Time

Time

And then one day you find,
Ten years have got behind you,
No one told you when to run,
You missed the starting gun.

    “Time”, Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon

Just saw a blurb on one of my news feeds about Grace Slick turning 69.

Grace freakin’ Slick.

I don’t even particularly like Grace Slick or The Jefferson Airplane (and I sure as hell HATE Jefferson Starship).

Still, seeing “Grace Slick, 69” on a list of birthdays this morning was another jarring reminder of how fast the years go.

My wife has a saying: “The Days are long, but the Years are short.” Lately, this seems to hit home with me even more so than it usually does.

My oldest son turns nine this next month. He’s “half-raised” at this point. It just seems like yesterday we brought him home from the hospital.

My “little brother” is about to become a grandfather in a few short months.

And Grace Slick is 69.

Damn.

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New Painting

New Painting

Midway Fish Camp

Painting by Marc Barrett. We won this at a raffle at Lake Highland and it is now in our living room. Check out the rest of his work here: http://www.marcbarrettart.com/ (This painting can be seen, here).

Initial Take on LinkedIn’s New Applications? Disappointing

Initial Take on LinkedIn’s New Applications? Disappointing

LinkedIn’s new Applications offerings are – in a word – disappointing.

Seriously – THIS is what took nine months to roll out?

Go big, or go home.

Time, Space, and Opportunity

Time, Space, and Opportunity

For those of you who know me or are within earshot (or eyeshot as the case may be) of me know, I am a hockey fan.

I didn’t grow up playing hockey.  I was born in Nashville, Tennessee in the twilite years of our first minor league team, the Dixie Flyers… and there just wasn’t ice around even if one were motivated to play in the South in those days.

Hell – soccer was exotic back then, much less ice hockey in the land of grits, corn bread, and country ham.

However, over the years I have come to love and appreciate the game as one born to the fold, accelerated by having an NHL franchise about 10 minutes from my front door for the past ten years.

Almost everyone has heard the chestnuts about Football being a “collision sport” or a “game of inches” or a “ground acquisition game.”

Hockey, on the other hand, is a game of time, space, and opportunity.

Usually, by dominating any one of the three aspects leads to a very positive outcome.

You control the puck more than your opponents, your chances of winning goes up.  Not guaranteed, but goes up.

You create space between the defenders, the puck, and yourself your chances of winning go up.  Not guaranteed, but odds definitely improve.

But number three – opportunity – if you capitalize on every scoring opportunity, your chances of winning go WAY up. Exponentially up.

In fact, I would argue that NOT capitalizing on scoring chances is the number one factor in every loss in professional hockey where most teams are more or less on an equal footing talent wise.

For an individual on the ice, your opportunties are measured in shifts – most lasting only 60 seconds, a couple of minutes at most.

During a pro game, there may be a couple of guys who get 22 minutes of so of ice time – usually defensemen – but most guys (save the goalie, of course) are only on the ice for 10 minutes out of 60.

All the early morning practices, all of the extra ice time skating and conditioning – for 10 minutes of ice time in a game – if you’re lucky.

When I help my son get dressed for a game, I say two things to him: have fun, and skate every shift like it will be your last.

Because one day, it will be true.

If you leave it all out there, and try your best each and every shift, you will never have a regret that you didn’t do everything you could during those 60 second moments of opportunity.

Over a period of years, you will have aggregated a lot of ice time.  But your overall success or failure will ultimately be judged by the work you did, 60 seconds at a time.

When you go about your day, think about your moments of opportunity.  How are they measured?  Are you creating space between you and your competition to give yourself the best chance at achieving your goals?

Are you commiting your absolute best each and every “shift?”

Because one day, it will be your last shift.

Make the most of the time, space, and opportunity.

Being Cool

Being Cool

A recurring theme the past couple of weeks for me as I sit in on phone calls and meet people in meat space (i.e., the real world) is the notion of catching fire, being viral, capturing cool.

Guess what?

A couple of middle aged guys sitting around on a conference call ain’t gonna produce it.

You can’t dictate it.

You can’t borrow it.

You can’t buy it.

It’s not something to check off on an RFP / RFQ / Scope of Work or Proposal.

If you find yourself in a committee or group discussing how they can be cool or viral or popular, it’s time to move on.  Because it will never happen.  Let me repeat – It.  Will.  Never.  Happen.

Here’s why.

The cool people are cool.  The un-cool people are not.  That’s it.

I’ve never met Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, or Donald Trump.  All three are mega successful, but of the three, Steve is cool and Bill and The Donald are not.

Cool is a state of being.  It IS being.  It belongs to the poets, the creators, the doers.

I have seen incredibly cool stuff created by people of all stripes, regardless of means.

The one thing that sets them apart is that they are the doers.  The risk takers.  The contrarians.

They get the joke.

They are the people creating the gap that everyone tries to leap.

And they never, I repeat, never, are asking how they can be cool.  They just are.

So, if in your heart of hearts, you still really want to be cool, what do you do?

Conceive.  Create.  Execute.  Don’t ask how – just do.

There is an old poker truism, that when you sit down at the table to play and you can’t spot the sucker, it’s you.

Cool works inversely the same way.  If you think you are cool, you probably are not.  Maybe you were at one time.  But in most cases, it has a definite shelf life.

Let’s review a few pop culture cases to illustrate.  Many of you will disagree, many of you will agree, but the list will be informative just the same:

Michael Jackson: very cool in 1983, definitely uncool today.

Billy Joel: very cool 1975-1982, definitely uncool today.

Madonna: very cool 1983-2001, and still a force to be reckoned with.  Not cool, but points for trying.

High School Musical: Cool, but wearing thin.

The Band: Cool then and cool now.

Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Carole King: Cool then and cool now.

Glenn Frye: Cool with the Eagles, kinda a tool now.  Don Henley: Cool with the Eagles, cool with his solo work, comes across as a tool in interviews.

David Byrne, with or without the Talking Heads: You have to freakin’ ask?

Peter Gabriel: See entry on David Byrne.

David Bowie: Cool then, sold out in 1985, and really, coasting ever since.

Tom Hanks and Ron Howard.  Old Skool cool and cool now.

Van Halen: OMG.  Game changers in 1978, punchlines now.

Robin Williams: Funniest person I have ever seen in person, not cool now.  Replace “Robin Williams” with “Jim Carey” and you still get “everything gets old the upteenth time.”

See any patterns?

It is very hard to stay cool, to remain relevant, over a period of time.

It takes persistent effort to continually renew, to continually create, to continually grow to remain relevant.

Relevance is the real essence of cool, because everyone wants to be loved, admired, liked, wanted, to belong.

And you will never get that on a conference call.