The Blog You've Been Missing

Time for a Little Dirt

July 29, 2010

Filed under: Gardening,Uncategorized — admin @ 2:22 pm

It was interesting this week to read the New York Times article pointing out the steps botanical gardens around the country are taking trying to lure visitors. It seems the public has lost interest in gardening.

I say it was interesting, because I’m just finishing up Michael Pollan’s first book “Second Nature.” I’ll do a formal book review when I’m done but I have to say that Mr. Pollan and I probably don’t need anything extra to coax us into visiting anyplace that defines itself as botanical.

Pollan is better known these days as an expert on what we should or should not eat, but “Second Nature” displays his roots as an avid horticulturalist. No pun intended.

I have over 100 rose plants in my back yard and while my gardening area would qualify as tiny, by most standards, I’ve also managed to squeeze in a section devoted to rhododendrons, as well as a small corner filled with perennials. This doesn’t count the front where day lillies and iris hold court.

Most popular question I get asked is, which is my favorite. I give the same answer you’d give about your children – they all are. Each has its day when it’s just perfect and each can be frustrating a hell.

I don’t mind admitting that I have a green thumb, always have and always will. I’m told I get it from my grandfather, but all I know is that everywhere I’ve ever lived flowers and vegetables have followed. I make no apologies for spending a Saturday in my garden while the rest of my neighbors hire people to make their yard look nice.

Others see gardening as a chore, I find it relaxing and immensely rewarding – even if no one notices.

I browse my local garden center, just like my wife shops at Nordstrom’s. Some days I’ll find something to bring home and other days I just look. You can always find room for a new plant.

I’m sure I’ll have some future posts about my roses or even my orchids but for now it’s back to the garden.

Post to Twitter

The New Jounali$m

July 26, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — admin @ 8:30 am

The following is an excerpt from a ‘Wall Street Journal’ interview with Randy Michaels, the CEO of the Tribune Companies. It reflects an attitude that will send a chill down the spine of local journalists everywhere and explains why these newspapers will never succeed as a group and will hopefully be sold off to revert to local ownership.

“WSJ: You’ve centralized the production of foreign and national news across your papers to save money and manpower. What have you done and why?

Mr. Michaels: Stories [are] laid out in modules — standard sizes with collections of headlines, content, images [reducing the need for layout and copy editors]. If you pick up the Allentown [Pa.] Morning Call, the foreign news was written in Los Angeles and the national news was written in either Chicago or Washington. It’s probably higher quality journalism than a local paper that size is going to be able to afford.”

In many ways I still consider myself a journalist – once it’s in your blood there’s not much you can do. I have seen too many newspapers ruined by this kind of number-crunching rationale and it pains me to see it repeated.

As a coach and managerial consultant it strikes me as exactly the wrong message to be sending to the employees who are working to get you out of the financial hole you put them in.

You can read the full interview here.

Post to Twitter

The Real Eco-Story

July 16, 2010

Filed under: Book Review,observations — admin @ 8:35 am

If you are among the legions of Americans looking for the best way to rescue the planet from ecological disaster, Fred Pearce’s “Confessions of an Eco-Sinner” is a must read.

While Pearce is based in England and his examples and specifics are tailored to the experiences of that country, his investigations are enlightening for anyone who has ever wondered what ‘fair trade’ really means.

Pearce takes number of common beliefs or trademarks and follows them back to their source to see if they are really having the ecological and economic impact we expect.

So, for example, he traces the origination of ‘Fair Trade’ coffee to see if there really is some benefit to farmers. He doesn’t just research the topic in books and articles. He’s attends coffee bean auctions in Kenya with the buyers of the coffee and interviews the farmers who make more per pound for their fair trade crop. He asks them directly, if the extra work is worth it. He is not the most popular man in the room.

He looks at the common banana and finds the seeds of an impending economic disaster.

He looks at cotton, “The Fabric of our Lives,” as the ad tell us and finds out exactly what it means to the plant, whether it’s grown organically or not.

He looks at everyday items, from aluminum beer cans to the shrimp cocktail, to find out the real costs of production.

Not all the news is bad, some stories have a happy ending creating a system where both the people and the planet benefit, but it’s his intrepid investigations that are the real story.

Unless you’ve done considerable reading, or conducted your own research, I doubt you’ll read more than a few pages before coming across nugget that will have you reconsidering what you do to save the planet.

Post to Twitter

Finding Your Vocation

July 12, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — admin @ 1:46 pm

Is it really this easy? I went to a Commonwealth Club lecture recently by Craig Nathanson, a coach and author, who’s main theme was to encourage people over 40 to find work that is not just a paycheck, but is a vocation -something that is fueled by an inner passion.

It was one of those lectures where the audience members left enthused and ready to follow his seven step approach to fame and fortune.

Unfortunately, while I agree that finding a job which provides more than an economic payoff is a great goal, I couldn’t help make a few observations based in the real world.

The concept of a fulfilling job is a relatively new concept. After World War II our parent’s generation found a ‘career’ with a company who would hire them. A higher calling was not even a consideration. Providing for the family was paramount.

The economy we face today is similar and while, as Nathanson says, the country might be stronger if we all found our vocation, the reality is that money is a necessity. During the Q and A session it was clear financial issues also concerned some audience members.

I have several clients who are perfectly happy working for a paycheck which allows them to support their family and pursue a raft of hobbies and interests which provide purpose to their lives. Nathanson suggested that they may be a rationalizing their situation and that it was not a long-term recipe for happiness.

I would also note that despite the seven-step approach Mr. Nathanson suggests, not everyone can be an entrepreneur and create a job out of their own interests. Not everyone has the ability to complete all the steps – liking writing an e-zine article – that will have the world beating a path to their door.

I have several other issues with many of Mr. Nathanson’s specifics but they would take too much room to detail. While I urge my clients to find their passion and explore ways to make it a career, I also know that enthusiasm has to be tempered with reality – especially in an economy with over 10% unemployment.

I have tremendous respect for the drive, creativity and passion of my clients but they cannot overcome the disappointment of a bad idea executed poorly.

Finding your passion may mean that you never have to work but you have to be realistic. One point I agree on with Nathanson -it’s a coaches job to help guide you toward the goals you set.

Post to Twitter