Enlightened Conflict

outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count

September 13th, 2017


vague definition unclear indistinct



“The world is not as simple as we like to make it out to be. The outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count.

Nothing is really truly black or white and bad can be a disguise for good or beauty … and vice versa without one necessarily excluding the other.


Someone can both love and betray the object of its love … without diminishing the reality of the true feelings and value.


Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting where all frontiers are artificial where at any moment everything can either end only to begin again … or finish suddenly forever … like an unexpected blow from an axe.


Where the only absolute, coherent, indisputable and definitive reality … is death. We have such little time when you look at Life … a tiny lightning flash between two eternal nights.


Everything has to do with everything else.


Life is a succession of events that link with each other whether we want them to or not.”



Arturo Perez Revarte





Vague sucks.


outline vague certain uncertaintyAnd, yet, I would argue the majority of people only really have some vague outline of how the world works, or how effective or ineffective a leader is, or even only have a vague outline of any specific relationship between cause & affect.


This vaguery exists because it takes a lot of work to parse the details, and the appropriate details, and the ‘right’ details to make the outlines less vague and more tangible.


Is this work valuable ? Sure.


Is this work necessary to increase some certainty in Life? Sure.


But the majority of people have shit to do <other than this type of work>. That is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.


A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.


What this means is that in this ‘vague outline’ people inevitably create a vague/semi solid outline belief. From there they look around on occasion and question that outline. The questions raised either support the vague outline or raise doubts and … well … more questions.


All the while this is happening more information barrages the vague outline. In this barrage is a confusing mix of real, fake and quasi truths. All these confusing things do in the people’s minds is, contrary to belief, not confuse but rather make the person more dismissive of the incoming confusion and steadier in whatever vague outline they may have constructed.


Once again.

This is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.


A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.




But at some point the questions gain some gravitas. This can happen several ways but let me point out two:


  • The questions themselves coalesce into some easy to understand ‘blob’ from which people who have a vague outline decide … my vague outline is wrong <or sucks>. Let’s say that this is the point at which the doubts and questions begin to outweigh the beliefs that created the vague outline.



  • Someone weaves a narrative using the doubts & questions into a relatively succinct, believable and non-hyperbolic driven framing of an outline which people look at, scratch their heads, go “hmmmmmmmmm …” and decide this new vague outline will replace the one they had in place. Oh. To be clear. This narrative must not only use the doubts & questions to dissolve the current vague outline but must also offer an alternative vague outline <outlines need to be replaced not simply destroyed>.



The first never happens fast enough to people who just cannot understand how and why some people have decided to live with some vague outline <that just seems ‘not really a smart outline’ to them>.


The second is not as easy as it appears. It isn’t as easy because problems are rarely as clear as we would like them to be and a narrative never lives without the context of all the barrage of real, fake and quasi truths impacting and denting and solidifying a vague outline that already exists. Or someone weaves a  great narrative to destroy but forgets to offer an alternative.


In other words … everything has to do with everything else.


I imagine I have two points today.





We humans have come to accept a certain amount of uncertainty with regard to our lives and our decisions. This uncertainty is also built into the vague outlines we tend to construct for ourselves. What this means is that the construct of our beliefs and thoughts and ideas may be certain to us and, yet, its silhouette accommodates some uncertainty.


I began today by unequivocally stating that vague sucks. And I believe 99% of people would agree that it sucks. but in today’s world the majority of people have enough shit to do that they slot their thinking thoughts time. in one slot they place unequivocal certainty type thoughts. In another slot they place the “I will always be uncertain about this shit and thank God there is someone else at some higher pay grade than I who can be certain about it.” and, lastly, we slot all the shit in which we have formed some vague outline which accommodates a certain degree of uncertainty.


My point here is we tend to make this a binary discussion where the reality lies in a more complex mix of vagueness & clarity, certainty & uncertainty.




uncertainty-principle-here-thereCertainty, in and of itself, has degrees … it is not a simple black or white binary.


People can have vague outlines AND have questions with regard to their outlines … and not want to ditch the outline. “How can you still believe that?” may be one of the most misguided and unenlightened questions that has ever existed.  It completely misses the point in that it assumes ignorance, stupidity or some negative trait in order to hold on to some vague outline regardless of doubts.

A vague outline is a choice.

No more and no less.

We question choices all the time and, yet, remain with the original choice despite some fairly extensive doubts.

I say this because that said … it is silly to point out doubts and questions as a reason to ditch a vague outline. My easiest example is President Trump. His followers have a vague outline of what they like and believe about him. We scrutinize them for doubts and questions and when they share them we immediately pounce and suggest “then how can you still believe in your vague outline!?!” <usually said with a slight overall disbelief & wonder>.

Within their lives of doing shit that is important to them they created a vague outline of who and what Trump is, or isn’t, and … well … uncertainty was built into their certainty. The moment they will begin to disbelieve their vague outline is when the uncertainty overpowers the certainty. Until then … we should stop acting confused that someone believes what they believe.




I love the quote I opened with even though I hate vague. The truth is that we all live with some vague outlines albeit your vague outline may actually be one of my non-vague outlines, and vice versa. And when they are in conflict then … restless spirit fly vaguewell … there is conflict.


All that said … while vague sucks there is a reason we do it … and this reason is not stupid, nor unenlightened nor ignorant.

It is just damn practical to have some vague outlines.



Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting.



Life is restless.

Our vague outlines need to accommodate some of its restlessness. Not recognizing that is either naive or foolish.


wearable technology and everyday schmucks

October 28th, 2016




“… technology companies want us to think that by engaging in self-monitoring and self-care practices using wearable wireless technologies we will be empowered to “take control” of our health.

“These apps and devices also sometimes ‘push’ or coerce us into using such technologies in the interests of other actors and agencies”, raising questions about their potential for “economic and social discrimination”.



Deborah Lupton, a sociologist who has made a critical study of the digihealth market.







strategy think anger angry business ideas filterI am not a sociologist and I am not a wearable technology expert.


And, yet, for some reason I find myself in another discussion where I have been asked about some futuristic type stuff including:


What do I think will be the future of healthcare?


What do I think about artificial intelligence and the workplace?


What do I think about tomorrow’s business organizational model?


What do I think about 3D printing and its effect on manufacturing?


What do I think about Wall Street and the overall financial industry


What do I think about globalization and its effect on individual country’s business ,and jobs>


What do I think about the young <in business, in education, in critical thinking>?




Now … what do I think about wearable technology.


Let me be clear.


At best … I am 50% right on thinking thru innovations success <maybe the last I got right was the double edged razor>.

At best … I am 50% right on thinking thru the future of entire industries.


But … that doesn’t mean I do not have an opinion … and I do know some things about people’s behavior and what they like and dislike <from a usage standpoint> … so here goes on wearable technology.


I read somewhere that 2014 was greeted as ‘the Year of the Wearable.’




That’s a little over-the-top nuts to me.


As most over-the-top futuristic type things are … someone has decided to make some over-the-top claim about an innovation and the future of “the next hot thing” <which is most likely tepid at best>.


I think wearable technology is going to have some major complications as it tries to become integral into people’s lives.






As people try to cram more and more stuff into whatever they are already doing and what they want to do there will be two main decision criteria for anything trying to work its way in to someone’s routine:change-people-technology


  • Lubrication:


We all have gobs of things to do and a to-do list longer than time available. In most cases we are not seeking to add things but are more than happy to utilize techniques & tools which make what we have to do get done more efficiently.

That’s Life lubrication.


If someone or something can convince me that buying it & using it will lubricate everything I already have on my plate … well … they can have my money.


And if it actually DOES lubricate? Well. They will continue to not only get my money but I will use the product/service on an ongoing basis because it … well … has shown value.


Everyone should note that the link between purchase & proof of value is tenuous between innovations and people/users which is why many them look good in trial but die overtime.


I will admit … for the life of me I cannot figure out why futurists or the blowhards who espouse ‘year of anything’ with regard to an innovation ignore this.


<on a separate note: that’s why I believe smartphone telehealth is the next generation of general practitioner medicine … it lubricates Life on a valuable consumer need>



  • Enhancement:


Sticking with my to-do list or stuff I do daily <regularly> … if something can

improve, maybe make more effective, something I am already doing … it is an ‘enhancer.’ In most cases we are always looking to subtract something if we can add something better. Or even better … enhance something we are already doing that we like <better because that incorporates less change in our Life and it suggests what we are already doing was smart>.

That’s Life enhancement.


If someone or something can convince me that buying or using it will enhance my life, make it better or more enjoyable or ‘fuller’ on an ongoing basis … well … they can have my money.


And if it actually DOES enhance? Well. They will continue to not only get my money but I will use the product/service on an ongoing basis because it … well … has shown value.


All that is kind of basic but for some reason gets overlooked.


That said.


Wearables, for the most part, neither lubricates our life nor enhances it … they simply educate us on how effective, or ineffective, or how efficient, or inefficient, we are already managing our Life.


It simply adds shit to what we are already doing and … well … adds work.


It simply provides information.


Good information? Sure.


But all it will either do is piss me off or show me what else I need to be doing.




I have more than enough things, and access to a zillion things, which will tell me what I am doing wrong or what I could be doing better … and all for less than $300.


If wearable technology would actually change shit without me having to do shit <kind of like a morphine drip without the morphine> then maybe it would meet lubricate/enhance criteria.


At the moment all wearable technology does is highlight the eliteness of the super fit and the rest of us every day non super fit schmucks.


They are certainly cool … but in today’s world ‘cool’ doesn’t get you too far in the marketplace. It can gain you a business niche but if the cool doesn’t Life lubricate or Life enhance … it will gain nothing more than a niche.


By the way.

In the business world a niche model can be quite lucrative.




I hesitate to jump on board the ‘digital wearable technology revolution.”

At least from a mainstream consumer choice perspective.




Let’s take a minute on corporate wellness or health or maybe … the “digitally health and fitness continuumengaged patient.”


Let’s say wearers can earn discounts of as much as 15% on their health insurance premiums. Well. That sounds appealing … and not just to me … 70% of consumers surveyed by PwC said they would wear a device to reduce payments.


Let’s say that wearable applications become more practical as both hardware and software develop where the devices can measure temperature and blood chemistry which would permit doctors to monitor patients from afar. Well. That sounds appealing … and not just for me … doctors love the idea and for people with chronic illness it could be life-saving or at least life-changing.


Let’s say wearable devices, which could include a smartphone that can measure blood-oxygen and blood-glucose levels <key if you’re diabetic>. Well. That sounds appealing.


Let’s say that a wearable device can monitor your ECG linked to an app that can tell when you’re running low on heart medication and need to order up a repeat prescription. Well. That sounds appealing.


Some of these devices are already on the market or coming soon via private health providers. And some people envision a time not in the not-so-distant future when physical activity and vital sign data will be collected seamlessly from devices planted on or in our bodies without our having to do anything mobile-technology-phones-antennamuch at all. Well. That sounds REALLY appealing from a lubrication and enhancement viewpoint.


Fitbit, and other wearables, don’t really seem that viable to me, however, they do appear to be on the leading edge of what will be valuable to us.




I imagine that if you have some extra money to waste or you are one of the superfit obsessed with maximizing every little edge out of your body then a wearable is well worth pursuing.


But for us every day schmucks who are comfortable getting what little we can out of our bodies when we do choose to do some exercise or like to take it easy on Sundays in front of a TV watching other people exercise … well … my wearable is much more likely to be a ‘cold one’ in my hand then some $300 wearable on my wrist.


one of life’s hardest lessons

August 18th, 2015


——————————-illusion mine mistake

“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.

That is not a weakness; that is life.”









How often do we get the question … “what went wrong?’ … and instead of discussing all our shortcomings & failings … or come up with all the excuses <reasonable & unreasonable> … we shrugged our shoulders and said “Life.”




Not often. We get the question often but rarely answer “life.”






It is socially unacceptable these days to suggest you can work hard, and even work smartly, and you can still lose.



It is socially unacceptable these days to suggest you made no mistakes and you can still lose.



And let me be clear … I am writing this as a guy who always looks at things that don’t work out, or I have ‘lost’ and point the finger at myself for what I missed or what I could have done or what I wish I had noticed/seen/ paid attention to.




But <let me be clear part 2> … sometimes you can do everything right, make no life mistakes lose work 1mistakes, and lose.



Is it fair?





I don’t know.



I just know it is Life.



life mistakes 2 work

And it is kind of silly to not recognize this.








I am not suggesting this becomes your go-to excuse or answer … I am simply suggesting that sometimes it is good to recognize that simply working hard <and smartly> or making no mistakes guarantees a win … and if you don’t win than ‘you didn’t work hard enough”, “you didn’t work smart enough” or “you must have made a mistake.”




I say this because we have created a culture, business and Life, in which if you don’t win <or lets say ‘improve your current status’> you have done something wrong.



And that is crazy <to think that in every case>.



Personally … I tend to like non winners who show up day in and day out.



i am 1I like the ones with no quit <even when they don’t win>.



The ones who tend to be last to give up.



The ones who tend to be the last to leave.


The ones who tend to be the last to keep trying.



And, maybe most importantly, the ones who tend to be the last to hold on to integrity, sense of self, principled behavior and values.



I can teach & coach people to stop or what to hold on to and what to let go of… it is more difficult to teach someone to ‘go.’



All I know for sure is that the world is absolutely full of people who quit.


They will come up with a variety of quite reasonable reasons <one is ‘change direction’ which is often a fancy schmancy term for ‘give up’> but suffice it to say … they quit.



Because they don’t want to be the last … they want to be first.





Give me a team who doesn’t care if they win but will never quit … and I can guarantee you they will kick more ass in Life & in business than 99% of everyone else.






Here is the deal <some Life truths>.



Not everyone can finish first.



Not everyone who finishes first did it the best, with no mistakes or worked the hardest.



Not everyone who didn’t finish first made some mistake or didn’t work hard.life lesson is painful everywhere



That is Life.


And that is Life everywhere.






I think this may be one of the hardest lessons to learn … and to teach.



In general we suck at teaching this lesson and struggle to even admit it is a Life truth.

disconnected, connected … and we are all nomads now

June 23rd, 2015



 traffic hurry disconnectd going


“The secret to living in the rush of the world with a minimum of pain is to get as many people as possible to string along with your delusions.“






Philip Roth





“Most of us are “nomads” when it comes to computing and communications.


We live in a disconnected world much of the time as we travel between our office, home, airport, hotel, automobile, branch office, bedroom, etc.



As nomads, we own computers and communication devices that we carry about with us in our travels.”






Leonard Kleinrock






There is a threshold beyond which one becomes a Cultural Nomad.

It is usually measured in the time one has spent living in a foreign culture.

You don’t reach the threshold when you have completely integrated into the new culture – that hardly ever happens – you reach the threshold when you realize that you can’t go back to your own.



Some Cultural Nomads return home to find that they no longer fit in (if indeed they ever did) and become bitter or cynical critics of what was once their home.

Others come back and devote themselves to preaching the ways of “the rest of the world” to their ignorant friends and family members.

Others simply never return.

We believe that the most fortunate Cultural Nomads are those who are able to accept their Nomad status, and move easily between many different cultures – including their “home” culture – while recognizing that none of these cultures will ever be home. This type of Cultural Nomad has done something the others haven’t: given up the dream of ever having a ready-made “home” provided by their culture — in exchange for the privilege of designing their own “home”.

Cultural Nomad


I’d rather give up, like, a kidney than my phone.

How did you manage before?

Carrier pigeons?
Going round each other’s’ houses on BIKES?”


Philippa Grogan, 16







broken egg


Me, being older, .. I have a bunch of older friends … so the discussion <despair?> about ‘what a disconnected world we live in’ seems to come up a lot <and, in fact, this thought piece was actually a request from one of the smartest friends I have>.




Oh. By the way.


And disconnected is very quickly attached to “something is broken.”







Let’s discuss if anything is broken in the new connected disconnected world of ours.



At its most basic level I kind of find this whole “disconnected’ topic a contradictory discussion in that … in such a connected world … can we truly be disconnected from each other?



In addition … are we simply embracing the freedom and less defined <or confined?> Life of a ‘nomad world’?

<I will discuss this nomad thing ad nausea throughout>



I tend to find this quite the generational discussion.



I also find this entire conversation revolves around how you may define ‘connected’ <or disconnected>.



I also find there is an underlying angst within this discussion based on the fact many of us feel like we are suffering from a mild form of do not go gentlechronophobia <fear that time is moving so fast I’ll never be able to catch up>.




In today’s world the usual assumption that most of us make about our computing and communication environment is that we are “always” connected.



Indeed, most of us are “nomads” when it comes to computing and communications. We live in a disconnected world much of the time as we travel between our office, home, airport, hotel, car, coffee shop, bedroom, etc … and yet remain connected.



We now recognize that access to computing and communications is necessary not only from one’s `home base’, but also while in transit as well as wherever we end up.



It is an anytime, anywhere access world. And we not only expect it … we believe it is necessary in the new Life normal. And this new Life normal has many characteristics of ‘nomad.’


This mental tug of war we go thru with regard to some lack of boundaries in a nomad life yet always tethered to the connected aspect which … uhm … creates the whole disconnected aspect creates the societal flux we are dealing with.



The mental tug of war?

While the majority of the connected activity is with other humans it seems like many people are worried we are entering a disconnected human world.


Huh? Disconnected?



It’s because this generation’s connected looks different than past generation’s connected.


What everyone seems to be overlooking in this whole discussion is that handheld mobile technology has actually disconnected us from traditional forced connections <home, home computer, land lines, retail stores, etc.> … and we like it.


The tradeoff is that in this nomad like lifestyle we are actually now MORE connected … and in different ways.




I did some research on this nomadic system and lifestyle and found a technical paper written by some impressively smart technology gwonks who outlined all aspects of the technology <or Life enabler> aspect:




One can easily identify the physical parts of a nomadic system as consisting of the following (among others):

People that move (or don’t).

Things that move (or don’t).

Things that communicate (or don’t).

Things you connect to (or not).

Things that can process, store, etc.

Things that can sense.

Things that can actuate.

tech nomad music

On the other hand, the logical parts of a nomadic system are more slippery to define. Among others, they consist of the following:

Context (what things surround and touch my current activity).

Individuated nexus (what is the set of currently working objects).

Shared objects (what things are shared with me and others).

Replicated objects (what things are copied in multiple locations).

Cached objects (what do I hold onto as I travel and use objects).

Nomadicity exacerbates a variety of issues <problems?>:


Variable connectivity: unpredictable and voluntary.

Variable bandwidth.

Variable requirements as the nomad moves.

Resource replication.

Awareness of the environment by the user (environment discovery).

Awareness of the user by the environment (user discovery).

Adaptivity/compression to match bandwidth and platform capability.




Being a nomad is freeing … but within the freedom is an underlying stress driven by the fact this is a new world with no established “how to live this kind of Life” rules.



In general, this means two things:



– we continue to try and use the ‘old Life rules,’ which were drive by location grounded boundaries, in this boundlessness nomad world


– we are often overwhelmed in this environment by the management of distributed “stuff”




In addition … the things on the lists above are capable of changing extremely quickly, making things even more problematic <and challenging>. This creates even more angst.



One of the key characteristics of this “way of Life” paradigm shift in the way we deal with the information is that while our systems have been nomadically-enabled, in that mechanisms have been developed that deal with such changes in a natural and transparent fashion, our brains have not adapted completely to being nomadically enabled <and it varies by generations>.



Suffice it to say we are connected 24/7 … living in an age where there are numerous ways of communication.


The user of advanced mobile technology is empowered to have more control over the multiple spaces they inhabit <the place they stand> and the numerous boundaries that can be crossed.

This empowerment bleeds into everyday behavior <to the distress of many>.


It’s an unmissable trend.

Even if you don’t have teenage kids, you’ll see other people’s offspring slouching around, eyes averted, tapping away, oblivious to their surroundings. Take a group of teenagers to see the seven wonders of the world. They’ll be texting all the way. Show a teenager Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi. You might get a cursory glance before a buzz signals the arrival of the latest SMS. Seconds before the earth is hit by a gigantic asteroid or engulfed by a super tsunami millions of lithe young fingers will be typing the human race’s last inane words to itself:

C u later NOT :(





Some people suggest this means that we stay disconnected within the connected world.



But we seem to be missing the bigger societal or cultural issue as this thing called ‘Nomadic computing and communications’ enters Life as we know it.


This makes us all a variety of nomads.



I am not sure this is a paradigm shift or not but what I do know is that it clearly has shaken up our life etch a sketch.



We thrive in some aspects … balk at others … slow to embrace some and are baffled by others.





All of us are intrigued by it <and have some angst at the same time>.




Angst & desire?



Here is the interesting thing about an innate desire to be a nomad <we all want freedom> … technology simply frees this innate desire … well … to some more than others.



Douglas Adams’ rules about technology:

1) Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2) Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.disconnect tv text

3) Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.





I imagine my point here is that there is an interesting clash between what we, almost all of us, innately desire – nomadic – and … well … change. We desire one thing almost desperately and yet find ourselves fighting the opportunity to do it.



This maybe a case of ‘be careful what you wish for.’




What is winning?



The desire.



bond smartphone why attitude



All demographics are embracing their nomad desires.


And at the same time it creates a new Life normal which makes us feel uncomfortable.


The nonstop connectedness can feel very disconnected.


It seems like we are constantly trying to shove 25 hours’ worth of Life into 24 hours.



Let’s face it.


We are in the ‘adapting mode’ <adapting to a new Life normal>.


Adapting can be painful, stressful and generally uncomfortable.



But the whole disconnected thing gets thrown a wrench because it also permits someone to build stronger connections with those you know by sharing your disconnected 1story in a way only you can.



These connections lead to a strong support system and allow you the opportunity to actively engage in a large knowledge base of people with whom you share interests and experiences. The communities built around these social media tools offer us access to a wealth of information from peers to experts that help community members to make better informed decisions and better shape disconnected 2opinions.



In addition … there is perception and reality with regard to disconnected and ‘being connected.’





disconnected 3“Our research shows face-to-face time between teenagers hasn’t changed over the past five years.

Technology has simply added another layer on top.

Yes, you can find studies that suggest online networking can be bad for you. But there are just as many that show the opposite.”


“Our research shows face-to-face time between teenagers hasn’t changed over the past five years.

Technology has simply added another layer on top. Yes, you can find studies that suggest online networking can be bad for you.

disconnected 4But there are just as many that show the opposite.”





The mobile phone, smartphones, is now the favored communication hub for everyone … not just teens.




The difference is that digital communication IS teenagers’ lives while it is a ‘bolt on’ to adults lives <although that is also changing>.


disconnected 5




“Simply, these technologies meet teens’ developmental needs.

Mobile phones and social networking sites make the things teens have always done – defining their own identity, establishing themselves as independent of their parents, looking cool, impressing members of the opposite sex – a whole lot easier.”


Amanda Lenhart

Pew senior research specialist




But, let’s be clear, this whole disconnected versus connected thing ain’t just about kids <remember the smartphone demographic chart used earlier>.




Hardly another month goes by in which there isn’t a new article or book released on the question of whether the Internet brings us together or separates us.

Alternating between lamentations by pundits on how social media tools are allegedly hollowing out our relationships (Deresiewicz 2009; Mallaby 2006, Turkle, 2011), or by breathless reporting in newspapers about how everything is now online, the debate refuses to die, and often seems unaffected by empirical research on these topics.





Perception-wise, it seems natural to think that the rising number of people who are on smartphones and the internet for hours a day would be less likely to interact with the people around them. Focusing on being on the internet would seem to pull people away from their immediate surroundings.





It does and it doesn’t.



But I am not here to discuss how the internet can, or cannot, affect personal relationships or a sense of impending individual isolation <mostly because I do not believe it does … nor does research suggest it does> but rather this is a thought on how the internet has made things … well … smaller & bigger … connecting in a larger scope.



Smaller groups of people have become bigger groups … all with the same ideas and thinking <which suggests the ideas & thinking do not get any larger but rather they get smaller and more concise as they get honed within the group>.


I call it cocooned thinking & connection.



So it is possible that the internet increases connection and decreases connection at exactly the same time.





The Internet connects and isolates.



flying away group together directon employeesIt connects us with a larger group of ‘birds of a feather flock together’ which also isolates us from other birds <who are also flocking>.



We increasingly choose filtered communications over unfiltered communications thanks to more ways to digitally connect to other people and there’s less and less time spent being present to those we are physically near.


Why we do this is simple <and we do it in the physical world as well>.

We tend to be happier and less stressed and anxious when we are part of a community that thinks like you do … and even better? This community exists everywhere … in that it extends globally <outside of your normal everyday physical reach>.



We love the fact we can find people like us all over the world with whom we can connect in a meaningful way about a certain idea, topic, or shared interest. The Internet has made that kind of deep, direct communication a reality and it’s helping people find others who are like them.







PewResearch has conducted two studies <in America> which provides us with at least a baseline to challenge my thinking <or clarify it>.



Alone on the internet? Hardly.


The internet expands people’s social networks and even encourages people to talk by phone or meet others in person studies find.



The Pew Internet and American Life Project also finds that US internet users are more apt to get help on health care, financial and other decisions because they have a larger set of people to which to turn.



Further debunking early studies which suggested that the internet promotes isolation, Pew found that it “was actually helping people maintain their communities.” <Barry Wellman, a University of Toronto sociology professor and co-author of the Pew report>.




<PewResearch study, “Social Networking Sites and Our Lives” … a survey which builds on Pew’s 2009 report on technology and isolation>




Another knock on the Internet is that it isolates its users from the broader world in the embrace of familiarity otherwise known as an echo chamber — and so prevents us from a full expression empathy.

To measure the validity of that idea, the report’s authors measured what psychologists call “perspective taking” — the ability to adopt the viewpoint of another person (or, in the context of politics, to consider “both sides of an issue”) — on a scale that ranged from 0 to 100. And what they found is that social network participation, while it doesn’t necessarily encourage empathy, doesn’t seem to harm it, either. “Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter users are no more or less able to consider alternative points,” the report puts it.think global worldly

Interestingly … research also suggests that the Internet actually increases connectedness and fights off isolation.

People who can use the Internet better to find and/or keep in touch with people with whom they share affinities with are more likely to be able to compensate for losing the neighborhood/family ties.




Research actually suggests that disconnectedness is increased by factors like suburbanization, long-commutes, long work hours, decline of community and civic institutions, etc. …. not being online.



I could also use research to suggest our QUALITY of connectedness has improved. A huge positive of social connectedness is that it allows the crucial identity-establishing behavior … without the embarrassment or typical ‘fear of speaking out’.





“These technologies give their users a sense of increased controllability. That, in turn, allows them to feel secure about their communication, and thus freer in their interpersonal relations.”


“Our research gives no reason at present for concern about the social consequences of online communication.”









“Controllability” translates into a newfound freedom to communicate. and within the freedom to communicate resides a fuller ‘connectedness’ with Life & people.



The average person has in fact double the amount of online friends than physical ones, according to research commissioned by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which found users of such sites have 121 online friends compared with 55 physical friends.





“In wider society, the ways in which friendships are formed and nurtured is changing with people recognising that they can develop deep, meaningful connections with others that they’ve never met, and may never meet”

“It can foster a sense of social connection for those who can frequently feel isolated, which is important to psychological wellbeing.”





I personally believe we are no more disconnected than we were in the past … it is just that our ‘connection world’ has changed so radically that people feel uncomfortable leaving what they know.



In the end.



Change is painful.



And within that pain many people start identifying all the reasons why change is bad … or wrong … or harmful <even from “experts” … who sound like old stubborn unchanging curmudgeons>:



impatient think question look


“continuous partial attention” — two people doing six things, devoting only partial attention to each one — she remarked: “We’re so accessible, we’re inaccessible.

We can’t find the off switch on our devices or on ourselves. … We want to wear an iPod as much to listen to our own playlists as to block out the rest of the world and protect ourselves from all that noise.

We are everywhere — except where we actually are physically.”


Linda Stone

the technologist who once labeled the disease of the Internet age


“‘This was what was keeping me awake at night,’ Walter said. ‘This fragmentation. Because it’s the same problem everywhere. It’s like the internet, or cable TV – there’s never any centre, there’s no communal agreement, there’s just a trillion bits of distracting noise … All the real things, the authentic things, the honest things, are dying off.’


Jonathan Franzen





On the other hand … change is exciting to some people.





“In a world full of people, only some want to fly.

Isn’t that crazy?”







Nomads fly.





“They told me to grow roots, instead I grew wings”








disconnect old phonePlease. Please everyone stop having all this angst that being connected all the time is creating a disconnected society.


The wireless cable. The telephone. The car. The television. All changed the way people relate to each other.


<p.s. – the world did not crumble>



And how did their parents respond? With the same kind of wailing and gnashing of teeth we’re doing now.



Technology is simply today’s “how we live Life” change agent.




People stuck in the past … well … want to stay in the past … and while they may want the best for us they also tend to try to push everyone to a safe place <which is simply the trappings of ‘what we used to do and have always done’>.



The web and everything that comes along with it has some uncertainty … and some risk .. because it is creating societal construct change <and therefore affecting people’s behavior … which impacts people’s attitudes>.


But more importantly than risk it has shifted some of our Life boundaries … and that just makes us feel uncomfortable.



Nomadicity versus some stability.


Most generations are embracing the freedom of a nomad lifestyle … with some boundaries. And within that ‘yes & no’ relationship resides conflict. Holding on to somethings and letting go of others.




Let us remember … children under the age of 15 have never known a world without the internet. It’s revolutionized how they learn, play, will work and communicate with each other.



Any time a younger generation embraces a revolution of any kind older generations want to squash it. and they will do so by any means possible <and wave their hands in the air suggesting civilization is crumbling as they do it>.

nomad culture





Tune in. Tune out.

It is your choice.



The babbling insanity that surrounds us can certainly eat your Life alive but it can also feed the quality of your Life more than ever before.


The one thing you cannot ignore?


Your new nomad Life.


It will come with some trappings you will love … and some you will hate.



Trust me.


You are now a nomad.

right beneath your feet

June 17th, 2015



—————Bad one less CorruptDream

“The path is always right beneath your feet.”


Issan Dorsey Roshi







This is a quasi-rant on hope.



We so often speak of hope in big sweeping terms scanning aspirational horizons for something better … yet … more often the reality of hope resides right under your feet on a path you currently stand, walk, ride or run.
Bad travel move idea


Your choices, decisions and where you elect to place one foot after another is where hope resides.




It’s not found within a thankless society, a selfish culture nor an ever increasingly appearing unstable world … it is within us.




That’s why when I read Donald Trump said “the American dream is dead and I can make it alive again” I wanted to say “fuck you.”



And I am not being just an American nor am I just talking about some esoteric American dream but rather anyone’s dreams & hopes in any country.



I just want anyone & everyone to stop fucking with my dreams and my hopes.






I won’t argue that the world today is challenging enough to make it feel more despair than hope … more bad than good … and that the system makes it more difficult for individuals to attain some of their hopes & dreams … but that is external stimulus not internal resolve.



And I, frankly, don’t want to give my dreams and hopes to some external cloud storage system for care … I want to store them in me.hope versus positive thinking




They are mind to protect and project.



And this leads me to destiny, fate … and hope.







This all means that I believe we make our own destinies. Every day we are presented with choices. Some we don’t even recognize. Some we don’t even see <until they are past>. Some we see and make a choice. Our destiny is a reflection of these choices … made and not made.



Our hopes and dreams are made right there.



This does not mean our independence is not interconnected in an interdependent fashion in some ways … just that in order to cut through the spiderweb of random things you may be dependent upon you have to independently make choices and decisions.



If you do not?



Well … that makes your own hope also dependent upon this spiderweb of … uhm … shit.



This all means that I believe we assume, and have, responsibility … as in responsibility for your own actions <and hence your dreams, fate, destiny & hope>.



Today it seems more likely someone will suggest their behavior, mistakes, flaws and even their dashed dreams & hopes … are a reflection of outside influences, a ‘lesser than’ home life experience growing up, poverty, ethnicity, or some painful experience that impacted us in childhood.



Some people … that is what they learned.



And some people were taught otherwise by their adult mentors.



Some learn that when you screw up it is on ‘you’ and no one else.



Some learn you can be frequently wrong, frequently stupid … but if you have been taught to be accountable … to admit it … you may get some shit from people but you will also be known as someone who is accountable for their own actions.



And you will also have assumed accountability, and responsibility, for your own hope & dreams.



So … please, PLEASE, don’t try and tell me my dream has been killed.


hope just fucking stop


You are fucking with my hope.



And you are fucking with people’s minds.





Someone trying to fuck with our minds matters … it matters because … well … Susan Neiman, a social philosopher, said it maybe the best:




“As long as your ideas of what’s possible are limited by what’s actual, no other idea has a chance.”


Susan Neiman





Someone may suggest a dream is owned by a country … but they are wrong.



Someone may suggest hope is in the purview of some mystical leader who can deliver it in some way upon us … but they are wrong.



Someone may suggest both my dreams and hopes are at the mercy of some system or obstructed by some evil activity in my past … but they are wrong.



They are wrong because the moment you actually agree you have permitted your ideas of what is possible to be limited by what appears as actual <and let me tell ya … ‘actual’ is a moving target in and of itself’> … and no other idea … no dream … no hope … has a chance.




My hope is my hope.


My dreams are my dreams.


sunset paint path
Quit fucking with my hope.



Quit fucking with my dreams.




They are mine.



And the path to them is right underneath my feet.

understanding how to make people understand (its about codes)

November 6th, 2013


” … should remind us that when we seek to bring something new to a culture, one must adapt the idea to the culture.

It doesn’t work the other way.” – Me & Clotaire Rapaille


Ok.culture code chin


If you haven’t read The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille pick up a copy.  It’s kind of an odd but interesting way to look at how different cultures <mostly Europe versus U.S. in the book> see things differently.


A quick example: British luxury is about detachment whereas U.S. luxury is about rank.



This is going to be a long post and will focus more on America and Americans but will hopefully inspire some overall thinking about not just ‘codes’ but why when we have an idea in our head and we articulate it <and we are proud of how well we articulated it> the listeners simply shake their head and even reject the idea.

Because that is what codes and this type of thinking is all about.




The reason to read the book and think about it is because it can actually help you avoid situations where the communication direction appears obvious, yet, that choice may be “against code” and therefore not generate the response you desire.


This thought is actually fairly practical to not only businesses and marketers … but also for those of us in ever day life.


I often use some of this in high school classes and use ‘boy to girl’ dialogue as examples.

In their words … I tell boys … that f you are oblivious to the ‘codes’ you will end up saying something that sounds good in your head … and be said with the communication she-wants1proper intent … and yet the receiver <the girl> will hear something either completely different or worse, hear nothing … because it was ‘against code.’



Simplistically the culture code concept is that extremely strong imprints are placed in people’s subconscious at an early age determined by the culture in which they are raised.

For example an American child’s most active period of learning happens in an American context. Mental structures/imprints formed in an American environment fill the subconscious. The child therefore grows up an American <with all our “codes”>.


Apply this thought to every child globally and you can easily see this is why people from different cultures have such different reactions to the same things.


So the Culture Code is about a cultural subconscious and every culture has its own mind-set.


That said.

I pulled out some parts to share. I will mainly use Clotairre’s own words and thoughts but on occasion I intersperse some of my own words and thoughts.



And I will begin by sharing his thoughts on Americans and the American Culture Code.culture code book



–          Teenager country


Let’s begin by saying as a culture America is one of an adolescent. And this metaphor extends beyond our relative age as a culture into the way we act and react.


Think about it this way.

We never killed our king because we never actually had one. We rebelled against the only king who ever tried to rule us.

Our rebellious period has never ended.


Looking at our culture through this set of glasses explains why we are so successful around the world selling the trappings of adolescence: Coca-Cola, Nike shoes, fast food, blue jeans, and loud, violent movies.


And the people we love, celebrities, and what fascinates us so much is their resistance to growing up. They are forever young at heart, crazy, up and down, one day invincible, one day totally rejected, and they always come back. They are the “eternal adolescents” all Americans would love to be.

At the same time they are a victory for nonconformity. In America, you can be eternally ‘young’, a non conformist and successful.


In addition the American culture exhibits many of the traits consistent with adolescence: intense focus on the “now,” dramatic mood swings, a constant need for exploration and challenge to authority, a fascination with extremes, openness to change and reinvention, and a strong belief that mistakes warrant second chances. Underlying this adolescence attitude is a free spirited work ethic foundation.


How can this be?

One can look at our culture <or any culture as a matter of fact> as a survival kit passed down from one generation to the next.

The American culture evolved as it did because the pioneers, and later the waves of immigrants who came to our shores, needed to evolve that way if they were to survive the conditions of this vast country. Traits such as Puritanism, a strong work ethic, the belief that people deserve a second chance, and putting a premium on success all helped us to survive in this new world.


On the other hand, the Swiss culture evolved the way it did, forging multiple cultures into one very strong one, in response to regular threats to Switzerland’s survival as a sovereign state.



In fact.

Lets move on to work.



–          work and working



Using the words of Nike one can boil the American agenda down to three simple words: “Just do it.” Our champions are athletes, entrepreneurs, police officers, firefighters, and soldiers – all people who take action. We may respect thinkers, but we don’t celebrate them nearly as much as we do our action figures.


When our forefathers came to America and discovered a huge undeveloped land, their first thought wasn’t “Let’s have some tea.”


It was “Let’s get to work.”


There was a New World to create, and it wasn’t going to create itself.


Americans celebrate work and turn successful businesspeople into celebrities. Donald Trump and Bill Gates are pop stars. Stephen T. Covey, Jack Welch, and Lee Iacocca are mega-selling authors.

Instead of Bonjour Paresse, our best-sellers include The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Good to Great.


Work put you in a position to get to know people, excite children, keep family going, or plan your future.


Work could make you feel that you were on the map, that you had arrived, or that it was all you did.


The American Culture Code for work is WHO YOU ARE.


We seek so much meaning in our jobs. If our job feels meaningless, then “who we are” is meaningless as well.  If we feel inspired, if we believe that our jobs have genuine value to the company we work for <even if that “company” is ourselves> and that we are doing something worthwhile in our work, that belief bolsters our sense of identity.  This is perhaps the most fundamental reason why it is so important for employers to keep their employees content and motivated. A company operated by people with a negative sense of identity can’t possibly run well.


Our work ethic is so strong because at the unconscious level, we equate work with who we are and we believe that if we work hard and improve our professional standing, we become better people.

Those who fail to act, who accept the limitations of their work with barely a grumble, are likely to feel miserable about their lives.

The hopelessness of their jobs has done critical damage to their identities.


We love the story of Bill Gates laboring away in his garage, coming up with a great idea, and becoming the richest person in the world. Why? Because it reinforces the notion that “who we are” has endless room for growth. The self-made millionaire is an inspirational symbol for us because it proves that all of us can work hard, find the thing that we do superbly, and forge and extraordinary identity.

Even if someone like Gates is an extreme exception to the rule <most people don’t make that leap with their ideas> we like the belief we could be an exception.


We like the concept you never have to be stuck in what you do. Self-reinvention is definitely on Code. If your work no longer provides you with the sense of the ‘who you are’ that you desire, it is not only acceptable but also preferable to seek something new. Americans champion entrepreneurs because they are our most aggressive identity-seekers. They don’t wait for someone to tell them what to be, but rather take significant risks to become what they believe they should be.


Americans all want to believe that we are headed somewhere in our work, that we aren’t going to stay in the same place for the rest of our lives <this is definitely not the same in European work cultures or Asian work cultures>.

where lots of workMost of us have an ideal job in mind, and it usually involves movement. None of us want to feel that we are “done”. We often feel the need to keep working in order to feel that we still exist.


Involving staff in the direction of the company gives them an elevated sense of identity, the feeling that they are integral to the company’s success.

Similarly, helping employees understand their career paths is on the Code.

The team should be regarded as a support group that allows individuals to become champions.






–          Money.


People around the world perceive us as being concerned only with money. This huge misconception is one of the reasons so many of them fail to see what really does motivate us.  At the same time, though, Americans themselves perceive this preoccupation with money and think it suggests that we are greedy at heart or that we prize material goods over enhancement of the spirit. This also is a misconception, one that gives us much less credit than we deserve.


The notion that we “come from nothing” pervades America. In a sense, we have the poorest rich people in the world, because even those who accumulate huge sums of money think like poor people.  They continue to work hard, they continue to focus on cash flow and expenses, and they continue to struggle to earn more.


Clearly, money signifies more to Americans than the means to buy things. It shows us how we’re doing, tells us how far we’ve come from impoverished poor roots. Money reminds you that your “business is a good one,” that you’ve worked hard to get something, that you can carry your burdens, that you are appreciated, and that you are moving up to the next level.  Not having money makes you feel as if you are “in a hole” … you may even feel that “it’s gonna kill me.”


The American culture has no titles of nobility to show us who the big winners are. Without them, we need something that performs a similar function. Participants tell us through their third-hour stories that that thing is money.


The American Culture Code for money is PROOF.spend money behavior


Money isn’t a goal in and of itself for most Americans. We rely on it to show us that we are good, that we have true value in the world. We can prove what we’ve accomplished only by making as much money as possible.

Money is our barometer for success. Most Americans find it impossible to feel successful if they feel they are underpaid. Money is a scorecard. If someone is doing a job similar to yours and making more money, you unconsciously believe that he or she is doing a better job.  Being paid for a job imbues it with instant credibility.


A publishing contract changes one’s attitude about their accomplishments instantly. Suddenly the previous two years of “unpaid work,” gain validity. The money the publisher paid is proof.

Because we believe money is proof, we see a very strong connection between money and work.  Money earned via hard work is admirable, proof that you are a good person.

This means that ‘on-code’ firms portray themselves as facilitators who provide their clients with tools for generating more money.


Many European cultures have a different view of money and its functions. At a certain point many Europeans simply settle back on the estate, leaving the world of commerce behind.


For example. Money in France isn’t a form of proof, but unpleasant fact.


We truly believe there is a link between goodness and monetary success and that those who cheat and lie their way to the top ultimately meet their comeuppance on both the spiritual and financial planes. Consistent with this mind-set is the American attitude towards charitable donations.


Americans are the most charitable people in the world. Americans expect their most fortunate to share what they’ve earned, and we have an entire system of laws in place for giving one’s money away.


It is off Code, for example, to preach profitability to one’s employees. Money is the proof of goodness not in itself the goal. Instead, a company’s management do your best boymust inspire employees to be the best they can possibly be. This is on Code for both work and money and, if done effectively, leads to profitability.

Money alone is the worst reward for an American employee.


The most on-Code approach is to use money as a global positioning system that shows the employee where he is on his career path.


At every promotion, the employee should be shown a visual representation of the income curve that he or she is on. The angle at which one’s salary is climbing is a powerful symbol of growth.  It is visual proof.

Work is an essential part of who we are we just want a chance to prove ourselves and receive tangible evidence that we have succeeded.



Which leads me to “quality.”


–          quality





The Culture Code for quality in America is IT WORKS.


The Culture Code for perfection in America is DEATH.


We don’t want people telling us what to do and holding us to their standards. We want to discover things and learn how to do things our own way.

We had to learn everything ourselves, and we did it the only way we could – through trial and error.  Learning from our mistakes not only allowed us to survive, but also helped us to grow into a powerful and hugely successful country.  We were rewarded for our ability to pick ourselves up off the ground and do things better the second and third times. Trying, failing, learning from our mistakes, and coming back stronger than ever is an essential part of the American archetype.


The Japanese needed to make most of their land, efficiency is critical.

Mistakes are costlier. Quality is a necessity. Perfection is premium. Their Code for quality?  PERFECTION.


Interestingly Americans find perfection boring.

Think about it.perfection is shit

None of our products needs to perform brilliantly (our cars don’t need to be masterpieces of engineering, our cell phones don’t need to provide sonic perfection), but they absolutely need to perform.


The most important message is that Americans put a premium on functionality. We are not a bells-and-whistles culture. We would rather have a cell phone that always operates when we’re in the middle of a call than one that takes pictures, plays music, and allows us to download television clips.

A car that reliably gets us to work, the supermarket, or soccer practice is much more valuable to us than one that corners masterfully or has rain-sensing windshield wipers.


We expect our products to break down.

However, because our Code for quality is IT WORKS, we expect problems to be resolved quickly and with a minimum of disruption.


Americans are far more responsive to good service than they are to perfection (which they don’t believe in anyway). This means that crisis is a great opportunity to create loyalty. If a customer comes to you with a problem with a product or service and you solve that problem quickly and minimize the customer’s inconvenience, you will likely earn that customer’s dedication. You have proven yourself to the customer.


The bottom line is that great service is more important to Americans than great quality.





–          america’s beginnings and home codes



You can trace many of the American traits to our humble beginnings. Though we are the richest country in the world, as we discussed earlier, at the reptilian level we consider ourselves poor. We start out with nothing and we labor to achieve wealth, and even though we may succeed, the hand-to-mouth attitude remains.


Let’s look at Home in America.


Home is a place where you can do things repeatedly and have a good sense of the outcome – unlike the outside world, where everything can be so unpredictable. Home is a place where doing things again gives them added meaning.


And the kitchen is the heart of the American home because an essential ritual takes place there: the preparation of the evening meal. This is a ritual filled with repetition and reconnection that leads to replenishment. Making dinner is on Code for home in America <which also means that NOT making dinner creates guilt and angst and a sense of loss … which people cannot really put a finger on but the Code offers a reason why>.


Food is secondary.

In China, dinner is all about the food. Food is cooked in multiple locations (the kitchen, the fireplace, outside, even the bathroom) and it has a hugely prominent place in any Chinese home. Food is hanging, drying, and curing everywhere. While the Chinese are eating dinner, they rarely speak with one another. Instead they focus entirely on the food. This is true even at business dinners. One may be in the midst of a spirited conversation about an important deal; when the food comes, all conversation ceases and everyone feasts.


The response of poor people to food is consistent throughout the world: they eat as much as they can when they can, because they don’t know whether they will have the opportunity to eat the next day.


And Americans?

The average American spends six minutes eating dinner.

The American Culture Code for food is FUEL.

perfection looking at htings differently

While in Japan, food is a means to approach perfection.



Let’s move to shopping.



–          shopping and us



The American Culture Code for shopping is RECONNECTING WITH LIFE.

Shopping is a social experience, a way for us to encounter a wide variety of people and learn what’s new in the world.


The Code taps into the adolescent component of our culture. We all want to “go out and play.”  We aren’t going to learn anything sitting alone at home. Only when we go out into the world do we discover anything new about life.

Buying is about carrying out a specific mission. It’s a task.  Shopping is a wondrous experience filled with discovery.


Consumers like the synergy between the buying they can do online and the shopping they can do at a retail outlet.

Buying signals the end of shopping, the point at which you sever your connection with the world and go back home.

Returns offer the consumer an alibi for returning to the store. Nordstrom has based part of its reputation on its willingness to take items back with no questions asked.

They’ve turned shopping into an open-ended experience.


For another perspective let’s look at France.

The French Culture Code for shopping is LEARNING YOUR CULTURE.  They consider their shopping an educational experience.


So, in America, from a business perspective, one is on Code whenever one underscores shopping as a joyful, life-affirming experience. Making shoppers feel that they can browse without pressure to make a buying decision is a very good thing, as is creating a space for them to linger (many bookstores have done this by adding cafés). Establishing a store as a place where people can gather and reconnect.

With the exception of convenience stores, emphasizing the efficiency with which the consumer can make purchases is off Code.


While telling people they can get in and out of your store quickly seems to make sense at the cortical level.

It flies directly in the face of the Code.

Telling shoppers they can have a fast shopping experience in your store is a little bit like trying to sell a thirty-second massage or half a piece of chocolate <grocery stores should take note of this>.




Let’s talk about how we look at each other (country to country and culture to culture).



–          comparing country codes <explaining America>



Participants in France talked about the confusion that stemmed from their belief that they were supposed to illuminate the world with their ideas but that the Americans were actually doing it.

global citizen globeThe Code for America in France is SPACE TRAVELERS.

Germans see themselves as superior in education.

The Code for America in Germany is JOHN WAYNE.


The English Code for America is UNASHAMEDLY ABUNDANT.

The English expect us to seek abundance in everything. They expect us to be extreme and to try to win at any cost.


The French Code for France is IDEA.

Raised on stories of great French philosophers and thinkers French children imprint the value of ideas as paramount and refinement of the mind as the higher goal.

The French Code for England is CLASS.

Culture Code for Germany is ORDER.




That was fun <at least for me>.


Before I finish I want to end with some code thoughts on leaders and leadership.



So let’s talk leaders.


–          leaders & leadership


Business leaders or political leaders.

Any and all people who lead in America.


Like all adolescents, we have little patience for father figures. However, we are happy to follow a rebel as he leads the charge.


Our leader is the person who leads the rebellion. This is essential in a culture where health means movement. We are always changing, always moving forward, always reinventing, and we want a president who can direct this process. The president needs to understand what is broken, have a strong idea about how to fix it, and then “rebel” against the problem.


We don’t want our presidents to think too much.


We don’t want a father figure. We want a biblical figure.


The Culture Code for the American presidency is MOSES.


Strip away the religious components of the story of Moses and you’ll see that he represents the Code for the American presidency aptly: a rebellious leader of his people with a strong vision and the will to get them out of trouble.


The French, on the other hand, rally behind leaders who challenge the system with new ideas <remember, the French code for France is IDEA>. Napoleon and de Gaulle are considered models of French leadership because they faced down the existing system and changed it to better serve the people.


American’s don’t want father figures who tell them what to do, but they do want men <and someday, maybe even soon, women> with a plan they can understand and follow.


So how do Americans see America?

Certainly, we see ourselves as “new.”

We also see ourselves as occupants of vast amounts of space.


Just as the Japanese are the masters of micro-culture because they must fit a huge number of people into a small space, Americans are the masters of macro–culture.


The American Culture Code for America is DREAM.


And we want our leaders to fulfill this dream code.


Even our cultural adolescence is a dream: we want to believe we are forever young and that we never truly have to grow up (and this is truly embodied with our fascination with health clubs and plastic surgery and things like that).

It is entirely on Code for people to change careers, locales, or living situations as long as they genuinely believe that doing so gives them a chance to grow <and attain their DREAM>.


I included this because all leaders, business or political or in school, need to remember this.





With the fun facts out of the way here are some Clotaire thoughts as we do the voodoo we do <i.e., living lives here at our own workplace and in Life>:



  1. The stronger the emotion, the more clearly an experience is learned.
  2. The only effective way to understand what people truly mean is to ignore what they say and watch what they do.
  3. People typically give answers they believe the questioner wants to hear. (and, yet, they believe they are telling the truth).


I say all of this because in the end people give alibis for their actions.


These alibis give “rational” reasons for doing the things they do.


But we are, in general, irrational people. Well. Not really if you buy into this Culture Code idea. To be effective we need to consider the alibis while addressing the Code.


While you can’t believe what people say, it would be a mistake not to listen to it and incorporate it into your message … whether that message be in face to face communication, business communication or … well … any frickin’ communication I imagine.


But think about whether people will truly “do what they say.”



Why did I decide to share this?


Despite some interesting thoughts on how to market to consumers it also should remind us that when we seek to bring something new to a culture, one must adapt the idea to the culture.

It doesn’t work the other way.


It is about understanding people and their cultural underpinnings and behavior driven by attitudes.key to life


The anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss studied kinship, saying that he was not interested in people but in the relationships between them – the “space between the people.”




We should care about things like the Culture Code idea because we are constantly discussing ideas … and trying to communicate ideas with people … in business and in Life.


In other words we are in the business of finding the kinship between ideas and things  and people.

Now … there is a thought to put up on your wall.

A Culture of Doing reaches into Elementary Schools

March 24th, 2010

Remember when you had recess with that funky soft rubbery ball you kicked around and played a random version of kicking type baseball. Or maybe used that same ball to bounce it in that four square thing (which looking back on how could you ever suck at that game?).

Or maybe you did nothing just hanging out with your friends talking about the new video game or games or whatever.

Well. No more my friends.  According to the NY Times “With Recess Coach, No Goofing Around.”

shanghai_school_yardThey (someone in their infinite wisdom) has decided there will be no more sitting around, goofing off with friends or simply doing nothing and, in general, they are reining in recess because it was breeding bullying and behavioral problems. Apparently schools were getting exasperated because students left to their own devices during recess “ran into one another while playing, squabbled over balls and jump ropes or monopolized the blacktop while exiling their classmates to the sideline.”

(lions and tigers and bears  … oh my)

So now we are paying a “recess coach” who organizes games and activities so there is a more regimented recess.

Ok. Before I say something really stupid and probably wildly inappropriate I am gonna take a deep breath.

(breath) … (deeper breath) …

Ok. This is frickin’ stupid.

I guess the interesting part to me is that this action is the epitome of what Clotaire Rapaille pointed out in his study on Culture Codes as the essence of America’s ‘code’ which is one of “doing.”  In that we Americans are only happy when we are doing. In other countries when they get free time they relax. When we get free time we look to fill it up with something on our ‘want to do’ list (because we, as a country, never have enough time to do all the things we want to do). Now. This was a jim dandy culture code when it was an adult thing (although it does kind of lead to a variety of other issues like stress and drugs and fast food and … well … whatever … that is a different post).

But now that we are trying to inject into our childrens’ lives that it is not okay to have any down time, well, that seems kinda nuts. In addition, so this also starts feeding into their little minds that they cannot manage their own time and always have to have someone do it for them. Oh. And it also starts teaching them that they will always be protected from bullies in their lives. Oh. And it also teaches them that they will never be relegated to the sidelines. Oh. And it also teaches them that squabbling over balls doesn’t teach them anything. Oh. And, well, I will stop here.

This is nuts. This is stupid. This is teaching our kids the wrong things. In fact it isn’t teaching our kids diddly shit about life.

Recess coaches. WTF. recess coach

What’s next? Nap time Neurological testing? Crazy stuff.

Enlightened Conflict