Thursday, September 29, 2011

Empathy Survey - How Do You Feel When You See a Child Suffering?

I just bought a book by one of my favorite political columnists, Ted Rall. In the foreword, he talks about compassion and empathy. 


He wrote about a time he saw a homeless man and thought, "Thank god, if it weren't for a few lucky breaks, that could have been me." I've thought the same thing before many times too.


How about you?


I agree with what Ted writes in the book and will have a review of "The Year of Loving Dangerously" soon... But, until then, this...


I wonder about people today and think there are far too many people who feint compassion and concern, but it's all an act. Take, for example, the disaster of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11 in Japan. So many people I know were actually sincere and got off their asses and did something...


But I also thought there were way too many people who only helped and contributed because it made them look good doing so. There's nothing so wrong with that, I suppose, as long as people are honest with themselves and open about intentions.


There's a word for this and it's Crocodile Tears.


I also think that there is far too little compassion and empathy amongst people today as a general rule.


Take, for example, the poor people who have suffered in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. Terrible situation indeed... But the mass media seem to have gone on and people are losing interest.


Is it human nature to do so? Or are we all just robots with heart strings being pulled by the mass media?


I wonder why people will get together to make (at least the appearance of) an effort to help people who are on TV and suffering far away, yet, in their own neighborhoods, they scorn and look down upon the unfortunate in their own neighborhoods?


For those ends and my own research, I've made a survey at the right of this blog. It is asking the question:


"When you see a homeless person, what do you think?"


I hope you will help me by taking 5 seconds to answer the question (as many answers as you wish)... I will post the results on 10/31/11. 


Note: I changed the name of this post from "When you see a homeless person, what do you think?" to "How Do You Feel When You See a Child Suffering?" Because I know that if I write "Homeless" that is a distasteful subject and many will not bother to read the post.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Social Media Throws Common Sense and Manners Out the Window

I just got a notice from Twitter that an "Automated Mailing Service" has now started following me. I suppose they mean that they want me to start following them back? An automated robot junk-mailing service wants me to start following them? Are they kidding? Why in the world would anyone follow a automated junk mailing service?


Maybe they got my mailing address confused with the mailing address of my kitchen toaster? Maybe she'd be interested in junk mail generated by a robot. I'm not.  
L7 - SH*TLIST


Today the rules on manners and how friends, acquaintances and strangers alike are treated have been turned on its head.


Social Media, as a supposed source of bringing more people together faster, has also brought along with it a distinct lack of common sense and manners 


In the race to accumulate as many fake friends and followers as possible, tradition and common courtesy have been thrown out the window.


It used to be that little things that we took for granted as to how our privacy were to be respected are  today viewed as relics of the prehistoric past. Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the Social Media landscape set the rules as to who matters and who doesn't in today's world.


As if having thousands of "friends" or "followers" most of whom you've never met (or even many who you paid for) actually matters to anyone excepting the narcissist living inside of one's self.


The rules of common courtesy used to dictate silly things like don't call people up at home after eleven pm... Eleven? I remember when it was nine pm!... They also emphasized the importance of an introduction from a mutually trusted and respected friend... Now, if by some chance someone get's your email address, you become fair game for a litany of junk mail and memberships into clubs and associations that you've never asked for nor, in many cases, have you ever even heard of!


I get tons of mail from Facebook and Linkedin (don't forget Twitter) notifying me of this or that. I don't mind the birthday notices or notices for events that I signed up for but I really hate the notices that congratulate me for becoming a member of some community that I didn't sign up for.


Someone has met me once... That, in some strange way, let's them think that gives them the right to sign me up for their community they've started on Facebook... Well, it doesn't. In fact, that puts them on my sh*tlist.


Next time I write about this sort of bad behavior, I will begin to name organizations. Not that it matters what I say, but it's bad PR.


It's 2011, sure. And the rules of the games have changed slightly due to the Internet. But there's one rule that I doubt has changed in 2,000 years. People might know it, but then again, people today don't read books. So let's me explain it to you.


In the bible in Luke 6:31 it says, "Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you."


Since you go and sign me up for communities and clubs without my permission, I'm sure you will warmly welcome all the clubs I sign you up for? Say, "Clubbing Baby Seals Association, " "Nazi's for Peace," or how about, "The 10,000 Coupons a Minute Club?" That's the smash success club that guarantees sending you, robotically, over one million coupons by email every 3 months so that you can save!


No?


OK. Then have some manners and common sense. Please don't join me up to your Social Media, or Twitter or Linkedin, Facebook, whatever community without asking me first.


Hopefully your parents did teach you better manners than that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Marketing, Internet, SEO & SEM Experts? and CEOs? Charlatans Everywhere!


If you were to judge the amount of Tweets you get from people who claim to be Marketing, Internet, SEO and SEM experts or CEO's, you'd think the US economy was booming. Jobs galore. But it would all be just an illusion.

I often get Tweets from people who claim to be "Internet Marketing Experts" or "SEO Marketing Experts..." I wonder by what measure they use to give themselves this sort of classification? 

JERRY LEE LEWIS - YOUR CHEATIN' HEART

The ones that immediately raise red flags for me are the ones who claim to be "CEO" of some company yet, judging by their photo, they don't look to be much older than 25 or 30.

I've never met any good CEO's who were under 35-years-old. I'm not saying they don't exist, but the big guns and real players are not 30-year-old CEO's of little companies with classification of LLP, LLC or family organizations.

Those are the sorts of titles I hate. Why even bother with the title of CEO?  I mean, who are they trying to impress? Other clueless people? Clueless people usually haven't much money. Why impress them? 

What's the point of being a CEO of a dinky company that has one or two employees? Bragging about it is even more embarrassing. If you do that, stop... It might be OK for picking up some witless boyfriend or girlfriend, but for picking up any investment, it is a detriment.

It certainly isn't any credit to your worth or credibility.

Would you buy a used car from this man? How 
about letting him set up your company SEO?

Do these people use the CEO title because they think they can fool someone into investing into their little company or throwing a big contract at them? Maybe. But I don't think that will work.

"Fools and their money are soon parted"... Most rich people are not fools. That's why they are rich.

I haven't really noticed any serious CEO's using Facebook or Twitter too often. I suppose they do, but not too much. I do know that, and I won't say his name, the CEO of AirAsia X uses Facebook. We became friends that way... And I did arrange a few promotions for them in Japan because of it...

But I think he is the exception to the rule.

I don't think most CEO's have time to bother with this Social Media stuff. The CEO's I know avoid this, if they can, and I know from experience that they try to avoid even looking at their email if at all possible.... Spending time on Facebook and Twitter?! I don't think so. 

I get these invitations for Twitter and such, and, if the photo looks like a young guy and his title says "CEO" or "SEO expert" I know it's BS.... But I'm a nice guy, I friend them anyway... It's just quicker that way and I don't have to think about it for more than a second. Friending them takes one click. Deleting them takes two clicks. Friending them is faster. 

I check their photo and go to their Twitter page. If I don't see at least a blog or a company page, then I know they are bullsh*tters. That's OK. Everyone needs to start somewhere... Maybe they will learn some useful lessons along the way. I certainly have.

One of the big lessons I learned was not creating idiotic titles like CEO for myself when there are only one or two employees at my company in order to impress people I don't even know. Impressing people who haven't a clue is a waste of time... People who do have a clue will know it's BS, so it is actually self-defeating to do so.

Here's a good test for you. I never claim that I am an "SEO or "Internet expert" yet go to Google Search and search the words, "Japan China." You will get 1 billion 380 million results. On page one of search results you will also see two articles that I wrote. See here: http://bit.ly/rjaMbu

Even with that, I do not claim to be an SEO expert. 

If you are a customer, and the guy is telling to you to give him him your business because he is an "SEO expert" then give him this test:

1) Do they blog? If so, check their blog and see when they started. 


Blogging for six months is nothing to brag about. That's not even a rookie. Search some generic titles and see if you can find any results where they show up at the top of the list (and, no, I don't mean specific searches for the exact title of that particular blog post. I mean, if they write an article about, say, "Sicily pizza"... Search "pizza" or "Sicily" and see if you can find their article on the first few pages of results. If they are hot at SEO, you should be able to).

1a) If they do blog, check to see if they post everyday. Posting everyday for at least a year shows dedication and resolve (and that they are crazy). If they don't do that, or haven't, then they are poseurs and not players or, at best, students of the game.

2) Go look at their Facebook or Twitter account. Check the dates when they began. Is there a corporate page for this person's company? If not, forget it.     

On the other hand, If you are one of the many who are guilty of making these wild claims on expertise or being a "pro", then I suggest you stop. There are far too many charlatans running around as it is. If you get the label "charlatan" it will be quite hard to shake. 

Building trust and a good reputation takes a long time... It isn't made in an instant by creating a Twitter account and claiming, on the spot, that you are an expert. As former Soviet president Michale Gorbachev once said, "A lie told even ten thousands times never becomes the truth."

Stop claiming that you are "Internet savvy" if you are not. Just being able to do Internet searches or use G-mail does not make one internet savvy. Stop claiming you are a "CEO" unless you have a company that has at least, say, ten employees minimum...



And stop claiming that you are an "SEO expert" if you are not. It's easy to find out if it is all BS or not. You make the rest of us poseurs look bad....

You can become these "expert" things but just saying that you are or reading one book doesn't make you one. It will take a few years of effort and study.

The fastest and simplest way? Start a blog and start writing. Do that everyday, religiously. Use Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic to your posts. Write everyday religiously. Before, bowing to the east every morning, blog... Blog before that and after that... 


And blog before and after that!  


Study why some articles get many reads and why others don't. Practice and rearrange...

It will take you between one to two years to get a basic understanding of how it works and how to jolt your writing and titles to get high SEO results.

It's a close guarded secret by those who do know how to do it..


This stuff isn't written in a book. You only learn through sincere and dedicated effort. 


A jawbone is never a replacement for a backbone. Get started.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What is True Prosperity?

There is an ancient Chinese Buddhist Zen story about prosperity.


It goes something like this:


There was a very wealthy land-owning family in a village and one day they decided to build a huge family home on their land. This house was to be an almost palace in its grandeur for the entire area. There was no expense too great for this home as they wanted it to be a symbol of their family and they wanted it to stand for many years.


Once this great home was nearing completion, the grandfather and the sons called a famous priest to write a scroll blessing the family, the home and their future prosperity.


The priest accepted the job and went back to the temple to meditate.


After a short time he returned to the house and opened the scroll and proudly held it up on the wall.


The scroll said,


"Grandfather dies,


father dies,


son dies,


grandson dies."


The family were furious. They were enraged and began insulting the priest, threatening him and demanding that he take the scroll back and change what was written on it.


The priest sighed and, as he was rolling up the scroll, he looked and said to them,


"I am sorry that you are unhappy with my work. How do you wish me to change the order on the scroll?..."


The family were dumbstruck. They didn't know what to say. They didn't know how the order could be changed.


The priest heaved a sigh once again and unrolled the scroll and hung it on the wall.


He said,


"'Grandfather dies,

father dies,

son dies,

grandson dies.'...


That is true prosperity.

I Wish I Could Remain a Child Forever

I suppose it always happens like this for everyone. My father died last night. 


Last night, when I came home from work, I got a message that said, 


"Mike, 


I am so sorry to tell you this, your father passed away last night. I don't know the details, I am waiting for your brother to get home. Now he is at peace. 
Please call if you need to talk."


I don't need to talk about it. Just write, I suppose. 
When I heard the news, I wasn't shocked, but thought, "Gee, I just talked to him the other day and he seemed fine."
Well, maybe he wasn't fine but he sounded better than he did several weeks ago.
Before he died he told me that the only three things that ever mattered to him were the US marines, my mom and us three brothers.
My mom died about 16 years ago.
Hopefully, his spirit can reside with my mom's now. I said a prayer for him.

I have missed my mom all this time. I'll miss my dad. 
From today, now, I must take the position in my immediate family that my mom and my dad took. I must try to care for the children and make sure they are happy.
I used to be "the children" now I am the "grandfather."
I don't want to do the grandfather role. 
I wish I could remain a child forever. But I can't.


Today? Hug your parents if you still can and hug your kids... 


It seems like just yesterday that it was the 1960's and my parents had a house and a car. My mom was young and beautiful and she cooked, cleaned and took care of our school stuff... 


Dad was working, like all dads do... He also had black hair... He wrestled with us kids, took us to baseball games and he cooked barbecue... Like all dads do... 


One day, tomorrow is tomorrow and in the far-flung future... Then, one day, tomorrow is coming soon.... Then, out of the blue, tomorrow is here.


Soon, way too soon, tomorrow will be yesterday... Live it while you can!


NOTE: This is pretty weird, and I just realized it, but this is my 1000th posting on this blog. I was planning to write something profound for my 1000th... But all I got was this news that made me write this post about death... Weird, no?


Once again, in my life, with how these "coincidences" keep happening, I just have to throw my arms in the air and shrug my shoulders and say to the world, "Don't tell me that there's no God!"... (And I'm not even a Christian!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Proof You're Getting Old: You Smell "Dusty"!

Please don't be offended at the title of this post. Do old people smell dusty? Do old people smell bad or funny?


Like I said, please do not get angry at me about this comment, direct your anger to my ex-friend Tom.


Let me explain... Tom insulted me the other day. He said I smelled like an "old guy." I thought we were friends.... Guess not.


GIORGIO ARMANI - AQUA DI GIO - WOMEN
I don't know, but this stuff looks like it smells like the ocean or maybe fish... 
Or, even fish bait. And what's the deal with that jet airplane and the boat?
Airplane fuel? Diesel? Fishes? Yeah! That's it. 
Smells like shark bait! "Oh baby! I love that salty smell!"


Remember when you were a little kid and your grandparents or some older family friends would come over to visit you? It would be someone like aunt Emma and uncle Fred from Philadelphia who your parents hadn't seen in ten years but they loved them so dearly. Remember?

In return, aunt Emma and uncle Fred loved you so much too. So much so that they sent you Christmas presents and birthday presents every year. You kind of knew who they were (in pictures with you when you were a very little baby) but you didn't remember them well.

Now they have come to visit. Remember? You were 10-years-old and they arrived at your house. You smile and are a bit shy. They insist on kissing you... Especially aunt Emma... 

Uncle Fred doesn't kiss.... He just shakes your hand and smells like old pipe tobacco or some old musky after-shave that you think he bought before the great war... No, I'm not talking about Vietnam... I'm talking about The Great War as in 1914.

Aunt Emma likes to kiss and hug you... Way too much. The hugging is bad enough because she smells like dusty lilacs or stale lavender and her teeth have lipstick spots on them... But the worst part of the kissing you all the time isn't that. It's the fact that when she kisses you she always slobbers on you too. And she slobbers a lot... Her slobber smells bad too... It kind of smells like boiled cabbage or corned beef hash.

Of course, the family dog slobbers on you too, and that disgusting enough, but at least the dog is afraid of your wrath and will stay away when you push him away... Aunt Emma? Afraid of you? Ha! She pounces on you every chance she gets like a desperately hungry Bengal tiger goes for a baby lamb with a gammy leg. Like devouring you whole, she hugs and kisses and slobbers on you every chance she gets. Oh! That sickening wet pond-scummy kiss! Yuck!


Anyway, the point I am getting at is that, besides your aunt always slobbering on you, I think older people smell, well,.... different. Don't you think so?

Maybe, in the old days, smelling like a dusty barn or a moldy garage was sexy. I don't know. I wasn't there. But nowadays I think you have to smell like a famous movie star or something that smells like pheromones or whatever those smell like! 


Don't get me wrong. I've always liked old people. They have the best stories to tell and they always have lots of great wisdom to pass on... I've learned a lot from old people. 


But darned if I didn't meet lots of them who smelled, well, they smelled "dusty."


Not that long ago, why it seems like it was just a few weeks ago, that I was 17-years-old... Heck, it was just the other day that I was in my twenties and thirties.... My current wife told me that she "loved my smell." 



I think I smelled like a wild stallion out at a stud farm... Hee, hee... Memories...



But, darn, now I'm 54... My wife is 41... I wonder if, to young people today, we have started smelling like dusty barns? No. It can't be! We were born after the Industrial Revolution so maybe our generation smells like old oily rags, broken down cars or burnt out transistor radios. 


You know, that burnt smell that worn out transistors made? Yeah. That must be it!


I still think that young girls probably smell nice. But I don't get the chance to smell them too often as doing that could be construed as a crime.... And, I don't appreciate it when people are sneaking glances at me while dialing 9-11 (in Japan it is 110 for police emergencies).


As I write this, my ex-friend, Tom, sits next to me. Let me ask him exactly "What do old people smell like?"


Tom says that, "People over 50 smell like old Japanese dusty pillows."


See? I told you he was a jerk. Right after he insults 75% of the entire population of the planet earth, Tom realizes his error and begins to try to kiss my a*s and says, "But I like the smell of old stinky pillows."


Yeah. Sure, you do, Tom. Sure. Stinky pillows? Wow! Can you imagine what that does for the self-esteem of us senior citizens?


Well, what's the point of all of this? I guess it is just another sign of growing old; younger people start to think you smell funny. Well, that might be true... But I am proud of my stinkiness. It is a badge of honor.


They say that one of the ways to grow old with class is to gracefully give up the treasures of youth. I didn't think that not smelling like a boys locker room was a treasure of youth, but I guess it is... And I have to give it up... Like my old socks...  


I don't want to smell nice anyway... It just means that I'd have to take a shower everyday and brush my teeth... 


I didn't get married because I wanted to shower and brush my teeth everyday... I mean, what's the point of getting married if you still are expected to shave, shower and smell good? 


I thought you did that because you wanted to get a girlfriend... Not because you already had one!


Tomorrow, in part two of this report, I will investigate why older, married couples never have sex... Stay tuned!
  

How to Achieve Enlightenment

I've always wanted be to be smart, wise and patient. I've always wanted to be like these older guys at work who always smiled, held high positions of esteem and were well liked and respected by their peers and everyone at work.


I've meet lots of these types of people. Many of them were the presidents of huge companies that dealt with hundreds, if not thousands, of employees. They handled hundreds of millions of dollars in their corporate daily affairs... 


And, almost every one of them, has been a very calm, patient, wise and polite gentleman. I've know and worked with some of them almost everyday for a few years and never seen them get bent out of shape or too worried about the little things that seem to drive most of us crazy.


I know one of them very well and he retired at 48-years-old, is a multi-millionaire, and he never gets upset about anything.


When I grow up, I want to be like him.


In my life, I've always wanted to become more patient and understanding of people. I always get so frustrated at myself when I get mad at people for silly things or when the brat child that lives inside of me comes out and lashes back at people who irritate me.


See? These people irritate me! Just the fact that someone can irritate me for anything shows just how very far from enlightenment and happiness I really am.


I've been studying Za-zen Buddhism and Transcendental Meditation on and off for at least 20 years. I am a bad student. 


In my search for enlightenment, I've met many priests and become friends, very good friends, with several. In fact, a few Buddhist priests and I have been drinking buddies. I've often asked these good gentlemen to help me in my search for enlightenment.


I know a world famous Za-zen priest named Hakuginryu. I don't know his real name. Everyone just calls him "Hakuginryu." When the Afghanistan war had just started, he and several of his priest friends walked across Afghanistan to bring world attention to the troubles of that country. They walked from the border on east Afghanistan, from Kandud to the western border town of Kamml Khan... That's a walk of about 1,400 kilometers (about 900 miles)... Barefoot!


No kidding. These priests all walked from east Afghanistan to west Afghanistan barefoot and without any military protection at all. Many people would think they were just plain nuts.


My mom would have agreed. When I was 16 or so, I told my mom that I wanted to go to Japan to learn how to be a Zen priest and my mom got very upset. She said, 


"You are not going to Japan to go live on some mountain like a hermit like those crazy priests!" I think that was the most adamant she ever was against something I told her that I was thinking about doing excepting joining the US marines or getting married to my first wife. 


But I digress...


I've asked Hakuginryu how it is that I can achieve enlightenment and he (and the others) have always told me the same thing: If you want to achieve enlightenment, stop reading books and pick up a broom.


There is an ancient Zen saying:


To achieve enlightenment; clean up your area.
After enlightenment; clean up your area.


Every time I take out the trash, I remember this saying. Every time I wash the dishes or sweep the floor or trim the hedges, or vacuum or clean in general, I remember this saying. Doing so, helps you to get closer to where you want to go. With every dish I wash and every speck of dust I collect, I pick up one speck of therapy for my soul.


Consider the future. When I turned 35...I told a friend, "15 years ago I was 20. 15 years from now, I will be 50."


Now, I think about my life. Someday, very soon, I will be 80. 


Everyday I think about my life... Everyday I think about achieving enlightenment and becoming happy.


Everyday I think about my children. Everyday I remember: "Great things and ideas are not borne from filth."


In 35 years I will be a very old man and probably very sick. I want my children to be happy. I want to be contented and happy.


I must achieve enlightenment... I must:


Take out the trash.....


Wash the dishes....


Make food....


Work at a job and earn money....


Be kind....


Everyday, I must clean.... And, after I finish cleaning, I must clean some more. 


   My daily activities are not unusual,   
I'm just naturally in harmony with them.   
Grasping nothing, discarding nothing...   
Supernatural power and marvelous activity -   

                             Drawing water and carrying firewood.                                                                      -    Layman Pang-yun (740-808)




Friday, September 23, 2011

Wishing, Hoping and Believing

Wishing, hoping and believing. The three are close in definition. But there's a huge difference. I think people too often get them confused and use them interchangeably to their own disadvantage. I think it is best to know exactly what they mean. Words have meanings and using them incorrectly can cause a disadvantageous situation.




Wish is an intransitive verb. Merriam Webster defines "wish" as, "To have a desire for (as something unattainable)." Related words are, "crave," "hunger," "covet," "desire."


"Unattainable"? Well, that's no good. It looks to me here that "wish" is sort of a waste of time.


"Hope" is defined as, "To cherish as desire with anticipation," or "to desire with expectation of obtainment."  "Expectation of obtainment"? Well, that's a bit better.


How about believing? "Believe" is defined as "To have a firm religious faith" or "to accept something as true, genuine or real."


I think, often times, that wishing and hoping can be a waste of time... Wishing is fine for children... Hoping too... But hoping, for adults, can be an awful waste of time.... I often hear from people at work situations that they "hope" things get better... Folks, "Hope" is a terrible business plan.


Hoping that things get better at work is like being a leaf on the ocean being blown every which way. Is this your plan for your future and for your families well-being? Hope?


Belief....Believing, and only believing, is the only one of the three that can deliver your hearts desire. Believing, along with doing the necessary preparation in order to achieve your beliefs, is what must be done.


Think about when the Wright Brother's made their first airplane flight or the old story in the bible when Jesus walked on water. It was impossible for man to fly. Did the Wright Brothers fly because of hope or because of wishes? No. They flew, in spite of all, because they believed that they could and they made the preparations in order to do so.


I also believe that the story of Jesus walking on water is a parable. Everyone knows that it is impossible for man to walk on water (even if he is the son of god - you and I are the son, the children, of god.... Don't they say we are all god's children?) So, I think the story of Jesus walking on water is a representation that if you believe, really believe, then you can do the impossible. After walking on water Jesus said, "I told you. All you have to do is to believe."


Belief moves mountains.


Also, instead of always wanting more and always climbing that mountain towards success, you also need to stop and make base camp. One cannot simply climb and climb Mount Everest. They must stop along the way to daily create base camp to rest before they can continue the journey the next day. You must do the same. You need to stop and to take an assessment of what you have and to give thanks to your loved ones and to your god.


Here's what I do, and I do this religiously everyday; I write down in my notebook this, "Thank you god for all the truly wonderful things I have and all the truly wonderful things I am about to receive."


I do this because, instead of always wanting and wishing, and hoping, or desiring things, I want to give thanks for the great things I already have. If I can wake up everyday and know in my heart, really believe, that I am one of, if not thee, most fortunate people in the world, I will create a positive and happy existence for myself and my loved ones and all the people who I come in contact with.  


I have another friend who has an ill partner. We met the other day and I related this story to him:


When my 1 1/2 year old daughter was diagnosed as having a rare, deadly childhood cancer, I was devastated. She was given a very low chance of survival. That particular type of cancer is extremely rare and, in Japan, about 2 or 3 kids get it a year... Most of them die within the first 6 months.


I sought out the help of a professional priest to help me and guide me with the battle I was about to enter alongside my daughter and my wife.


One day, at the beginning when I was especially distraught and worried, I told the priest, 


"I have realized how to cure my daughter and have come to understand the way. All I need to do is to get the doctors and nurses to believe, to really believe, in their hearts, that she will recover and then she will. That's what I must do."


To that, the priest replied,


"Mike! It doesn't matter what they believe. All that matters is what you believe."


Those words! That moment! It was like the skies opened up and god reached his hand down to me. 


Of course! It was all so simple! Why didn't I see it sooner? It only matters what I believe! My belief can move mountains! 


From then on, I didn't wish nor want, nor hope, that my daughter would recover from this rare and terrible disease, I knew. I knew it without a doubt. I also prepared and did what was necessary for that outcome because I believed. 


That was 16 years ago. My daughter is now a healthy, happy, beautiful high school student looking forward to college someday soon. 


She is only the second child to have ever overcome that cancer in Japan's history. She won't be the last.


At 16-years-old


You can do this too. Anyone can. Like Jesus said, "All you need to do is to have faith."


From today, take account of all the good things you have. Be thankful for them. If you have a sorrow, then take account of that too and do what is necessary and what is required so that you can believe in a positive and good outcome.


The only things that can be borne out of fear and worry will be more of the same. Prepare and do what is necessary and believe in the positive outcome.


You can create your own reality. You can accomplish the impossible. And when you do, don't be surprised, you won't have been the first and you certainly won't be the last.



47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.

   Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed.  


For Wendy... You amazed us all (except daddy. I knew you could do it). Thanks for your love and inspiration.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What is Your Purpose?

"What is the mission of this company?" That was the question that I was supposed to answer.


I was to give a short speech to some investors who were thinking about investing $1 million (USD) into my small start-up company. One million dollars is not a lot of money as far as investments into start ups goes, but in this economy, and especially for me and my partners, it was the difference between life and death for our fledgling company.


DOROTHY LOVE COATES - STANDING ON THE ROCK


One of my partners kept insisting that I say something like, "We intend to become to biggest, most profitable company in the niche within 3 years..." and padding that with a bunch of fancy words to make it sound better. Those words were "money," "gains," etc... He kept saying that these investors were not interested in philosophy. He said they were only interested in the bottom line.


I strongly disagreed. Basically what he wanted to say was, "We want to make money. Lots of it. Money. Money. Money. We own you!"




Sure, that might actually be what everyone is thinking, and it might actually be the real purpose, but it doesn't make a very good publicly stated mission. It doesn't look good on paper or on advertising. They might want to make lots of money but they definitely want to look good doing it and look like they are doing something for the betterment of society.


Here is the mission statement of a very famous oil company: "At the heart of the (company name) way is our Vision to be the global energy company most admired for its people, partnership and performance." Get that? "People, partnership, performance"! Compare that with my friend's idea that basically translates into, "We want your money!"


Not a good comparison.


A mission statement for a company or your personal goals is a very important thing and one needs to consider deeply what the stated mission is.


My oldest daughter is a jazz singer. She sings traditional jazz. Her company figures than since CD and record sales have dropped off the map, they can still sell albums if they take a young, pretty girl and have her sing standards. Stuff like "Take the 'A' Train" or "All that Jazz." She has been performing at dinner shows around Japan to audiences that comprise people old enough to be her parents or grandparents.


Why not? These are the only people who have any money these days and they are still the people who will buy CDs.


But, even with extensive touring and a successful track record at that, her CD debut has been delayed now for over a year. The delays had to do with her attitude.


She has had a serious problem with her motivations and her intentions. One day, the president of her company told her that he had met a girl who'd been singing at public parks. Though she wasn't nearly as talented, what she lacked in talent, she more than made up for in enthusiasm. He told my daughter,


"That girl said she didn't care about anything but music. She just wanted to sing. She'd sing anywhere just as long as people could hear her voice. You have to be like that!"


I asked my daughter what she said to him about that and she said that she didn't reply at all. I asked her why and she said,


"Because daddy, I don't want to sing at parks! I want to sing and make lots of money!"


"Foolish girl!" I cried. "Haven't I taught you anything? You shouldn't think that way. Ever! You should realize that you have a gift from god and that god didn't give you this gift so that you can merely fatten your bankbook!" 


I went on and explained to her why this kind of thinking is doomed to failure. It is exactly as my friend above thinks. These people who are supporting you with money may want to do so in order to make money, but they want a better, more magnanimous excuse for what they do.... Just doing what they (you) do for money? That's no good. You must state a higher purpose! You must do what you do for a higher love!


I told my daughter to think deeply about why she has a gift and what the purpose of music is. I told her to go back and tell her boss that her purpose of singing is something like this;


"Life is short and life is difficult. So may people have a hard life and so many people are unhappy. I want to sing so that if I can make them forget their problems and become happy, if only for even a few minutes, then that's what I want to do... God gave me this gift and I want to use it to make people lives better... If only for one minute or two...."


I told her to consider this deeply everyday and to change this into her own words and her mission in life. I told her to write it down everyday. I told her that if this wasn't to be her mission then she should stop singing right now and go get a regular job if all she wanted to do was make money.


L to R: Julie, Sheena, some dude


She realized where she'd been selfish and had been on the wrong path. I think, later, she began to cry. 


A few days passed and, after careful consideration, she told her boss what her mission was. He was quite happy, from what I understand, and has now decided to use his connections and resources release her debut album.


Will she succeed or fail? I don't know. But I can tell you that if her mission were, "I want to sell lots of records and make lots of money!" then that wouldn't capture the imagination of her backers nor would it have inspired them to finance this project. This project would have failed for certain.


Everyone, from the backers to the promoters to the people who stock the store shelves, they all must be motivated that this is an artist who is doing what she is doing for a higher purpose. That is a formula for success.


For my own experience with my financial backers, I ignored my partners advice of saying that "We want to dominate the world and make lots of money! and I said to them,


"The purpose of our company is to help people live better lives and to help them to better themselves and their personal businesses. This year has seen some difficult times for Japan. We want to help the people of this country to overcome, to be more prosperous and society as a whole to become more positive and forward looking. If we can help people to achieve their dreams and become what they really want to become and to have our company become synonymous with that, then we will be hugely successful. If we can help people to capture their dreams and be more prosperous and happy, then our profits will surely come. That is our mission."


The investors all looked at me and smiled. Five of the eight gentlemen, watching my short speech, lightly clapped for me when I was done....


Four weeks later, we had the money in our bank account and the company was on its way. I was fortunate that my short speech captured their imaginations.


Always remember that what you do is for a larger and bigger purpose. If you can make people happy and satisfied with what you do, then you will be successful. Always remember that.


Placing profits before people is a bad combination and an extremely bad public image. Don't do it.


You have a higher purpose in life.  


For Julie Rogers, Tosh and Alistair