Can You Do This Math?

Last week, Seth Godin wrote, “The difference between who you are now and who you were five years ago is largely due to how you’ve spent your time along the way.”
 
Serendipitously that same day, I watched, The Man Who Knew Infinity – a true story based on mathematicians trying to understand the world by discovering life’s underlying equations.  
 
With Seth’s words in mind, this amateur mathematician tried to develop a simple equation to capture how we become who we are.…


Making Time For Old Friends

I have been fortunate in my life to amass quite the motley crew of old friends. They have shaped and changed me in ways it is hard to capture. I suspect I am not alone. Studies have shown that our friends affect everything from the choices we make to the financial risks we take and from the weight we gain to how long we live.

By sheer numbers alone, from middle school through the time we have children, we are constantly under the influence of our friends. Spending…


How To Save Art

During a classroom visit last week, my nine-year-old daughter showed me a project, featuring side-by-side drawings of the same subject – in her case spring. One was a realistic depiction and the second an abstract version. Accompanying the pictures was a biography on the Russian artist Kandinsky whose work they learned had a similar transition from the realistic to abstract.

The most remarkable thing about this lesson in perspective was that it was not part of their art class, but instead central to a social studies unit on Russia.…


Are You Feeling More Restless?

Last week, my five-year old daughter suffered a small fracture in her tibia just below the knee. Ultimately, she will be fine. As they say, we grow stronger in all the broken places. For now, she is laid up with a removable knee brace, unable to walk, go to school, or move freely about on her own.
 
She has warmed to this new situation. Reminiscent of Hodor and Bram from Game of Thrones, she must be carried everywhere and has an innate power over all of us as we cater to her every desire. The

Why Less Time Makes For Better Living

Time is the most commonly used noun in the English language.

In our daily lives we try to manage our time or hope to use our time wisely. We grow frustrated with ourselves when we waste time and try to fill time when we have nothing planned or to do.

When experiencing a wonderful moment, we wish we could make time stand still and for a brief period we can.…


Do You Feel Lucky?

On the lead up to St. Patrick’s Day, I wondered about the phrase, “luck of the Irish.”

I had just watched a PBS documentary on Irish history and they didn’t seem very lucky at all.  Considering:

  • The great potato famine took over one million lives and drove another million to emigrate – decreasing the population of Ireland by almost 25%.
  • Their war for independence from England caused a lasting divide between Unionists in Northern Ireland and Nationalists in Southern Ireland.

What Is The Soundtrack Of Your Life?

Music is seminal to our lives. From our first lullaby to our wedding dance to whatever dirge they may play at our funeral, songs mark both our most important moments and hum in the background of our daily lives.
 
(As I write this now, music ripples through my ear buds playing Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia – which perhaps subconsciously led to the inclusion of the funeral reference above).

Are You Up For A Road Trip?

There would appear to be something deeply ironic about our country’s name today.

To look at an electoral map, with it’s blues on the coasts and red in the middle, makes a clear enough case that at least politically there is nothing united about these states at all.

But upon further inspection, our geographic borders and how they came to be, tell another story altogether.

In his new book, Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America’s Role in the World, Robert Kaplan takes us on a road trip from New York to California.…


You Have 45 Seconds

It’s the biggest night of your career. Over 30 million people will watch you take the stage to accept an award. Filled with pride and gratitude for everything that it took you to get to this pinnacle of success, you lift your trophy and approach the microphone.

You now have 45 seconds to express what’s in your heart. Go.

During last night’s Oscars a few took the opportunity to use one of the world’s largest stages to make an overt political point — no doubt earning appreciation from their fans but derision from those who disagreed with their views.…


Maybe You Could Be President Someday…

This phrase has probably been uttered to hundreds of millions of American children over our country’s 240 year history.

Yet during that time only 44 people have actually held that job.

It is no wonder that when we tell the stories of our Presidents we marvel at the individual efforts and the hard work that must have been required to ascend to our highest office. Yet consider how many other factors, like these, had to fall in place when you hear their extraordinary individual tales:

Money helps.…


Can You Feel The Wind At Your Back?

According to research from Shai Davidai and Thomas Gilovich, probablynot nearly as much as you can feel it in your face.
 
In one classroom exercise, Davidai asks students to google images for headwinds and tailwinds. For headwinds, there is a whole host of images of people being blown backwards and destroyed umbrellas.  For tailwinds, not so much (other than the occasional aeronautics diagram of planes.)
 
Images of headwinds are more available to us not just online but in our own minds. 

Do Your Job

This is the mantra of the New England Patriots. The idea is simple. If everyone commits to understanding what your role is, focusing on doing that job well, and trusting your teammates to do theirs, the team – and everyone on that team – will win. The emphasis is not on being the best person ON the team but being the best person FOR the team.…


One Woman’s March

“There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to be in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards, where white clouds of bloom drifted above the green land. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines.”


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.…