Information Please

(Written anonymously; no author attributed to the piece.)

“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”       ~Confucius~ 

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember well the polished old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it. Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person–her name was “Information, Please” and there was nothing she did not know. “Information, Please” could supply anybody’s number and the correct time.

My first personal experience with this genie-in the-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible but there didn’t seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. “Information, Please,” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear, “Information.” “I hurt my finger,” I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. “Isn’t your mother home?” came the question. “Nobody’s home but me.” I blubbered. “Are you bleeding?” the voice asked. “No,” I replied. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.” “Can you open your icebox?” she asked.

I said I could. “Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice. After that, I called “Information, Please” for everything. I asked her for help with my geography and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk, that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary died. I called “Information, Please” and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child, but I was inconsolable. I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?”

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, “Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.” Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone. “Information, Please.” “Information,” said the now familiar voice. “How do you spell fix?” I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. “Information, Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home, and I somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall.

As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half an hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information, Please.” Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well, “Information.” I hadn’t planned this but I heard myself saying, “Could you please tell me how to spell fix?”

There was a long pause. Then came the soft-spoken answer, “I guess your finger must have healed by now.” I laughed. “So it’s really still you,” I said. “I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?” “I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your calls meant to me? I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls.” I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

“Please do,” she said. “Just ask for Sally.” Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, “Information.” I asked for Sally. “Are you a friend?” she asked. “Yes, a very old friend,” I answered. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said. “Sally has been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.” Before I could hang up she said, “Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you.”

The note said, “Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean.” I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others. Whose life have you touched today?

 

The Popeye Response

ist2_8132527-stubborn-mule

“Stubbornness does have its helpful features.  You always know what you’re going to be thinking tomorrow.”      ~Glen Beaman, author~

Far too many people – especially men – like to justify their being by using what I call The Popeye the Sailorman response: “I am what I am.”  This could also be called “The Cop Out, I-don’t-give-a-hoot” answer of losers and wannabes.

Unfortunately, lots of businesses are run with this same inflexibility and stubbornness.  When someone makes a diplomatic suggestion inside or outside of the business to the owners or management, the latter make one hundred million excuses and justifications not to listen, not to learn, and not to change their business approach when warranted.

In my neighborhood, for example, just this past week the fourth store in a six-month span closed due to lack of business.  Duh!  That’s what happens when you open the same-old same-old type of establishment.

I live in a middle-class setting, but the business acumen of many shopkeepers in my neighborhood is insular, lacks vision, and depends on attracting business solely by their location, signs and newspaper inserts…all of which most people in our information-overloaded age tend to ignore.

The paradigm shifted long ago.

Truth has it that in today’s world we build our reputation and business by becoming an expert and an information disseminator.  Many traditional physical businesses think that an online presence is only a “buy buy buy” storefront for their product and services.  Nothing can be further from the truth.

Whether you are operating in a 3000-square-foot location or out of a an attic guest room, in the modern age we are each information centers.

We need to earn the respect of our customers by providing information and insights – sometimes free and sometimes not – through ezine newsletters, ebooks, uploaded “How to…” videos, and online webinars and teleseminars.

The stores in my neighborhood which closed had no meaningful information to share with the customer base and had lame websites in three cases and no website in another.

The next time you are tempted to use the Popeye Answer, “Information products are irrelevant to my business” song, try giving that response a needed rest.  Information products – no matter which business you are in – are virtually pure profit.  The jewelry or eyeglasses in the physical showroom or store usually have profit margins of less than 30 percent.

Which is better for your bottom line – product, information, or a combination of the two?  Though each situation is different, most businesses would opt for the combination.

Even mom-and-pop shops must understand and embrace the Information Age in order to have a fighting chance in the highly competitive world we live in.  If Popeye was a real character, in today’s business environment he’d have written an ebook on the benefits of spinach.

Getting a Grip

“Excellence encourages one about life generally; it shows the spiritual wealth of the world.”              ~T.S. Eliot~

The average child in Japan and in the U.S. will most likely be able to live – though not necessarily thrive – for 80 years or more.  For some, this will be a clarion call for celebration.  For many others, unfortunately, this lifespan news will spell disappointment, frustration, tragedy and disaster.

From royalty to street cleaners, we all have a chance to beat the odds and develop into thinking, proactive adults who needn’t cling to the trappings’ of wealth or the bowels’ of poverty.

You see, the easiest thing to do is to live down to low expectations.  The royal can live a leisurely life of do-nothingness.  The street cleaner can claim that his low life is in his DNA and subsequently surrender before making an earnest attempt to arise from the living dead.

And when a person surrenders or takes the path of least resistance, there is no telling how low he or she can go.  Debauchery has no boundary after the surrender.  Pill popping, alcohol abusing, philandering, and venting lead the lost to the Land of Meaninglessness Going Nowhere.  Divorce, business failure and blessings lost ensue for the clueless.

The absolute saddest part of watching friends and family go into a tailspin is that most (in such dis-ease) are in a total state of denial.

When you mention that they need help, they say they have it under control or that you should mind your own business.

When they say you don’t love me or respect me (anymore), you feel distraught and tinged with guilt…because that may be exactly your sentiments.

When they say don’t leave me, the first thought is that you must in order to protect your own sanity.

Here is the bottom line:  In order to be fully functional and running on full throttle, you must surround yourself with people filled with enthusiasm for life.

If you dive into murky waters, you will save nobody and probably drown.  As a spouse or good friend, you must of course do what you can to steer the possessed to find able counsel.  Continue to do so intermittently.

But get a grip on yourself.  You were born for greatness.  And your greatness can serve as an example to others who have had pain and have surmounted uncountable obstacles to become fully-functioning adults.

You move closer to divinity by become rich in every aspect of the word rather than being the enabler and crying towel for the proud who choose misery rather than help.

Let The Dead Bury The Dead

Gomad

“Reality is the mirror of your thoughts. Choose well what you put in front of the mirror.”             ~Remez Sasson~

The very best way to help the poor, the helpless and the desperate people of the world is by becoming successful, or more preferably, rich.

Dwelling on the plight of the unfortunate billions on this planet will not change their condition significantly.  If you are trying to be kind and generous while scrambling to pay bills and keep one step ahead of the creditors, the only dent you can make on world poverty is with the man standing in front of you jiggling his tin can or selling his sister as a trick for an urgent meal.

If you have money, time and compassion – all of which rich people possess – then you can move mountains.  And when you move from the poverty to the success lane, the poor of the world will see a glimpse of hope that one or some of their brethren could also rise to the top of their game from just a single penny and a big dream.

That rise alone gives you the freedom and the understanding to help people rise along with you, rather than watching them to indefinitely remain one breath away from misery through an unearned handout by the government or a well-meaning charity meal.

Think wealth and prosperity by all means.  That is the only way you can make a difference on a large scale.  If you think you can’t rise or don’t want to rise, then don’t expect the people you throw crumbs to with the best of intentions to ever see the light.

Let the dead bury the dead while you move ahead.

Put Failure in Your Spice Rack

Struggle, failure, triumph: while triumph is the thing sought, struggle has its joy, and failure is not without its uses.

It is not the goal but the course which makes us happy. The law of life is what a great orator affirmed of oratory–“Action, action, action!” As soon as one point is gained, another, and another presents itself.

It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they much oftener succeed through failure. Even when one turns to no new course, how many failures, as a rule, mark the way to triumph, and brand into life, as with a hot iron, the lessons of defeat!

The brave man or the brave woman is one who looks life in the eye, and says: “God helping me, I am going to realize the best possibilities of my nature, by calling into action the beneficent laws which govern and determine the development of each individual member of the race.” And the failures of such a person are the jewels of triumph; that triumph which is certain in the sight of heaven, if not in the eyes of men.

Watch this brief video and then forever stop straddling life’s fences: 

The Good Old Days

goodoledays

“People seem to get nostalgic about a lot of things they weren’t so crazy about the first time around.”     ~Author Unknown”

Maybe I’m becoming an old codger.

As you get older and regrets begin to creep in ever more frequently to your daily thoughts, the ability to act on your dreams becomes exponentially more difficult.

I can remember my lightning-quick speed to run down balls on the singles tennis court for hours on end in searing heat without gasping for air.

I can remember filling out job applications and submitting resume after resume expecting that sooner or later someone would give me a chance to become rich.  The sooner seemed to become the later before the cock crowed.

I can remember looking with romantic eyes at every woman, hoping, and sometimes expecting, she would be turned on by me.

I can remember the wanderlust urge which brought me to Japan some 35 years ago.
And then somewhere down that road the lights seemed to dim.

The good old days of wine, party, song, romance, dreams yet to be, mountains yet to be conquered, millions yet to be made…seemed like a fading echo.

And the body – once bouncy and ready to pounce – now slumped soberly in front of a computer hoping that the Internet could be the great equalizer to all which ails me inside and out.

Japan is a challenge for us all, unless we accept being stereotypical car traders, translators and quasi-educators scrambling to the next deal or contract until death do us part.

Many foreigners make lots of noise and posturing about making a financial killing here, but few do.  Why?  Because Japan requires patience and most entrepreneurial-minded foreigners are in a hurry for success.

The good old days were never as good as they may seem.  But they do teach us that if we don’t use our God-given talents to improve ourselves rather than fritter away the years in recklessness, our old age will be filled with remorse, bitterness and yes, poverty.

The antidote to the above is to have dreams and goals bigger than ourselves.

Before I had angioplasty surgery several months ago, I planned to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro on my 60th birthday and look out over Africa in celebration of life.  After the operation, I went into a funk.  My mortality and reality slapped me in the face.

But I’m determined to not live in the good, old days.  Somehow, I will get to that mountaintop or create a doable, comparable challenge.  That is my success in Japan.

I’ll fight to the finish.  Hopefully, you will do likewise.

Strategies For Getting Out Of Ethical Quicksand

“We are never deceived.  We deceive ourselves.”     ~Johann-Wolfgang-von-Goethe~

Are you winging it?  Do you carry relativism to the extreme?  Will you sell yourself to the devil, if the price is right?  Can I trust you?

If any of these questions above make you wriggle in your skin, then you have shortchanged your life.  Your prospect for long-term, meaningful success is diminished.

There is no legacy for the fraudulent.  Only a quicksand death.

In a world where the small guy can now create a spin online to turn even Adolph Hitler into Dr. Seuss in tights, it is easy to get off track and lie with regularity.

In the short term, we can reap profits from such artful and designing means – sometimes obscene profits.

Selling foul air to the wind is becoming an ingrained custom.  We offer products and services which are targeted not at a specific group or market, but instead at the gullible and get-rich-quick schemers and wannabes scavenging the Internet or the back alleys for that one shortcut to the top.

You can do better and be better by not whoring yourself to the highest bidder or sweetest talker.

Within each of us are all the tools we need to live a prosperous and above-board life.  Don’t let the cynics and blusterers of the world call your shots for you.

Here are ten honest steps you can (and should) take to insure impeccable greatness:
1) Know what you stand for.  Your unique DNA cannot be packaged, nor can anyone’s.  If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.
2) Don’t lie for advantage.  Little lies become messy and difficult to clean up.  Once you are compromised, your credibility is shot.
3) Don’t stand by idly when you see others blatantly lying for advantage.  Point out the contradiction in a puppy-dog, innocent-tone question.
4) Don’t sell products or services on word-of-mouth alone. However, if you are a satisfied customer of the gadget, software or whatever…then, by all means, share a good experience with those in your sphere of influence.
5) Don’t flippantly dismiss negative criticism of a product or service your marketing by saying, “I am an optimist and I don’t touch base with negative people.”  Respond honestly and respectfully to ideas which you may not agree with.  Trash only personal attacks on you which use many bad words about your bodily functions or refer disrespectfully to your origins.
6) Find people (alive and dead) whom you can respect and then model your ethical behavior accordingly.  For a good starting point, CLICK HERE.
7) Never forget that you are among the privileged few in the world having access to the learning tools and freedoms which can elevate your life and status.  Rather than go for the quick kill and the country club life, pass it forward.  It’s the honest and highest-value thing to do.
8) Absolutely never – and I am guilty as charged! – talk ill about others in order to forge alliances.  If you bad-mouth John or Susie, no doubt you will turn on your newest partner over time the same way as you did on them.
9) Cut the hype, sell the advantages and point out the disadvantages.  Then, leave it to the customer to decide.  It’s called the Ben Franklin System.
10) Be real.  The designer life is often an attempt by an insecure person to impress us that he or she is special.  Loud tattoos, perfumes that can catch fire, 18-bedroom homes for two, James Dean smoking styles and a host of other put-ons detract from your essence and are often not a statement of individuality.

Honestly speaking, most of us have a long way to go on actualizing all ten of these principles.  Most assuredly, following them will define each of us as a man or woman of integrity.  Get started today.

More Each Day

Bill-Nye

Today you know more than you did at this time yesterday.

Today you are one day closer to becoming the person you were
meant to be.

Today you have more experience, and more wisdom than you did
just one day ago.

So what’s the best thing to do today? More!

You are more today than you’ve ever been before. What a
waste it would be to ignore that! What a waste it would be
not to make full use of it! Now that you’ve become more,
it’s time to do more.

Right now, you have what it takes to put more effort into
your work, more love into your relationships, more
discipline into your actions, more passion into your life.

The tools and opportunities available to you have grown. So
use them to make your results and your life grow, too – not
next week, not in a few days, but right now.

What can you improve just a little bit today? Those little
improvements add up, compounding on each other until you’ve
soon forged your life into a masterpiece.

You have more today than ever before. So go out and make
more of this day than you’ve ever done.

Today is truly golden, and you have what it takes to make
your life shine more brightly with each passing moment.

You really can do it, you know!

Highest Energy Wins

In watching the last presidential race on the Democratic Party side we can see why Obama was leading Clinton.  He was prepared, energetic and engaging.

Not that Hillary wasn’t formidable, but then Senator Obama smelled of a winning attitude.   He was one step ahead of Senator Clinton on the path to the White House.

The same spirit can be seen in athletic competitions.  Sometimes the more gifted athlete doesn’t win simply because the hunger is not there.  The desire to win is an intangible, and when it is linked with thorough preparation, an also-ran can transform into a thoroughbred.

Sir Royce of Rolls Royce fame once overheard a line worker say:  “Well, that’s good enough.”  He pulled the worker aside and said:  “It’s never good enough.  Rolls Royce is the best car in the world because every day is consider a day for improvement.”

The difference between winning and losing is sometimes only one degree of passion…WATCH…

Shelf It

“What begins in anger ends in shame. ”     ~George Eliot~

The world is a storehouse.  There are so many places for us to put things aside or away, that we will never run out of possibilities. This is a simple yet profound blessing.

In my life I have had to deal with anger and resentment issues.  When in my youth, anger equaled throwing a tennis racket into a pond to the dismay of my newly-introduced stepmother.  Before my stepmother appeared on the scene, it often meant pouting or defiance, mostly to my own detriment.

Long ago, my mother, who was a part player in my anger, pulled me aside and gave me some advice which has served me well in recent years.  Her lecture was given after I had written a nasty note to my sister about some perceived slight.

My mother said, “Always write a note of anger or revenge with passion, read it, and then put it in a drawer for three days for further consideration.  After the three days, take it out, read it carefully, and more often than not you will throw it away in shame.”

She was right.

The back burner is a great storehouse for all the damaging thoughts and action plans which ought not be cooked.  If you have anger or impulse issues in your life, use your back burner liberally.

The grief you will be spared is immeasurable.  The happiness you will receive will be put a smile on your face.