‘What Success Means to Me…’

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The Parable of the Sicilian Fisherman and the Harvard MBA
(based on a grandfather’s story to his grandson)*

*My grandfather, an immigrant from Sicily, always laughed when he (repeatedly) told this story to me. If it sounds familiar it’s because this Parable has been told in many different ways by many different ethnic groups. Next week I’ll reveal the story behind the original story and why you may have seen this particular version, albeit with a different international flavor.

One morning, a Fortune 100 CEO, vacationing in a lush Sicilian villa overlooking the warm Mediterranean sands, came upon a local peasant sleeping comfortably against a fig tree. The peasant’s children danced around him, only occasionally tugging at the straw hat that protected his relaxed face from the tropical sun.

The energetic CEO studied the placid scene. Curiosity getting the better of him, the CEO woke the native and asked him what he did for a living.

“I’m a fisherman,” yawned the perplexed peasant.

The CEO then asked the man why he wasn’t fishing.

“I’ve caught enough fish for today,” replied the tranquil fisherman. He didn’t seem to mind the CEO interrupting his quiet family life. “I am the best fisherman on all the seas,” he continued matter-of-factly. “Each morning I take 30 minutes out of my day and haul in a boat-load of fish. This is enough to feed my very large family and still have some left over to share with my less fortunate neighbors. I can then spend the rest of the day watching my children grow or whatever else I want to do.”Continue Reading “‘What Success Means to Me…’”

Adventures In White Knuckle Driving

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This past weekend reminded me there’s a good reason why I stopped scheduling travel meetings during the winter.

It didn’t always used to be this way.

In the time before Covid, unusual was the week when I did not put on several hundred miles of business meetings. I find riding for an hour (or more) relaxing. I’ve got a huge library of college-level lectures on a variety of subjects. (As the price for an intensive virtually triple major in the hard sciences, my college major left little room for electives.)

The destination also (usually) excited me, too. Either a conference to learn more and meet Continue Reading “Adventures In White Knuckle Driving”

The Truth Behind The Mystery Of Weather Forecasting

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Ah, winter. Remember that? Well, if for some reason you had forgotten, last week certainly provided a useful reminder.

Of course, if you live in New England, you got your reminder a few days earlier with a classic Nor’easter.

Yes, that’s the way the National Weather Service (“NWS”) spells this famous type of storm. These weather events feature notorious low pressure systems that travel up the eastern seaboard. They’re so named because the winds along the coast come from the northeast.

Nor’easters are not limited to the winter. The NWS tells us these storms generally occur in Continue Reading “The Truth Behind The Mystery Of Weather Forecasting”

How To Be A Successful Writer (In Five Easy Steps)

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To begin with, most people ask the wrong question.

This doesn’t happen too often locally, but because I also write for national publications, I often get this question: “What do I need to do to become a good writer?”

This question comes in many flavors. For example: “How can I become a better writer?” “What should I do to improve my writing?” “How did you learn to write so well?” That sort of thing.

These are all the wrong questions. Their common mistake: they all assume good writing is the key.

Here’s what most people (and most writers) don’t realize. There’s a difference between Continue Reading “How To Be A Successful Writer (In Five Easy Steps)”

This Is More Important Than Being ‘Tolerant’

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Saladin and Guy de Lusignan after battle of Hattin in 1187No matter where you are, there it is. It’s called by a lot of different names, but it all means the same thing.

The trouble is, it doesn’t. And that can hurt people.

You may have heard this story before.

Decades ago, before I had the joy of children, I was assigned as the Town Board liaison to the school district. It was during the initial hype of political correctness. At the time, and not so different from today, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the maxim “Be Tolerant” plastered somewhere.

During one meeting, (a strategic planning discussion), we were asked to brainstorm on Continue Reading “This Is More Important Than Being ‘Tolerant’”

What’s Your Dream? (Here’s How To Capture It)

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The vision of the three mountains

The original vision that was my “sure winner” in the Florence Brasser art contest. It didn’t win. Then. But The Vision ultimately prevailed.

You have a dream. It may be new. It may have been lingering in the back of your mind for years. Either way, you have a dream.

And it’s compelling.

If you’re like most people, you’re wondering “How can I achieve this dream?” If you’re ambitious (and who isn’t?), you’re wondering, “How can I accomplish my LIFETIME Dream?”

Many years ago, I wrote a column about an ironic first-place award I received in an art contest (see, “Sometimes Second Best Turns Out To Be the Very Best,” Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, March 20, 2016).

I say “ironic” because the winning drawing was a throwaway picture not meant for the Continue Reading “What’s Your Dream? (Here’s How To Capture It)”

Josh Allen Had His In Tampa, Where Did You Have Yours?

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Something happened in the second half of the game in Tampa Bay on Sunday, December 12, 2021. After being outscored 24 to 3 in the first half, Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills battled back by besting the Buccaneers by the identical score of 24 to 3.

Although Tom Brady would bring the Bucs victory in overtime, the second half turnaround marked more than a turning point in a single game, it signaled the start of a mid-season adjustment that sparked the Bills on a winning streak that ended with them standing atop the AFC East for the second year in a row.

So, what exactly happened in that second half? And why is it important for you to know?

It’s called the “Thermopylae Moment.”

OK, nobody calls it that. I just made that up.

But it works.

To fully appreciate the term, you’ll need to go back in history a little bit. And by “a little bit” Continue Reading “Josh Allen Had His In Tampa, Where Did You Have Yours?”

A Memorable Week of Cottage Pranks

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The Cottage - Davenport College YaleBefore there was The Purge (2013). Before there was The Hunger Games (2008). Before there was Rollerball (1975). Heck, even before there was the Star Trek episode “The Return of the Archons” (1967), upon which writer-director James DeManaco based his movie The Purge.

Before all these fictional dystopian fantasies, there was real-life Bladderball.

Bladderball was (notice the past tense) a massive (thousands of participants) game played at Yale from 1954 to 1982. It involved a large (6-foot diameter) leather “exercise” ball and Continue Reading “A Memorable Week of Cottage Pranks”

The Italian-American Triumvirate: #3 – Family

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We begin our third and final installment of the Italian-American Triumvirate to honor Christopher Columbus and all descendants of Italia during October as we celebrate Italian-American Month.

The third item on the list has been known by many names. In fact, those who remember football in the 1960s may also remember the three pillars being defined quite differently (and creatively). Italian-Americans played a prominent role in this.

On June 16, 1970, Brian Piccolo, starting running back for the Chicago Bears, died. Only seven months earlier, on November 16, 1969, Piccolo scored a touchdown on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons. He then surprised his teammates by Continue Reading “The Italian-American Triumvirate: #3 – Family”

The Italian-American Triumvirate: #2 – Country

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As mentioned last week, October is Italian-American Heritage Month. Not only do we take a day (either the original October 12 or the second Monday) to celebrate Christopher Columbus, the Italian that most influenced America, but, like other ethnic groups, we spend the entire month honoring those who immigrated to the United States centuries after the first Italian discovered a brand new world.

This is the second in a series of columns on “the Big Three,” the three institutions that, though they to some extent describe all Americans, speak especially to the cultural heritage of Italian-Americans.

Recall the meaning of “Italian-American.” It represents an acknowledgment that you are Continue Reading “The Italian-American Triumvirate: #2 – Country”