Each year, from 1963 to 1969, the Beatles sent a floppy plastic record of Christmas songs and chatter to each member of their fan club as a holiday gift. These disks are now quite rare. Click here for a compilation of those recordings, artwork and photographs. At the bottom of the page, you can download the MP3s.
I haven’t watched TV on a regular basis since the last
Cheers episode on May 20, 1993.
I’ve been told that I've missed some great shows as friends whose opinions I respect have
raved about one show or another over the years. But frankly, I always felt
empty after an evening of television watching (although I absolutely loved Hill
Street Blues way back when) so I just took myself out of the habit of watching.
I basically decided to reclaim the time to do other stuff.
In any case, my son Jake likes to watch The Apprentice. My
wife, in her continuing attempt to have “family time” thought it a good idea
for us to join Jake as he watches the show. Given the god-awful shows that blare
away in my son’s playroom while he simultaneously fights intergalactic wars on
his computer, The Apprentice was probably the best choice among some rather
slim pickings to have “family time” around. So being a boy scout, I decided to
listen to my wife (as if I had any other choice).
But when I watch this show, I cringe. I hate how people stab
teammates in the back. I hate how they secretly plot with each other against
another candidate. I hate how they vigorously point out another person’s flaws
to Donald Trump in an attempt to save their own skin.
In business, teamwork and collaboration are absolute keys to
success. Undermining another on your team by plotting against him, speaking ill
of him behind his back, and being openly critical of him in front of the boss will
not foster the type of team power that one needs to be successful.
At the climax of the show, Donald Trump reels off a litany
of failings that a candidate has before firing him and then in a disgusted way
orders that person to go home. This practice may make for compelling television
but it is a disastrous business practice and a boorish way (to say the least) to
treat people. These practices encourage interpersonal negativity and they
weaken a team’s collective coherence. As a result they stifle creativity and
they chase away the possibility of “good luck.”
Call me old-fashioned or New Age or woefully idealistic, but
I like to create win-win-win-win-wins. All participants should win – the team
members, the customer, the local community, the environment, and the
shareholders. Sometimes it is even possible to have your competitors win too.
Back stabbing, on the other hand, is simply not a prescription for long term success.
I wouldn’t know Tookie Williams from a bar of soap but I
know that he was executed yesterday because he had been found guilty of
committing several brutal murders. With this as a backdrop, I thought I’d throw
in my two digital cents regarding the death penalty.
I believe that the Universe is lawful down to the tiniest
sub-atomic particle and event. In other words, I believe that justice is an
absolute that is hard-wired into everything and that Nature’s accounting system
is unfailingly accurate to the penny and to the smallest occurrence. In that
light, it is simply not possible for anyone to get away with anything. In the
context of The Big Picture, I believe everyone gets everything he or she deserves
(good and bad) in this life or in a future life and that justice is always
Every religion regards killing as a sin. It is therefore a
sin whether performed by an individual, or an army, or a government. It seems
hypocritical to me that governments have piously declared that premeditated
murder deserves the ultimate punishment but then they turn around and
premeditate a murder themselves. They premeditate and plan all the
details down to the exact time, place, and method – “Mr. Stanley ‘Tookie’
Williams will be executed one minute past midnight by lethal injection at San Quentin Prison.”
Frankly, I don’t think the sixth Commandment is improved by
changing its wording to “Thou shalt kill only evil ones.”
I believe that everyone one of us shares in the karma of the
sin of executing a criminal and most assuredly that sin is not forgotten by the
Author of that particular Commandment.
Two wrongs do not make a right. The death penalty doesn’t
solve anything or fix what was broken. It does the exact opposite – it takes us
a step closer to barbarism.
It’s the darnedest thing but sometimes your biggest opportunity
for success is not in front of you but on the periphery of where you are
focused. Consider the Kellogg brothers. They ran a sanitarium. Their corn flakes
initially were just some trivial thing they concocted to serve their guests at breakfast.
When I was in the ice cream biz, my store also served coffee --
just like every other restaurant in the universe. But there was one little
difference. Since I wanted everything to be absolutely tiptop, we
bought expensive gourmet coffee beans, ground them fresh right in the store,
and sold the brewed coffee at a premium price. Our reputation spread quickly as
having the best coffee in town and we sold untold gallons of the stuff.
The cool part about coffee is that its profitability is
enormous. Coffee has a relatively low ingredient cost. (So do pizza and soft
drinks for that matter.) Generally speaking, a restaurant likes to operate with its
ingredient costs running about 20% to 25% of the price on the menu. For
instance, if you sell something for one dollar, its ingredient cost should be
around 20 cents. With coffee, however, the ingredient cost is one seventh
to one tenth. In other words, one cup more than pays for the entire pot.
When I looked at my company’s financial reports each month, I
was always pleasantly pleased with how much revenue coffee brought in and I
marveled at how profitable it was. Now keep in mind all this was taking place pre-Starbucks. It never occurred to me
that perhaps coffee presented a larger upside than ice cream. If I were a better businessman, I would have realized that
possibility at least enough to have tested the premise somewhere.
The moral of the story: Take off the horse blinders. Be
alert to the periphery. What you regard as a minor side show, may in fact be
the feature presentation.
P.S. If you want to read my 10-part story about my ice cream business that I posted in April and May 2005, click here. The story begins on April 20.