Friends

When I was young, I spent most of my time with friends. As a latchkey kid, I was told to get outside in the morning and wouldn’t return until dinner or after – depending on whether my mom was working that night. As I got older, I hung out with friends after school, after practice or after work – whatever would get me out of my trailer home.…


Aphasia

I was startled when I learned that Bruce Willis was stepping back from acting due to his recent aphasia diagnosis. This New York Times article headline describes this affliction as “stealing your ability to communicate.”

My reaction was informed by my own experience with aphasia over a decade ago. Shortly after the birth of our first child, I found myself, on occasion, saying a word I didn’t intend to.…


Belief

What or who do you believe in?

Beliefs can be a tricky thing. We all have them, in fact hold them dearly. Yet seldom do we explicitly state or share them. More often, beneath the surface, they inform, influence or dictate many of our actions.

Beliefs, according to the Oxford dictionary, can be defined in two ways:
One is “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.”…


Educated

In her 2018 memoir, Educated, Tara Westover, shared her incredible life story. She told of being raised by survivalist parents who did not permit her to go to school or see a doctor. In spite of it all and the accompanying trauma, she went on to go to Brigham Young University (her first class there was her first experience in a classroom) and then on to Oxford University and ultimately becoming a bestselling author.…


Tickets

I was interviewed recently for this article that appeared in the New York Times.

It was a vivid and important look at how young people around the world assess their potential for success in life and what they think is necessary for achieving it.

Perhaps surprisingly, young people in poorer countries were generally more optimistic about their chances of future success than those in more economically developed countries like the United States.…


Food

I’ve been thinking about food a lot lately.

On Monday of last week, an essay series that I worked on with Fast Company and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched with this piece from Saru Jayaraman looking at the future of work for restaurant workers. In it, she asks us to imagine a future where “diners don’t just ask about where produce comes from but how well workers are paid.”…


We

Which word do you use more often, “We” or “I”?

David Brooks’ column “How to Actually Make America Great Again” reflects on the new book by Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett called The Upswing It chronicles America’s swing from solidarity (we) to individualism (I) over the last fifty years.

As one point of evidence, the authors cite that the use of the word “I” in American books has doubled between 1965 and 2008.


What kind of ancestor do you want to be?

This powerful question comes from Rom Mokak,  Australia’s first Indigenous Policy Evaluation Commissioner.  It is a question that the Yawuru people ask when a major decision is to be made for their community.

When I first heard this question, it made me think of what kind of steward I am for not just my children’s future but for their children and their children and so on. I…


To stay out of the dark, capture the light

Last week, for the first time ever, we saw a picture of a black hole.  In this primer of the experience, the New York Times described a black hole as a region in space that “swallows up everything too close, too slow or too small to fight its gravitational pull.” The edge of a black hole is marked by a ring of light, called the event horizon, represents light about to be drawn into the black hole “never to escape.” …


Polar Opposites

It stood almost ten feet tall and weighted close to a thousand pounds. We were less than four feet away, separated by two trainers and a steel fence. Feeling small in its presence, it was literally awesome.

While most of the onlookers were equally mesmerized watching the polar bear go through its training exercises, it was impossible not to notice the five-year-old girl who sat just in front of me.…


Would you like to know your score?

Would you want people to make broad assumptions about you based on where you live? Would you like it if strangers were talking about your struggles in secret?  Would you be ok if people used a formula to formulate your future?
 
I imagine most of us would not feel comfortable with any of the above. Even if the acts were well intentioned, your lack of involvement or knowledge would be troubling.…


I’m Biased. Are You?

I read the New York Times and watch MSNBC because they reinforce my existing beliefs (confirmation bias).

I remember bad things done to me more than good things done for me (negativity bias).

I think that the country will ultimately be ok (optimism bias).

I didn’t think the poll results were accurate leading up to the midterms (pessimism bias).

I believe that if I flip a coin five times and get heads each time, the next flip will be tails (the gambler’s fallacy).…


Don’t Turn The Page

I really wanted to write something positive today. Then I saw this.

The first time I had seen that picture was last Sunday.  It was on the front page of the New York Times.  My seven-year old daughter had just crawled up on my lap and asked me who that was. I told her that this picture was of another seven-year old girl who lived in Yemen and because of the war going on in that country could not get enough to eat.…


Battling for Trophies

Recently my 10 year-old daughter participated in an event called, Battle of the Books. The premise seemed noble. Spark interest in reading by creating a program where students would be given five books to read over the summer.  They would meet as a group to discuss the book and then in the fall, they would gather with students from other schools for a competition based on recalling the book’s content. Sort…


The Expectations of Parents

Ted Williams was arguably the greatest hitter to ever play major league baseball. Yet his parents never watched him play a single game.

In her memoir, Educated. Tara Westover tells an incredible tale of being raised by survivalist parents and never went to school or to see a doctor as a child.  She went on to receive her PhD at Cambridge and is now a best selling author.…


A Great Vacation Idea

Leading up to the July 4th holiday, several friends told me they were traveling into America’s heartland for the week. There they would undoubtedly encounter people whose political beliefs were the polar opposite of their own. My own family vacation to Lake Erie meant that I would share both their predicament and trepidation. 
 
Yet there is something uniquely apolitical about how Americans celebrate July 4th. …


What Does It Take to Save a Life?

This week buried beneath the din of politics and conflict was a brief article in the New York Times featuring an 81-year-old Australian man who was donating blood for the last time in his life.

He started giving blood as a young man – a way of paying back those who had donated the blood he needed to survive surgery as a 14-year-old boy.

He would go on to give blood every few weeks for over 60 years.


Breaking News

Last week,  the weather app on my phone showed sun icons across the board.  As if three cherries had come up on a slot machine. Jackpot, spring had arrived!  Everyday temperatures would be above 75 degrees. The children clamored to wear shorts to school. Walking the dog would feel like a treat versus a cold chore. Visions of  firing up the grill and relaxing on the patio filled my head.…


Be The Master of Black Holes

Last week, I learned that a pivotal person from my past had died.  Yet, when I heard the news, I felt more emptiness than sadness.

Our history was decidedly mixed. He was in our lives the better part of a decade, responsible for moving us from Boston to Pennsylvania. Without that single act, I don’t meet my best friend, get the same education, marry my wife or have my children. …


Who Shapes Your Story?

Growing up, I was told two different versions of who I was and who I could become.  My stepfather instilled in me that I would never amount to anything.  I was a lazy momma’s boy and she wouldn’t be around to protect me forever. He told me that going to college was a waste of money and time. 
 
Fortunately, my mom offered a powerful counter narrative.

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.…


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.