The Third Metric


This week, came to my inbox, courtesy of LinkedIn,  a headline from Huffington Post—“Are you living your eulogy or your resume?”  The answer for me is easy, the eulogy, but dread is not far behind—what if that’s the wrong answer?  I’m not quite sure what living your resume means, but I am quite sure I understand the former—living a life that you hope to be proud of, a source of inspiration to your children,  a life with meaning and impact in the making a difference arena.  I know it sounds morbid, but I hope many people will remember me, will say that I made a difference in their or someone’s world…that my time on the planet was not misspent or, worse yet, ill spent.

So imagine my joy when, voila, I got the right answer—living the Eulogy.  But imagine my consternation when I find out that a) someone has come up with a name for what I hold dear: “Third Metric,”  b) its mathematical (how could you spoil something so lofty with math) and c) the idea, while worthy, seems to be the subject of a new campaign of Huffington’s Post to redefine the meaning  of success.

You will recall that in my first blog post I wrote of my consternation over life in a world where few seemed cognizant, aware or even remotely concerned with “the bigger questions.”  The big questions, you see, inevitably lead you to the leading the Eulogy life ethic…or as Huffington calls it, the third metric.

Well before I let you know how it works, here’s why philosophers make good lawyers: Both have a love affair with asking questions. I remember well asking way past my quota as a student making me the thorn in the side of many a teacher.  Give me an example you say?  OK, I’m in first grade. Big news is earthquakes in South America.  We are doing “journal entries” for a class assignment. President Eisenhower is on the news extending his heartfelt sympathies to the quake victim families . I think that’s worth putting into my daily journal.  But, how to spell Eisenhower?  I ask my teacher. Who quips back:  “What in the world does a first grader need to know how to spell Eisenhower for?”  (I’m sure she ended the sentence with a preposition). I explain about the earthquakes and the journal entry. She makes a very unkind face, spells it and gives me a disdainful look every time I raise my hand going forward.  Thus began my miserable experience with elementary education, about which I will someday write.

So, the Third Metric—my version of it goes like this: You ask a few key questions: What are we doing here? Why are we so special?  Haven’t we learned anything from the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans? If not, why not?  Why do we work a five day week, i.e., is there a race, the largest most profitable economy when we reach the end of the “game” wins?  From a long game perspective, who gets remembered, and why?  Does the short term matter at all? And, in a nod to my Italian heritage, why is everyone in such a hurry?  Do the Roman ruins tell us nothing about the grandeur of the present, soon to be past?

Ask these and other related questions and you come down to this: What matters?   I disagree with Huffington about what Steve Jobs will be remembered for (she thinks not the iPhone or iPad). Whenever I  wash with a really nice cotton towel, I do think occasionally about Eli Whitney and what his cotton gin did for us. And then there’s John Adams, who had such insight and intelligence shaping life as we know it—and I suspect he won’t be remembered in 100 years hence, except in the hearts of school children memorizing the names of the U.S. presidents in order. Now, that’s a shame.  But the stout smart lawyer who sometimes took on unpopular causes and did a damn good job, will not fade into complete oblivion. He mastered the Third Metric, I think.

Now Huffington disparagingly suggests that no one wants to be remembered for answering all of their emails and promptly.  I beg to differ. I’d like to be remembered for that and for being willing to work long hours for little pay because all those things say I gave it my all. To coin a cliché, I treated my life like opening night, no dress rehearsal for me.  And, with a little more research into Huffington’s Third Metric, I see that she and others (notably a psychologist named Perlman) have hijacked the concept into the women’s empowerment movement. Shame.  It’s not a woman issue. It’s a people issue. A humankind issue.  If you contort this uniquely human complexity into a woman issue, the concept will be dead in the water.

So while I leave you with these thoughts and your own eulogy vs. resume or Huffington’s “third metric” analysis, I will go try to find out just why on earth she had to give something so significant a mathematical name (which is bound to alienate some of even the brightest minds) and whether the math angle is just a ploy to get on the quantitative bandwagon that is so popular these days–culling more data to generate numbers that tell us more about ourselves than we care to know.


Cold Pizza and The AM Pond Crossing Option


You may start by asking, what on earth have cold pizza and crossing the Atlantic at 7:00 AM on Virgin Air have in common. Well, almost nothing. Except that I arrived in London quite late last evening left with only a Vietnam take-out option for dinner from a small concern across the street that had a cleaner kitchen than one would have thought. When arriving late, breakfast the next morning sometimes consists of cold left-overs. I am not above eating cold left-overs for breakfast.  And, cold left-overs remind me of a story from a custody case I handled years ago.  I find the story amusing, but not sure my staff, with whom I shared it last week,  enjoyed the story as much as I do “in the rear view mirror”.  You tell me.

The pizza story. It goes like this–a mother is seeking return of custody of a son now 10 years old who she was forced to abandon when he was five in first grade in order for her to take her one shot at escaping his abusive father, her husband. She took her daughter, his sister, but to wait for him to return from school, or worse yet, to take him from school early, would have meant she missed the window to save herself. Now, several years later she is remarried, living as far from the east coast as one can and still be in America. She has a decent life and learns that the son is living is less than ideal circumstances with the father and his “new” wife.  One of the issues that arose on cross examination was what the father and his wife fed the son for breakfast while travelling at a horse show on the road. Cold next day pizza.  Lord, I do like a good piece of cold next day pizza, but the cross examination was fierce. I put a note in front of my colleague when the vicious cross was done: “Re: pizza. I’m in trouble.”

Such is the life of a litigator–certainly one of the barometers that you start to use to gauge your own conduct, at least some of the time, is “how would this look, sound, etc.” in a court of law.  So while I continued to enjoy the occasional piece of morning-after pizza, you can be sure I never dared allow my children (at least not under my watch) the same pleasure, lest the quality of my parenting come under fire as a result of that indulgence.

Thus, the transition from cold pizza, to cold fried rice and this morning’s fireside chat: Commuting across the Atlantic:  AM or PM?

The old logic, or at least my old logic, used to be work as long as you can through the day, dash to JFK and grab an evening flight to Europe. Arrive in the wee hours, if you’re lucky,  take a short nap and push through the day.  The ardent type-A’s among us (you know who you are) skip that nap. I have never been one who could.

Now plugging an airline in one of my first blogs might not be the best of ideas–but here it goes. I have come up with a plan that in my humble opinion, really is the best option for overseas commuters and travellers, even for the Type A, or perhaps, especially for the Type A’s.

Here it is:  Virgin Atlantic has a 7:15 am flight from JFK to London.  For a mere $15, you can purchase unlimited wifi access for the entire flight, once you’ve left USA airspace (not sure about why that rule is there).  While the iPad was slowish–in fact reminiscent of the old dial-up days, the Blackberry (yes, I know–I am one of the blackberry die hards and this experience reaffirmed my hope they don’t go belly up) was as reliable and fast as ever. Basically I was able to have a fairly productive day and  arrived in London without the usual 2+ hours spent catching up answering emails.  Had I not gotten tied up at customs for two hours amidst a sea of students returning to start the academic year, I actually might have found myself in a taxi in daylight.

So apart from not planning ahead and arranging a nice smoke salmon for breakfast this morning, the Virgin Flight #26 departing Kennedy at 7:15 AM leaves you able to  wake up bright and early the next day, ready to hit the ground running–the prior day’s work all done in real time.  While among the other airlines there are a few other early morning offerings, none to the best of my knowledge has WIFI and miniature key-lime custard for dessert. And the actual flight, well let’s just say: Tempus fugit–as I pecked away at my blackberry it seemed like no time at all before the pilot greeted us with  an announcement to prepare for descent into Heathrow. In the words of one of my favorite NPR radio programs,  I found myself murmuring “wait wait, don’t tell me, just one more email.”

What’s the downside? The fellow seated alongside me  liked me well enough at the start of the flight, but my attachment to the blackberry and iPad seemed to put him off.  I think he pigeon holed me into a wed-to-my-blackberry stereotype that really was undeserved. Like most I was just a slug, trying to get through another day of work and while he said his work didn’t require “being online”…well, mine did old chap.


Try to remember…

This is my first blog entry.  Appropriately coined “try to remember.”  The inspiration to create a blog came from one or another idea which I thought worth sharing. As a young person, I paid a good deal of attention to advice and counsel from my elders, now long gone. Even with that, I wish I had paid more, better and closer attention. What they said had value, I know now.

So as I make my way into the life’s evening, one thing shocks me:  How little people making their way through life pay attention to the bigger picture.

Intervening events, horrific news of yesterday’s attacks in Kenya have distracted me from the thought that motivated me earlier today when I decided, enough procrastination, time to get that blog going.  So I am here now–ready to launch the blog, but the prolific piece I had in mind to write has left me for the moment.

I don’t remember the older generation losing their train of thought quite so much as I do. Nor do I remember them as being in a constant state of movement, quite as much as I feel I am.

So, while I “try to remember” I will sign off with this today–I hope you find some merit, joy and food for thought in the posts that will follow in the days to come. Image