Archives for posts with tag: wisdom


If there wasn’t a World War II, I wouldn’t be alive. (My parents met in a refugee camp.)

If there wasn’t a Korean War, my wife wouldn’t be alive (Her father was in the Air Force in Korea.)

If I didn’t win the Green Card in the Visa Lottery, our kid wouldn’t be alive. (I wouldn’t have moved to Los Angeles and never met my wife.)

Think about all the little things that had to happen for you to be here. When you regard the million things that had to go your way to become that beloved, screaming bundle, we all should feel like we won the lottery. The odds were slim, but here you are.

The question is: What are you going to do about it?

Many people spend their entire lives doing things they really don’t care for. They get through the week, endure their lives, waiting for the weekend, the vacation, retirement.


A recent Gallup survey shows that 71% of American workers are not engaged in their current position, 19% of the workforce actively disengaged. Is it an exaggeration to believe that more than 90% of us just get through life and don’t create one?

We create our own lives

It’s the gift of human life that you don’t have to be committed to one course. You can change course. In the beginning, it might be good enough to be competent at something. Over time we learn that we need to love what we’re doing or we never excel at it. In the end, you need to know who you are. Once you know who you are, you can find purpose in work and life.

As Sir Ken Robinson says, the problem is not that we aim too high and fail. It’s just the opposite – we aim too low and succeed.

Nobody needs to be victim of their own biography.

What are you doing with the gift of life?

Are you still unwrapping?

Did you put it away, collecting dust, while you pass your time?

Did you throw it away?

Or are you realizing your true potential?


While waiting in a coffee line, I was overhearing a conversation between 2 elderly men. One was holding an iPhone, the other men an outdated flip-phone.

“Why don’t you get an iPhone?”

“I’m happy with that phone. Why do I need that fancy stuff? I’ll never use it.”

“I couldn’t live without mine.”

“I’m just too old to get into this.”

At one point, all brands, institutions, countries and people consider themselves old.

Think about the DMV. It feels like an old, half-dead organization that will never reform and improve.

Mubarak thought he and his country was too old to change. And the country changed without him.

The two political parties are not ready for real change. And the country might change without them.

That feeling doesn’t happen on a schedule. I see 90-year old enjoying the iPad, 80-year olds taking 6-week bus tours (I’m too old for that. Sorry.) and 40-year olds acting like retirement is around the corner.

Being old is a choice.

There’s nothing biological clock that decides when you’re old. You decide. You can run a marathon when you’re 70, learn a new language when you’re 80 and release your first book when you’re 90. It might be easier to do all that when you’re young.

That’s why it’s worth doing.


One of the good things about getting older is the understanding that you know very little and how much more there’s for you to learn, see, experience, live and do.

Since life is cruel, in 10 years I’ll find 10 million other things I wish I knew now and things I should have done instead. Oh well, having a good life, family, friends, health and enough work to fill the centuries to come (The eternal optimist), I guess I shouldn’t be too mad about that.

Still, in the few moments I’ve been on this planet, I learned a few things I wish I knew when I was younger.

1. You have to work hard to create opportunities.

2. Your parents were right about more things that you’d ever like to admit.

3. Keep things simple.

4. Don’t be a seagull: Fly over, crap on everything, and then leave.

5. Be patient. Life is short and long at the same time.

6. Travel as much as you can. It’s humbling and inspiring.

7. Don’t worry away your life.

8. Don’t take people (friends, family, co-workers) for granted.

9. The world needs more artists.

10. There’s someone out there for you.

11. Be yourself. Don’t ever try to be somebody else.

12. Life doesn’t happen on a screen. Connect with real people and culture.

13. Never work for stupid people. Or you’ll join their ranks very soon.

14. Indulge in exercise and healthy habits every day.

15. Beware of what you say to people. You can hurt them for the rest of their life.


I just finished reading “The greatest salesman in the world” by Og Mandino. It’s a rather tiny book (about 70 pages) filled with amazing wisdom. It’s the legend of Hafid, a camel boy of 2,000 years ago, and his burning desire to improve his lowly position in life. He receives ten ancient scrolls, which contain the wisdom necessary for the boy to achieve all his ambitions.

While the story is a nice warm-up, the real meat of the book is in the content of the scrolls. I’ve seen the scroll marked VIII in the studio of my kid’s Karate teacher and I always wondered where it came from. The book can be mushy, a bit too preachy but if you need a motivational kick – you can’t go wrong with “The greatest salesman in the world.”

Oh, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise who the greatest salesman in the world is. You have to read the book to find out.

The Scroll Marked II

“I will greet this day with love in my heart!”

“For this is the greatest secret of success in all ventures.  Muscle can split a shield and even destroy life but only the unseen power of love can open the hearts of men and until I master this art I will remain no more than a peddler in the market place. I will make love my greatest weapon and none on whom I call can defend against its force.”

My reasoning they may counter; my speech they may distrust; my apparel they may disapprove; my face they may reject; and even my bargains may cause them suspicion; yet my love will melt all hearts liken to the sun whose rays soften the coldest day.”

“I will greet this day with love in my heart. And how will I do this? “

“I will look on all things with love, and I will be born again.”

“I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit.”

“I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

“I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul.”

“I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge. “

“I will greet this day with love in my heart!

“And, how will I speak? “

“I will laud my enemies and they will become friends.”

“I will encourage my friends and they will become brothers.”

“Always I will dig for reasons to applaud; never will I scratch for excuses to gossip.”

“When I am tempted to criticize, I will bite my tongue.”

“When I am moved to praise, I will shout from the roofs.”

“It is not so that birds, the wind, the sea and all nature speaks with the music of praise for their creator?”

“Cannot I speak with the same music to his children?”

“Henceforth, will I remember this secret and it will change my life.”

“I will greet this day with love in my heart!”

“And, how will I act?”

“I will love all manners of men for each has qualities to be admired even though they are hidden!”

“With love, I will tear down the wall of suspicion and hate, which they have built around their hearts, and in its place, I will build bridges so that my love may enter their souls!”

“I will love the ambitious for they can inspire me!”

“I will love the failures for they can teach me!”

“I will love the kings for they are but human!”

“I will love the meek for they are divine!”

“I will love the rich for they are yet lonely!”

“I will love the poor for they are so many!”

“I will love the young for the faith they hold!”

“I will love the old for the wisdom they share!”

“I will love the beautiful for their eyes of sadness!”

“I will love the ugly for their souls of peace!”

“I will greet this day with love in my heart!”

“But, how will I react to the actions of others?”

“With love!”

“For just as love is my weapon to open the hearts of men, love is also my shield to repulse the arrows of hate and the spears of anger; adversity and discouragement will beat against my new shield and become as the softest of rains. My shield will protect me in the market place and sustain me when I am alone.  It will uplift me in moments of despair yet it will calm me in time of exultation.  It will become stronger and more protective with use until one day I will cast it aside and walk unencumbered among all manners of men and, when I do, my name will be raised high on the pyramid of life.”

“I will greet this day with love in my heart!”

“And, how will I confront each whom I meet?”

“In only one way – in silence, and to myself, I will address him and say, “I love you!” Though spoken in silence these words will shine in my eyes, unwrinkled my brow, bring a smile to my lips, and echo in my voice; and his heart will be opened.  And, who is there who will say nay to my goods when his heart feels my love?”

“I will greet this day with love in my heart!”

“And, most of all, I will love myself!”

“For when I do, I will zealously inspect all things which enter my body, my mind, my soul, and my heart.”

“Never will I overindulge the requests of my flesh; rather, I will cherish my body with cleanliness and moderation.”

“Never will I allow my mind to be attracted to evil and despair; rather, I will uplift it with the knowledge and wisdom of the ages.”

“Never will I allow my soul to become complacent and satisfied; rather, I will feed it with meditation and prayer.”

“Never will I allow my heart to become small and bitter; rather, I will share it and it will grow and warm the earth.”

“I will greet this day with love in my heart!”

“Henceforth, I will love all mankind!  From this moment, all hate is let from my veins for I have not time to hate, only time to love.”

“From this moment, I take the first step required to become a man among men. With love, I will increase my sales a hundredfold and become a great salesman!”

“If I have not other qualities, I can succeed with love alone.  Without it, I will fail though I possess all the knowledge and skills of the world.”

“I will greet this day with love, and I will succeed!”


I just spent a week with my wife and kid in a small town in the California desert. We rented a lakefront house, spent hours in the pool, playing games, just being.

When you spend that much time with your kid, you get to experience the little battles she has to fight, and challenges she has to overcome when she’s out of sight at school. Her quest to fit in, to be part of the team, you experience her self-doubts, her triumphs, and you get to see how hard it can be to be a 6-year old.

That week gave me time to reflect what I want for my kid. My usual answer is:

I want her to be happy.

Oh, okay. Who doesn’t want that? It’s not an answer, it’s a lame excuse. When we say we want our kids to be happy, we want them to absorb as many of our values and act the way we want them to act.

Let’s be honest here: It doesn’t mean she HAS to go to college, it doesn’t mean she HAS to work long hours to make it in this world like her parents, it doesn’t mean she HAS to have a lot of money.

It does mean that I want her to do good things in the world that make her happy and the world a better place.

Yeah, I know. Still pretty lame.

So, I gave it a little more thought over the last few days and came up with 8 things I want her to become. And, please note, this is not a to-do list, just something I harbor in my heart.

I’ll hug her, no matter what.

a) Curious

I have problems with people who aren’t curious about everything. Why are we here? Why do people behave differently when they have a lot of choices compared to a small amount of choices? Why is the ocean blue and green? If you’re not curious, you will not succeed. Period. You will be stuck in a rut that will get thicker and harder to get out of.

b) Empathetic

Listen, I’m no Mother Theresa. As anybody else, I have my bouts of narcissism and self-absorption. But I know that the world can be a cruel place. I know friends who can have a conversation with a homeless person and hug them when they part ways. Or friends who dedicate hours to help other people. I don’t have that in me. And I don’t expect my kid to become Mother Theresa. But the least I expect is a consideration of the issues in the lives of other people. Understanding where they come from and help them to change.

c) Don’t be stupid

Sounds like an easy one, but it’s not. When educated people suddenly claim we should default on our debt, give people choices when it comes to evolution or just defy any scientific research, I get angry. We can have discussions about everything but we can’t have discussions about stupid things.

d) Push your body to the limits

I’m not asking her to win a gold medal at the Olympics. But I’m asking my kid to push her body to the limit. We learn a lot about ourselves at the edges. I learned a lot about myself training for and running marathons. Playing 4 soccer games in a day. Jumping from 60 feet boards. We need to nurture our brains. But we need to push our physicality to the brink. You can’t live through your brain. You have to push brain, body and mind.

e) Love without abandon

I want her to experience the crazy, amazing love. The love that makes you sleepless for days. I want her to experience the insane extremes. And then stay with the one love that makes her happy.

f) Change the world

Ok, that’s a big one. I’m not asking her to eliminate poverty. I ask her to leave this world a better place. Make an impact. Make a change. Burning Man is a great example of that: You leave no physical trace behind while you’re there but you leave an emotional trace within you.

g) Stop bitching. Start changing.

It’s easy to complain about things. Bright minds tend to do that. It’s hard to change things. Focus on the hard part. And tend to the easy parts when you have time.

h) Your mom and dad are always there for you. And we’re not the parents you want us to be.

Who knows what will happen in the years to come. One thing I know for sure: We will always love you. No matter what. And we will always try to help you become the person you could be.

You won’t like it. You will fight us. We will be there.

And we always have a hug waiting for you?

What do you want for your kid(s)?


We think of crossroads as these life-changing moments:

  • Take the job offer or stay in current job
  • File for divorce or decide to stick it out
  • Stay put or move across the country

Truth is, we face hourly crossroads.

Bernie Madoff made thousands of bad decisions before he started to defraud his investors for billions.

The divorced couple made thousands of bad choices before finally filing for divorce.

The failing student made thousands of bad decisions before dropping out of college.

Every hour we face a crossroad

Are you going to let your kid watch a TV show or spend some quality time with the little one?

Are you going to spend the next two hours on Twitter/Facebook/Google+ or start a new project?

Are you going to tie your running shoes and go for a 90 minute run or spend that time on the couch?

Are you going to eat a egg/bacon breakfast or have a banana?

Are you going to “buy” Facebook friends or earn them the hard way?

We tend to get freaked out about the massive crossroads. Instead, we should focus on each little decision we make. They make us.

Choose wisely.


“You don’t stop doing this because you get old. You get old because you stop doing things.” ~ Rosamunde Pilcher

Love something. I think we’ve got to learn to love something deeply. I think it’s love. It sounds sentimental as hell, but I really think it is.” ~ Andrew Wyeth, artist

Wisdom: The greatest gift one generation can give to another.


Let’s be real here: You really have no choice but to be yourself. Unless you want to pay a high price for therapists, prescription drugs and other things that numb you into believing you can be somebody else. Here is you real: Be yourself proudly or accept this fact with meek reluctance.

Some apologize for being who they are. Others accept it with their heart and soul.

It’s a journey. It starts when you are a little kid and might take decades until you accept your real self. We look at others and think “I should be more like him.” “I should be as outgoing as her.” All the self-help books in the world won’t help. You are still yourself. No matter how much you read and learn. Your job is to enjoy the strengths and live with the flaws. Turn the flaws into strengths. And be your unique self.

This wish to be somebody else and apologize for your real being is prevalent in marketing. How many years has Volvo tried to get out of the “Safety” ghetto? How many campaigns were developed to make Microsoft look cool? And the needle never moved.

If you’re safe and reliable, embrace these attributes. We all want excitement. But we also want boring reliability.

When you’re not yourself, you have problems connecting. Because you want to find people that are really not your crowd. Once you accept yourself proudly, you will find the right people. The people who like you for who you are. Who cherish your flaws.

It’s a journey filled with peaks and valleys. But, it’s worth the ride.

Saw these at my kid’s Karate class and loved the writing immediately. Enjoy.

My dreams are worthless, my plans are dust, my goals are impossible.
All are of no value unless they are followed by action.
I will act now.
Never has there been a map, however carefully executed to detail and scale, which carried its owner over even one inch of ground. Never has there been a parchment of law, however fair, which prevented one crime. Never has there been a scroll, even such as the one I hold, which earned so much as a penny or produced a single word of acclamation. Action, alone, is the tinder which ignites the map, the parchment, the scroll, my dreams, my plans, my goals, into living force. Action is the food and drink which will nourish my success.
I will act now.
My procrastination which has held me back was born of fear and now I recognize the secret mind from the depths of all courageous hearts. Now I know that to conquer fear I must always act without hesitation and the flutters in my heart will vanish. Now I know that action reduces the lion of terror to an ant of equanimity.
I will act now.
Henceforth, I will remember the lesson of the firefly who gives off its light only when it is on the wing, only when it is in action. I will become a firefly and even in the day my glow will be seen in spite of the sun. Let others be as butterflies who preen their wings yet depend on the charity of a flower for life. I will be as a firefly and my light will brighten the world.
I will act now.
I will not avoid the tasks of today and charge them to tomorrow for I know that tomorrow never comes. Let me act now even though my actions may not bring happiness or success for it is better to act and fail than not to act and flounder. Happiness, in truth, may not be the fruit plucked by my action yet without action all fruit will die on the vine.
I will act now.
I will act now.
I will act now.
I will act now.
Henceforth, I will repeat these words again and again, each hour, each day, every day, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing and the actions which follow become as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids. With these words I can condition my mind to perform every act necessary for my success. With these words I can condition my mind to meet every challenge which the failure avoids.
I will act now. I will repeat these words again and again and again.
When I awake I will say them and leap from my cot while the failure sleeps yet another hour.
I will act now.
When I enter the market place I will say them and immediately confront my first prospect while the failure ponders yet his possibility of rebuff.
I will act now.
When I face a closed door I will say them and knock while the failure waits outside with fear and trepidation.
I will act now.
When I face the temptation I will say them and immediately act to remove myself from evil.
I will act now.
When I am tempted to quit and begin again tomorrow I will say them and immediately act to consummate another sale.
I will act now.
Only action determines my value in the market place and to multiply my value I will multiply my actions. I will walk where the failure fears to walk. I will work when the failure seeks rest. I will talk when the failure remains silent. I will call on ten who can buy my goods while the failure makes grand plans to call on me. I will say it is done before the failure says it is too late.
I will act now.
For now is all I have. Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy. I am not lazy. Tomorrow is the day when the evil become good. I am not evil. Tomorrow is the day when the weak become strong. I am not weak. Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed. I am not a failure.
I will act now.
When the lion is hungry he eats. When the eagle has thirst he drinks. Lest they act, both will perish.
I hunger for success. I thirst for happiness and peace of mind. Lest I act I will perish in a life of failure, misery, and sleepless nights. I will command, and I will obey my own command.
I will act now.
Success will not wait. If I delay she will become betrothed to another and lost to me forever. This is the time. This is the place. I am the man.
I will act now.