Enlightened Conflict

it is perhaps the misfortune of my life

June 11th, 2017



good bad person trust reliable



“It is perhaps the misfortune of my life that I am interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing; all my interests are not subordinated in one but stand on an equal footing.”


Søren Kierkegaard




“I wasn’t much of a petty thief. I wanted the whole world or nothing.”


Charles Bukowski






Last night I had a little time before I shut down my computer to scrounge around some of my favorite websites for some thoughts, quotes and images.

I don’t really believe in serendipity but within 15 minutes on three different sites I gathered the three quotes that anchor this piece.

............ restless thinking one big adventure ........

………… restless thinking one big adventure ……..

I sat back after copying them and I realized it is perhaps the misfortune of my Life that I am interested in far too much.

My misfortune is that I am incessantly curious, a relentless contrarian to existing thought & thinking and a restless thinker in general. My misfortune is that I see restless thinking as one big adventure.


I sat back after copying them and I realized I am not satisfied being a petty thief … I want the whole world.


And as I sat back I also thought a little about how I got to this place.

Growing up I remember hearing a lot of “maybe you should be more realistic” type advice.

I remember it chafing.


It made me think … well … I should think smaller.


That chafed.


I am sure the ‘safer’ aspect … aiming toward more achievable things and not stretching too far possibly felt okay … but I chafed on the whole thought of not getting what I thought could be achieved or what could be done.

............. small Life pleasure ............

…………. small Life pleasure …………



I still do.


Going small just seems … well … small to me.


And, yes, there is a price to pay for thinking this way.






I will point out two prices you pay.


The first price is restlessness.

mctague misfortune curious 1Oh. And restlessness can make people feel uneasy. It makes them uneasy because you are not easily slotted. People want you to present them with a peg and they can put it in some hole and thinking about it and look at it.


People, like me, who have the misfortune of being interested in anything and everything and not satisfied with one thing are more of a box. And while boxes represent some symmetry and some tangible aspect for people to grasp, at the same time, … sigh … it is not a peg



The second price is wins … as in quantity of wins. Even I, probably a more pragmatic aspirationalist, don’t aim toward some truly realistic things on occasion.

That means not getting done what you want to get done, not getting where you want to get to and not getting, in general, the largeness you desired. In other words … you didn’t get a win while someone who aimed lower or accepted something smaller did get a win.


Does that matter? I mean life doesn’t really give out trophies … people do.


Yeah. It does matter.


Watching others win when you don’t does matter to some extent. And you would be lying if you didn’t admit that.


Aiming for it all … or something bigger <more broad> than something smaller <more focused> … and not getting it can make you start thinking smaller.


And why do you do that? You want a frickin’ win.


And that … well … that can affect how you think and what you do.


It does so because many of us are willing to compromise some fairly important things to win on occasion.



Even more of us are willing to compromise a lot of fairly important things <which they hadn’t even tangibly decided were important to them> in order to win on occasion.




I bring up the second group because they are the ones who don’t get the ones who have the misfortune of wanting bigger things.

It’s like a petty thief most likely scoffs at the master thief.



But those people may just call this reality <and, therefore, kind of suggesting those who have the misfortune of wanting to know everything about everything are not realistic>.





athlete reality stringsIt is quite likely that my reality, and those whose reality is similar, fights reality itself – I mean society & culture creates lines of reality of which we get boxed in by with regard to expectations.


Umberto Eco is the one who suggested life has “lines of resistance.” This was his version of reality.


These ‘lines of resistance’ are established mostly so that we cannot say or do whatever we like with impunity.

The problem with that is they also bring along some baggage … baggage like … uhm … what is viewed as pragmatic & realistic <smaller versions of shit that are achievable by many rather than few>.





But, thankfully, the lines of resistance can shift.


But, thankfully, some can reach across the lines of resistance and gain access to some bigger shit which lies outside the lines of resistance.


All that said.

Life, and these lines of resistance, encourage some people … mostly those who have the misfortune to be interested in far too much but not decisively in any one thing to shrink them … encourage them to think smaller and, inevitably, maybe be smaller than what they should be.



“Most of my life has been spent trying to shrink myself.

Trying to become smaller. Quieter. Less sensitive. Less opinionated. Less needy. Less me.

 what i believe truth opinion

Because I didn’t want to be a burden.

I didn’t want to be too much or push people away. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be cared for and valued. I wanted to be wanted. So for years, I sacrificed myself for the sake of making other people happy. And for years, I suffered.

But I’m tired of suffering, and I’m done shrinking. It’s not my job to change who I am in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being.


I am worthwhile. Not because other people think I am, but because I exist, and therefore I matter. My thoughts matter. My feelings matter. My voice matters. And with or without anyone’s permission or approval, I will continue to be who I am and speak my truth.

Even if it makes people angry. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if they choose to leave. I refuse to shrink. I choose to take up space. I choose to honour my feelings. I choose to give myself permission to get my needs met. I choose to make self-care a priority.

I choose me.”


Daniell Koepke




Let me be clear.


Smaller is safer. Smaller can actually be very satisfying. Smaller, in some ways, can actually permit you to live a fuller Life <although I would argue it’s not really a bigger Life>.


And while small, in this case, could be construed as bad or lesser than … it is not. It is simply a viable choice for people with regard t their Life and how they want to live it.


Just as those who have the misfortune to want the whole world. That is their choice.


And I would argue that whatever your choice we are all aiming tward the same place … lets call it our “home.” That home within. The place within you that either sits on the favorite Barcalounger safe & sound in a Life lived well in smaller aspects … or the one who wanders forever restlessly over hill & thru the dale seeking the next interest or learning or new thing.


Personally, I am the latter.

I am a nomad thinker.  I want to know it all. And when I know something I want to know more.

But that topic is for another day.



“All of life is a coming home. bad-home-is-whereever-you-are

Salesmen, secretaries, coal miners, beekeepers, sword swallowers, all of us.

All the restless hearts of the world, all trying to find a way home.”



Patch Adams





Today I would suggest whether you have the misfortune of wanting to know it all or whether you believe in something bigger than you or simply believe there is something bigger within you to be found by not wanting it all … your compass & your map resides within … not some external place or location which may appear to fulfill some aspect of ‘home.’




so far out to sea <‘restless’>


so far out to sea

     standing on impassive intensity

                     of restless possibilities


     push back the curtain

of slumbering elements

      of disordered solitude.

stir up a peace of

       desolate despair

                       drowning out a cacophony

       of restless disinterested

                           distant thoughts.

restless sun

               reflects upon the path chosen,

                      stand frozen,

      restless mind

                    wander the waves roaming

so far out to sea




one of the saddest business things I have read in quite some time

May 5th, 2017

sad numbers hear listen business



“Where there is little risk, there is little reward.”


Evel Knievel







I don’t read Advertising Age often. I never really enjoyed reading ‘insider industry’ magazines and now that I am not involved with agencies that much it doesn’t mean much to me except an opportunity to catchup on the news of some people and places I know.


But today a link popped up in my email:



What’s the Most Risky Thing You’ve Done in Your Career?

Ad Age Asks Participants at Detroit Brand Summit



I clicked on it.


I figured the advertising business, while often ground down to a nub by brand managers and clients who have an allergic reaction to risk, would offer some good ‘most risky actions I have taken‘ stories.


Here is a sampling:



biggest risk was undertaking Pepsi “refresh project,” a 2010 initiative by PepsiCo to award $20 million in grants to individuals, businesses and nonprofits that promote a new idea that has a positive impact on their community. “We took money off the Super Bowl, a property Pepsi had been on for almost a quarter century, and we put it into a different idea,”



Tylenol talking about product benefits and pain relief. His team, however, advocated toward making the message about feeling better with a nontraditional campaign including events.



single biggest gamble: “Leaving BBDO to go to The Abundancy, which was a little startup incubator that was trying to do things differently and reinvent how advertising worked,”



“It was a first-ever auto reveal with Snapchat,” Lenard said. “Together we answered a lot of questions internally about who is the audience of Snapchat: Aren’t they 12-year-olds who are never buying vehicles?”






I worked in the advertising agency business for a long time … that is oh no embarrassedembarrassing.


If that is risk, let alone ‘biggest risk’, in today’s advertising world as outlined by some people who I assume are leaders in the industry … the industry is in a world of hurt.


As a business person I have always embraced the concept of risk … okay … calculated risk. No sane business person is flippant with risk.

All risk is assessed and calculated for ROR <return on risk> … as well as RODN <return on doing nothing>.


I could argue that between ROR and RODN you aren’t really taking any risks … you are simply doing what needs to be done to be successful.


That said.

I was sorely disappointed by how these people assess ‘biggest risk.’




avoid question bomb stink business problemsEveryone takes personal risks in business.


Not everyone takes business risks. And business risk is very different than personal risk … confusing the two, or even conflating the two, in a business environment is fraught with peril.



Business risks inherently include personal risk … but personal risks don’t have particular consequences to a larger business risk – they are more your risks than anyone else’s.


I say that as a professional calculated business risk taker. I can honestly say that any time I ever assessed a business decision or what could be construed as a business risk I never took into consideration any persona risk I may be assuming. To me it would simply clutter what I would assume is a decision cluttered already with ‘what ifs’, ‘maybes’ and ‘uh ohs.’


I always believe business risks revolved around what is best for the business … and you let the chips fall as they may with regard to you personally.




Getting back to that sad list of ‘biggest risks.’


People can confuse risk with change. Change is change. Any change includes some risk because … well … it is change.

But change, in and of itself, is not necessarily originality. And that is where risk truly resides … in something original.




“Safe marketing is the riskiest marketing you can do.”



Bill Bernbach




organization business elephant adpat nimble get shit done

Anything original is never safe simply because it has no real record of behavior & consequences. That means you are modeling and researching and doing a whole bunch of good smart shit to insure it isn’t just a guess … but … sigh … it is just a guess.


That is risk. Risk is a … well … thing.


Originality is a real thing … a challenging thing … and a risky thing.

And to be truly original … in some ways … you must ignore what exists and what has been done before.


You must abandon the safe and secure.


Just think about this little factoid about pretty much any great original idea that has ever happened:


  • It’s effective


  • It’s always preceded by a meeting in which you will hear ‘are you nuts?’




Maybe we all need to be a little more nuts.

Maybe we all need to be a little less afraid of the different.


Maybe instead we should focus on what I believe almost all business people really do know … the new and untried can generate the bigger gains then simply changing the status quo or ‘what is’.


I would note that originality has a close relationship to exceptional.



The root of that word exceptional?


Exception <please note … that is a significantly different word than acceptable … or safe …>.


We are comfortable in our cocoon of what is acceptable and sameness but it is making ‘an exception’ … taking that slightly risky step … that truly pays off.


used rainbowsIn business … if you have nothing to offer but used ideas, you are just a used car salesman.


And does anyone in business really want to be that?


<unless they are in the used car sales business of course>


And maybe that is why the article I read was one of the saddest business articles I have read in a very long time – there really wasn’t anything original or any monumental change. Some were personal risks and the business risks were more tweaks on existing machinery to fine tune the operation.

And maybe that is what the business world has come to <sadly> … a world in which tweaks constitute risks.


Sad. Very sad.


I know risk is difficult. But I also know it is much better than always doing the sure thing – always making the safe decision.


The problem is if you really want any progress or growth … meaningful progress and growth … risk cannot be avoided. You must seek ‘the exception.’


In the end.


I do think business needs to embrace a little more risk.


But to avoid being sad about what we do, maybe most importantly, I think business should stop calling tweaks risky. They are tweaks. They are attempts to make small big and the truly big too small.


And, lastly, maybe we need to start thinking more often “but it might just work.” I wrote about that phrase to make a point about how we, in business, are becoming far too hesitant to make changes.  There was nothing in the ‘biggest risk taken’ article that convinced me my point isn’t still valid. We embrace tweaks to avoid “but it might just work” actions.



“Biggest risk ever taken.”

road to success business graffiti





These should be monumental type questions with monumental type responses.


And if you don’t have a monumental response maybe, just maybe, you need to look around what what you are doing and seeing of maybe you aren’t playing it too safe.

And, most of all, if you don’t have a monumental response, you should not try and make something small monumental.


Bigger risk deserves better than that.

reason for living

November 22nd, 2015



legacy message life

“Losing your life is not the worst thing that can happen.

The worst thing is to lose your reason for living.”

Jo Nesbø







I could haggle with the above quote from a pragmatic standpoint, i.e., if you lose your reason for living, you can eventually get it back … or another; if you lose your life, that’s it, no way back … but I won’t haggle.


I will not haggle because it is a wonderful thought.





I could think of a lot worse things in Life than living a life with this principle in mind.



I could also argue that one’s ‘reason for living’ can sometimes not be as easy to truly nail down as one would think.


I tend to believe it is a little easier if you have children or family or … well … let’s just say another person.



life whispers listen closelyBut I could also argue that example is not really ‘reason for living.’


That’s just something you can point to when you cannot point to anything inside yourself. Or, maybe to be fair, your sense of responsible to another human being overwhelms anything inside.






I am not suggesting that ‘other people’ is a bad reason for living … just that if you do so then you have abdicated your ‘throne of self.’


And I would also suggest if you take this “reason for living route” from that point on your life in some big ways and in some small ways will continue to be defined by something eternally.



And once the external is removed?






Then you have to … well … look within.



That’s really my point.



Reason for living really shouldn’t be defined by anything other than something that resides within you.





I think we all have a tendency to believe that if something lies within it must be easier to find than something that resides somewhere outside <in maybe some place you have never been or cannot see>.


It actually isn’t easier.

I actually think it is a little harder. I think it is harder for a variety of reasons but let me just suggest that just like the things you love the most in your home … after a while they just becomes ‘things’ and you forget you loved them. What resides within you is almost the same. The really good shit can become so much part of the fabric of who and what you are it doesn’t really seem like something as big as a ‘reason for living.’



When things are good and easy they become easy to overlook.



In addition.

Society beats into our heads we need to be good at something therefore when we look inside ourselves we begin seeking practical shit we can easily pull out when someone says ‘what are you good at?



I mean, c’mon, how crazy do you think people would think you were if when asked that question you would say “keeping my heads in the clouds.” They would think you were either fucking nuts or living in some public park in a hut.


But that is the hard part about a reason for living.

It’s bigger than simply knowing how to build a website better than someone else or being the top sales person in your company … it is … well … just bigger.

And surprisingly, despite its bigness, it is easy to lose. And easy to lose despite the fact you know where it resides <within you>.






I admit … I chuckle when some people tie ‘being grounded’ with reason for living.

It seems so contradictory to me.



Why would I want a reason for living to be on the ground versus being in the sky?





That’s me.


My intention is to keep my reason for living in the sky among the stars.




“They say it all breaks down to keeping your feet on the ground, my soul intention is keeping my head in the clouds.”

==life interesting scared shitless doing

asking alexandria




All I can really say is that everyone should choose their own reason for living – on the ground or in the sky doesn’t really matter … just find it and embrace it.

Because losing your reason for living simply leads to an unhappy purposeless life … and that is a sucky life.

racism, systemic or individual … & me

November 8th, 2015



<this is a post request from a European friend – sorry … it is a little rambling … >

racism 1 white guy


Americans have realized many things for which the rest of the world is struggling, yet, the civilization and the morals of Americans fall far below their own principles.”racism 2 white guy

Harriet Martineau

<1837 – Society in America>


The massacre in Charleston was not just an isolated hate crime carried out by a mentally ill racist in South Carolina. It is simultaneously representative and starkly indicative of the rampant racism structurally embedded in America, the responsibility for which, it might be argued, bears no exemption for any American, especially white Americans, north or south, republican or democrat.

As Richard Wright wrote in his 1945 non-fiction memoir Black Boy, America “insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness.”


Joanne Braxton and Michael Sainato

<Guardian Opinion Editorial>


“… the devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns.

He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for …”


Tucker Max





being yourself voice echo



I am an older white guy. And I imagine I have exhibited racist behavior, and certainly thoughts, in my life.


Therefore, I am a racist.



Well … that last sentence pained me to type. Fucking killed me.



But here is the deal.


I think we all are … well … at least the white folk.



We may not be outspoken blatant racists … in fact … I tend to believe most of us are relatively oblivious to how racism slips into how one thinks and acts.



This means that … well … I do believe white people bear the burden of racism.



In particular I know I personally bear the burden of racism every day.



The only way I could justify not assuming responsibility is to assume we live, and work, in a racially neutral society – neutral meaning either everyone is treated equally or every prejudice is equivalent to another.





That is not our world.


racism white makes 1


To be clear <to all my white friends>.


I do not disagree that there is some anti-white racism <maybe let’s call this ‘reverse discrimination’> in today’s world.




racism white males 2

And this is a big but.



As long as I continue walking into businesses where leadership is predominately white <and male>.


As long as I scan annual reports and websites and view a predominately white <and male> leadership team.

racism white males 3
As long as the business, government & social power structure remains dominantly white.


As long as all of those things exist … racism against white people will never be the same as racism against people of other races. For if you DO believe it is the same then almost by default you are suggesting the power structure needs to be protected & defended … not earned.



And that is not something I am willing to embrace.



I AM willing to accept the fact that African American racism is a product of a system that has been breeding hatred and bigotry in America since the first Africans were kidnapped and forcibly transported here in the 15th century as slaves under deplorable, inhumane conditions.



I AM willing to accept the fact that all white-based racism is a product some incredibly steeped cultural cues, attitudes and heuristic aspects <all of which are very difficult to purge from the conscious & subconscious>.



But … just to be clear … racism is not an actual crime. You can’t send someone to jail simply for being a racist.


Simply having a belief without acting upon it in any illegal manner is not a crime.


It may constitute a moral crime but government cannot legislate morality and attitudes or belief.



All that said.



I sometimes struggle to understand why white people don’t accept the fact that racism still exists in today’s world, is embedded in the system in which we exist … and, unfortunately, it will always exist in some form or fashion … and we white folk bear a responsibility with all of it.





I imagine some people could suggest what I am describing as racism within myself isn’t racism <because with some warped logic one could suggest that my self awareness makes my racism impossible>.


They would be wrong.



Yes. I am open minded.


Yes. I tend to believe I am skin color blind <intellect is typically my filter>.



Yes. I am more than aware of racist issues <in work environment and in everyday life>.



But … yes … I am white. And compounding it … I am a white male. And by that alone I am a mixture of all the shit that came before me.


black lives obama 1



There is probably no better tangible example of embedded racism than the term and activism surrounding ‘black lives matter.’



All lives do matter.

As a logical extension, black lives matter as well.

black lives obama 2

That is sort of the point of the entire concept.



Black people have the right to stand up and point out that an issue exists <a complex one which often gets lost under a simplistic banner> and that as long as white people <mostly male> make up the bulk of the power structure that maybe we white folk should accept the burden of responsibility.black lives obama 3


I have a hard time disagreeing with them on that.






I say all this to provide some underpinnings to a discussion on ‘progress.’


Because if you accept that we will always be a work in progress than saying things like ‘but it is so much better today than it was’ is not acceptable <this is also a ‘go to’ white person statement>.




Racism has always existed and in some extent.  And while it certainly exists now and there are some vocal aspects to racism today … as a country we have struggled with this since day one.



And if you believe African Americans are more divisive today with regard to the issue <often blaming the president for creating a divisive environment> I would like to point out that one of Tupac Shakur’s most popular songs addresses theses issues … in 1998:

tupac influence change the world



Tupac “Changes

<written in 1998>



Just take a moment and think about how crazy some of his lyrics are … saying a black president is about as unbelievable as pigs flying.

At that moment and time he sang those lyrics he couldn’t conceive the possibility it could ever happen <too bad he couldn’t see the day>.


The song is as relevant today as it was then.






Have we made progress? Absolutely.


Have we achieved what we should achieve? Absolutely not.



Only an idiot denies the existence of racism, but there are very few people who are conscious enough of what needs to take place as we progress and have the courage to consciously address it.



Frankly … I struggle to believe white people, and black people, in America are prepared to let go of their cultural identities and begin forging a new reality in which all are equal within every situation and at any time & place.





Not yet.



I do believe blacks have earned the right to be angry <not the right to act inauspiciously upon that anger though>.

racism black lives

And I do believe the burden white people <mostly male because they own the power structure> have to earn the right to NOT have blacks angry at them.



And in saying that … well … it makes most of us white folk look like we want black people to be angry at us every time we stand on some pedestal and shout “all lives matter … not just black lives.’


It shows a lack of awareness to the real issues at hand and a lack of awareness to who is at fault in addition to lack of awareness with regard to who is truly the victim here.



It is hard to suggest racism doesn’t exist in USA and is embedded in its various structures. And I believe that to deny it simply cripples society in some fairly insidious ways.



In addition <just to complicate this issue even more>.



Here is the unspoken aspect about racism … it is not just about blacks.



The entire immigration discussion in America is strewn with racism.





Think about how we talk about Mexico and Mexicans.


Think about how we talk about ANY immigrant.



While the vitriol and hateful rhetoric seems targeted against ‘illegal’ immigrants it stains all immigrants.



Think about it.


Even our base assumptions are racist. Huh? Assuming ‘bad intentions before good intentions’ <which is quite similar to ‘guilty before proven innocent’> is one of those low level racist driven attitudes which drive wedges between whites and ‘others.’



It bothers me that we far too often swing between the flippant ‘daily humiliating & overt acts of racism are almost gone from America’ statements <to reflect progress> all the way over to the general lack of awareness to how what we say, and actions we far too often take, are reflections of aspects of racism <and yet we never call it such>.

white nonsense racism


This is simply white folk nonsense.



The important need of the present is to confront the less visible but much more pervasive and destructive racism remaining in American society <jobs, education, housing, legal system, banking>. This racism is hard to address because it is part of the fabric of society.


And maybe we white folk need to step back and think “… maybe this is what black lives matter is really about. Maybe black lives matter seems to focus on the legal aspects … but they are also mired mentally in wanting to discuss it all.”





I don’t see America as a nation inevitably mired in racism. We are simply a country that has struggled since its creation with racism – not just blacks but religiously, culturally any other divisive theme you can come up with that challenges Americanism <which is ill defined therefore individuals embrace their own definition>.



Racism in America is actually less about skin color or country origin it is more about power and preservation – preservation of culture & identity.

lose something good get better terror

Culture is about how a group of people define reality … with themselves at the center of that reality.



If you ponder that then … well … white folk <especially white males> are having their culture threatened … and their power threatened … therefore their identity is being threatened.



And maybe that is why I am so adamant that the burden of racism resides with white people. The burden resides in managing and handling feeling threatened.



Some progress has been made but what everyone seems to be missing is that … well … in a long race or in a long game … the last steps are the hardest. It may feel like things have become worse but maybe it is just that we are on the cusp of winning … and this the slogging part. The part where one part of us is scared of losing, threatened in the moment and maybe we wonder what ‘is’ after the goal line for us white folk.



How do I deal with it?


I accept somehow someway I am racist … and hope my awareness makes me a better man.better than yesterday



I accept that racism is tragic, systemic, and a disease that creates structural problems which infect societies at the intersections of ethnicity, religion, class, social structure as well as political identity … and I accept that America is still infected.


I accept that somewhere out there … well … there is a cure for this infection.



And isn’t that what Black Lives Matter is really asking for? A cure? A cure so that their part of society can be a healthy productive part of the greater good called America.





I gotta tell ya.


I don’t think they are asking anything unreasonable.

Enlightened Conflict