaths in the US.

Now, which State has the strictest gun laws by far? California of course but understand, it is not the tool (guns) driving this. It is a crime rate spawned by the number of criminal persons residing in those cities and States.

So if all cities and states are not created equal, then there must be something other than the tool causing the gun deaths.

Are 5,100 deaths per year horrific? Absolutely, but how do they compare with other known causes of death?

All death is sad and especially so when it is in the commission of a crime but that is the nature of crime. Robbery, death, rape, assault; all are done by criminals to victims and thinking that criminals will obey laws is ludicrous. We are not here to debate the reason why they are criminals, but just realize without some major intervention that criminals will behave as criminals do, and often violently. That is why they are criminals.

But what of other causes of death? Remember total gun deaths is 30,000/year, and it has been shown that it is really 5,100.

• 40,000+ die from a drug overdose – THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THAT!
• 36,000 people die per year from the flu, far exceeding the criminal gun deaths
• 34,000 people die per year in traffic fatalities (exceeding gun deaths even if you include suicide)

Now let us look at the really big numbers of deaths caused by preventable actions:

• 200,000+ people die each year (and growing) from preventable medical malpractice. So in actuality, you are safer statistically in Chicago than with dealing with a doctor!
• 710,000 people die per year from heart disease. Time to stop the cheeseburgers!

So what is the point of stating these statistical facts? It is simple. If the people who focus their attention on banning guns were to instead focus on heart disease, even a 10% decrease would save twice as many lives annually over of all gun related deaths (including suicide, law enforcement, etc.). In addition, a 10% reduction in malpractice from doctors would be 66% (20,000 lives) of the total gun deaths or 4 times the number of criminal homicides. It seems relatively easy to achieve a 10% reduction in these two preventable causes of deaths, so where is the outcry?

So you have to ask yourself, in the grand scheme of things, why is there such a focus on guns? Our Founding Fathers realized that freedom is a messy and risky endeavor. They also understood Government that governs least, governs best. Many aspects of life in a free society can lead to harm or misfortune or death for some people. Driving kills. Smoking kills. Bad diet kills. Drugs Kill. Sports and recreation kill. Travel kills. Living kills. Bottom line, living is a risk filled business.

The core element of any objective to “eliminate” ALL such bad outcomes is to increase control over many, most and eventually all aspects of life. Of course, this does not mean that measures should not be taken, largely in education, to make activities and elements of life pragmatically safe. Look at the wonderful success of the anti-smoking campaign that removed millions of people from even ever starting. But "common sense" approaches cannot be equated to the perspective of those who only seek to eliminate freedoms that are (1) widely accepted by large portions of the or (2) established as points of law.

It is pretty simple. Taking away freedoms under the excuse of taking care of people gives control to governments, which leads directly to tyranny. This is not conspiracy theory; this is a historical fact. Why have we not understood this for so long? Tell me again why is it impossible for any Government not to spill over into dictatorship? The Founders of this great Nation knew that regardless of the form of government, those in power may become corrupt and seek to rule as the British did. As Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

They colonial British tried to disarm the populace of the colonies because it is not difficult to understand; a disarmed populace is a controlled populace. Thus, the Second Amendment was proudly and boldly included in the Constitution, representing and protecting all the other freedoms. It must be preserved at all costs not because it is sacred, but because it is statistically sane. Again, our Forefathers, while not perfect, were incredibly prescient.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Never Give Up

Chester Carlson? Whenever I think an idea or project will not make it, I think of Chester Carlson. Most people do not know who this person is, but he came up with the second greatest invention of the last 500 years (after the printing press); xerography; and he was not even a engineer. There should be a movie made of this guy: grew up dirt poor, lost his parents at a young age; worked his way through college, earning a degree in physics, and law school; invented xerography.

Anyway, the reason I mention Chester Carlson is that even though he thought up xerography and demonstrated it at the Astoria hotel in 1938, the first copy machine (made by the Haloid Corporation who changed it name to Xerox) was not made until 1958! Twenty years later. During that time, there were many set backs, but Mr. Carlson believed that being able to print without water would be a “disruptive” technology, so he never gave up. There were many nay-sayers.

Mr. Carlson got the kernel of an idea while at work as a patent attorney. He noted that there never seemed to be enough carbon copies of patent specifications, and there seemed to be no quick or practical way of getting more. The choices were limited to sending for expensive photo copies, or having the documents retyped and then reread for errors. A thought occurred to him: Offices might benefit from a device that would accept a document and make copies of it in seconds. For many months Carlson spent his evenings at the New York Public Library reading all he could about imaging processes. During that time, Carlson read an article about the little-known field of photoconductivity, specifically the findings of Hungarian physicist Paul Selenyi, who was experimenting with electrostatic images. He learned that when light strikes a photoconductive material, the electrical conductivity of that material is increased. Frustrated by a lack of time, and suffering from painful attacks of arthritis, Carlson decided to dip into his meager resources to pursue his research on his own, setting up a small lab in nearby Astoria and hiring an unemployed young physicist, a German refugee named Otto Kornei, to help with the lab work. It was here, in a rented second-floor room above a bar, where xerography was invented. Otto took a glass microscope slide and printed on it in India ink the notation '10-22-38 ASTORIA.'

Incredibly, Carlson was quite alone in his work, and in his belief that xerography was of practical value to anyone. Following this first demonstration of xerography, Mr. Carlson searched for years in a fruitless quest for a company that would develop his invention into a useful product, and was turned down by over twenty companies, including IBM, GE, and Honeywell, during that time.

Incredibly, no one could believe that a tiny glass plate and rough image held the key to a tremendous new industry. During these painfully long years, Mr. Carlson became discouraged and several times decided to drop the idea completely. Still, he could not abandon this disruptive technology and he stayed thoroughly convinced that the invention was too promising to be left on the scrap heap of history.

Finally, in 1944, Battelle Memorial Institute, a non-profit research organization signed a royalty-sharing contract with Carlson. In 1947, Battelle teamed with a small photo-paper company called Haloid (later to be known as Xerox) to develop a xerographic machine.

It was not until 1959, twenty-one years after Carlson invented xerography, that the first convenient office copier using xerography was unveiled. The 914 copier could make copies quickly at the touch of a button on plain paper. It was a phenomenal success. Today, xerography is a foundation stone of a gigantic worldwide copying industry, including Xerox and other corporations which make and market copiers and duplicators producing billions and billions of copies a year.

So, bottom line: It may take a long time, but if you KNOW something is worth pursuing, NEVER give up! Chester Carlson never did. As a footnote, Mr. Carlson made 1/1000th a cent per copy as a royalty, and when he died, he was estimated to be worth $266 million.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Reason, Season or a Lifetime

It is funny, but recently I have had some friends lament about people who have come and left their lives and they do not quite understand why.  It seemed like everything was going great, they were becoming fast friends, and then poof..they are gone.  That made me remember a story about how people can come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. 

When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed or just felt. They have come to assist you through a hard time, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. Then, suddenly, the person disappears from your life. Your need has been met; their work is done. It is hard to explain, but they now are off somewhere else.

Some people come into your life for a season, because your turn has come to share or grow or give back. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They give you great joy. Believe it; it is real. But only for a season, and like the seasons, they change and move one.

Lifetime relationships often are harder but teach you lessons that you will use all your life. Things you must build upon to have a solid emotional foundation. Often it is hard to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all your other relationships. But to have these people in your life, it is something you must strive to do.

Think about the people in your life over the years. Whether they were there for a reason, a season or a lifetime, accept them and treasure them for however long they were meant to be part of your life. And when they are gone, do not be sad for their departure, but be thankful for the gifts you received from them when they were here—for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Adversity's Test

During these uncertain times, I like to go back to some of the stories friends, colleagues, and mentors gave me. This particular one deals with how a person reacts when things get tough, or as some like to say, when we are in hot water. I hope you find it as insightful as I did.

Adversity's Test


A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil.

In one, he placed carrots; in the second, he placed eggs; and the last, he placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

The daughter sucked her teeth and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. In about twenty minutes, he turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her he asked. "Darling, what do you see?"…."Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

She humbly asked. "What does it mean Father?" He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity, boiling water, but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" he asked his daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"

How about you?

Are you the carrot that seems hard, but with pain and adversity do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?

Or are you the egg, which starts off with a malleable heart? Were you a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a divorce, or a layoff have you become hardened and stiff?. Your shell looks the same, but are you bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and heart?

Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean changes the hot water, the thing that is bringing the pain, till its peak flavor reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water gets the hottest, it just tastes better. If you are like the coffee bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and make things better around you. Essentially, adversity does not change you, you change the adversity to opportunity.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Man In The Glass

In these tough times, it is easy to get down on yourself and become demotivated by what others have told you or have intimated about your abilities, ideas or success. Just remember, that those who create (either businesses or ideas or art or designs or music or athletic performance) are closest to being god-like. It is during the creation process that we most mimic the Creator and pay it homage. Also, just because you might have outward success, does not necessarily mean you have concurred that monster from within. I came across the following some time ago, and feel it would be appropriate for all those who are experiencing a little self doubt. It might be called "The Man in the Glass" but is appropriate for both genders..
The Man in the Glass (author unknown - circa 1900)
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or wife,
Whose judgment upon you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one starring back from the glass.

He's the fellow to please, never mind all the rest.
For he's with you clear up to the end,
And you've passed the most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years.
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be the heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the man in the glass.