Covid: Who will sharpen the pencils?

Pre-Covid when I was heading up an NGO in New Haven Connecticut, where Yale intern talent was abundant, there was a tradition. The person selected to keep sharp the container of pencils on my desk, a seemingly menial task, was in fact a person identified as one possessing a talent, sometimes obvious sometimes not so obvious, worthy of recognition and nurturing. This tradition emerged after earlier trials picking the most junior person for the task, ended up being perceived as demeaning to the designee. The new approach, which remained in place as long as I steered the ship, converted what was perceived as a humiliation into a much coveted honor. Not entirely unintentionally, it also gave me the opportunity to have one-on-one interaction with an intern–a challenge in our busy go-get ’em world.

This revised approach to what I thought was a good exercise in humility grew out of a sense of something I had learned in my own career–which was that leading an organization was easiest when one had somewhere on the resume, held the most junior job that often involved humdrum tasks. It was only then as a leader, that I felt a person could truly have a properly developed sense of empathy, appreciate youthful eagerness to climb the ladder and sympathize with a young person’s sense of underutilization of their abundant intelligence. In the current workplace climate keeping the bosses pencils sharp seemed a good way to encourage humility–a lesson hard to learn or be taught in ivy league corridors. The pencil sharpener designation, in stark contrast to being viewed as a humiliation, became a coveted honor– able to generate just a little disappointment to those not selected for the task. Not accidentally, the sharpening exercise often led to a chance to sit down and have interesting exchanges with young wonderfully interesting students. Conversations about life, goals and direction often ensued.

In the Covid and post-Covid world, where many of us are now working remotely, the humility lesson gets taught twice. For those of us responsible for sharpening our bosses pencils so many years ago, we are left again to our own unassisted devices, to keep our own pencils sharp.

So if you find yourself on a teams or zoom call with me, and think I’ve gone silent, consider this: I may be, behind that mute button, sans interns, sharpening my HB#2 Staedtlers wondering when I shall ever again have the opportunity to share life’s lessons during an encounter disguised as a pencil sharpening session.


Hurry Up Mr. Fellows…in case you haven’t heard there’s stuff going on at Downton Abbey!

Next Chapter:
The story opens in 1940.  WWII has officially begun.

Carson and his wife are visited at their home by former house-staff, Anna and Bates, who had left Downton Abby years before to live in America but have returned and decided to settle back in the village they once called home.  They ask after Lord and Lady Grantham. Carson is surprised that they are completely unaware of the untimely death of Lady Grantham who after receiving a phone call from USA telling of the brother’s passing made plans for a quick visit to America. As a result of her brother’s death, she became sole heir, to what remained of the family fortune, (Newport Mansion and all)  and needed to meet with American lawyers. Arrangements were put in place for her to travel to Germany and board the Hindenburg, the latest travel marvel that could have her to and back from America in a week, so she would not

miss the coronation of King George. Anna and Bates expressions are filled with dread. They didn’t need a reminder of the tragedy of the Hindenburg on the 6th of May, 1937.   Mrs. Hughes (now Mrs. Carson) wonders if perhaps the Downton legacy is an ill fated one, destined for tragedy—first the Titanic, then the car accident, fortunes lost in an ill-advised railroad investment and now the Hindenburg.

It was well over a year since England entered WWII. The children are all young adults, several of whom are eligible for military service. That includes Master George.  He is an officer and becomes close mates with fellow senior officer, Frederick, who is a bit older, but the two develop a close bond.  They have in common that they both lost their fathers at a young age—Freddie’s father in the war (WWI) and George’s father in an auto accident on the day he was born.  George is more than a little surprised to learn that Freddie attended all the best schools, as he had prefaced the conversation with the fact that his mother was a widowed housemaid. He explained to George, that thanks to the generosity of a Lord of a grand house where his mother once worked, (intimating a potential romance between the Lord of the manor and his mother) the gentleman had arranged to finance his education and even went so far as to facilitate his admission into the best schools.   His mother never told him the benefactor’s name, but he is committed that he will one day find out and thank the gentleman.  

The two officers are on the train heading home for leave. Freddie needs to connect at Bampton for  yet another train —when they learn that there is a problem on the track, and the connecting train has been cancelled. Freddie says he’ll simply need to spend the night in Bampton and head out in the morning.  George insists on taking Freddie home with him to Downton, where he can spend the night, explaining that in the morning they’ll have a driver take him back to the station and he can then resume his journey home. He explains that he can ring up his mother and let her know of the delay, sure that she will be happy he will be comfortably welcomed at Downton.

Mary and her new husband, Henry Talbot, now have two daughters.  We meet them at 13 and 10 years old, already displaying an intense rivalry that takes the rivalry which was the hallmark of Mary and Edith’s relationship to a new level. Predictably one is quite pretty and social and the other, attractive enough but on the quiet side. Cousin Marigold often finds herself mediating between them—but her affection for her two siblings is not reciprocated by the youngsters. Marigold is very much like her Aunt Sybil in demeanor and not well adapted to the cattiness of her young nieces.

Meanwhile Tom Branson, the chauffeur who married Sybil has, not unexpectedly developed a relationship with Lucy Smith, daughter of Maud, Lady Bagshaw. They have since married. They are talking of a visit to Downton, for a family reunion of sorts—to cheer up Lord Grantham. Sybbie begs to join them on the visit to Downton. She longs to visit “Donk” and is sure she can make him smile. When they are met at the station by the chauffeur, and it is clear that there is some kind of connection between Sybbie and the driver. Her father, Tom, immediately recognizes the early flirtatious behaviours that characterized his own romance with her mother, Sybil. He later pulls Lord Grantham aside, seeking his advice and counsel about “the problem.”  The irony is inescapable and makes for a charming and warm scene between the two.

Meanwhile, Bertie and Edith Pelham, the Marquess and Marchioness of Hexham have a growing family of their own and have managed to avoid gossip over Marigold’s parentage. Edith has sold the magazine left to her by Marigold’s father, and made a tidy fortune for herself, improving her own marital financial underpinnings. But, as with ever, Edith’s newfound optimism surrounding her own fairy-tale ending is disrupted when a lawyer enters the scene, purportedly representing Mrs. Gregson, wife, now no longer in an insane asylum, of Edith’s former lover, Michael Gregson. She threatens to expose the child’s parentage and humiliate the Marquess and Marchioness, if she doesn’t get the fair share of her husband’s estate.  Her lawyer is none other than the grandson of Lord Merton—whose own son was despicable and bore intense dislike for the entire Grantham clan, from his rejection by Sybil as a young man, to his father’s liaison with Lady Crawley (now Lady Merton). That resentment has been planted in his son, who displays the same despicable behavior of his father. Lady Merton feels some somewhat to blame for Edith’s woes for he has fastened upon the Granthams’ weakest link to vent his animus. Lord Merton is frail, but not afraid, and conjures up something to shut-down his son’s animus for once and for all.

And so you see, with or without Mr. Fellowes, there’s stuff going on at Downton Abbey!

Because getting old just wasn’t enough of a challenge…

Accepting the fact that at a certain time in your life it becomes clear that the world’s focus is not on your generation, but the generations behind you, itself gives you pause. The older generation before you, has likely passed on, leaving the “senior” in you to fend for itself in a world that does not consider the challenges you face among the most pressing. Those challenges include downsizing, retiring, working, losing a partner, to name a few. Then along comes a pandemic in the form of the COVID-corona-Whuhan-China-callitwhatyouwish virus. For some, that Southern winter refuge you fled to, to shield you from northern winters, is the source of an unfathomable chasm that with quarantines and travel suspension, prevents you from visits with family and children–something you took quite for granted when you moved South.

What are some challenges and choices facing the 60+ generation? For starters, downsizing–managing a large home, possibly the “family home,” which was not too difficult with one or two full time jobs, and a houseful of children, but sitting in that same house now, possibly alone, with the ever-growing tax bill funding children you don’t have in schools they don’t attend, or plowing of streets you don’t use in winter, is one. Just as you decide that downsizing might be the way to go–you realize that grandchildren are on the horizon –ok, something you were able to project and think about–but what you didn’t think about was that a pandemic might mean creating pods and bubbles where you, your children and their children might need to quarantine under one roof, if you are to have any semblance of intimate contact with them. Downsizing, now doesn’t seem like such a good idea. But, if not now, when or ever? Then there’s the furniture, which you’ve kept in the family for years, but in which your children now have no interest. The British maxim–“we don’t buy furniture, we inherit it” decidedly doesn’t work in America. Finally, with or without a houseful of family, travel and gatherings for many seniors is currently considered ill advised…which begs the question: Is retiring from the job that gives you the only regular human contact you have, albeit on zoom and teams, a good idea? Now? Soon? Or ever?

What is clear, from a very unscientific polling is that there just isn’t enough “out there” to lend support, advice, counsel for the over-60 crowd to simplify, clarify or weigh the available choices or the pros and cons of the options we face. Unlike the choices we may have made in our younger years, these choices need to stick–and stick well. There is neither energy, time nor inclination for do-overs. As unpleasant as the concept seems, and as verboten as it is to talk of it, time isn’t on our side. The overriding hope needs to be that, whatever the choice, it won’t be one we regret–no do-overs on the eighteenth tee.

These are only a few of the emotional/intellectual quagmires many seniors find themselves considering these days–downsize, move, retire? How about you? And, wouldn’t it be nice, if someone, just someone or maybe a pair of people, say a pair that dabbled in law and real estate for forty plus years, devoted themselves to creating a platform that managed to support all of us as we try to maneuver this maze we call life-over-sixty in 2020? Stay tuned.

Covid-19: Coming: Survival Guide for Seniors in the New Electronic Frontier

Social scholars say that we are hardwired to connect with others. So imagine the genius of an enemy which thrives and depends upon, with laser focus, that hardwiring to destroy us. Then imagine that it tar2020-03-29_20-05-37gets the wisest and most sage among us, leaving only the young –Darwinian masterminding   creating a world that sans seniors, becomes a feeding ground for other new viruses that are far less age discriminatory when it comes to hosts. If viruses are in it for the “long game”–it’s a win for the virus.

Two months ago, I suggested to a young niece that my generation needed more influencers and I hoped to maybe become one. I am after all, that “certain age” as Simone de Beauvoir called it, working full-time,  taking in less exercise than I should but possibly more than many of my peers, monitoring retirement investments, downsizing real estate and, lest I forget, not completely unfamiliar with Match, Silver Singles and Zoosk. She, the twenty-something niece, suggested that being an influencer in the digital age, with a following consisting of people over 65 that unlike her generation didn’t live and die by the mobile phone, didn’t hold a lot of promise.

At the time, neither she nor I knew about COVID19–the catalyst that is destined to change everyone’s reality–the viral introducer to a generation of seniors that the time to learn to use the phone, facetime, zoom, skype had come. The catalyst that gave a large piece of the population the comfort of working from home, no highways, traffic jams, public transport or daily commute–the source of inspiration for maybe more than a few seniors that “retirement” by necessity might need postponing, that banking needed to be online, along with shopping and other contactless activity. Suddenly, reaching my audience was less daunting than originally anticipated–it was a hill that Covid-19 climbed for an entire generation.

Why are there no seniors influencing? We have  workplace issues. We face challenges. We take comfort in the same peer-to-peer sharing that have benefited the generations behind us. We have credit cards. We shop. We buy and sell houses. We invest. We marry, we divorce. We get widowed, we marry again, and again. We own cars and grow more than flowers in gardens.

An influencer is someone who builds a reputation for knowledge and expertise on a specific topic. I consider myself fairly expert on being a senior, eligible for early morning grocery shopping in the self-quarantining era. I’m going to bet that more of my peers than ever, are now connected.  In an age that promises to be more digitized than ever, those of us who succeed in escaping the scourge of COVID-19 will suffer the residual loss of being left behind in the age of the electronic frontier unless we board that train now. Let’s do this.

Looking back…living with option b.

A few years ago in one of my blog posts, I suggested that I had my own personal sword of Damocles, as I did my best to prepare for the passing of my life partner. At the time I identified very much with, and felt for the first time that I truly kgard4understood, the ineffable nuance buried in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.  It has taken literally years for me to look back and give thought to the “wait”– whether things could or should have been done differently, more thoughtfully or better. I waited nearly two years for the moment when I could write about my personal Monday-morning-quarterbacking and first person second-guessing. Today, for not completely inexplicable reasons–that day arrived.  As you might surmise from this lead in, “underestimated” best describes my level of emotional preparedness for the loneliness that lie ahead.  The impression that as one reaches a certain age you necessarily start to come to terms with the probability of loss, is– misguided.  Most startling? How common the really shattering experience of losing a life partner is (50 percent of all partnered couples experience it) is  and at the same time, how utterly unprepared one is, for it . After months of reading Cheryl Sandburg’s #optionb and following her  #optionb facebook group, I’m fairly certain that we humans have done a poor job of reconciling ourselves to that which is an integral and inescapable part of life.

My student years were filled with the study of philosophy. According to Plato, the best form of government was one ruled by the philosopher, the “philosopher king” he termed it–governing a world guided by a love of wisdom, intelligence, reliability and willingness to live a simple life. Were our world ruled by philosopher kings, no doubt in my mind but that we would be more mindful of Mr. Sagan’s blue dot concept, without having voyage into outer space to embrace it. The philosopher king would cross-fertilize with the scientist, confront the inescapable realities that permeate human existence, and perhaps for the first time, devote thoughtful resources to helping mankind identify and develop better loss-coping mechanisms.

Among the few conclusions I’m willing to publicly share are these two…
1) As inhabitants of this universe, who have managed to rule out the comfort provided by the many deities that previous civilizations relied upon, we need to apply our collective societal intelligence to identify and develop better loss-coping mechanisms.

2) On the positive side, there is one truth that I have found reaffirming–modern civilization’s evolution, anchored in the family construct, offers extraordinary relief, albeit palliative, to intercept the pain of loss in a meaningful way.

On this not-so-upbeat note you have now reached the part where you google images for “inspiring quotes” and/or, slightly sensing the vacuum, invite me to dinner. As for the inspiration and strength, well I find that Winston Churchill is always a good place to start.


What your 10 favorite or most used words say about you.

We all do it, or so I’d like to think.

Capture blog favorite wordsWe find a way to finagle our favorite words into a paper or review or email or possibly even a text.  But have you ever taken the time to identify those words that you manage to inject into any and everything you write? If you’re anything like me, you not only have identified the words, but when editing your works, you need to go through a deduping process to make sure you haven’t become victim to overuse, in which case your audience has or will catch on, and whatever positive impression you wanted to make will garner the opposite response. (Long sentence, 57 words, possibly a record for me.)

I usually try to anchor my writings with one or two, at the very least, of my favorite words. Rest assured, the task is not a daunting one. Deploying the chance to use a favorite word is akin to a chocolate lover’s  delight when the teeth sink into a salted caramel. Simply put, when I do it, it feels good–really good.

A little like online dating, the favorited word landscape can change in a tinder heartbeat.2019-08-09_8-48-37.jpg “Strategic” can be in one day, swipe left the next— which was the case for me between 2017 when it made my list, and now. Sometimes I view myself as a trendsetter. But, when everyone else gets on board with my favorite lexicon, as Mr Wonderful likes to say on Shark Tank,  “I’m out” and swipe left, the word is banished from my vocabulary.

As a rule my blog subjects don’t generate a lot of buzz. For the life of me, I don’t know why. With topics  not completely dissimilar to this one–  Language, ageing wisdom, subtle negative imaging of women in Hallmark Christmas movies—I would have thought to have established a cult following by now. My future as an influencer is in jeopardy. You dear reader, can change that. Let’s see if we can go viral with what our thumb-tapping friends and colleagues are sneaking into their writings that’s scratching their vocabulary itch.

Did you figure out mine? Here they are: landscape, generate, lexicon, daunting, anchor, deploy, garner, missive (an oldie but goodie)…and robust, which the more astute among you may notice, i did not actually deploy, er–I mean, use.  What this rafter of words says about me, I’ll leave to you–but keep it kind.

Suicide..after all the “townspeople assembled and leveled their stern regards.” -Hawthorne


pale blue dot blogThis morning’s London Times greeted us with news of a second political suicide, (literally not metaphorically) in the United Kingdom after a labour party leader’s transgressions with pornography were revealed.  Rather than face the tsunami of publicity now surrounding personal and morally repugnant deviance, he chose to end his life.

I am reminded of Hawthorne’s classic novel that unveiled some of the more sordid aspects of “rule of law” in colonial America. In modern times, the harsh scrutiny that faced Hester Prynne by “God-fearing gentlemen” seemed disproportionate, over-the-top.  But, as Hawthorne wrote, she accepted that “these were her realities, all else vanished.”

In our time too, the autumn of 2017 will be remembered as the time when for the many whose moral compasses lost their calibration, all else vanished.  In the United Kingdom, it is not the show business glitterati who are under the microscope, rather the politicos have been caught in the wave of revelations that have gripped America for the last several weeks.

Lest my words be conjured to signal sympathy for those whose transgressions are toppling their worlds, know this–that is hardly the case. But neither is it the case that I will blindly get caught up in the wave that would pronounce guilt by numbers. If one person speaks out, there exists the possibility of truth, if several speak out, there is the likelihood of truth and if many speak out, certainty has been achieved and any trial thereafter is a mere formality.

As Miss Prynne walked among the “gazes of unrelenting eyes” there was a critical difference between the scorn she was subjected to and the scorn greeting modern day transgressors. Her walk was part of a sentence after a trial–albeit a trial that may not have itself met all the transparency one has come to regard as the norm in a civilized society. But, nevertheless,  the public humiliation to which she was subjected was at the very least, meted out in the aftermath of the determination of guilt.

It should exceed worrisome when suicide starts to precede the words arrest, charge andcaveat-emptor trial.  Caveat Emptor…the distance traveled from accusation to guilt-by-public-opinion, in cases where other moral issues are at play (like say ideologies or religious beliefs) can become alarmingly short.

Finally one admonition, which sadly requires mentioning. I am a woman. I know that there is much merit in many of the voices that have bravely spoken out, and needn’t have to say more for you to accept that my perspective is an informed one. But, I am also a lawyer and when the integrity of the legal process is on the verge of compromise,  the depth of all our concern should be unfathomable.




Hidden Gender Agenda in Hallmark Christmas Movies?

What bad could possibly be said about Hallmark Christmas movies–the channel that markets itself as feel-good TV at Christmas time? The real question is–what’s right about Hallmark TV?hallmark_2Capture

The first inkling of the negative messaging embedded in Hallmark movies, occurred to me a few years ago. It was the recurring theme of a successful professional woman, who found herself in a dream as a happy housewife with husband and children, at first yearning to return to her old self, but in the end happy to toss aside her “present” for the wedded bliss of the “future.”  That was followed by more than a few movies where every professional woman was unwed, in an unsatisfactory relationship or demonstrated a distinct lack Christmas spirit as she paid attention to work pressures, deadlines and other office-related predicaments. The heroine in those stories lived in a cold urban environment, typically New York City. Those movies were complemented by a series of movies where lonely single city dwellers gave up their digs for a solo country Christmas. In those movies the woman typically ended up falling in love with the strong country type–usually a handyman, plumber or toy shop owner.

For lawyers, the next in the series offers a landscape of feel-good movies that crossed every legal line imaginable with lowly secretaries, assistants, window dressers, and nannies (often an errant elf)  falling in love with their bosses, bosses brother or bosses male assistant. In half of those scenarios, the current girlfriend is a lackluster unspirited socialite, who gets dumped for the morally anchored but lowly secretary, housekeeper, hotel maid or nanny. Those are followed by nefarious land-grabbing developer movies who “steal” the deal of an aging Christmas tree farm, wonderland or town and extract a pound of flesh or worse, to un-seal the deal. Nevermind that the lawyers in those movies are portrayed as unsympathetic dumb slugs who can’t muster up the creative intelligence to negotiate the duped client’s way (its always a woman) out of the clearly unscrupulous contract.

Then there is the class of movies where a series of late twenty-something or early thirtysomething women can’t face their families and parents over the holidays without a date. Those offers solutions for these sad sack young women that range from making an intimate pact with total strangers they bump into on the street  (with whom they ultimately fall in love) to outright “boyfriend” kidnapping. There was one uncharacteristic exception to that class involving a prosecuting attorney who brings home a woman (state’s witness) in his custody awaiting an important trial where she is expected to testify against a crime boss. He parades her amidst his family on Christmas day as his girlfriend. She is loose, wears tight clothing all featuring fake animal fur and a variety of animal prints.  Each of the movies in this genre shares the common ending of coming clean to the families, only to have the main character eventually fall in love with their stranger dates or custodial witness.

There are others–which no surprise loosely fit into one or all of the categories above, the stranger in the coffee shop who ends up being a Prince from Askovia. The handsome prince keeps his royal roots under wraps but nearly every story involves a stodgy butler, a pompous mother and occasionally an errant sibling (brother) who collects cars and blonds. These nearly all disparage those who do not demonstrate the requisite enthusiasm for Christmas who are,  by coincidence, from the ranks of higher economic or social status.

Lastly, there are the sad widower movies. These too cross lines across the genres already described. The widowers are left to raise a daughter while the widows are left behind by their deceased spouses to single-parent young sons. Each finds happiness with mom’s new love. The men saviors will compete against a rich city slicker but the fellow who works in a soup kitchen, is a kind stranger in an airport, cook or restaurant dishwasher, will win her heart out every time.

Time constraints prevent me from writing about the miserable lady lawyers, lonely valueless women who date superficial greedy guys or lady doctors who leave California to head out to the-middle-of-nowhere Alaska to run a clinic.  And for those of you who do not fall into any of these hapless categories–take a second look. Do you flood your house with lights at Christmastime? Beware, if you don’t, your neighbors might just be talking about you behind your back!

So what’s it all saying? Women who work hard, are missing out. Young upwardly mobile women who put work first are misguided. Single parents cannot lead rewarding lives. Widows and widowers will live unsatisfied until they find a new mate. Those in the lower economic social strata can and should aspire to marry princes and all guys who run tree farms in Vermont are handsome, morally sound and good marriage material. For those of you who live in southern climes, Sorry–Christmas cannot be truly appreciated without snowflakes but if you kiss your significant


other, preferably under a mistletoe, while looking at all the bright lights lining your roofline, there’s a chance you might capture the Christmas spirit, Hallmark style.

For all TV-on-while-you’re-working-all-night-long insomniacs out there, they say Frasier reruns will resume in January. I’m counting the days.

Blockchain, ICOs and life

Bitcoin. Blockchain. ICO. Tokens.

There…possibly that has caught the attention of search engine optimization algorithms.

Today Facebook queried whether I’d like to share my facebook memory of Steven Hawkings WSJ article in 2010, which I admit to finding depressibitcoinng then and, having read it again today, now too. Recently my personal life has me regularly dealing with end-of-life conversations and work has brought me into the world of ageing coupled with questions about whether those who are ageing, require an international instrument to protect their human rights. While you may not be sixty or even “near it”–if you believe anything, believe this, it’s closer than you think.

Which brings me to the sandbox of the younger generation. Today China and South Korea apparently outlawed coin/token offerings–“ICOs” for those in the know. I read this blog, Legal circles that touch my world are full of interest and concern over  ICOs banned in China and South Korea, wondering, who will be next?

Then there is Einstein who said:

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”

and then Hawkings 2010 WSJ article:

Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

which brings us to bitcoin.   Again, gratefully, the world has created a new “it”–for lawyers to wrap their heads around, enforce and challenge regulation of, litigate over and offer opinions on.  Thank the god that Hawkins insists does not exist (for if he did (exist) surely he would have stood in the way of tokens and coin offerings). Thank goodness for the theory of spontaneous generation of things that in its own special way mires mankind in a system that depends upon infinitesimally synched synapses offering the collateral benefit of a world of problems for lawyers to unravel–in this case, the regulation of shadow currencies.

When my son was little we indulged him with collections of ancient Roman coinage. Now in our ageing years, we assemble jars of pennies and pocket change. The question is this: Will I live to see the day when grandparents log onto their ledgers to buy the grandkids presents with saved up bitcoin…and will the next United Nations convention protect the right of those ageing to wheel and deal with shadow currencies with reckless abandon? Only time will tell.

How to Teach Strategic Thinking

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Recently in a conversation with a faculty at a reputable law school, I was asked what I saw as the biggest shortcoming in recently graduated young lawyers. I shot the answer out lickety split–no question about it–they completely lacked the ability to think strategically. The question that followed was–well, one naturally to be expected: Would you be willing to conduct a lecture as part of a post graduate offering, on how young lawyers can learn to think strategically?  Again, my answer was far too quick. Flooded with the a rush of self congratulation over the invitation, the answer oozed out of me as smoothly as a salted  caramel from chocolate on a hot day…” I’d love to.”

Thirty days into the process of designing the itinerary for the self-discovery journey to strategic thinking, apropos of the subject, I find myself murmuring: What was I thinking? Was I thinking at all? One thing for certain there was nothing measured or tempered about my enthusiasm to take on the challenge. Dare I say–nothing strategic about that decision.   So on this glorious weekend summer’s day  in a small Connecticut village that New Yorkers kill themselves to get to negotiating I-95 every Friday night, I sit. At my computer. An intentionally made-to-look-retro fan keeps me cooled while its rattle drowns out  bird tweets and competes with gentle breezes. “Help Me Rhonda” fittingly plays in the background.

In the last thirty days, I have spent most of my discretionary time reading everything in sight and googling every conceivable variation of the phrase “how to teach strategic thinking”…to adults, to millennials, nay even children. After querying  colleagues and daughter MBA candidate came the flood of recommendations… Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow” and Covey’s classic, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” A trip to the book store lured me with no fewer than ten different volumes of HBR (Harvard Business Review) compilations–promoted as “must reads.”  I got the one on “managing people” possibly influenced by  the tag line “If you read nothing else on managing people, read these definitive articles.”  Sold.

So, in these intervening weeks since the caramel oozed out of my chocolate,  my world has become an exploration of mastering outside the box inventiveness, analyzing human effectiveness and managing intuitions and interventions.

For those of you who are regular followers, this is the part of my blog where I pull something out of the hat of my past and draw an connection that most assuredly seems to have little to do with the blog topic. My personal paraprosdokian literary widget.
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Not too long ago  on my way home from work, I passed Tate Modern and read a poster about an exhibit of Matisse’s cutouts. It was there, on the south bank looking up at the billboard promoting the exhibition, where I  learned, for the first time, that my favorite Matisse art piece was actually a collage fashioned from cut out pieces of paper. How did I not know that in the 40 years since my first encounter and subsequent love affair with the piece? Now come to find out, he didn’t paint or even draw my favorite blue nude–he pasted it.    I believed I knew a Matisse  painting when I saw one.  Turns out, I didn’t. As for pornography and knowing it when I see it–I’m going to have to reconsider that as well.  Which brings us to strategic thinking…right now I can’t quite pin down for you what it is or how you can acquire a knack for it, but I can tell you this: if you work with me, trip up and make that strategic fail and I can be all over you like a wet t-shirt.