‘The Coming Thing…’ Thoughts on Turning 60

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OK, OK, so I admit it. This is a vanity post. I’ll be writing to you this week (and, it turns out, next week, too) in an unusually personal fashion.

Next week’s column (which was bumped a week for this week’s column) will make more sense. It’s written in a true “drama in real life” fashion. Oh, you needn’t worry. There’s very little real drama in it. But it will hold together in a way the following potpourri of random thoughts won’t.

Don’t mistake me, though. There will be portions of this mishmash very alluring. Some of it may even elicit the thought, “I’m glad someone finally said that.”

And with that, here we go…Continue Reading “‘The Coming Thing…’ Thoughts on Turning 60”

It Can’t Be Both: It’s Either Science or Marketing

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This is going to sound like it’s coming out of left field, but it isn’t.

It is somewhat related to this day in history (July 16th).

No, it’s not that it’s the day after my birthday. It’s the anniversary of the liftoff of Apollo 11. Man’s landing on the moon should be the greatest case study of inspiration, project management, and engineering. It already stands as the greatest achievement in the history of mankind.

Think about the above paragraph as you read this column.

Now, on to the real story.

Again, it’s going to sound like I’m coming out of left field, but don’t give up. Keep reading and the dots will coalesce into a constellation that makes it all clear.Continue Reading “It Can’t Be Both: It’s Either Science or Marketing”

Yes, I Was Wearing Pants

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I admit it. I’ve been itching to write this column for more than two months. But other things needed to be said first.

There’s a time to be serious. There’s a time to be funny. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, much like the sudden nature of the coronavirus crisis, everything shut down abruptly. Serious people took over doing serious things. It offered a calming confidence.

Then, one day – one night actually – the time for non-stop seriousness ended. On Saturday night, September 29, 2001, nearly three weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Reese Witherspoon stepped onto the stage at NBC Studios in New York City’s GE Building for the airing of the season’s first episode of Saturday Night Live.

Only she wasn’t the first one on the stage. In lieu of the standard cold opening, Mayor Rudy Giuliani appears on stage with members of the New York City Fire Department, the New York City Police Department, and the Port Authority Police Department. In a quiet and Continue Reading “Yes, I Was Wearing Pants”

No, Freedom Doesn’t Come In The Mail

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Do you know the same tactic used by Democrat candidates to oust several long-time Republican Congressmen in 2018 was also used successfully by a North Carolina Republican to win his congressional election that same year?

It’s called “ballot harvesting” or “ballot collecting.” In a nutshell, it allows campaigns to organize staff who then gather mail-in ballots from legitimate voters and submit them on behalf of those voters.

Sounds efficient, right?

It is. Both for the voter and for the campaign.

The voter avoids the long lines on election day. The campaign gets to target constituencies more likely to vote for their candidate. In effect, it cuts out the “O” in GOTV (“Get Out The Vote”) strategies by transforming it simply to a GTV (“Get The Vote”) effort.

Here’s the odd thing, though. Ballot harvesting (or collecting) is legal in some states (like California) and illegal in other states (like North Carolina).

The winning California Democrats went on to serve in Congress. The winning Republican’s election was invalidated and he opted against running in the subsequent election re-do. All used some form of ballot harvesting/collecting to gain their electoral victories.

The inequity of this treatment has caused quite a debate. While it may seem like a partisan Continue Reading “No, Freedom Doesn’t Come In The Mail”

To The Class of 2020

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You live in strange times.

You dream of greatness, of achievement, of success. Others have captured their dreams. You’re no different from them. You can earn your desires. You either have a plan or you know you can make a plan, by yourself or through the aid of helpful allies.

But now, at this very moment, your life has been disturbed, uprooted by forces you cannot control. Your carefully crafted plans, your jubilant expectations, your equitable share, all have been stripped from you. Together, they represent a loss you can never regain.

You are not alone.

Why do bad things happen to good people? This is a question long asked by theologians, pondered by philosophers, and analyzed by psychiatrists. Yet, for all the mental, physical, Continue Reading “To The Class of 2020”

You’ll Turn to Stone Once You Realize Your Sales Pitch Inadvertently Contains this Common Mistake

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You’re always selling. You may not consider it as “selling,” but you’re always trying to convince someone to do something.

It doesn’t have to be about trying to get someone to buy something from you or your company. It could be anything. Maybe it’s what to have for dinner. Maybe it’s what movie to watch? Maybe it’s swaying your boss to give you a raise.

Do you find your pitch is less persuasive than you hoped for? You could be making a common mistake without knowing it. What is that common mistake and how can you avoid it? Perhaps we should start with a metaphor.

Have you ever been to the Petrified Forest?

No, I’m not referring to the 1936 movie The Petrified Forest, starring Leslie Howard and Bette Davis, which also featured Humphrey Bogart when he was still cutting his chops playing the villain. Such was Bogey’s performance on the undercard that the American Film Continue Reading “You’ll Turn to Stone Once You Realize Your Sales Pitch Inadvertently Contains this Common Mistake”

A Bothersome Burden Has Just Been Lifted From My Shoulders, Did You Just Get the Same Feeling?

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A terrible bothersome burden has just been removed from my shoulders. Did you just get the same feeling?

The last time I felt this weighed down was, well, maybe a half century ago. For those of you who think “half century ago” must refer to ancient times, do the math. I’m talking about the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It’s a very uncomfortable feeling. It’s a drag. And I don’t mean “drag” in the sense that was used in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but “drag” in the sense of physics, specifically as engineers use it in automotive design and aeronautics. It a gnawing downward pressure that prevents you from moving faster or soaring higher.

Like so many others, I am free of that burden now. I didn’t do it alone. I have Hal to thank. Continue Reading “A Bothersome Burden Has Just Been Lifted From My Shoulders, Did You Just Get the Same Feeling?”

Home, Sweet Home: The Joy of Our Return to Space

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I sat fixed in front of what seemed a massive TV screen, my eyes glued to the shreds of white steam shooting from the rocket’s body.

My own body remained tense. “Would the mission be scrubbed at that last minute?” “Would there be an in-flight ‘anomaly’?” “Is there any Tang left?”

What year is it?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

1968? It was a terribly bad year.

1969? It was a joyful year of ascending achievement.

Today? Well that’s an interesting idea.

Let’s return to the beginning. If you’re a member of the “space age” generation (like me), you’ll enjoy (and reflect) on this brief trip down memory lane. If you’re too young to remember the 1960s, you’ll appreciate the eerie similarities that might have you question Continue Reading “Home, Sweet Home: The Joy of Our Return to Space”

The Torch Is Passed

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Like a bright beacon, Jack Leckie stood as a steady torch light, forever illuminating our lives, our community, our very essence. In his remarkably demur way, he reminded us of where we came from, why it was important to embrace that past, and how those previous travels help guide our future.

I was the new kid on the block when I first met Jack. Literally. I had just moved to Mendon (well, technically, it was a permanent return after an earlier short residence at my parents’ new home). I was also a “kid.” I was only 26 years old when I moved into my home.

You get the picture. Definitely the new kid on the block.

So you could understand why I might have been nervous when, shortly after moving in, Jack invited me to his home on Boughton Hill Road. Imagine my thoughts. There was me – a newbie – and Jack – the Town Supervisor.

I was in awe. I was unworthy. I was a mere peon of youth compared to this big man of Continue Reading “The Torch Is Passed”

Ready. Fire! Aim.

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Ask any entrepreneurial wannabe what’s holding them back and they’ll say, “I’m just not sure if I have everything I need.”

Ask any successful entrepreneur to name the key to their success and they’ll say, “Moving forward without having everything I needed.”

There are two immutable laws when it comes to starting a business or any new venture. The first neatly packages a box for comfortable perfection. The second… well, let’s talk about the first law first.

The First Immutable Law of Every Successful Entrepreneur: “Never proceed without a Continue Reading “Ready. Fire! Aim.”