I was given a wonderful Lindt chocolate bar for Christmas. (I love chocolate, you see.)

I was sad to read that the chocolate bar was made in New Hampshire. (Click on the image for details.) I would guess that the chef did not look like the one on the package. And yes, it tasted exactly the same as if it had been made in Germany.

Why is it I felt cheated when I know that BMWs are made in South Carolina — and I would not feel cheated if I were the buyer of a South‐Carolinian BMW?

I don’t know.


It is all relative

I get emails from Gilt. It’s fun to see what luxury deals are out there. Most of the time, the bargains are so far out of my world that I don’t even think about them. But it’s occasionally fun to imagine a vacation in Aruba, particularly when it’s -17 degrees (-27 C) outside my window.

This ad was so far out of my realm that I just laughed… two hours on a private jet for $7,700 (regular $10,000).

The funny thing is that I was once (and still am) like those who can afford those two hours. We lived in Nairobi, Kenya, (Africa) for five years. We knew people whose income represented about the same difference between ours and that of Bill Gates. Going out to a Valentine’s Day dinner at a fancy restaurant was about as inconceivable as our hiring a jet for two hours.

It’s good for me to remember that.

How do I deal with that knowledge? My wife and I try to be generous, when possible. We fail, but sometimes we succeed.


In red

It was a strange choice that Newport made to release a non‐green cigarette line. They used to appeal to the Kool line of thinking. As in, your cigarette should be refreshing. No more — now it should be hot and make you think of deserts, I guess.

Anyhow, mostly I wanted to talk about who smokes. One of my best buddies in high school still smokes. (I haven’t spoken with him in a few years, but I think he still does.) So he taught me to not judge those who smoke. (He’s a great guy.)

Yes, I know cigarettes will kill you. Smokers understand that too, but they choose to go on with the habit.

I think of many minimum wage workers who congregate in the mandatory 60 feet away from the entrance zone from the doorway to their workplace. It’s a break from the tedium of their job. Even if it kills them, they won’t die of boredom.

My heart goes out to them. Maybe they are locked into that job. Maybe there is no other choice.


Not illustration

I went off to college majoring in art. I was always the best artist in my small high school class. At the big university, I quickly learned that there were others who could draw rings around me.

But that’s not the focus of this story. Because I had talent in drawing, I minored in illustration. I had somehow forgotten that each year I did a drawing for the high school art contest, it was like having a baby (or at least what I imagine that might be like). I had forgotten that the only time I drew each year was to win the contest.

So after a year of having illustration “babies,” I switched my minor to package design. And I never looked back.

Takeaway: Are you doing something that’s not a good fit? What can you do to change things?

Illustration? I discovered along the way that taking photos was an easier way to illustrate my point than creating an illustration. And this photo does not illustrate any point, except that I had fun taking the photo.


Teach Your Parents Well

A father & daughter's loveThis is a guest post from Tim Gier. He blogs thoughtfully here. I will always be grateful to Seth Godin, who made the introduction, even though he has never met either of us.

In 1977, I was 17 years old. I began my college career at Brandies University in Waltham, Massachusetts. I had always known that I would go to college, and I knew that I would go to a school in Massachusetts, my birthplace. Even though I was only a second generation American, from where I sat, I was part of the heritage of this country all the way back to the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock.

But, I didn’t last. I dropped out of Brandeis before the first semester ended. My head wasn’t in the game, nor was it in the game when I enrolled in the University of Florida. I think that second college excursion lasted only a few weeks. I wanted to get on with living and figured I knew enough already.

Do you know how something nags at you all the time, like a scratch you cannot itch? I’ve felt that way my whole life. My mental picture of myself always included a college diploma, and that picture was always incomplete.

Fast forward 25 years. My younger daughter Melissa graduated from high school in 2002. Like her sister before her, I expected her to enroll in the University of Florida. My kids lives wouldn’t have missing pieces like mine did. Unfortunately, Melissa and UF had different plans. When she wasn’t accepted, she went to work.

Melissa began working at a local child care & activity center. It was a challenging job which required a lot of patience. Luckily, she didn’t inherit my impatience! Working long hours for low pay, she eventually got a second job at a church day care facility. Melissa’s a spit‐fire, and when she’s on the job, people know and remember her. So, she often had opportunities to babysit for people as the result of her daycare work. She ended up babysitting for the regional vice president of a bank.

Not long after meeting him, the bank officer offered Melissa a job, which she readily accepted. She rose quickly at the bank. Then she did something which surprised and impressed me. While working full time in a career position, Melissa re‐entered school, taking a full load of classes online. Night after night she’d study and push herself to do the best she could.

Because good things come to those who hustle, after a couple of years, Melissa had an opportunity to take a job with the US Federal Government, working for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Her older sister works there too.

Last year, Melissa graduated from the University of Florida, with a degree in Business Administration, having never stepped foot in a college classroom. She’s an amazing kid, and I couldn’t be any more proud of her than I am.

And me? Well, two years ago I realized that only I could finish the incomplete picture of my life. With my incredible daughter as my inspiration, I enrolled in college after 32 years. I’ll graduate in 2012.

Parents are supposed to teach their children well, and I have tried to do what I can. But I’ve learned more from my children than they’ve ever learned from me… patience, persistence, goal setting, and a made‐up‐mind are all one needs to accomplish great things.

When I grow up, I want to be just like my daughter.


Love instead

Coexist bumper stickerIf you’re in North America, you will have seen the popular “Coexist” bumper sticker. I don’t like it.

Why? Coexist means to tolerate. And tolerate means to barely get along with.

I would propose a better sticker: “Love.” I think it’s much better to aspire to loving those who believe differently than we do — rather than simply living with them on the same street.

What would it take to love people different than us? That’s your homework. It may take a few days to figure out.

Credit goes to a Polish graphic designer, Piotr Mlodozeniec, who designed the first coexist image.


With the herd?

I hang out with a lot of entrepreneurs. In that circle, innovative ideas and creativity are highly valued, as well as a high tolerance for risk.

But it also takes a lot of people working in little cubicles to keep the wheels of life moving forward.

Both‐and. It takes both ends of the spectrum for us to succeed, both corporately and as societies.

I tend toward the worker‐bee end of the spectrum. But I love spending time with entrepreneurs.