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Words to Balance Unbalanced Times

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

albert_einstein.jpgThese are heady times for politicians, pundits and strutting egos.

Which makes it a very good time to recall the words of a truly brilliant and insightful man.

“The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits.” – Albert Einstein

I’d add that true genius knows them.

To Be — or Not

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

We live in a time of peril.

Not from the outside, but from within.

Politicians pander to our fears.

Trolls threaten, bully and abuse freely and anonymously.

Speech is free only if you are one of “us” and not one of “them.”

Hate and bigotry thrive.

Fear runs rampant.

What should/can you do?

Live the words of a true thought leader.


Image credit: Quotation Box

A Bit of Miki Wisdom

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/b_lumenkraft/8347201742/From now through November 8 you will be inundated with political ads, tweets, postings, robo-calls, etc.

It’s worse for me. I live on the Washington/Oregon border, so I have the displeasure of being snowed by two of everything, both states, local (Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR) and, of course, Federal.

Of course, my area’s not alone; I’m sure the same thing happens to others in similar geographical areas.

So, in honor of the season, I thought I’d share something I wrote that is worth keeping uppermost in your mind at least through November 9 — and probably all year long.

“Once there was a talking horse named Mr. Ed on TV. These days there are dozens of talking asses on all kinds of media.”

Flickr image credit: #mr_ed

Golden Oldies: Quotable Quotes: Universal Russian Proverbs

Monday, May 16th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

It’s been seven years since I met Nick face-to-face and 16 since I met him online. Much has changed in our lives, our businesses and each of our worlds, but our friendship has only gotten stronger. But the applicability of these Russian proverbs, and proverbs in general, never changes, but the wisdom they encompass grows more meaningful. Read other Golden Oldies here.

RussiaToday was a super cool day for me. I met my Russian business partner Nick Mikhailovsky, CEO of NTR Lab, for the first time, although we’ve worked together for a decade.

So when I started thinking about today’s quotes Russia was on my mind. And when I think of Russia I think of proverbs.

I find proverbs to be fascinating proof that no matter the color, culture or time there really is only one race on this planet—human.

The basic concepts of human action and interaction span the globe. In fact, I’ll bet that your culture has a saying that embodies the same concepts as these do.

War has been around as long as the human race as has the desire for peace, which only proves the truth of this proverb, “Eternal peace lasts only until the next war.”

Common sense underlies this proverb, “as long as the sun shines one does not ask for the moon,” but people rarely follow it.

Real Estate people are fond of saying that the there are only three things that matter, location, location, location, but I’ll bet that this proverb predates that by decades, if not longer. “Don’t buy the house, buy the neighborhood.”

It is well know that age is no guarantee of wisdom, knowledge or smarts, but “long whiskers cannot take the place of brains” is a more elegant way of saying it.

My next offering is one that has always been true, but has been proven in spades over the last couple of decades. “With lies you may go ahead in the world – but you can never go back.” Bernie Madoff has decades to think that one over.

“There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.” This is one that all of us need to take to heart. We need to find out about our politicians, financial managers, corporate chieftains, religious leaders and any others we choose to trust.

Speaking of politicians, we should never forget that “when money speaks, the truth is silent” and we have condoned a culture of political silence.

There is a universal applicability and truth in this proverb, “When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes; when you leave, you judge him by his heart.”

Maybe the reason for the universality of these thoughts is found in my final offering, “Proverbs are the people’s wisdom.”

Flickr image credit: Ed Yourdon


Watch This and Weep

Monday, September 21st, 2015

Assuming, that is, you care at all about the future.

Sometimes I post about subjects not really business-oriented.

In this case, because 300 years isn’t all that long…

And disruption isn’t always progress.

Video credit: Business Insider

A Response to Remember

Monday, February 23rd, 2015


Like most of you, I get a lot of email.

Maybe because I write not only this blog, but also creatively for clients, I tend to care about my responses.

The result is that every now and then I write something worth sharing beyond that email.

That’s what happened today.

A friend sent me an article.

My response was especially apropos considering the upcoming presidential election, which means months of being bombarded by candidates, talking heads, pundits, gurus, etc., on all forms of media.

That said, here is my self-described brilliant take on it.

Years ago there was one talking horse named Mr. Ed on TV. These days there are dozens of talking asses on all kinds of media.

Feel free to use it, although attribution is appreciated.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Election Results Early

Monday, November 5th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/2312435878/In January, 2008, when I was writing Leadership Turn, I wrote that politicians aren’t leaders.

We have no leaders, let alone statesmen, just ideologues, elected by like-minded ideologues, who care only about getting reelected, bringing government money back to their constituency and making lucrative connections in the event they aren’t reelected or are caught by term limits.

The following month I considered the difference between politicians and statesmen.

Politicians talk it — Statesmen walk it
Politicians run to win — Statesmen run to serve
Politicians are ideologues — Statesmen are open-minded
Politicians, “it’s all about me” — Statesmen, “it’s all about them”
Politicians focus on the next election — Statesmen focus on the future

In 2010 I reprised parts from them in another post about the idiocy of ideology.

Einstein also said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Americans must be insane; we will go to the polls flip the party in charge and expect different results.
Based on the past, what we will get is a different ideology that screws up differently, not better results.

Sadly, nothing much has changed in the intervening years; a notion that will be proved tomorrow.

Please note that much of the interest and value in these posts is found in the comments and discussion they generated.

Flickr image credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Quotable Quotes: Campaigns of the Founding Fathers

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/2866174300/Are you as disgusted with political campaigning as I am?

The lies and slurs are tiresome no matter who you like, because, as we all know, the other side always lies.

Some feel the lies and attacks are far worse than ever before and long to return to a more civilized political era, such as that of our founding fathers.

The good news is that the lies and attacks aren’t worse, just more frequent.

The bad news is that our founding fathers were as bad if not worse.

And the prime mud, then as now, involved race and religion.

In 1796 and 1800 John Adams supporters accused Thomas Jefferson of being “godless” as well as sleeping with a slave.

“God and a religious president, or Jefferson and no God!” (…) Jefferson versus Adams may also have the dubious distinction of being the first time the so-called race card was played.

The information comes from a fascinating article that provides the rest of today’s quotes, along with excellent commentary and a sample of political cartoons that are markedly harsher than today’s.

As is frequently the case when it comes to politics, our perceptions about political election history are more a function of misconceptions colored by wishful thinking.

Flickr image credit: By Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Quotable Quotes: I Hate Politics 4

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

2344967308_a5409437aa_qHere is the fourth installment of comments about politics; if you missed the previous ones you may find them here 1, 2, and 3. You’ll notice I named the third one “I Hate Politics 3,” which was actually an error, but one I like, so I’m going to continue using it.

Politicians come from varied backgrounds; in times past most were lawyers, but these days they are truly anything; or, as Robert Louis Stevenson so aptly puts it, Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.

Gore Vidal adds a telling comment to that with which I totally agree, Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.

As campaigns heat up the zingers always fly thicker and faster; one of the best came from Adlai Stevenson, in a 1952 campaign speech, I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.

Some lies never die (even when they should) and some of the nastiest seem to hang around forever (BTW, nasty isn’t a new trend as some seem to think, but more on that another week.) Our old friend Anonymous made a good point when he said, Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.

It’s hard to argue with the wisdom of Will Rogers, especially this little gem, If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these  acceptance speeches there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.

Have a great rest-of-the-weekend and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Flickr image credit:

Expand Your Mind: Who Pays Taxes?

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Tomorrow is T day (if you aren’t prepared I hope you have filed your extension), so it seemed like a good time to look at who pays what.

No new books meant President Obama’s income is down nearly a million, but he still paid 20%.

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, reported adjusted gross income of $789,674 in 2011 and paid just over 20 percent of it to the federal government in taxes.

Whereas Mitt Romney is paying 6% less tax on approximately 27 times more income.

He paid 13.9 percent in taxes on income of $21.7 million for 2010 and about the same rate for the not fully completed 2011 returns.

The current tax code is 5,296 pages long vs. 27 when it was written. The majority of the additional 5,969 pages are descriptions and explanations of how to legally cheat on your taxes.

If economists ran the tax system, there would be virtually no exemptions or loopholes. Instead, businesses, rich people, Congressmen and attorneys spend a shockingly large amount of time lobbying for tax breaks or exploiting the ones that exist.

For those who are seriously wealthy, like Ronald S. Lauder, an Estée Lauder heir worth more than $3.1 billion, beating the tax man while indulging your passions is an ongoing effort.

As is often the case with his activities, just beneath the surface was a shrewd use of the United States tax code.

Just in case you are wondering, here’s some intel on what catches the eye of those who pay in the 15% tax bracket.

Neiman Marcus sold out of pewter-color Ferraris (luggage set matching the interior included) at $395,000 each within 50 minutes of making 10 of them available through its “fantasy” holiday catalog late last month.

But in the great scheme of US taxation, Romney’s 14% is still significantly higher than many of our large corporations pay, especially those in the so-called “Dirty Thirty.”

In January, the two organizations identified 30 corporations whose cumulative profit was $164 billion from 2008 to 2011. These corporations didn’t just avoid paying taxes — they actually collected $10.6 billion in tax rebates, according to the groups. They were dubbed the “Dirty Thirty.”

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

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