Now, More Than Ever?

Now more than ever, I’ve been hearing and reading the phrase “Now more than ever.”
 
When you google that phrase, you will be bombarded by hundreds of thousands of results from election day to today.
 
Most are calls to arms from organizations and individuals who understandably feel threatened by the changes they anticipate. Their intention is to create a sense of urgency that will translate into more support – both financially and otherwise.…


I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot

For the last few years, I’ve resisted the hype over the Broadway show, Hamilton.  After all how can one play be that good, that transformational?

While I still haven’t seen it, Santa Claus did place, the cast recording in my daughter’s stocking.  And from the music alone, I can say definitively that I was wrong.

It is a masterpiece on many levels – a historical primer on our nation’s founding and a paragon for using music and art to entertain and educate.

What Is A Real Rags To Riches Story?

This Friday is the birthday of the person whose name is so synonymous with rags to riches tales, they actually refer to them as “Horacio Alger stories.”

However, there are many fallacies associated with both the man and the over 100 stories he wrote about boys rising out of poverty. 

  • Generally speaking, the boy never ascends to riches.  It’s a middle class life they aspire and rise to. 

What Will Be In Your Nature This Year?

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.


When Christmas Is Your Birthday

It has its obvious drawbacks. It’s near impossible to throw a birthday party.  You did indeed get the short end on gifts and the stiff reality that comes on December 26th when you wake up realizing it will be another 364 days until you open another present.

On the other hand, everyone seems to remember your birthday. On a day when most have a reason to be preoccupied with their own happiness, they take a few moments to share some of it with you.…


What I Learned From A Day At The Park

I am lucky to live in a village where the word public means something good. The public schools are excellent.  The public parks are beautiful.  The public library thrives year round. 

For most the 19th and 20th century, the public was preferred over the private. We held our public institutions in high esteem and were skeptical of the motives of private enterprises.  

In the last several decades the tables have turned.…


This Is How Real Change Starts

Our problems seem intractable. Opposing sides become so entrenched in their world view that any prospect of progress seems bleak.

So we spend our energy either demonizing the “other side” or trying to persuade them to “see the light” and come over to our side. 

New research out of Stanford that examined one of the most intractable of all issues offers us hope that real change starts at a more basic level – showing people that ANY change is possible.…


Can You Afford This?

Recently I was in a pinch and had to quickly buy some pasta sauce to make dinner for my family. I could have gone to the local grocery store where I normally shop but it was just a little out of my way. Instead I stopped by the gourmet store in town and picked up sauce that cost a ridiculous $10. For the convenience of saving 5 minutes I paid double of what I would normally.…


How Do You Get Out Of A Jam?

I’m writing this fresh off an eight-hour stint in a minivan with my wife, three little girls and our new four month old puppy named Scout.  Jealous?

Three hours in things could not have been better. Only one pitstop whose efficiency would have made any Nascar driver proud.

Around hour five, the estimated time of arrival in our GPS began to go backwards. Instead of counting down, it began going up. First…


What My Daughter Taught Me About Giving Thanks

Each Thanksgiving is an annual rite of passage to think about those things for which we are thankful.

In our home, like I suspect in many others, it’s usually a cursory reflection lasting just a few minutes before we dig into the turkey and stuffing.

But shouldn’t real gratitude be a little more expansive than this?

Do me a favor – take this two-minute quiz to see how grateful you really are?


Now What?

Regardless of the outcome of last week’s election, the morning after would produce two irrefutable facts: 

  • Half of all Americans would be disappointed, despaired or even disgusted with the results.
  • Each one of us would still go on with our lives, trying to do what is best for our family, our friends and ourselves.

The first point cuts to the unfortunate and growing divide in our country – a by- product of a society segregated in far too many ways.…


ANNOUNCEMENT: Webinar on the Science Behind Moving Up – July 27th @ 2pm

Tomorrow, July 27th, I am excited to be teaming up with The Communications Network to lead an online discussion about the interesting research behind Moving Up.

During this one-hour webinar, we will examine how social sciences are transforming our understanding about how and why people engage with their world and the issues we face as a society. I’ll share stories on how Moving Up has engaged individuals from all walks of life, and notably how it has engaged academics in new research surrounding the narrative of opportunity and inequality.…


Announcing an Exciting New Opportunity with Fast Company

Beginning this month, Fast Company will be serializing Moving Up: The Truth About Getting Ahead in America on Fast Co.Exist.

Fast Company is inspiring its readers to think beyond traditional boundaries and lead conversations that will propel the future of business. Fast Co.Exist is their daily exploration of the latest world changing ideas and innovations, focusing on projects that can change the way people live in the next year — and the next 100 years.…


What is Your American Dream?

In his book, The Epic of America, James Truslow Adams became the first to coin the term “American Dream” and define it.

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”


Who Would You Thank In Your Oscar Speech?

Imagine you are giving an acceptance speech for a major award, like the Oscars. Who would you thank? God? Your Mom? Your agent? Would the press write articles about how your hard work allowed you to overcome some struggle in your life to reach this pinnacle?

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. It is a familiar script on how we tell our stories about becoming successful (hard work) and who, if anyone, we have to thank for it (the usual suspects).…


Are You a Bear or a Salmon?

In Alaska, salmon swim up to 31 miles upstream to spawn, while bears fresh from hibernation will take their young cubs on an equally incredible journey. The bears begin by walking two weeks without eating while avoiding predators and battling the elements until they get to the same final destination as the salmon.

The reward for the bear’s hard work: feasting on salmon. The reward for the salmon’s 31-mile swim: the chance to avoid being eaten by very hungry bears.…


Which of These Children Will Make It?

Picture two 15-year-old children. One has a strong family, but lacks ambition. The other has a strong work ethic, but an abusive family. Which of these two do you think would be more likely to achieve the American Dream?

We asked this question as part of our research project looking at the American Dream. Almost 70% of respondents believed that the child in the abusive family is more likely to achieve the American Dream.…


Three Simple Questions

Where were you born? What is your birthday? How much did you weigh?

Answers to these three questions might be more important than you think.

  • Where were you born? Take a moment to look at this map to see how the county in which you were born affects income mobility, based on Harvard economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren.
  • What is your birthday? In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, he describes a successful Canadian Junior hockey team.

I Hope You Don’t Ace This Test

Clinicians use a common tool to assess the extent of toxic stress a child experiences during his or her childhood. It’s called the Adverse Childhood Experience test, or ACE for short. It’s a simple tool made up of just 10 yes/no questions.

Please take two minutes and take the test.

In his New York Times column, David Brooks succinctly summarized the adult outcomes associated with higher ACE scores.…


Which Hurts More? A Clean Punch Or One That Is Blocked?

Why do some kids overcome toxic situations while others don’t?

Research has shown that one answer is “a single protective adult.” A child with a buffer is far more likely to succeed than one who is left to navigate these difficulties alone — no matter how hard that child may work at it.

Having a buffer does not save or spare us from all of the indignities and pain of growing up poor, or facing extreme or toxic stress, but it can lessen their impact, sometimes considerably.…


Marshmallows & Bastards

When we look at successful adults, we often see a consistent set of character traits that were ingrained when they were children. For example:

  • Seminal moments, called flashbulb memories, established important lessons early in life.
  • Willpower developed when instant gratification was delayed for a long-term goal.
  • Resilience taught by how to get back up after failure.
  • Success momentum created by success breeding confidence and more success.

Who Taught You That?

What is the first thing you remember learning? It’s hard to say, right?

That’s because from the moment we’re born, our education begins. It’s hard to pinpoint what and when we learn because in our early years it is non-stop.

Children arrive on their first day of school with varying degrees of readiness. Thirty million degrees of variation to be exact. By some studies, children born into low-income families have heard roughly 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers when they enter school.…


Would You Prefer to Be Healthy or Smart?

What would you say is more important for your success? Your health or your education? We asked Americans which five-year-old is more likely to be successful — one with access to a good education but no health care, or one who has access to a great doctor but poor schools?

People overwhelmingly chose education by a margin of four to one. But consider this:

  • If a child is sick with untreated asthma, he or she will miss school and opportunities to learn.

Can You Connect The Dots?

The factors that contribute to our success work in concert, not isolation.

Our health impacts our ability to learn. Our ability to learn impacts our health. A single traumatic event from our childhood can have lifelong consequences.

When we don’t connect the dots, we draw incomplete pictures that make little sense. This fosters multiple bureaucratic systems working in silos and frustrating systems that add to core problems instead of solving them.…


What’s Your George Bailey Moment?

Consider this quote by Bill Moyer:

“I was one of the poorest white kids in town, but in many respects I was the equal of my friend who was the daughter of the richest man in town. I went to good public schools, had the use of a good public library, played sandlot baseball in a good public park and traveled far on good public roads with good public facilities to a good public university.