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Archive for the ‘thinking’ Category

As I recently shared with someone who means a great deal to me, if there were one singer/songwriter’s CD that I was allowed to have on my iPod, I’d select David Gray’s, “White Ladder” record. So many good tracks on that effort.

There’s a silver lining on all aspects of our lives, no matter how hard you question, wonder, or worry. No matter how dark it may be at any given moment. If we just remember and keep a watchful eye open for it.

Here’s Gray’s “Silver Lining.” No one sings it like he does.

Lyrics

Take this silver lining
Keep it in your own
Sweet head
And shine it when the night is
Burning red
Shine it in the twilight
Shine it on the cold, cold ground
Shine it til these walls
Come tumbling down

We were born with our eyes wide open
So alive with wild hope now
Can you tell me why
Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darkness deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don’t sleep

Step into the silence
Take it in your own
Two hands
And scatter it like diamonds
All across these lands
Blaze it in the morning
Wear it like an iron skin
Only things worth living for are
Innocence and magic, amen

We were born with our eyes wide open
So alive with wild hope now
Can you tell me why
Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darkness deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don’t sleep

Woah, wooah

Time after time they drag you down
Down in the darness deep
Fools and their madness all around
Know that the light don’t sleep
Know that the light don’t sleep

-end-

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My career in medical device technology began a scant three years ago. But since Feb. 2006, I feel I’ve learned more than I did in my first 18 years in the workforce. And the kicker is I’m learning from some of the smartest people on the planet.

When I joined The Company, I often drove home after a day in the office wondering how I buffaloed the hiring committee into offering me the position. In those early days, clearly, I was a full hat-size smaller than even the most recent college grad who served as Project Specialist I. But I had the job and I wasn’t about to let go of a good thing.

Now, 35 months into The Company, I’ve hit a good stride. I know not only the medical acronyms, but also what they stand for – quite impressive. I know certain details about how heart devices function. I can explain why health care costs have soared in the U.S. in a way most any Joe Six Pack might understand. I comprehend the importance of clinical trials as well as the need to meet regulatory challenges that prove the efficacy of an implantable device designed to save lives.

My career requires me to be a mile wide and an inch deep on hundreds of topics, but because I sit down frequently with people like our chief medical and technology officer (a former cardiologist who left Harvard to join this company and impact the lives of millions of people each year, not just a handful), I’m also able to go deep on the topics that interest me most about health care and medicine. And because I get the honor now and then to hear The Company’s founder speak – (and he happens to wear four or five implants that he played a role in innovating during his time here) – I find it easy to embrace his original mission to help those who face chronic diseases live a full life.

A constant learner with an open mind, this very average Iowa boy who graduated in the middle of his class knows a good thing when he sees it. And baby, I’m surrounded by a very good thing.

-end-

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Elitists feel they have outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or some other distinctive attributes, and therefore their views and ideas must be taken more seriously or carry more weight. In addition, they may assume special privileges and responsibilities and feel they have earned certain rights that others do not or should not have based on their level or position in society.

The proliferation of elitism has been underway since the dawn of human kind. What’s become worse in the past two decades is how many people automatically place themselves into this elitist category with no basis of reason. As populists in society strive toward breaking down the walls and barriers created by the elite (to ensure everyone has the same human rights and opportunities), elites attempt to further widen and deepen their moat protecting their belief that the privileged few have every right to make and enforce the rules.

What’s more, the new elites stem from recent generations of children who grew up expecting life to be handed to them in perfect order – further widening the gap between the haves and have nots. In fact, the common middle class that most of us grew up in, has now latched firmly on to the orbit of the elite.

The hard work our mothers and fathers once performed – the work that made our nation strong – has been tossed out with the bath water in the past 20 years. The yuppies, Gen-Xers and Millenials feel society owes them the vast rewards of life simply for waking up and putting on their socks.

And since elitism endorses the exclusion of large numbers of people from positions of privilege or power, this class in our society is essentially turning its collective head further and further away from its roots – away from the very parents or grandparents who worked two shifts so the family could enjoy a warm home, a reliable car and new shoes as the kids’ feet grew. Today, the 4,000-square-foot homes, Beemers, Audis and Mercedes are not the exception, they are the rule.

I’m sick and I’m tired of 20-somethings and younger walking around with their hands out – like baby birds waiting to be fed and chirping their beaks off until the mother Robin satiates their demands. These kids, our children, are clueless. They lack responsibility, respect and a fundamental concept of what labor is all about.

How are we suppose to begin fixing the recent economic malaise in the United States and globally, when our “most valuable asset,” our best and brightest, are entering the workforce with no concept of what work is all about? The learnings that once came with earning a decent wage for a decent day’s work are gone.

We’ve created the “gimme” culture of elitists and I’ve never been more personally disgusted and disappointed by a mind set than this one.

-end-

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It’s heeeeeeeeeere: 2009. Well almost here. It’ll be here when we’re all kissing our sweethearts on New Year’s Eve and falling into bed at 12:06 a.m.

I’m not a resolution guy.  Perhaps it’s because resolutions like, “I will exercise more,” only focus on the “do” in our lives and not on the “be.”  And the “do” we do is done for all the wrong reasons. We “do” something so we can “have” something so we can “be” something else. When we fail on the “do,” the wheels of the plan come off entirely.

So instead of resolving to do something, I’m focusing on being.  It starts with  finding the one area of life you want to positively change, then selecting a word to guide you through the year. Pick a word to remind you to live life on the “be” level.  Instead of “get fit” (do), perhaps you choose the word “health” and focus on making healthy choices the entire year.

My word? Bold.

Short back story: Through the past couple of decades, I got rutted in letting life happen to me. In that time many positive and wonderful things did happen. But I didn’t necessarily play a hand in carving the path with my own machete. No, the path was mostly pre-paved leading to a glass that was just three-quarters full when it should be brimming. My word “bold” will enable me to top off the glass each day – living life intentionally at work, in relationships, at home, in my desire to be fit and happy et al.  With this in the forefront, I’ll change behavior, live more purposefully and take myself out of life on the periphery.

I’ve already practiced using my word in recent weeks. It’s presented me with challenges and  anxious moments resulting in sleepless nights, like any shift in life presents. Being bold has risks, but it’s a step in a direction I must take. Plus, it’s exhilarating to hear my own voice when I say out loud the things that would have previously gone unsaid or take action on something I would have only thought (mightily) about.

I’ll kick bold into full throttle in January and post on my successes and failures during the year.

In the meantime, I’ve picked this John Mayer cover of “Bold as Love” by Jimi Hendrix as my theme song. We all need anthems in life.

Happy New Year. Make it a bold one.

Lyrics

Anger he smiles, towering in shiny metallic purple armour
Queen jealousy, envy waits behind him
Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground

Blue are the life-giving waters taken for granted
They quietly understand
The once happy turquoise armies lay opposite, ready
But wonder why the fight is on

But they’re all, they’re bold as love, yeah
They’re all, they’re bold as love, love, love
They’re all, they’re bold as love
Just ask the axis

My red is so confident, he flashes trophies of war
And ribbons of euphoria
Orange is young, full of daring
But it, it’s very unsteady for the first go round

My yellow in this case is not so mellow
In fact I’m trying to say it’s frightened like me
And all these emotions of mine keep holding me from
Giving my life to a rainbow like you

But I’m, I’m bold, I’m bold as love, yeah
I’m bold, I’m bold as love, love, love
I’m bold, I’m bold as love
Just ask the axis

He knows, he knows, he knows
He knows everything

I’m, I’m bold, I’m bold as love, yeah
I’m bold, I’m bold as love, ohh
Been talkin’ to ya
I’m bold, I’m bold as love, yeah.

P.S.  Be sure to wait an extra second on New Year’s Eve before planting that first kiss. A leap second has been added to the clock by the U.S. Naval Observatory. This will be the 24th leap second added since 1972. Thanks U.S. Naval Observatory clock watchers.

-end-

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Hating Hate

I’ve stared at a topic within the last 24 hours that I haven’t given much thought to for years and years.

Hate.

We’re a hateful society. Admit it and agree with me. How many times a day do you literally let the word “hate” spill out of your mouth? As kids, we grew up learning to hate various aspects of our lives – even our parents on occasion. As adults, hate has, I hope, taken a back seat in life.

But last night I sat down at the High School auditorium to watch the most recent directorial effort from child number one. My daughter has become a student director of theatre productions in recent years. The high school’s spring play this year is, “The Laramie Project” and not only does it address a hate crime, it also addresses such heavy topics as religion, sexuality and morals.

I enjoyed the play, which is moving – especially since I can easily recall the actual Wyoming event in which Matthew Sheppard was brutally beaten and tied to a fence in the middle of nowhere – left to die by a couple of thieves who just happened to prey on a young, gay college student. Sheppard died and his two assailants are spending their lives in prison.

But what I liked more was the concept of high school students taking on a play that is rife with major moral issues – and pushing what is potentially the most memorable of all teachable moment they’ll be exposed to this school year to the entire student body – as well as to teachers, parents and even the janitor.

Because, while it’s easy for us to say we’re tolerant or tell our kids, “…correct is correct and you must do what’s correct…” for most, it’s all to easy to slip back to habits learned in our childhood – when the mere tone of the word “gay” coming from our lips might be slathered in spit-covered sarcasm – no matter who we were talking to or what context we used the word.

There’s only one kind of hate that kids need to learn from us – and that’s that we hate the very concept of the word when used against anyone no matter their religious background, sexual orientation, race, or strong affinity to dogs instead of cats.

It’s how we teach our kids what we don‘t know that will help make them better adults – and a better
society than we ever thought possible.

-end-

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I yawn and stretch and lie in the dark with all kinds of thoughts flashing across the inside of my eyelids. Not often do I suffer from insomnia, but tonight has been one of the rare occasions. Just what am I thinking?

Tonight one Democrat and one Republican are probably getting the first real sleep they’ve each gotten in months. Edwards and Guiliani both dropped out of the race for the presidency. Meanwhile the remaining candidates are tucked away in bus bunks trying to get a few winks before the next stop on their tours of the Super Tuesday states. Poor bastards.

It’s January 31 and that means W-2s should be in hand. Tax season. I’ve never had qualms about paying taxes. It just seems like the thing to do. But in recent years as my tax rate has increased, I wince at the sheer amount of taxes being withheld from each paycheck. I pay in taxes today twice what I made in my first job out of college. That seems a bit excessive. I’m becoming more of a fan of tax relief and an overhaul of our tax system as I get older. Maturity perhaps?

A recent purchase, the John Mayer Trio’s “Try” CD, has me primed for live music. Here’s a favorite track from a great live CD:

Good Love Is on The Way

Lyrics:

I’m a lazy lover
Undercover
Wasting time
Then one day in summer
I changed my number
To cut my line

Good love is on the way
I’ve been lonely but I know I’ll be okay
Good love is on the way

Three years I’ve been broken hearted
But now her ghost is finally gone
Done with broken people
Ohhh this is me
I’m working on (that’s all I know)

Good love is on the way
I’ve been lonely but I know I’ll be okay
Good love is on the way

Good to go for wherever I’m needed
Bags are packed and I’m
Down by the door
You can take all the tricks up my sleeve
I don’t need them anymore

Good love is on the way
I’ve been lonely but I know I’ll be okay
Good love is on the way
I’ve been lonely, lonely, lonely yeah

Good love is on the way
Good love is on the way

Good night!

-end-

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It’s mid-September in Minnesota and summer begins its gentle slide into autumn – right on cue.(Photo (c) 2007 Gerald Brimacombe)

 Five tell-tale signs that fall is upon us…

1)      Leaves find their way to the ground…mysteriously and usually only at night.

2)      Windows left open at night mean that toweling off after an early morning shower will result in goose bumps.

3)      From my deck I can hear the cheers and see the Friday night lights of the high school football stadium (which also glimmer on Wednesdays and Thursdays due to JV games)

4)      Thoughts of making two-bean chili become incessant.

5)      Nearby apple orchard signs sport a coat of fresh paint.

Innovation

A recent work assignment involved researching the topic of “innovation” for an executive speech that my VP is beginning to write.  The audience is a group of about 1,000 scientists, researchers and engineers responsible for coming up with new technologies that will ultimately grow the company and help people live life more fully.

During the research phase, it became clear to me that their task, while daunting, is incredibly exciting. Things like nanotechnology and drug-device combinations are on the cusp of emergence. Soon, we may all swallow a tiny drug-coated device that not only treats a condition but then monitors whether we get better or not from the inside and transmits that data to our physician.

Creativity. Collaboration. Innovation. As the average age expectancy of people in the U.S. continues to rise (we’re now, on average, living to the age of 78) these intelligent scientists are cracking the code to ensure we not only live to a ripe old age, but that we live well and capable lives so our latter years are enjoyed not in diapers wheeling around in a nursing home, but in our own homes with our own families, cooking our meals and contributing to society.

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Your Superpower Should Be Manipulating Electricity

ElectroYou’re highly reactive, energetic, and super charged.

If the occasion calls for it, you can go from 0 to 60 in a split second. But you don’t harness your energy unless you truly need to.

And because of this, people are often surprised by what you are capable of.

Why you would be a good superhero: You have the stamina to fight enemies for days.

Your biggest problem as a superhero: As with your normal life, people would continue to underestimate you.

What’s your super power? 

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On Thursday nights in my city, in the downtown shopping district, live music can be heard while venturing to and from all the big box chain stores. We were there last night, my son, daughter and myself, back-to-school-shopping at American Eagle. On the way to the store, I had to stop and listen to a local musician do his cover of “Don’t Stop Believin’” by one of the greatest bands ever, Journey. It was entertaining. No matter where you go in the world, audiences listening to this song inevitably know the words and sing along (sometimes loudly).

I have to admit though, I wrote this post on Journey and Steve Perry some time ago and it continues to be one of the most-read posts on my blog.  That’s…a little peculiar in my book.

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My last random thought for today is about death. With the recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis (oops there I go, mentioning that disaster again), a section of a book I’ve been reading has knocked down an old rule of thumb that I’ve always held onto when it comes to death.  My rule of thumb? Avoid death for as long as possible.

The author of this book I’m reading, however, suggests that in order to really live life, we must embrace death. It is, afterall, inevitable. So if we can learn to accept the fact that today we could die, it will enable us to live each day more fully without the worry or fear of dying looming behind our shoulder at all times.

I’m not sure that I’ve bought into this theory entirely. But it is food for thought.

I remember vividly a summer day in my hometown of Spencer, Iowa, when my ultra-religious grandma was visiting. My cousin, who has commented on this blog from time to time, was visiting me as well. We were hot after getting downtown to go to Krazy Days – a big sidewalk sale held every year on mainstreet. But grandma cornered us and was giving us the usual, “Have you given yourselves up to Jesus,” speech.

My cuz and I were coming up with every possible comeback to get through this awkward moment with Grandma as painlessly as possible. Suddenly she caught on and said, “You need to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, because he may come back for us today and you have to be ready.” At that point my cousin said, “That’s fine Grandma, we’ll be born again, but tell Jesus he can’t come until we get a new speedometer for our bike.” 

I loved that speedometer.

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I’m moving forward.  Don’t hate me. Even though I’m a resident of “The City Where the Bridge Collapsed,” it’s time to get life back to normal. As normal as is possible without getting all weird.  So here’s a thought to contemplate:

“The secret of the demagogue is to make himself appear as stupid as his audience so that they’ll believe they’re as smart as he is.”

— Karl Kraus

In my role as a public relations “counselor,” I wonder if I tell my CEO this, he’ll buy it or if he’ll look at me and stare, thinking, “And you are…???”

Did Kraus really mean one should appear as stupid as his audience? Or does he essentially believe that a great speaker who speaks to the common ground of his or her audience will garner the best results?  Perhaps Hillary Clinton could learn something from this.

Perhaps we all could focus a bit more and consider our audience before our mouths start flapping.

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