MUSIC, LEADERSHIP, CULTURE… and humor (sometimes)

Archive for April, 2011

I’m Going to Take a ‘Lil Break… and My 2 Winners!

It was really close but we have our 2 winners.

Before I announce them, I just wanted to say THANK YOU again for placing value on these posts by reading them and occasionally engaging with them in the comments section.

I’m going to take a little break from writing but I hope to continue a regular rhythm of blogging in a week’s time or so.  Please stay tuned!





You are winners of the iTunes (or Kindle) gift cards!

Please let me know which you would prefer in the field below and sign in with the email address to which you’d like the gift cards sent!


The End of 40 Days! A Best Of…

My pledge to blog everyday for 40 days has come to a close!  I want to thank those of you who have checked in periodically to journey with me in my writing.  I hope that it was as fun, interesting, and inspiring for you to read as it was for me to write!

I wanted to close this chapter by recapping the past few weeks with links to some of my favorite posts (based on your responses as well as my personal enjoyment in writing them!)

Today also marks the end of the iTunes Card giveaway contest.  I will announce the 2 winners tomorrow!

Here are the best of the last 40 days in no particular order:

My American Idol (Guessed) Rankings

Share in the Japanese Sadness

The UCLA Racist Girl


A Letter to Charlie Sheen from the future


Putting Heaven on Hold

Three Cups of BS?

The most read post out of all of them?  It was the one about the UCLA Racist girl.  Apparently racism and regrettable youtube videos make for interesting reads!

So I would like to know, which was your favorite?  Any thoughts on future topics I should attempt to address? 

To Young Fathers (Part II)

[This is Part II of my post from yesterday]

Before we continue on, let me just acknowledge that today is Good Friday.  I hope your day is filled with beautiful reflection as you contemplate on the horrible suffering endured by the most innocent man that ever lived.

Thanks for reading on!  Here we go:

5.  Your Kids Need You More than They Need Your Money

This is a lesson that I’ve seen play out in real life countless times as well as in Adam Sandler’s Click.  Your kids don’t need you to become another tired cliche of a dad who works his butt off and in the process misses his kids’ ball games and birthdays, bypasses holidays and stays out late, etc. all in the name of providing for his family.  Yes, we need to provide for our families (and let’s do it!) but I think it’s crucial to make a decision early on: are you going to be that dad, or THAT dad?  As much as your kids beg you for the latest gaming console and you’ll work to get it for them, they’ll remember and appreciate you for your presence, not your presents.  You like that?  I think I stole that from some anti-materialism Christmas campaign.

6.  Don’t Let Your Kid Get Away with Acting the Fool… Starting NOW

Homie don’t play that!  I feel like my wife is super good at this and I am constantly learning from her.  You’re tired, you’re out with friends and your kid decides to be a major punk in public and has no problem testing you.  You have 2 options which is to 1) Ignore the little fart and continue to have a good time or 2) Teach the kid what it means when daddy shoots a cold, angry stare and says “I will END you.”  As you giggle or gasp at option 2, let me just say I have never said this so relax.  I’d say the real option 2 is to take that kid aside, explain to them why their behavior is upsetting and proceed with whatever disciplinary act works best for him/her.  Time out is our method of choice and we will use it when necessary.  Basically, I’m saying don’t let things slide.  Fight for your child’s behavior now and reap the benefits later . . . until teenage angst ruins all your hard work and you have to start all over anyway… sigh.

7.  Know that Your Kid Has Feelings and Understands Way More than You Think

We don’t give kids enough credit.  We sometimes assume that they’re just blobs of adorable goo.  What I’m learning very quickly is that they are actually geniuses in tiny bodies filled with poop.  Especially as my son has been taking full advantage of his growing abilities as a 2 year old, I’m shocked to learn that he understands about 95% of the things I say to him and actually has reasons for many of his tantrums and outbursts.  I’m finding that when you understand and acknowledge his feelings he responds better to correction and special requests.  This is crazy to me but it’s true!  You gotta use your discretion with this but it helps to make compromises with your kid based on what’s really setting them off.  Is he upset because he wants to take the entire train set to aunty’s?  Calm him down, let him know you understand they want to do this but explain that there’s not enough space in the bag.  Suggest he takes 2 train pieces instead.  This works more often than not.  Huge!

8.  This is the Greatest Job, Role, Responsibility and Privilege You Will Ever Have

Don’t get it twisted!  Being a GREAT dad is your life’s calling.  It doesn’t matter what else you accomplish or pursue in life– pursue excellence in fatherhood.  I personally feel that I could reach for and grab all that the world has for me but if my relationships with my children suck, I have failed miserably. Let’s embrace this role fully and consider it a sacred task.  Let’s not repeat the cycle of father wounds and raise a generation of kids who had amazing dads.  The world needs good fathers.  Hope you’re up for the challenge.

9.  Stay in the Game, Finish Well

I don’t think any man starts off fatherhood thinking, “I’m going to be delinquent, abusive, un-understanding, distant, and unaffirming.”  Peek into any delivery room and if the dad is present, you’ll see him gazing into his newborn’s eyes, promising the world to her, promising he’ll be there to protect her and love her the best he can.  Then life happens, stress takes over, deadlines, indiscretions, divorce, heart-ache, alcohol, bad decisions, good intentions and suddenly, the promises you made in the hospital that first day seem all but broken and destroyed.

Maybe you’re not a young dad and you’re reading this.  Maybe you have failed to live up to your promises to your children.  I have not lived the life that you lived but something tells me that you can still make things work and you can finish well.  Maybe the middle part of your story up until now has not panned out the way you had hoped.  You can finish well.

To everyone else: young, old, married, unmarried, with kids, without kids — this is a call for us to rise up and embrace our role as parents in the present and in the future.

I’m excited for the legacy and trend that we can help establish for the near future.

Are you? 

To Young Fathers (Part I)

To all young as well as future fathers, this post is for you.

We have a 2.5 year old boy and we’re expecting our first daughter in the next 4 weeks.  I am far from being a perfect parent but I have definitely been learning a whole lot over the past couple years.  Hope you find this insightful and helpful!

Here is the first half of some things to remember as you approach fatherhood (more later):

1.  Your Wife is still Numero Uno

I say this because that fact should remain true throughout your marriage– your wife is priority #1.  Some wise friends have warned me that it’s often easy for young couples to lose touch with each other in their first couple years of parenthood.  I totally get it now that I have my own kid.  It is a whirlwind of change, adjustment, responsibility, and fatigue.  Stay in the game, stay focused and make sure that you give it that extra push to love your wife– even when she may be too caught up with baby to love you the way you need to be loved.  Which brings me to my next learning…

2.  You Don’t Need to Be a Baby, too

It’s easy to complain and feel left out when so much attention is going to your kids.  Maybe your wife used to stroke your hair and massage your toes after a long day . . . on the golf course.  Maybe she used to brew homemade beer for you and cook you steak every night.  Maybe you don’t get any of that anymore because junior is pooping every 5 minutes, requires an exorbitant amount of “organic” milk from mom, and cries for seemingly no reason at the most inopportune times.  Well, as a new dad and forever husband your plate is full as well with two roles.  You gotta work together with your wife to raise this child and not take on a third role: Big Baby.  If there’s anything that the arrival of a child signals in your life, it’s that it is finally time to grow up and start weaning yourself off that big bottle of selfishness.

3.  You Are a Student Again

Don’t be a fool and think you’ve figured fatherhood out just because you can change a diaper without your wife’s assistance.  You still probably use half a box of baby wipes to do it, rookie.  You’re gonna be learning how to be a dad for the rest of your life.  I just recently was assigned a reading “assignment” from my wife to learn how to deal with our 2 year-old’s ever-increasing array of tantrums and needs.  My initial reaction was “Pshhh!  I don’t need to read this!  I can figure it out as I go and let my instincts kick in!  YOU read it, woman!” which I said to myself in convenient internal monologue form.  As I swallowed my pride and let go of my disdain for anything resembling an education, I found the book to be extremely enlightening and it has helped me make incredible in my parenting.  Just ask my wife!  I am trying to be a good student.

4.  Some Things Need to Give

I’m a naturally low-maintenance guy so I don’t have too many strong preferences, which is often a good thing when raising a child.  If you’re the type of guy that likes to control and you have an opinion on everything from which brand of diapers you should use to why Yo Gabba Gabba is better than The Wiggles, you may run into a few unnecessary fights with your wife.  Let go of your need for control and let your wife take the lead on some of this stuff.  Trust me, your manhood will not shrink.

[to be continued tomorrow]

Any thoughts so far?

3 Cups of B.S.?

I remember we had a deep discussion in the 8th grade about lying and we debated whether or not there are times when lying is ok.  We came to the conclusion that if we were living in Hitler’s Germany and we were hiding our Jewish neighbors, it would be ok to lie if the Nazi soldiers ever came knocking on our door to ask of their whereabouts.  This was the only scenario I could remember from our talk that day.

If the good outweighs the bad by a God-sized margin, I’m all for lying; especially if it means that I can save a life.

I wonder if this is what Greg Mortenson’s logic was as he wrote Three Cups of Tea, a New York Times best seller that is now under fire for allegations of falsehood. The controversy about the validity of many of his accounts, including an alleged kidnapping by the Taliban, has stirred a world-wide outrage by all who have read and felt their lives changed by this book.

[Read the CNN article here to get the lowdown]

Mortenson sold over 3 millions copies of the book in 47 different languages worldwide.  To say that this book is pretty influential would be like saying Brad Pitt is just ok-looking.  This book is a world-wide sensation and Brad Pitt makes it acceptable for heterosexual men to justify their strange feelings with the phrase “man-crush.”

I have not read the book but fortunately, many anecdotes from this book have been shared in our staff meetings by my friend this past month as a way to inspire and move our leadership.  Personally, the timing of this scandal couldn’t be more coincidental and peculiar!

As I ponder the ramifications of this controversy, I have developed my own set of FAQs that I consider my Three Cups of B.S:

1.  So he lied (allegedly).  What’s the big deal?  Authors, journalists, and reporters do this all the time!

I’ve honestly thought this.  What really is the big deal?  I guess the answers are somewhat obvious.  If this was an obscure book on the dusty shelves of a dollar bookstore, nobody would care.  The fact that over 3 million people purchased and read this book (along with countless other cheapskates who borrowed their friends’ copies) makes this a lie that is hard to swallow and make go-away.  The more people buy into your words and leadership, the greater your need for accountability.  Let’s take a line from Spiderman and satisfy my point:With great power comes great responsibility.” 

2.  Can’t we just start over and call this a work of Fiction?  Re-organize this book’s placement on the Dewey Decimal System?  It’s still a good book.

That’s what makes this controversy so difficult.  So much of what he’s written seems to be true. . .  and if it is not, it has to be true now.  Or does it?  Through the words and accounts in this book, millions were inspired and felt compelled to give to Mortenson’s non-profit.  Much-needed schools were built in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a result of the money that was raised.  I wonder: if this much good has been done for a group of people that the world had previously chosen to ignore, how could this scenario possibly be bad?  The book accomplished its mission did it not?  Read on to the next question.

3.  What is this REALLY about?

Money.  Plain and simple, this is an issue of money.  According to the CNN report, in 2009 Mortenson’s organization only used 41% of the $14 million that was raised to actually build and fund the schools.  The disbursement of the rest of the funds seems a little dubious. One would also have to wonder if his books would have sold the number it did if it was a work of fiction.

Bottom Line

If this was a controversy about just a few inaccurate stories and details in the book, I’m personally “ok” with it.  Not to say that I don’t believe in honesty and integrity in all works of art!  I believe that Mortenson’s book accomplished more good than bad–that people were inspired to examine and change their own lifestyles while broadening their scope of the global need is nothing short of a miracle!

I truly believe that Mortenson’s motives were/are good.  He discovered a need and he found a way to creatively fill it, using the only thing he had of worth in this regard: his stories from the ground.

Along the way, if the fund-raising became a little too successful for Mortenson to handle and the transparency and integrity in how all of the money was being spent became a lesser priority, this is unfortunate.

That being said, this is a lesson in honesty and openness, a possible debate on how lies have the potential to perform good (and if this is ultimately “ok”), and a possible example of how money corrupts.  I say possible because Greg Mortenson is still innocent until proven guilty.  We have to give him that much.

Whether this is relevant for our discussion now or not, I want to say for the record: if I was housing a family of Jews in my home as they run from the Nazis, I would lie my butt off to protect this family.  In fact, I would do more.  Is this how desperately Greg felt the need to assist these families in Afghanistan and Pakistan?  Who knows . . .