Making Decisions

Today there are a lot of what seems to be decisions to make. Does my daughter go to track, or just soccer? Does she drive her friends to soccer? Does my son really want to be in school? Should we support him in that effort, even though he does not put in the effort? Or should we pull the plug on school, since we are racking up the bills — and him too? Should I stay and hash out a conversation with my wife about spending more time together, about how to handle the dogs, about being missed or not, and about taking so much time in the morning to drink coffee?

All of these things are part of life, of course. But they also take away from the goals I am trying to achieve: mainly to get work going that makes money, whether it is a startup being funded, or a large corporation and being part of their team. Those are the decisions I want to be making, or at least making progress on, since they add stress to my life – financial stress, and social stress to a lesser degree.

But the first set of questions means more to me, and to my life. Why do I put the latter first? Because there is social stigma and judgement around what work you do, how successful you are, and where that puts you in the social strata? Probably a lot there. But also the personal expectations of doing well, paying bills, saving for life and financial independence. Making those goals seems super important. But as I think about it, we live day to day, in the moment, and those moments are the most important. What we are doing right now is the most important moment of our life — because it is really the only moment we have. Not the past, not the future — you only have right now.

So making the most of right now is best. Figuring out my son’s right now is best. Figuring out my daughter’s right now is best. And figuring out what is best for my wife and me right now is best. What’s the use for saving and planning for the future if it is not a moment that you can embrace and enjoy. And as I said before in another note, if you embrace the moment of now, you will not regret anything as the moment passes, making the next moment sweeter. And you won’t be worried about the upcoming moments, until they actually get here, and when you then take them on fully.

So rushing from one place to the next probably is not the best way to go. And not taking advantage of the time you have in this moment, to work, play, discuss, or embrace is also not the best way to go. Enjoy this moment and tackle it while you are here. That seems like the best decision to make.

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Happy 50th Jeffrey!

To my buddy Jeffrey,

It was a long time ago, maybe 1991, 27 years ago, when Jeffrey and I crossed paths. We were both in school and I needed a partner to work with on a project. I could have picked someone who was smart, or pretty, or organized, but instead I picked Jeffrey! I decided that I wanted someone shifty looking, someone who could come up with some crazy schemes, someone who could talk his way into things, or out of things! Jeffrey was the right guy.

Not long after that project we became fast friends, scheming our way through graduate school, focusing on the important things like partying, girls, taking trips, going sailing, and enjoying the heck out of every day. Of course, there were and still are laughs along the way, frequent trips to the Apple Store, and for the past many years, lots of family time. Jeffrey soon became “Uncle Jeffrey” to my family and I loved it when my kids finally got old enough to ask me why we had a Chinese uncle? I knew the day would come. Who’s brother was he, and how is he related to us?

Now Jeffrey has his own family, and has finally caught my age, or maybe even passed me by. It is a joy to see him with his happy family, and I smile when I think about them, when I talk to them, and when I see them. I am only sad that he and his family live in Taipei, Taiwan, and my family lives in Connecticut, in the USA.

But I am lucky to have the reason to go crazy and fly to the other side of the world, to help surprise him on his 50th birthday! As I sit in the plane for the better part of two days, I am grateful to have such a good friend in my life. It has given me and continues to give me real joy, and the chance to pay him back for flying across the world to celebrate my 50th.

Of course I can only publish this after his surprise party, so I don’t ruin things. My promise though moving forward is make more crazy maneuvers like this one, and not just for momentous occasions —- but maybe just because it’s Tuesday, or because it’s time to increase the joy in the world. Happy birthday pal!

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The benefits of a long commute

It is a week into May, and today I am back on the train, commuting into the city, which I have not done in forever. I miss it. I miss the time and space to be disconnected, yet somewhat connected to the others along the same journey, with their routines and habits, making the best of the time, or at least passing the time on their smart phones. This group will surely be the first species to revert back to Neanderthal, hunching over as we train our spines to more easily worship the phones that guide us. It is a beautiful day, clear and 60 degrees, with green popping out and new life all around. Even the robots with me on the train can’t complain too much.

I am headed in to have breakfast with my parents, who are in town for a high school reunion, certainly celebrating longevity and the memories from 65 years ago. Truly amazing, and they are lucky to be at those celebrations. I haven’t seen my mom since Christmas and it has been too long for sure. It has been easy to let the stresses of the first quarter take over my time, and push back the desire to check in, to visit, to share the time especially as age and its devious agents steal the usable time, replacing it with doctor visits and other reasons to stay close to home. That space across the country seems larger when we don’t take the time to cross it to do the things that really matter in our lives. I have fallen victim to putting work over family, and I am glad to change that balance today.

The long commute on the train in this morning gives me time to realize my misplaced priorities, and to also reflect on the good in my life. Oprah and Deepak reminded me to focus on the positive input in life and lessen the negative. This train ride gives me that time to adjust priorities.  

My commute these days is even longer sometimes as I fly to meet colleagues in Berlin, or Amsterdam, India, Chicago, Boston, or even Mexico. Working with others across the world is a god-send for me, as I get to understand what is important to others around the world, making much smaller what we see on the news each day, and what tweet is taking over now.

Last week we had our team from the US, from India, and from Germany meet in Berlin. It was the first time that we have all met face to face, as we normally meet over video. It was truly amazing and enlightening to get to know each other on a deeper, more intimate level. I wish that we had done this earlier, but in any case I am glad we did it. To know what drives each of us, what is important, where we have come from, where we are going, and how we might help each other along the way is wonderful. I am filled with positivity as my colleagues become brothers and sisters, each with different interests and perspectives, dreams and challenges. Our common journey is now my journey.

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Missing Dave on the 649

This week the 649 lost one of its riders, a great guy, and a good friend. Ever since there was a life on the 649 for me, there was Dave sitting next to me, sharing laughs, dreams, plans, interests, and of course the ride. Over the last year I have not been working in the city, so I have not had to take the train in. But luckily a few months ago, when I took the train in for a meeting, I ran into him and shared laughs and stories without skipping a beat. That was the last time I saw him.
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Today my dad would have been 80 years old. I can’t believe so much time has passed, and how much of my life he would have seen. Just thinking about having children, moving across the country, changing jobs and working through issues, enjoying holidays, and certainly spending time on the golf course. I can’t help but appreciate what my father has done for me, the struggles he must have had, the issues he must have thought through, as I walk along the same path, only separated by years.
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Sunny and 50

With the Autumn in full swing, and with the leaves changing on the East Coast, this is the best time of year for many people. Where I live we are just past the full vibrancy of the fall colors and even so, there are moments that stop you in your tracks, and remind you of the beauty in life. Yesterday, October 28th, was one of those days that leaves you breathless. It was 50 and sunny and, well, so was I – fifty years old and sunny. Continue reading

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Taking Gregory to College

It’s 5:00 in the morning and I can’t sleep.  I am back in Los Angeles in the house where I grew up, sequestered in the bathroom because I don’t want to wake up the dog, who will in turn wake up the rest of the house.  But I had a story that wanted to come out, and I was lying awake in bed, and so the bathroom is where I will write today.   I was going to make a joke that the bathroom is no different than the train car, but that’s not true…it’s much better. Continue reading

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Life…on the 649

As you know, the last week has been a rough one for me, with my oldest brother passing away.  And with the outpouring of love and support, I see that so many feel deep sympathies and sadness for me, and their support has been really comforting, lightening the burden of grief.  I have learned a couple of things about the true meaning of life through this event, and I wanted to work it through and share it here. Continue reading

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Remembering Charlie

Today we bury my oldest brother. There are so many questions on why this happened and how could it have been prevented? Were there any warning signs, and did we all miss them? But all of those answers just inform those of us who are left to perhaps live the rest of our days smarter and wiser. And what is going to happen now? What about all the unfinished business? How do we continue on without him?  Continue reading

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Waze for the rest of life

Today is the day after the bombings in Brussels.  The news is all about it, and the talk is related to the terrorists, the hunt, the political ramifications, the security, the role of NATO, and many other things.  As I sit on the train, I think about what can be done, not only at a government level, but also at a personal level.  I see this crisis as I see so many others, both big and small, and ideas come into my head.  One stands out and makes me immediately hit the iPad to write:  What if there was a Waze-like app for the rest of life? Continue reading

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Before you save the world

For so many days, I sit on the train and I think about the next big thing, how to save the world’s big problems, and what I am going to do in the next chapter of my life.  That’s what life on the 649 is all about, right?  As I sit in my seat today, I realize that before I go solving the problems of hunger or clean drinking water, before I find solutions for rural people who have just lost their local Walmart store and need new jobs, I should figure out what to do for a suburban family with parents who work and have children who spend their time on electronics rather than working to be the best they can be and helping around the house. Continue reading

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Subtle Shift That Changed Everything

Recently a subtle shift has happened within me and I don’t know why this has changed, but I like it.  Before this, when I would go out to dinner with the family and the bill crept or lept over a certain amount, I would get upset.  As we got busier and ate out more often, the rising cost of eating out for a family of five was something that raised my anxiety!  Over time though I realized that eating out for meals just cost a lot more than it did before.  But now the shift in me is that I don’t really care about the cost, as I am more grateful for us all being together. Continue reading

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Letter to my Son: College Thoughts

Hi Gregory,

I am on the train right now and doing my normal routine of jotting down three things I am grateful for and also meditating.  As I thought about things, I wanted to express some thoughts about college that maybe you have not heard.  And I wanted to give you the space to ask your questions, whatever they are. Continue reading

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Change The Temperature

Is there a way to willfully warm up the house like you can do with a thermostat, yet do so emotionally?  Can I affect all of my family’s lives and convince them to partake in treating each other nicer, to be more cognizant of others, to come up with ways to make life happier for all?  Can I be a more considerate husband, and positively affect my wife’s daily life? Are there conscious things I can do to make an unconscious temperature shift to where our lives are more comfortable and happier? Continue reading

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Remembering Dad

I was in church yesterday evening and the priest was talking about All Saints’ Day, referring to the day after Halloween, and which became the theme for the weekend.  Being reminded of those who have died and who have passed on, and how we are just “renting” this body temporarily, got me thinking about my father, who died in 16 years ago on Thanksgiving at age 61.  I remember the morning of his death being one of the most beautiful days I have ever seen, and of course I am reminded every year at thanksgiving time.  But thinking of All Saints’ Day and of my father reminded me of something else, which is the perspective that nothing lasts forever, and that we are here for a short time, and for all the aspirations and worries and stresses that we face, we are all going to die and hopefully go on to a better place. Continue reading

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Promoting the Brand of You

Today is my birthday, yay!  Normally I get depressed around this time of year because daylight is getting shorter and sailing days are over.  I guess Mother Nature has decided to give me a break this year with wonderful weather today and even many days lately.  And my daughters have given me the gift of saying how they love the fall, which has given me a brand new perspective. And so today I am up early before the sun and the family, and I am taking the day off!  I will enjoy today’s nice weather, celebrate my good health with some exercise and pampering, and do some necessary personal work.  The personal work is preparing myself for the upcoming merger at work, and the transition that will take place in my career.  As I lay awake before dawn, the title of this blog was running through my head:  Promoting the Brand of You.

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Mom Turns 75

How do you describe the essence of Mom, my mom, in something short and sweet? Is it even possible? It’s like describing the richness of a forest by describing the trees – it just doesn’t capture the mystery, the beauty, the experience of life within that space.  Or by describing the seashore by talking about sand and water – it leaves out the power, the world of life under the surface, the changing nature and the endless possibilities as far as the eye can see.  Maybe it is useless to describe for others what my mom is to me. So I will just tell her. Continue reading

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Holding Overwhelm at Bay

Today I left the house and Kecia was feeling overwhelmed.  It was not that one task was taking her over, but rather that multiple events were weighing on her and that weight was overwhelming.  With so many things hitting her at once, it felt like they were all connected, when really they were separate. This was obviously bringing her down.  Have you ever felt like that?

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This is another afternoon edition of LO649, so I may be a bit more brief and to the point.  How do you get on the same page with someone else?  How does life feel like you and others are pulling the rope the same direction and not playing tug of war? Continue reading

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Back on the Train…Happily

I can’t believe I would ever say that I am happy to be back on the train, but I am.  With that admission, I feel like some sort of recovering addict!  Here’s my story.  After almost five years of commuting into the city, spending two hours each way, I realized that much of my life (up to 88 hours a month) has been spent in transit.  I’m sure there is a metaphor there or some life lesson, but today’s blog is more about what I did to make a change. Continue reading

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