Be the change.
Be the change.
This is a repost of a post I wrote for Psychology Today
I just got out of a four-and-one-half year relationship.
It was a pretty good one overall. It kept me grounded, opened some really interesting new horizons, even challenged me sometimes. I was exposed to new ideas and some very cool new people (a few might keep in touch).
It had it's moments, though. I was bored—a lot. I was sometimes jealous of how this particular "partner" treated others, showed favoritism, and unfairly bestowed what might be akin to affection. Sometimes there were miscommunications and arguments. Sometimes we were just not on the same page as to what we wanted out of the relationship, and sometimes it was just a petty spat that went away the next morning.
For a while, we saw each other every day. Later on, it became more of a long-distance relationship, but we invented some pretty interesting ways to keep it alive and vibrant. The ups and downs were pretty much the same in both cases, so I'd conclude the that the long-distance thing worked pretty well, mostly.
Though I often wondered where it was all going. I knew it wasn't a life-long deal (my "partner" might have tried to make be believe it was, but neither of us ever thought it would be). I didn’t expect it to last more than two, maybe three, years, so the four-and-one-half was a nice bonus; or looked at differently, me hanging around too long when I knew I needed to get out.
Overall, I'm glad I got into it, I'm glad I spent the time, and I'm glad I'm out of it. We ended up wanting very different things out of the relationship, and once we both understood that, we were able to find a way to end it.
And it ended exactly the way I expected. No drama, no name calling or blame. Just a nice-to-know-you-and-best-of-luck conversation exactly when, where and how I expected it.
Does this sound like a pretty typical story of a good relationship that is not quite "the one?" I think it does, and it pretty much felt like it the entire time. There's a bit of information I left out, though, that you'll need to know to understand the point of this story:
My "partner" in this relationship was not a person (current political posturing aside). Nor was it a pet.
It was a company. A Fortune 500 company at that. And I was an employee.
I have come to believe that, even though corporations are not actually people, many if not most of the aspects of how people relate to corporations (and how corporations relate to one another) are very much like the way people relate to other people.
I've spent the bulk of my 25 year career working on managing and improving the relationships between corporations and between corporations and their customers, partners, employees and various other constituencies.
When I look over that experience, I find the very same things that make personal relationships work (or fail): shared values, shared outlook, open and honest communication, managing expectations, understanding and meeting one another's needs, going above and beyond every so often, and a mutual commitment to making it work well.
As an employee of this large corporation, I had hopes and dreams for where my career there might lead. I had expectations of how I would be treated and rewarded. I had moments where the corporation was the best thing ever invented on the planet, and moment where I was certain they'd be out of business any day.
I've thought the same about most companies I've done business with, and will bet you have, too. When was the last time you decided you really, really hated your iPhone? Or couldn't wait to talk with your airline's (or cable provider's) customer service agents?
I can go on with the parallels, but I think I've made my point.
With so many people (by some estimates, as much as 16% of the US workforce) out of work, and so many more under-employed or just dissatisfied with their work, I have to ask the question: are you getting what you need from your relationship with your employer? Is the relationship a good one? Can it be improved (and how)? Or should you walk away from it (or will your employer)?
And if you (or your employer) decide to walk away, how will you handle the breakup? I can't answer that question for you anymore than I can suggest how to handle breaking up with your last boy/girlfriend, but I can suggest that you remember that it will be emotionally challenging and how well you handle it will help determine how soon you recover and move on.
Maybe the more important question is how to make sure you and your next employer are getting what you both need from the relationship. Interviewing is like a whirlwind relationship in many ways—not just that it happens quickly and it's important to put your best self forward, but there's a dance that we all expect and learning how you and your partner (read: potential employer) dance together will help advance the relationship. And as we know, a good relationship starts with open and honest communication.
And when the interview process doesn't work out, if you're like many of my friends, you're left asking why. Knowing why can help, but while there may be a good reason, it's often more of an impression. It's more like asking after a break up "I love you, why don't you love me?"
So when I go on my next interview, I will be figuring out how to develop a good, strong, long-term relationship with the employer, and I'll be making sure that the employer is one with which I want to enter a relationship. I encourage you to do the same.
After all, do you really want to be "that girl/guy" who says yes to anyone who asks?
Your turn: when you last left a company or job (whether by your choice or theirs) did it feel a bit like a breakup? Did it take some adjustment to find the right next job? Tell us your story!
We all - even some of our most trusted news sources - forgot to ask one important question about the hottest topic of the day. Let me explain.
If you follow the news in the technology industry or even just live somewhere like silicon valley, it was hard to escape the endless discussion today about Facebook's IPO filing. Both the news media and the social media were all a-twitter (pun intended) with both news and speculation.
There was the usual fascination with just how much money would be raised, what that made the company's valuation, how much money key executives earned and just how rich they and all of the pre-IPO employees would become on the day that the stock starts trading. And in the most self-referential of ways, the discussion largely took place on Facebook. (remember when we were all tweeting about twitter and tweeting? Or, wait, are we still?)
Then this article from the august publication The Wall Street Journal showed up. It claimed to contain "everything you need to know about the Facebook IPO." But it didn't. Nor did any of the other sources I've seen so far (anyone care to correct me? I hope I'm missing something...).
We forgot to ask:
Why do they want the money?
For what do they intend to use the money?
Before the dot-com boom made IPOs the stuff of legend and the companies akin to movie stars, this was the question on which investors focused. It told us if we chose to invest in the company's equity (or debt) issue, whether there was a reasonable chance of realizing the kind of return we would expect for the risk we were incurring by making the investment.
In the 1980s, when a semiconductor company wanted to raise money, it generally asked for funds to do things like I build factories (fabs) or hire engineers or buy advanced equipment. All of the seemed like reasonable requirements of growing that kind of company.
One can imagine (I have not read Facebook's filing) that Facebook might need new data centers to handle traffic, or to hire engineers to build all the cool stuff they want us to envision. Do they not have enough free cash flow to do this? (I'd ask the same of Apple if they wanted to raise money in the market - can they not just use their enormous cash horde?).
The filling (as so many have discussed) shows that Facebook is hugely profitable and throws off more cash than most companies will ever see. Do they need the additional $5-$10 billion on top of that? I don't know. It just doesn't say.
I posted this question to my own Facebook wall earlier today, and one speculator suggested that the main reason was to make the executives and all the pre-IPO employees rich (and, presumably, liquid). This idea is cynical, certainly, but given the environment, the tendencies of the company and it's founders and the current market environment (along with lack of news media scrutiny), it might be possible.
In fact, one news report (courtesy of KNTV, the San Francisco NBC affiliate) reported that making these people liquid would result in a significant economic boost to silicon valley, including increasing housing prices in some towns by as much as 16%.
Now, I'm not an investment professional (and this is not investment advice) but if I were to consider investing in Facebook, I'd want to know why they want my money. And I would or want the answer to be "so we can all be rich." I don't begrudge the folks at Facebook their wealth, but I also hope that this IPO is not just a wealth transfer mechanism (taking from me to give to them).
And if Facebook doesn't really need the money, why issue shares at all? Being a public company come with huge costs and overhead. Is having the money worth all that?
Whatever the purpose Facebook states for their soon-to-be-acquired funds, please tell me when we stopped asking - or, for that matter, caring?
Is it more important, as one comment on my Facebook post suggests, to be a big hit in the news (on Facebook?) or to build a company worthy of investment?
What do you think? Will you buy into Facebook? Does it matter to you how they use the money, or if they need it at all?
Two hundred years ago on Tuesday, the city’s street commissioners certified the no-frills street matrix that heralded New York’s transformation into the City of Angles — the rigid 90-degree grid that spurred unprecedented development, gave birth to vehicular gridlock and defiant jaywalking, and spawned a new breed of entrepreneurs who would exponentially raise the value of Manhattan’s real estate.
Today, debate endures about the grid, which mapped out 11 major avenues and 155 crosstown streets along which modern Manhattan would rise.
The grid was the great leveler. By shifting millions of cubic yards of earth and rock, it carved out modest but equal flat lots (mostly 25 by 100 feet) available for purchase. And if it fostered what de Tocqueville viewed as relentless monotony, its coordinates also enabled drivers and pedestrians to figure out where they stood, physically and metaphorically.
“This is the purpose of New York’s geometry,” wrote Roland Barthes, the 20th-century French philosopher. “That each individual should be poetically the owner of the capital of the world.”
The grid certified by the city’s street commissioners on March 22, 1811, spurred development by establishing seven miles of regular, predictable street access. It also laid the groundwork for nearly 2,000 acres of landfill that would be added to the island over the next two centuries. The commissioners concluded that New York “is to be composed principally of the habitations of men, and that straight-sided and right-angled houses are the most cheap to build and the most convenient to live in.”
The grid, which incorporated some existing roads, would also prove surprisingly resilient. It accommodated motor vehicles (after sidewalks and stoops were pruned). It allowed planners to superimpose Central Park in the 19th century and superblocks like those of Stuyvesant Town and Lincoln Center in the 20th. In the 21st, the grid was extended west to include apartment houses on Riverside Boulevard.
“The 200-foot-long block is short enough to provide continuous diversity for the pedestrian, and the tradition of framing out the grid by building to the street-wall makes New York streets walkable and vibrant,” said Amanda M. Burden, the director of city planning.
“The grid does not limit us,” said Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president. “It gives us a foundation to adjust to and a way to navigate Manhattan.”
But some have reservations. Tony Hiss, author of “In Motion: The Experience of Travel,” said that while the grid contributes orderliness, “I still think it distances us from our natural surroundings, and it has given us a slightly spurious and diminished mental geometry.”
“We think more in terms of linear blocks than neighborhoods,” Mr. Hiss continued.
What made the grid plan, formally called the Commissioners’ Map and Survey of Manhattan Island, so farsighted was that in 1811 a vast majority of New York City’s population lived below what became Houston Street — tellingly named North Street then. When City Hall was completed that year, its rear facade was covered with cheaper brownstone (in part, legend had it, because of the notion that since most New Yorkers lived south of the building, they would see it only from the front).
Yet while largely exempting the existing village of Greenwich, the visionary commissioners imposed their 2,000-block matrix on the forests, farms, salt marshes, country estates and common lands that extended north for nearly eight miles to what would become 155th Street, and expanded the city’s plotted land area by nearly fivefold.
“To some it may be a matter of surprise that the whole island has not been laid out as a city,” the commissioners — Gouverneur Morris, Simeon De Witt and John Rutherford — wrote. “To others it may be a subject of merriment that the commissioners have provided space for a greater population than is collected at any spot on this side of China.”
“To have gone further,” they noted without irony, “might have furnished materials to the pernicious Spirit of Speculation.” They concluded nonetheless that “it is perhaps no unreasonable conjecture that in half a century” the 1811 city of some 60,000 would be “closely built up” as far as 34th Street and would “contain 400,000 souls.”
The commissioners were prescient, but they underestimated. In 1860 (38 years before the four other boroughs were consolidated into the city) and decades after the commissioners’ surveyor, John Randel Jr., had staked out the intersections with marble monuments and iron rods, an army of laborers had begun to level and even pave the undulating landscape (Manahatta, by one definition, meant Island of Hills). New York was already bursting with more than 800,000 souls.
“What I found absolutely remarkable,” said Hilary Ballon, an urban studies professor at New York University and curator of a future exhibition on the grid for the Museum of the City of New York, “was how the city had a commitment to executing this vision, which required a pretty significant transformation in how the city worked — a greater degree of governmental authority, changes in the taxation system to fund this road building, and a multigenerational commitment to its implementation.”
In contrast to Pierre L’Enfant’s grandiose national capital, the street commissioners adopted what Reuben Skye Rose-Redwood, a geographer and expert on the grid, described as “a physical representation of the Cartesian coordinate system.”
The urban grid goes back beyond Hippodamus of Miletus, the Greek urban planner, who, like the street commissioners, viewed the matrix as a manifestation of “the rationality of civilized life.” New York’s grid inspired planners elsewhere. But nowhere, wrote Edward K. Spann, an urban historian, “was the triumph of the grid as decisive as in America’s greatest city.”
Concerned about averting fire and disease, the commissioners rejected crooked, narrow streets like those downtown. Yet they provided for relatively few parks, reasoning that Manhattan was flanked by two refreshing rivers. They conceived a 240-acre military parade ground and a public market connected by a canal to deliver produce from the East River.
Without envisioning mass transit, motor vehicles, tenements or skyscrapers (the vertical grid), they mapped more crosstown streets than avenues because they figured most traffic would go between the rivers. Officials later extended Broadway, originally a meandering Indian path, and added Lexington and Madison Avenues.
The grid constituted a high-stakes chessboard for speculators (the value of property in Manhattan more than doubled from 1842 to 1860). Corrupt politicians also profited from inflated construction contracts.
Dr. Rose-Redwood calculated that in 1811, of the 1,865 buildings north of Houston Street, 721 stood on newly mapped streets and had to be either razed or moved. As executed, natural topography was ignored (stranding some houses on bluffs). Driving streets through private property sparked not-in-my-backyard revolts. Owners were compensated, though tax assessments also rose on properties bordering the new streets. Clement Clarke Moore, before making a fortune parceling out his Chelsea property and claiming authorship of “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” characterized the commissioners as “men who would have cut down the seven hills of Rome.”
But Joel Towers, the executive dean of Parsons the New School for Design, suggests that the grid presents an opportunity, now that climate change and rising sea levels elevate topography to the urban agenda.
“What will the city look like over the next 200 years?” he asked. “Maybe we can start to think of all those backyards and roofs as sponges, as a permeable landscape. Over the course of 200 years, our infrastructure will be built piece by piece, block by block, community by community. That’s very different from 1811, when you could just bulldoze the land.”
I wrote this shortly after my 50th birthday, just as the reality of the new decade began to settle in:
I am not 30.
No matter what my friends (or your friends) say, 50 is not the new 30 (or 40, or even 49). 50 is 50. Period. It's not like 30 or 40. Those decades had their own unique challenges and opportunities, as does this one.
I turned 50 a few weeks ago, and as I relaxed at home after a weekend of celebration, I realized I had suddenly arrived on something like a new plateau.
This is not a mid-life crisis. In fact, I don't think (at least I hope) that I ever will have one of those: . It's turning out to be a new perspective on my life and the world that surrounds me.
It is a new so-called life-stage. And I'm just starting the journey of learning a few things about being a 50-something (besides that I'm now eligible for AARP membership).
- I know more about how to get where I want to go. I don't know everything - I hope not! - but I do know more than I did, and more than at any prior age (obviously!), about how the proverbial game is played, and how I can tilt the outcome more in my favor. I may not win (as one of my favorite t-shirts ever read: "He who dies with the most toys, wins"), but I can certainly do a better job with the tools now available to me of ending up where I want to be.
- I am turning into Popeye ("I am what I am"). Or at least I'm becoming more secure in who I am, who I've become in the past 50 years and how I want to become a better me (notice, not become something else) for the next 10-20-30-more years. This has also led to far less conflict in my life - I'm so much more comfortable ceding ground to others that I never wanted anyway. I just needed to learn that I never wanted it.
- There are more younger people in my life. Of course, but it may not seem obvious that the overall average age of the people in the room (business, social, whatever room you're in) hasn't changed - you've just gotten older. I've noticed that more of my new friends and associates are younger than I, where there used to be a more even division of age. I'm now the older, more-experienced guy. That's nice in and of itself, but the other benefit is that all these new young associates and friends challenge me, teach me and keep me on my toes.
- I'm learning to live with new realities. I am - thankfully - suffering no serious physical challenges, but I do find that I don't have some of the physical capacity I once did. I can't always improve every statistic of my workout. I can't always be faster or stronger than anyone else I choose to compare myself to. It's starting to give me a longer-term, more balanced perspective on my own capability. I have started to think in terms of what performing well means, and how to keep challenging myself through variety rather than through linear progress. I think it's going to keep the physical condition aspects of my life quite interesting.
- I've given myself permission to be honest. In my teens, 20s and 30s, I was always trying to prove that I had it all under control and built a facade to help make others believe that and be impressed. But it was a fraud. I knew I had hard, deep, challenging questions. When I started opening up and telling people about my challenges and questions, I found out not only was I not alone, but that I gained more respect for honesty than I ever did for the facade. Plus I've developed deeper, better relationships as a result, and the people around me value me for the real, not perceived, me. Living and loving life comes with hard questions; being honest about it makes it easier - whether I deal with them or not.
I'm new to this. I've only been 50 for a few weeks, but it's crystal clear to me that there's a new life-stage starting, with a set of new perspectives, better tools and knowledge and, I hope, a lot more fun, growth and learning ahead.
I don't know where it will take me (maybe I should write down now what I plan to say when I turn 60?), but it promises to be the best decade I've had yet - and I don't think I could ask for more than that.
How can any flight be anything but happy with puppies on board!
City Considers Buying Bulk Bleach To Squash Sewage Odor
Posted: 8:50 pm PST February 18, 2011Updated: 3:55 pm PST February 19, 2011SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- San Francisco's efforts to conserve water have had one adverse effect on the city - a powerful stench.
To combat the smell, the city plans to purchase 27 million pounds of bleach. City officials said it's an old fashioned solution for a smelly problem.
Even during Friday's storm, San Francisco residents said they could still smell the odor
Mary Wujek, a San Francisco resident, said she noticed the smell and described it as a briny sea smell.
To help wipe out the sulpher-like smell, the city plans to spend $14 million to buy three years worth of sodium hypoclorite, also known as bleach.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission plans to release the 27 million pounds of bleach from tanks into the city's vast sewage system.
"It is metered in with a metering pump," said Tommy Moala, SFPUC Assistant General Manager. "Depending on the flow if needed the flow. If needed, we can put more in."
Over-the-counter laundry bleach is 6 percent sodium hypochorite. The bleach used in the county sewers is 12 percent.
The county's public utilities commission said sewage stink is particularly bad during dry, warm months.
The increased use of low flow toilets means there's less water in the sewers to dilute the smell of waste and help convey it to treatment plants.
"So as we go from seven gallon flushes to one gallon flush, it does have an effect," Moala added.
The SFPUC also uses chlorine on treated sewage water. Before it goes out into the bay, the agency also neutralizes the chlorine because it's hazardous to fish and other wildlife in the bay.
The county's board of supervisors will make a final decision on the big bleach buy on March 1.
Copyright 2011 by KTVU.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Originally published in the August 2004 issue
I’m going to be ninety in September. Everybody else can have a piece of the birthday cake, but not me. I have rules, and I follow ‘em. No cake, no pie, no candy, no ice cream! Haven’t had any in seventy-five years. It makes me feel great not eating birthday cake. That’s the gift I give myself.
Forget about what you used to do. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.
Don’t ask me about politics. I don’t like to get into Barbra Streisand-ism. Let’s stick to what’s important.
When I was younger, I drank a quart of blood a day for about six weeks. I’d get it at the slaughterhouse. I’d heard about those Masais, you know, those seven-foot African guys; they’d drink cattle blood for strength. Then one day a little clot got stuck in my throat and that was it for me.
As long as the emphasis is on winning, you’re gonna have steroids.
If man makes it, don’t eat it.
Of course I have fears. But what good is thinking or talking about them? Billy Graham is about the hereafter. I’m for the here and now.
You’ve got to satisfy you. If you can’t satisfy you, you’re a failure.
I work out for two hours every morning, seven days a week — even when I’m traveling. I hate it. But I love the result! That’s the key, baby!
The only way you can hurt your body is if you don’t use it.
Look, are you a suckling calf? Name one creature on earth that uses milk after it’s weaned. Man’s the only one. And man’s the only one who lives out only half his life span. A cow has four stomachs. You don’t. You can’t handle whole milk.
I’d like to talk to Jesus about those twelve disciples. They were a great public-relations team.
If you want to change somebody, don’t preach to him. Set an example and shut up.
Scales lie! You lose thirty pounds of muscle and you gain thirty pounds of fat and you weigh the same, right? Take that tape measure out. That won’t lie. Your waistline is your lifeline. It should be the same as it was when you were a young person.
If you lose a couple of inches off your stomach, your business down there will look an inch longer.
Sex is giving, giving, giving. The more energy you have, the more you’re going to please.
Now, I’m not as sexually active as I was when I was younger. But look at my wife — she’s still smiling!
The guy who’s most impressed me is Paul C. Bragg. He completely saved my life. When I was a kid, I was addicted to sugar. I was a skinny kid with pimples and boils. Used to eat ice cream by the quart. I had blinding headaches. I tried to commit suicide. And then one day, my life changed. Bragg was a nutritionist. My mother and I were a little late getting to his lecture. The place was packed, and so we started to leave. But Bragg said, “We don’t turn anybody away here. Ushers, bring two seats. Put those two up on the stage.” It was the most humiliating moment. There I was, up on stage. I was so ashamed of the way I looked; I didn’t want people to see me. Little did I know they had problems, too. And Bragg said, “It doesn’t matter what your age is, what your physical condition is. If you obey nature’s laws, you can be born again.” From that moment on, I completely changed my diet, began to exercise, and went on to become captain of the football team. And do you know something? Every time I get ready to lecture, I think, If I can just help one person like I was helped…
Show me the guy who doesn’t get nervous in front of a crowd and I’ll show you a lousy speaker.
Would you get your dog up every day, give him a cup of coffee, a doughnut, and a cigarette? Hell, no. You’d kill the damn dog.
You learn as you go. When I first went on television in 1951, I pulled out a loaf of Langendorf’s white bread, squeezed it into a ball, and threw it down — boom. “That’s what it does when it hits your stomach!” I said. Only problem was that Langendorf’s was one of the network’s sponsors! Oh, jeez, the phone calls. That’s the last time I ever showed a label.
Go on, have a glass of wine with dinner. What is wine, anyway? Pure grapes. A glass of wine is much better for you than a Coke.
If I don’t know what I’m doing by now, I must be pretty stupid.
What I do isn’t about money. Can you put a price on a human life?
Any stupid person can die. Dying’s easy. Living’s a pain in the butt.
I can’t afford to die. It’ll wreck my image.
OK, I'll stop posting these, but these are great lessons.
This only goes as far as creating understanding, and not to the point of seeing through others' eyes, but this is one proposal for improving our chances at civil discourse. But I have to wonder (as do some of the commenters on this) how well any of us would follow her rules, or similar ones we make up on our own.