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Monday, December 24, 2012

Bye Bye 2012..Time to Renew and Reflect


So here come the holidays and before you know it, they're gone.  This is a time for giving and a time to reflect and a time to renew.  Yes-all the cliche's we grew up knowing and loving and taking to heart.

Oftentimes we hear something so often it becomes noise, then something happens that causes us to pause and we actually listen.  Like Christmas carols, those catchy tunes are playing everywhere-the radio, the malls, the supermarket.  Geez, even I find myself whistling a tune here and there.  But I don't pay attention to the words or the meaning.  Then something happens and I listen.  In this year's case, the Sandy Hook incident granted me a pause from the holiday hustle and listening to those kids sing Silent Night on SNL made me think and shed a tear. 

As I reflect upon this year, I keep being reminded of my 30th high school reunion and the homily given by Bishop Bennett. This is something I've been wanting to share with my friends and my brethren because Bishop Bennett's words hit home and ring so true.  So my dear friends, take pause and read on.  Hopefully, this homily hits a nerve and causes you to reflect and think.

...Seeing everything in life as a miracle and with allowing ourselves grateful for all of it.Hopefully, you have been allowing yourself to see your life as a mission–not an intermission.Falling in love, vowing your love and fidelity, striving for something that transcends you and your own interests and needs, all of these have become possible because, somewhere in your life, and hopefully here at Loyola, you learned that being vulnerable doesn’t mean being weak and that being generous and generative, surrendering to the call to sacrifice,brings indescribable interior joy and peace.

Hopefully, in these 30 years and contrary to most of contemporary culture, you have learned that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart; that, in the end, virtue triumphs over power, wealth, possessions, youth, and beauty. I hope that you are beginning to notice that love, your love,is the only legacy worth leaving.

Again, I hope that Loyola was helpful to you in cultivating the habit of love, love for everyone without exception.And hopefully, in these 30years, you are learning life’s most important mystery and yet its most urgent challenge: that is,that you have absolutely no control over the length of your life but that you have ultimate control over the depth of your life. And,hopefully,you are able to resist the globalization of superficiality which lures and lulls our culture even as it diminishes and dehumanizes it. Hopefully you are finding yourself striving to live the life you admire and not the one you envy, and that you are modeling that striving for your children and for all the young and for all succeeding generations.

It strikes me that these reunions in middle age (which, if you weren’t aware of it, you all now are) are not characterized any more by their exercise of the memory–the good old days, the pranks, the discipline cases, how many times you got JUG and for what. You probably don’t think any more about your teachers, those you loved or those you didn’t particularly care for.You don’t remember any more the scores of the games, or the plays you were in.These days, when you get together, I think you are more conscious of our human fragility and of our human connectedness,more willing to marvel at and share in the variety of each individual journey,and more grateful that we still have one another as companions and brothers.

Amen and happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May 2013 be filled with love and laughter and an appreciation for what we have and the beauty of life.
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Friday, March 9, 2012

Failure

This evening I was watching ABC News with Diane Sawyer.  They did a piece on Sara Blakely, the billionaire that founded the Spanx underwear.  What caught my attention was her recollection of being at the dinner table and her dad asking "So what did you fail at today?"  Wow-what a concept..not what did you do well today but rather, what did try and fail at today.

Why does this seem so interesting to me? I think it's because that simple question promotes taking risks even in areas that we may not be good in or the likelihood of failure is high.  It promotes pushing our own boundaries and learning that failure is all part of success.   In baseball, you're considered an all star if you get a hit 1 out 3 at bats.  You're a stud basketball player if you make 42% of your 3 point shots.  Success doesn't happen with out trying and trying means that failure becomes a factor in the outcome. 

In Star Wars, Yoda tells Luke..there is no such thing as try.  There is only do or do not.  That is typical of conventional wisdom where we are judged by results.  But I want to think that conventional wisdom is way too safe in life.  Napoleon Hill said “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” 


In so many cases, we are faced with challenges that result in partial success or partial failure.  As people, it's natural to look at the negative and focus on that but how often do we forget the fact that against all odds, we achieved some measure of success and took the challenge head on.  Let's congratulate ourselves on making the attempt.  As we used to say in college, you can't get the girl if you don't ask.  How true is that in life? You can't get what you want if you don't go for it.  If it wasn't a tough get then it wouldn't be worth it.  Shoot for the stars and you might get the moon.  The main point is to shoot.  So as I take my spanx off after a long day of work, I salute you Sara Blakely and thank you for your failure.  High five baby!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I'm a Ricist

That's right.  You heard it here.  I admit it..Tito is a ricist and damn proud of it.

WTF am I talking about?  I am a rice snob.  I've had many different types of rice throughout my life from basmati to to jasmine to wild. Then there's  long grain, medium grain, short grain, white and brown.  I realize that when it comes to arroz- give me white medium grain of the cal-rose variety.  All others pale in consistency and flavor.  Uncle Ben and Blue Ribbon-you guys bite.  I'll take my stickier white rice over any other.  Brown rice is supposed to be good and it's edible when it's freshly made but try nuking it the next day or eating it after a day in the rice cooker-dry, hard, and earthy.  Not for me.

I use my medium grain when making Mexican style rice, Chinese fried rice, or just plain old rice.  Sushi with any other rice is not sushi.  Yeah, I'll eat long grain at a Chinese restaurant but I'd rather eat my cal-rose with that kung pao anyday.

Some people are coffee snobs, some are wine snobs.  I'm proud to be a rice snob.  I just had to get that off my chest.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

It's been a busy month and it's been tough to find time to sit down and collect my thoughts and put pen to paper or in this case, keystroke to webpage.  However, I wanted to take time today to reflect on all the good things in life and look at the glass half full and give thanks.

I think it's appropriate to thank those most important in life.  For me, it's God, my wife, my family, and my friends.  Without either of them, life would be diminished greatly and there would be less of purpose to live.

So what am I thankful for (in no particular order):
  1. Health-Thank you Lord for giving me my health.  For 47 years, I'm glad I can still run, swing a golf club, only take a pill a day, and wake up every day to enjoy what life has in store for me. 
  2. Knowledge-Thank you Lord for the gift of knowledge.  I've been blessed with the revelation that learning and teaching are two of the greatest gifts one can experience.
  3. My beautiful wife-Lord, thank You bringing her into my life.  Without her, I'd be less of a man that I am today.  Continue to bless us and her with Your grace.
  4. My family-Blood is thicker than water and it's good to know I can count on them when the chips are down.
  5. My friends-you know who you are-another pillar of support providing counsel but more importantly an outlet to share thoughts and emotions.  I need them and I hope they need me.  As Barbara sings, "People who need people are the most wonderful people in the world."
Life truly isn't (at least for me) all about material things.  It's about living life well.  It's about trying to do the best I can in what I do.  It's about dealing with the daily trials and tribulations and being solution oriented rather than lamenting about the negative.  It's about being a man for others.  Life is about being the best person I can be and my hope is that those I encounter are a little better for it.

It's these things that I give thanks for on this day of Thanksgiving.

Thank you.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cynicism...sometimes I feel like a bitch

Sometimes I catch myself about to criticize a comment and I have to bite my tongue.  You know that old saying, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  I find myself biting my tongue all the time.  I think it's because I'm a better listener now than I was 2 years ago.  Consequently, I'm able to dissect a comment and process it quickly for sensibility.

For example, we were having a discussion about someone who unfortunately was recently diagnosed with cancer.   I wasn't sure if we were supposed to know considering that illness is quite a sensitive and delicate topic.  The sick person had confided with someone we know on the pros and cons of radiation therapy.  It almost sounded like a patient-doctor confidentiality situation only the person wasn't a doctor.  In any case, one of the group chimes in and says she's going to call the cancer-stricken friend.  I advised that it may be prudent to make sure it's public knowledge or she may be betraying confidentiality which could cause a strain on the relationship.  The reply was "No, it wouldn't.  Believe it or not, we were close and we still are."  That person proceeded to look up the number which wasn't on her cell phone.  She looked in the telephone address book with no luck.  I suggested that possibly it was under her married name of 25 years.  This person didn't even remember her married name.  I couldn't help but think how close was this person-really?

People say all kinds of bs and out of being politically correct or fear of hurting one's feelings, we sit there and smile and accept it.   Some days, I decide that I just don't feel like being pc and just want to be a bitch.  So I just call people on their stuff.  I don't like doing it but there are times when the cup runneth over with all the bs.  I've been painted int the corner and it's time to fight back.  Is that wrong?  I know I can be hurtful but I choose to be an a-hole.  Fortunately, the phase doesn't last long then I go back to my normal self and go about life one day at a time until the bs meter pegs at full and it's time to drain it out.  So to those of you that have experienced my biatch days, my apologies to you.  You just happened to be the straw that broke this camel's back and I fired back.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Celebrate Individuality






When I graduated from college, I was given a Gary Larson coffee cup with the cartoon above.  To this day I cherish that cup and it's been with me throughout that career.  The couple that gave it to me always picked out gifts that had some underlying message.  It was truly a gift where the thought actually counted.  I love this cup/cartoon because it's message is a reminder that in a society of conformity, it's important to break the mold and literally stand out.  It's not standing out for standing out's sake but rather, recognizing and celebrating one's individuality in a world where being brash and speaking one's true feelings is often stifled in a politically correct is the norm.

Last night, I went to get my hair cut (what little is left).  One of the stylists is a cross dresser.  I'm not sure if he's truly transgendered since I've seen this person dressed as a man and a woman.  In any case, I couldn't help but admire this person's courage to go out and literally tell the world, "I just gotta be me."  If he feels like wearing woman's clothes, then all the power to him.  He's got a bigger set of cajones than a lot of people I know.  He's living his life the way he wants to and if it makes him happier and feel better about himself, I'm all for it.

I believe that we're all here and alive not be just part of a mindless crowd jumping on every bandwagon that goes by but to be driving that bandwagon and leading others to celebrate life, enjoy life and to live life.  As much as the media and marketing folks in the world try to figure us out and try to pigeon-hole us into a certain demographic, it's our duty to be mindful that we're not a statistic or one of a crowd but rather, we are individuals with a our own thoughts, our feelings, our memories and experiences and our own decision-makers.

Being honest and having the courage to stand up and be counted and heard is not easy.  Standing out in a crowd is one way to bring a rash of criticism and judgment your way.  But just being you and standing up for what you believe in and for what is right is easier than living with the guilt of not doing nothing at all unless you're one of those mindless people that justify every action or non-action to favor your viewpoint.  We all know those type of sorry ass people who cannot be personally accountable for the actions or lack of action during a crisis and justify why they did what they did until they convince themselves they were right all along.

Hit the pause button when things are going hectic in your life, and bask in your individuality and those around you.  It's amazing how much more there is to see in others when you look at them as a living breathing individual rather than a part of group.  Celebrate and individuality and if necessary, stand up and sing out, "I gotta be me!! Oh, I just gotta be me!!"



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hysteria, Histrionics, and Hyperbole

I've been on a bit of a hiatus from this blog because of my new job.  But I'm back and have some new things I want to get off my chest.

I was watching the news the other day about a CEO discussing his time spent on an advisory board for Obama on how to streamline the government.  He said, "Congress operates on the 3 H's-Hysteria, Histrionics and Hyperbole."  That comment has been stuck in my head for a while as I reflected upon the different management styles I've encountered at while working at different companies.

There is no doubt that the 3 H's occur at most if not all companies.  Why? Because there is always someone who invariably adopts this management style because it's his or her way of tell all the others, "Hey, look at me, I care."  More often than not, these are the people who create drama and are the centerpiece.  They will yell or speak louder during a discussion.  Their points will be self indulging without looking at the total picture and usually, there the first to criticize a decision if it runs counter to their opinion.  Instead of being solution-oriented and working through the issue, a 3H manager will focus on the cause looking for someone to throw under the bus.  And the funny thing is that these type of managers are convinced that they're doing the right thing.

Yeah, I've worked with quite a few and admittedly, I think I may have fallen into the 3H mode once or twice in my career.  But overall, I try to think of solution.  First, deal with the current problem, fix or mitigate the consequences then focus on the cause and determine if the process was flawed or was it a training issue.  Oh, the dreaded "training issue"- it's management-speak for saying someone really f'd up and the only explanation is that they weren't properly trained.  It's often used as a euphemism when someone has a brain fart. 

I think it's important to make a distinction between urgency and Hysteria/Histrionics/Hyperbole.  Urgency is that feeling that something needs to get done asap and people are in problem solving mode and willing to do what it takes to make the issue better.  The triple H method is to fly around blaming others, avoid any accountability, throw darts, and generally pull a Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of the mess. 

Rather than being respectful, a 3H manager will talk about your actions behind your back to anyone who would listen.  A 3H manager is the screamer and if he/she is in a superior position, watch out because this is a type of manager that will undress you with a verbal tirade in front of your peers and employees.  I know, I've been there.

Oftentimes, a 3H manager will mask their deficiencies behind all their rhetoric.  It's a good way to deflect their lack of understanding of business and the complexities of the processes. 

So if you're reading this and wondering where I'm going with it; honestly, I have no clue other than to reminisce about my experience with hysterical drama queen managers.   If you have to work with one, my deepest sympathies to you and your co-workers.  Just remember not to fall into the 3 H mode or you may lose all respect from your colleagues and more importantly, your self.