5 years, 3 months, and 10 days. Living a good life is challenging. Live well anyway.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Today is a hard day.  Actually, it’s been a hard week.

But, no one promised you life would be easy.  If anyone did, he or she lied.

Life is a struggle … to do the right thing, to do the best you can under the circumstances, to be true to yourself despite pressures from all sides to conform to the wishes and demands of others, etc.  As Anton Chekhov said, “Any idiot can deal with a crisis; it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.”

Live well anyway.  What choice have you?  You could lie, cheat, steal, and boot-lick your way up, but there is no honor in that.  Further, you will find that path unpleasant on the way up and that it never ends.  Change is a constant, and you must constantly kiss ass to remain in the position.  Is it really worth it?  Would you rather live honestly or would you rather be a two-faced, back stabbing bootlicker who’d sell his own mother for profit?

Be true to yourself, my sons.  It’s a tough road, but it is one that will enable you to look back on your life with pride.  It will give your life meaning, and will give reasons for those who matter in the world to celebrate your life instead of long for your death.  See, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/us/barbara-bush-dead.html; and, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/04/18/southwest-airlines-victim-jennifer-riordan/527363002/.

Buck up!  There will always be difficult days. But, strive to live such that more of your days are pleasant than unpleasant.

We are surrounded by ankle-biters, who will never amount to much.  But, that is the nature of ankle-biters: they are often of low- or poor-skills, will never make much of their lives, and are best at pulling others down to their levels.  Ignore them if you can, deal forcefully with them if you must, but spend most of your time pursuing your goals and dreams.  Your success is what they fear most … because it makes more stark their failures.

Be you.  Be the best you.  Find joy wherever and whenever you can.  Make it a priority to spend time with friends and people who love you.  Make friends.  Let nature nourish your body, heart, mind, and spirit.  Experience life.

Love with all you heart and soul because that is the only way to love and live.  To hedge your bet or to reciprocate only the feelings of another is to empower your mind to cage your heart and imprison it in fear.  Don’t do that.  Experience life.  With great love may come great loss, but at least you would have loved and lost rather than to have never experience such miracle and exquisite beauty.

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All my love, always.  You are the best of me.

Dad

P.S., don’t buy the “fake news” crap that the dishonest espouses.  Reputable newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post build their reputations over decades, and have processes in place to protect the hard-earned good-will and reputation they cultivated.  They make mistakes, as all humans are want to do, but they try to be fair and accurate.  That is a lot more than others who won’t even bother to be fair, accurate, or even truthful.

Congratulations to the New York Times, Washington Post, Arizona Republic, and others on their Pulitzer Prizes.  http://www.pulitzer.org/prize-winners-by-year/2018.

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5 years, 3 months, and 6 days. Be kind to your audience.

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Pity the readers.

https://kmh-lanl.hansonhub.com/pc-24-66-vonnegut.pdf (emphasis added)

http://kmh-lanl.hansonhub.com/pc-24-66-vonnegut.pdf

My dearest and most precious Shosh and Jaialai:

Kurt Vonnegut said it best and most succinctly:  “Pity the readers.”  Be kind to your audience.  They occupy not your life and live not in your head; thus, they have the difficult task of trying to follow your thoughts — be it in written or oral form.  Help them.

First, know your audience.  Who are they?  What do they want out of the interaction with you?  What are their interests?  What are their levels of education?  What is their frames of reference?  For example, if you were talking to high school graduates who are sports fanatics, and you peppered your conversation with quotes from a philosophy book, do you think your audience would be hooked by your presentation or bored?  Know your audience.  Speak their “language” — be it words, anecdotes, imagery, etc.

Second, as the speaker or writer, IT IS YOUR JOB to communicate your thoughts clearly to your audience.  Don’t shirk your duties.  Worse, don’t blame your audience for your failure to do your job.

For example, your job as the writer is to help your readers understand what you are saying by clearly giving them roadmaps and textual clues for them to follow along.  Thus, use signals – such as commas, and words like “but” – to tell readers what to expect and to better help them understand your points.

Shosh, when you were a toddler, you visited me at the office and scared my staff.  Ms. T asked why you liked construction equipment or something that simple.  You responded with, “Well, I like them for three reasons.  First, …”  Your detailed analysis as well as clear and organized thinking freaked them out.  Mr. D said he’d rather have kids who are not as smart since they would be easier to teach.

In life, you will find that if you care about your audience, they will care about you in return.  Do the hard lifting and complicated analyses for your audience and explain complex ideas in simple terms for your audience, and they will knock down your door to get to you and your services.  I promise.

Be well, my sons.  Live well.  Be happy.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

5 years, and 3 months. You can do well by doing good. Strive to do good well.

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My dearest and most precious sons, Shosh and Jailai:

You often hear it said that the good guy always loses.  I beg to differ.

Although the bad guy — who is willing to lie, cheat, and steal — may get ahead in the short run by skirting the law and morality, he/she loses in the long run.  First, note recent reports of the downfall of the mighty, e.g., Samsung’s chief and heir face prison time for their corrupt practices, a former president of South Korea has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for corruption, and a former president of Brazil has been sentence to 12 years in prison for corruption.  Crime catches up with you partly because you make enemies.  That leads to my second point: bad guys live in constant fear of being exposed or on the receiving end of their misdeeds.  A thief, for example, fears being discovered and thinks everyone is out to get him.  Thus, he must constantly be on guard and trusts few .  Is that a good way to live?  Are those the makings of a good life?  No.

You can do well by doing good in the world, by helping to make the world a better place.  For example, at a time when computing was limited to the few, Steve Job envisioned a world where there is a computer in every home and that technology is accessible to all.  As a result of his efforts, most homes today have one or more computers.  At the time of his death, Mr. Job’s net worth was $10.2 billion.  https://www.investopedia.com/university/steve-jobs-biography/steve-jobs-net-worth.asp.  He did well by doing good, wouldn’t you say?  (Now, reports are that Steve Job is not the easiest man to get along with and has his own issues.  But, who among us is perfect?  Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Acknowledge his contributions to the world, but hold him accountable for his less stellar aspects as appropriate.)

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The undergirding of today’s lesson is the same fundamental lessons I’ve always harped on:  be you but be the best you can be, and try to leave your corner of the world a little bit better than when you first found it.  I leave you with another wise word from one of my favorite people.

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Go forth, do good, and do well.  Live a purposeful life.  Happiness lies therein.

All my love, always,

Dad

5 years, 2 months, and 30 days. Live your passion and aspire to be better.

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My dearest and most precious Shosh and Jaialai:

Today, I write with a heavy heart.  It just is.  But, it’s ok.  Sadness is a part of life.  Accept it, deal with it, move on.

It’s apt as, today, I’d like to talk about being positive.  They say, “Misery loves company,” but that is true only for the miserable person.  Unless we’re down in the dumps, who among us enjoy hanging out with someone who is always mopey and miserable?  Not I.  I suspect not you either.  It’s probably true of most people.

Misery exhausts us.  It’s draining.  It takes our life force.

Thus, be a good friend and empathize or sympathize with your friends as necessary when they face difficulty.  However, at all other times, focus on the positive.  (Thus, Jesus, when addressing a more enlightened crowd, distilled the more negative 10 Commandments given to a people during the infancy of their civilization — after years of slavery in Egypt — to the two life-affirming Two Commandments of “Love God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”)

Life is miserable enough as it is without you feeding the beast called Misery.  Feed Joy and Beauty, and you shall be well-rewarded.  Focus on that which uplifts you, makes you happy, and makes your life worth living.

a recently-published study by Toshimasa Sone and colleagues at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan. In a seven-year longitudinal study of 43,000+ Japanese adults, these researchers found that individuals who believed that their life was worth living were less likely to die than were their counterparts without this belief.

One focus in this study was the Japanese notion of ikigai, translated by the researchers as believing that one’s life is worth living. In Japan, ikigai is apparently a common term for what English speakers might term subjective well-being, and it includes purpose and meaning, with connotations of joy about being alive. So, one’s hobby might provide ikigai, or one’s family, or one’s work.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-good-life/200809/ikigai-and-mortality (emphasis added)

What makes your life worth living?  Numerous talking heads, philosophers, and thought leaders offer countless solutions.  See, e.g., https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hot-thought/201002/what-makes-life-worth-living.  But, they can’t help you.  Only YOU can decide what makes you happy, gives your life meaning, and makes your life worth living.

Find your ikigai.  How?  Live.  Experience life.  Embrace it.  Find joy where ever you are.  Stop and pay attention: it’ll reveal itself to you, be it a leaf that flutters vigorously while others are still, a bird song, or the murmur of the grove.  Find your passion.  Find what gives your life meaning.  Do all the positive things that makes life beautiful and avoid, to the extent possible and practicable, all things that detracts from the beauty of life … including hours wasted on video games and social media (where, studies show, you end up more depressed from all the false fronts “friends” post on their feeds).

Others have other suggestions for finding your ikigai.  I leave you with two.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

Discover Your Passion — Or ‘Ikigai’ — With 4 Simple Tips

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Earlier this year, a friend from Denmark shared with me how she felt contented and happy in all areas of her life except for her career. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do and struggled to discover her passion.

The question, “how do I know what my passion is?” is one I have asked myself many times and is something I often get asked. I once thought that it was only the younger generation (i.e. Millenials or Gen Y’s) who were concerned about this. But research from IBM Institute of Business Value (2014) says otherwise. Millennials (20%), Gen X’s (21%) and Baby Boomers (23%) see doing work they are passionate about as an important long-term goal.

Finding your passion can seem like a very western concept but it actually isn’t. In Japan there is a term called “ikigai,” which means, “reason for being.” This is similar to passion but holds a strong “purposeful” connotation. Ikigai is also believed to be the union of 4 elements: What you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. The Japanese see the discovery of your ikigai as requiring a deep, long search within yourself that can bring about satisfaction and meaning to life.

So how can you go about discovering your passion or ikigai? Here are some tips that will help you:

Tip 1: Find a purpose you strongly believe in

People discover their passions or “ikigai” through a number of ways, such as going through life-changing experiences (both positive and negative), deep inner-reflection, by chance or by an inner-determination to make a change. Finding a strong purpose or something you deeply care about will keep you on the path to staying true to yourself and focused on persisting through difficult times. A great starting question to reflect on is, “what would I like to see different in the world?”

Tip 2: Stop thinking and start doing

If you are someone with many passions or you’re waiting for the right moment, there is no perfect time or age to pursue your passion. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook FB -1.34% aged 19 and Charles Flint on the other hand founded IBM IBM -2.25% at the age of 61. The only way you can find your true passion is through trying. Every small step counts and will lead you closer to discovering your passion.  And if you’re passionate about many things, narrow it down to the top 2 and try those long enough so you can decide if that is what you want to do.

Tip 3: Speak to people with similar passions

Speak to people with similar passions, interests and even those who have been there and done that. You may be surprised by the complementary ideas they’ll share with you, the opportunities to collaborate and even the mistakes they’ll share with you from their journey (which you can learn from). But if you are blazing an unknown trail, don’t underestimate the impact you can make. Malala Yousafzai, an inspiring female activist for girl’s education in Pakistan, was one of the few who would speak and write about this from the young age of 11. When she was 15, a Taliban gunman attempted to murder her. But she didn’t stop campaigning for girls’ education and is now the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

Tip 4: Accept that setbacks are normal

Whilst pursuing your passion or reason for being, you may experience many set backs such as the lack of support from peers, your ideas being dumped, not receiving financial help, etc. Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, shared that he was rejected from Harvard Business School 10 times but that didn’t stop him from starting his company, which is now valued at $264.9 billion. Recognize setbacks as normal and learn from them, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.

Discovering your ikigai, or passion, can be one of the greatest journeys you will embark on. It will be challenging and there will be many ups and downs.  Just remember it won’t happen overnight. As Diana Ross once said, “you can’t sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.”

 

How To Find Your Ikigai And Transform Your Outlook On Life And Business

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One of my favorite things about my work at BodeTree is the fact that I get the chance to learn from amazing entrepreneurs every day.

Recently, one such entrepreneur by the name Maria Turco, Chief Yogini of Honor Yoga and a client of BodeTree, introduced me to a concept that I’ve been unwittingly searching for my entire life.

The concept is called Ikigai, and it is a Japanese term that roughly translates to “reason for being.”

I was immediately intrigued and set about learning everything I could about this framework and how it applies to my life as an entrepreneur.

What I discovered helped to bring into focus a “theory of everything” that I’ve struggled for years to articulate on my own.

What is Ikigai?

 Ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy”) is, above all else, a lifestyle that strives to balance the spiritual with the practical.

This balance is found at the intersection where your passions and talents converge with the things that the world needs and is willing to pay for.

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt a certain existential frustration that stemmed from the conflicting desires. One one hand, I wanted to live a life of meaning and consequence. On the other, I wanted to enjoy the lifestyle that came along with money.

The result was an infuriating struggle between the things that made money and the things I truly cared about.

I set out to solve this with a concept I called “Enlightened Entrepreneurship,” which tried to find the right balance between these seemingly conflicting goals.

However, I always felt it was missing a certain something that I could never put my finger on.

I now believe that Ikigai is the refined version of the concept I was looking for. It is, simply put, your reason for getting out of bed every morning.

Discovering your Ikigai

One of the many mistakes I’ve made in my life was believing that money led to fulfillment. That’s largely why I went into finance in the first place.

When I think back on those days, I can’t help but think of the James Taylor lyric “you can play the game and you can act out the part,even though you know it wasn’t written for you.”

It never felt right, but I thought that if I had money, then I could have an impact on the world.

What I learned, however, is that form follows intent.

To discover you Ikigai, you must first find what you’re most passionate about. Then, you find the medium through which you can express that passion.

Steve Jobs is a fantastic example of this idea. It’s easy to think of Jobs as a titan of technology, but that would be inaccurate. Jobs was a lover of fine craftsmanship, first and foremost.

Whether it was a matter of collecting handmade Japanese tea cups or obsessing over design details of various products, he wrapped himself in his passion for finely made items.

Apple and Pixar were merely his chosen mediums of expression.

This is something that I can relate to. I’d be lying if I said that I always cared deeply about finance, technology, or franchising. Truth be told, those things are not particularly meaningful to me in and of themselves.

What I am passionate about is transparency, truth, and helping people live up to their highest potential.

My company is simply the vehicle through which I can take these passions, apply them to the things that the world needs, and make a profit in the process.

In other words, BodeTree is my Ikigai.

A transformative realization

This is not to say that work is the most important thing in my life. That honor falls to my faith and my family. While I’m far from perfect, I strive to make sure that they are the center of my life.

However, there’s a difference between the things that are important in your life and your life’s work.

Ikigai is about finding joy, fulfillment, and balance in the daily routine of life.

 It’s all too easy to fall victim to siloed thinking, that our job, family, passions, and desires are all separate and unrelated aspects of our lives.

The fundamental truth of Ikigai is that nothing is siloed. Everything is connected.

This realization has changed my outlook for the better. Whether you call it Ikigai or Enlightened Entrepreneurship, the truth remains. It is possible to be true to your passions, live a life of consequence, and still use business as a medium of expression.

At the intersection of all of this are feelings of peace and lasting happiness that can sustain us throughout our entire lives.

 

 

5 years, 2 months, and 26 days. Find joy. Cherish and be grateful for those joyous moments.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Life is tough.  There is no getting around that.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding him- or herself.  Life’s challenges worm their way into everyone’s life.

Thus, find joy where ever you may.  The smell of the first rainfall on parched earth.  Sunrise.  Freshly cut grass.  How your little hand felt in mine when we went for walks back then.  The sound of your laughter.  That mischievous glint in your eye.  The feel of waves.  The beach.  Sand.  A smile.  Hummingbirds.  A cool breeze.  Heat.  Salty butter on crunchy baguette.  The smell of coffee.  Home.

Be present, immerse yourselves in the joyous experience, and be grateful for them.  Don’t let the travails of life detract from its beauty. Hold on to the good and beautiful.  Be present, but revisit these moments of beauty as necessary to keep your spirits up.  Remember, self-care is critical.  Live to fight another day.

Life is what you make of it.  If you focus on the negative, then life will be the shits.  Why would you want to do that to yourself.  Feed the positive and work towards the possible.  Whatever challenges currently plaguing you will pass.  Don’t let it consume you.  Where’s the joy in that?

Make your life a testament to its beauty.  Let it be a symbol of hope for those without.  But, more importantly, immerse yourselves in that which is beautiful and joyous so that YOUR LIFE WILL BE BEAUTIFUL AND JOYOUS.  That is my wish for you, my sons.  Enjoy life regardless of the bitter cup presently set upon your lips.  This too will pass.

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All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

5 years, 2 months, and 20 days. Be true to you and worry not about others.

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Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
— ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I apologize for the long silence.  It has simply been a very difficult spell.

Other than you boys, what I miss most of our home is the small community in which we lived. For the most part, our neighbors were well-educated and well-mannered.  I have had the fortune of reaching a level of professional success which enabled us to live far from the ghettos and the accompanying filthy environment and vices. Being refugees now, we are no longer as fortunate.  (A friend, who was a judge on the appeal panel for refugee and immigration determination, advised us that what happened to us qualified us as refugees under international law.)

Today, I simply want to touch on two things. The first, I think, is the most important.  As per Abraham Lincoln and others, it is

[b]etter to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.

Many forget this lesson and speak of things about which they know little or nothing.  By doing so, they prove themselves fools and erase all doubts that may have been accorded them before they opened their mouths.

Be disciplined.  Avoid saying things that cannot be validated with documentary or testimonial evidence.  This strategy ensures you do not overspeak and protects your reputation.

Furthermore, be given to action rather than words.  It is better to do and show people what you can do than to tell them about how great you are … unless you are pitching to a potential client and telling him/her what you can do for his/her company.  Even then, the successes of your past projects speak louder than any words you may use in your pitch.

My second lessons to you, my sons, is to choose your battles wisely.  Let not anyone and everyone provoke you.  The world is full of ankle-biters who can never reach the heights for which you are destined; thus, they take to nipping at your ankles to annoy.  Ignore them.  Use your God-given talents to make positive changes in the world.  You will have to account for your talents when you meet your Maker.  Let the others account for the talents with which God entrusted them.  If they failed to live up to His expectations, that’s a problem between them and God, not you.

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Focus on doing your best and being your best.  Don’t worry about what “others” may think.  Why should you give them such power?

Regardless of whether others are showering you with praise or vitriol, would your believing in those praises or vitriols add minutes to your life? brain cells to your head? beauty to your face? dollars to your bank accounts?  No.  Either way, thank them for their input, put it aside, then refocus on doing your best and being your best.

Remember the wise words of Teacher Mary, Shosh: you have control only over yourself and not others.  Thus, don’t worry about others, don’t take ownership of the foolishness of others, don’t let others live your life, etc.

All my love, always, my sons,

Dad

 

 

5 years, 2 months, and 10 days. Beware: pride comes before a fall.

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My most dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I apologize for not writing the past several days.  They have been among the darkest.

As I come away from the morass, I am reminded of the above proverb.  As I’ve said earlier, pride is one of the 7 Deadly Sins, yet so many are afflicted by it…myself included.  This is the challenge of life, isn’t it — to struggle daily to live right?

"Any idiot can face a crisis; it's this day-to-day living that wears you out." -Anton Chekhov [800x600]

(https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/06/14/face-crisis/)

There is a fine line between confidence, pride, and arrogance.  You can be proud of your achievements, your heritage, etc., but don’t hold it over others as if they are your inferior because they are found wanting, they didn’t measure up.  Remember,

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Nothing in life is a given.  The gifts of today may be taken away tomorrow … or even sooner.

Work hard to be your best.  Strive daily to improve.  But, always be grateful for what you have.  You stand on the shoulder of giants.  Without the knowledge and contributions of those who came before you or I, we’d still be standing there trying to figure out how to rub sticks together to create fire.

We’re not where we are today due solely to our own efforts.  We were fortunate enough to be born into good families and to live in a safe and secure country, where — thanks to the grace of God — we have the economic means to nourish our bodies and our minds.  Millions of American children are not so fortunate. See, e.g., http://abcnews.go.com/US/hunger_at_home/hunger-home-american-children-malnourished/story?id=14367230; and, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/majority-of-us-public-school-students-are-in-poverty/2015/01/15/df7171d0-9ce9-11e4-a7ee-526210d665b4_story.html?utm_term=.cbbe42e79afd.  The problem is even more acute worldwide.  http://www.thp.org/knowledge-center/know-your-world-facts-about-hunger-poverty/.  We are where we are today because fate was kind to us.  We were not born deformed and in impoverish countries, where hope is in short supply.  Count your blessings.

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Recently, I came across two elderly PhD’s who stayed in youth hostels during their travels, but who could not stop bragging about how great they are, how much they knew, how no one was better than they, etc.  Their pride and arrogance blinded them to the irony that they were making such claims even as they, as old people, were staying at cheap youth hostels that catered to young and poor travelers.

If they were so brilliant and great, how is it that financial and professional success eluded them?  Are the rest of us simply too stupid to appreciate their greatness?  Is that why society, as a whole, has failed to shower them with adulation and success?

It does happen that a genius is misunderstood and underappreciated by society.  It happens, but it’s rare.  For example, Galileo was a man before his time and was punished by the Church for asserting that the Sun is the center of our galaxy and not the Earth, as the Church taught at the time.  It took the Church more than 300 years to forgive his “error”.  See, e.g., https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/galileo-is-convicted-of-heresy; and, https://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/31/world/after-350-years-vatican-says-galileo-was-right-it-moves.html.  But, in the history of mankind as written over the tens of thousands of years of our existence and the billions who have lived, how many Galileos have we?  Few and far in between.

Given the remoteness of the probability that these elderly doctorates were cut from the same cloth as Galileo, we turn to the more likely answer:  they are simply not as great as they claim to be.  They stay in youth hostels because they do not have the financial means to stay in a more comfortable, upscale, and expensive hotels.  Financial and professional success has eluded them because their egos far exceeds their actual skills.  They would be wise to boast less and do more.

For the most part, society pays people their worth.  Elite athletes, doctors, lawyers, etc., are paid handsomely to compensate them for their superior skills … which are in short supply in society.  We pay the less skilled significantly less money because they are easily replaced, i.e., there are many workers available in the marketplace with similar skills as theirs.  Thus, with rare exceptions, it is folly for someone to claim greatness when professional success eludes them.  (Again, with few exceptions, most of their peers in their profession should be able to assess their true value, don’t you think?  Exceptions exist, but are few and far in between.  See, e.g., http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-people-who-became-famous-after-death.php.)

Be not like those braggarts.  Focus on being and doing your best; fame and fortune will follow.  Concern yourself not with self-praise.  Let your praise be the domain of others … if they see fit.

(A corollary is to always watch what people do, but not accept as truth what people say.  Listen to what they say, thank them, but hold it at bay until you could confirm the veracity of their statements.  Then, and only then, act on the information as you see fit.  If it is true and wise counsel, take it to heart and internalize it.  If it is false, discard it.  If it has contains both truth and falsehood, then select the best part and discard the remainder.)

Be yourself, but be your best self.

All my love, always,

Dad