Tag Archives: teamwork

9/11 19 Years Later

Flag of the United States

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No Foodie Friday post today. I try to keep those light and today is not really a day for lightness. I’m reposting something I wrote 9 years ago on the tenth anniversary of a day that changed this country and the world, and not for the better. As I read it again, not much has changed, unfortunately. Take a minute or two today and think about that day and all those who were lost and who’ve been lost since as a result.

 

Today, this isn’t about business. If you want to skip it and come back in a couple of days, I understand. See you Tuesday.

I’m publishing this on 9/11, 10 years after a horrible day changed the world forever. I’ve spent a good part of the day thinking about the subsequent decade and how it was so very different from the 4 others in which I’ve lived that preceded it and I want to use today to share some of those thoughts. I also know we don’t do politics here – I think today we will, although hopefully in a non-partisan way.  So here are a few things I remember most about 9/11/01.

First, how beautiful the weather was that day. My commute brought me into Grand Central Station and as I walked into the sunlight and smelled the air with the smallest traces of Fall in it, I thought about how the weeks after Labor day are the best time to come to NYC. I now think about 9/11 every time it’s a really nice day.

I also thought how nice a day it was going to be for flying. A few work colleagues and I were going to San Francisco that afternoon out of Newark. We were originally going out on a morning flight but realized our meetings were later the next day so we changed flights a week earlier. Spooky.

Finally, the main thing I recall about 9/11 was 9/12.  And 9/13.  And many days thereafter.  It was about how for one of the few times in my life, the entire country came together as one.  No Democrats, no RepublicansAmericans.  I felt it in the emails and calls I received from concerned folks from all around the country and from other countries.  As a New Yorker, you saw it in all the folks who came to help from all over.

That all changed later and was, in retrospect, probably only a Band-Aid on some wounds that began to fester some time in the 90’s.  But MAN, it felt good.

That’s what struck me today – how those wounds have turned gangrenous and how utterly incapable we as a people seem to sit together and discuss how to clean up the economic and social messes around us, much as we cleaned up that other mess 10 years ago.  The memorials today showed me that we still have the ability to unite in a common good under a flag, but only if we stop yelling, start listening, and try to feel what we all felt after the unspeakable horror of that day:  that we have to find a way to clean this up and fix this.  Not as Democrats or Republicans – as Americans.

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Filed under Reality checks, What's Going On

Tennis Anyone?

We’re getting to the time of the year when political conversations, which are always lurking, come front and center. It’s not just that nearly every media outlet is covering the elections almost full-time. Social media, at least my feeds, is almost entirely politics (along with dog and cat photos).  What strikes me most about all of this is how little of the discourse is a conversation and how much of it is a rant.

Of course, politics isn’t the only place where that pattern holds true. I’ve been in many business situations where people with opposing or different views on a topic don’t really converse and try to resolve their differences. They do a lot of talking and almost no listening. That’s something I always found to be unacceptable when my team did it, and so I’d remind them that being creative and developing ideas, is like playing tennis. You send something out and wait to see what comes back. In order to continue to play, you need to make adjustments since it won’t be coming back to the same place at the same speed every time.

Take note, as you scroll through the comments in social media, or on some blogs or in your next business meeting, about how little factual information is hit over the net at the other side. Note as well how a lot of the “players” don’t really have an interest in the game. They “win” by reciting whatever preconceived notion ad infinitum and either waiting for everyone else to give up or by taking their ball and racquet and going home. That accomplishes nothing but to make each person who participates in this way more dug in, angrier, and frankly, dumber, or at least, less smart.

If you’re having a dialog, remember that the word is rooted in the notion of accomplishing something through speech (dia: through and logos: speech, reason).  You need to listen to do so. What do we accomplish via monologue other than to express ourselves? Does it matter if anyone is listening?

Playing tennis against an opponent requires you to adjust and accommodate and change your tactics. Playing against a wall by yourself doesn’t. Tennis anyone?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Huh?, Reality checks

The Mayo Clinic

For our Foodie Friday exploration this week, let’s consider an item that you probably have in your fridge – mayonnaise. I’m a big fan of the stuff, so much so that I used to get through periods of study in my dorm room with a box of Saltines and a jar of Hellman’s. Of course, now that I’ve moved down south, Duke’s is my mayo of choice. In fact, some folks refer to Duke’s as the mother sauce of the south. I don’t disagree.

Mayo is pretty simple stuff when you think about it. An egg, some lemon juice or vinegar or mustard (or all of the above), some salt and pepper, and vegetable oil is thrown together in a blender, food processor, or even just a bowl (fire up those whisking muscles) and you’ve got mayo. You can add herbs, adobo, sriracha, or just about anything else you’ve got lying around for additional flavor, but plain mayo is one of my favorite kitchen items.

You probably spread it on sandwiches. It there anything better than a tomato sandwich in summer? I think mayo makes that happen. Can one have a BLT without mayo? Not in my book. I’m a mayo on burger guy too (hey it’s really a BLT with a meat patty on it when you think about it). There are many other things to do with mayo that you might not have thought about. For example, the next time you make a grilled cheese, spread mayo on the outside instead of butter. You’ll thank me later. Rub it on your steaks before grilling. Not only will your seasonings adhere well but your steak won’t adhere to the grill. It doesn’t drip onto the flame either, so no flair-ups.

Mayo in baked goods? Well yeah – it’s eggs and oil, mostly. A little salty as well. How is a cake or muffin not made better? Coating anything you’re going to bread? Hell yes. It’s essential in Mexican Street Corn, even if you’re making it in a casserole dish and not on the grill. And did you know that we can learn some business from mayo too?

Here we have something that is all of the most basic ingredients transformed into something incredibly versatile. It’s what I always looked for in team members when I was hiring. Who understood the fundamentals? Who would work well with other equally qualified individuals? Who was capable, with some extra additions, of transforming into something different and perhaps even better? Who could be used for a seemingly endless variety of tasks?

I’m usually out of one thing or another in my kitchen but I am NEVER out of mayo. Hopefully, you’re thinking of it in a new light, just as you are about the types of folks you want on your team. What do you think?

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