I’m In

A technique used by meeting facilitators is to conduct a ‘check-in’ at the start of the day. Participants share a comment – ‘I’m energized…’ – then state – ‘…and I’m in.’ Of course, depending on what they’re feeling, the first part might be: “I’m frustrated’ or ‘I’m angry’ or ‘I’m distracted.’ Utilizing this approach signals to everyone the individual mood elevators within the room.

‘I’m in’ is a common phrase. It could be an email to your buddy in the office: “If you do Chinese takeout for lunch, I’m in.” It might be a reply to a friend who asked, ‘We’re heading to the lake for the Fourth, want to join us?” It could be a high school senior opening a big envelope from their preferred college choice, looking up with a smile and saying to parents, “I’m in.”

When my brother and his former Wall Street investment peers started discussing Bitcoin and the blockchain in the fall of 2017, I read their email exchanges without responding. When the price soared toward $18,000 that December, I finally commented.

“I’ve read a lot about this,” I wrote. “The blockchain is a game-changer. The question is: will Bitcoin be the one people adopt or will another crypto overtake it? Remember Commodore 64? Bitcoin is being hyped by a generation much younger than us. I’m out.”

When Bitcoin fell to $3,000, I felt brilliant. When it soared to $60,000 earlier this year, I felt like an idiot. When it dropped to near $30,000 a couple of weeks ago? Well, I’ve read a lot more, so I said, “I’m in” – buying a little Bitcoin and a little more Ethereum.

So why now?


IMHO putting a tiny bit of our investment portfolio toward something that could end up being the real thing – now that crypto is mainstream – seems wise. After all, younger folks are doing life different than us older ones, so why not join in?

Is it the right decision? IDK. Gonna leave it to our three kids to decide after we transition to the big ethernet in the sky.




Second Thoughts

‘Frozen February’ meant when spring arrived many of the plants around Houston failed to awaken from their winter slumber. Morning strolls around our neighborhood included a lot of head-shaking at so much unseasonally brown color.

Hawthorns and Lantana didn’t survive the unexpected dip into single digits. So I turned to the company that mows our yard ($25 per week!) to take them out and do other work.

Everything went great the first day as they removed the plants, dug out roots and mulched our flowerbeds. Then another crew returned a week later to replace some dead St. Augustine grass in our backyard and clean the gutters, which were filled with pine needles. When they arrived, I was on a walk.

I got back and specifically told a worker to not touch the vines that snaked throughout an eight-foot latticework and provided a beautiful view outside Kathy’s kitchen window. Then I went inside to take a shower. When I got out, all of it – dead and living – was gone. The crew leader told me everything would grow back in two weeks. It’s now five and counting. There are a few dozen green leaves as summer nears.

Three times I texted the company owner – who I’ve known for years – asking what he thinks I should tell Kathy. He is yet to respond.

People make mistakes. Maybe they didn’t realize the type of vines. Maybe one person didn’t tell the other. Maybe there was a language barrier. All of those are understandable. Things happen. Not accepting responsibility? Once the grass stops growing in the fall, it may mean the end of a long-term relationship.


Home Stay

March 13, 2020. The last time I was with clients in person… before last week. That’s a long stretch. 417 days.

The end came as I facilitated a retreat for senior leaders of a major hospital system. Everyone wore masks. All social distanced. A dozen people in a room designed to hold more than 80. There were two former nurses and a current physician. I felt safe.

As the U.S. continues to open up there are differing opinions around returning to work. Many employees are anxious to get back in the office. Others not so much.

During my 40-year career, 27 are working from a home office, including the past 17. The biggest benefit is my commute is 40 feet. The biggest drawback is no one stops by and asks me to go to lunch.

It takes focus and discipline to master work from home. Yet, during the past 14 months most people have proven they do it well. Some of my clients said they work more hours than before… capitalizing on the time they would have spent commuting.

Requiring employees to return is a tough call for business leaders. There is the benefit of having everyone nearby – and often in the same conference room – to work together in an environment that doesn’t lead to Zoom fatigue. On the other side of the ledger, employees like the freedom they’ve come to enjoy and, perhaps, expect.

Companies that take a hard stance about returning to the office will lose talent to ones that are open to a more flexible lifestyle. Maybe that’s not a major issue with older leaders who grew up in those cultures. When the younger generation moves up the management ladder, things might change.


Fresh Start

There is something special in the air.

Is it spring? [Checks calendar] This is the first day; however, I don’t think that’s it.

Maybe the NCAA Tournament? [Moves second TV to family room] I will be engorging all day amidst the sports world’s best weekend of the year; yet that’s not it.

Perhaps Kathy is cooking pancakes? [Sniffs several times] Alas, unfortunately no.

[Ponders for several minutes]

I’ve got it.

That something special in the air?

We’re thisclose to being out of the ‘Covid Times.’ So many people have had at least the first vaccine. In a few weeks anyone who wants to get ‘jabbed’ should be able to do so.

This nightmare was long. We’re all ready to get back to pre-pandemic life. It’s natural to be ‘over it.’ Yet, we can’t rush to the end. Stay diligent. Stay respectful. Stay patient.

For. Just. A. Little. Longer.

Soon you’ll be able to smell the roses… without wearing a mask..


Helping Hand

It’s amazing how – during the most trying times – the love people typically bury deep in their hearts shines through brightly.

Politics? Head to opposite corners and argue for 18 months why one candidate is a buffoon and the other is the perfect choice to lead us out of this malaise we’ve endured since the last guy took office.

Religion? One side: ‘The Bible is a bunch of made-up stories; why is there no historical evidence… oh, and what about evolution?’ The other: ‘It’s about having faith to believe in something you can’t see and is bigger than the brain can comprehend.’

Sports? “You’re blind, ref.” “Hey, quarterback: you stink.” “You won today’s game, but when you wake up tomorrow, you’ll still be a graduate of [insert university], and that will always suck.”

When there’s a disaster, though, people set aside these petty differences and graciously help those in need.

The first Farm Aid, with Willie Nelson and friends, raised $9 million in 1985 – and it’s still going strong. People contributed more than $200 million while watching America: A Tribute to Heroes, broadcast in 210 countries just 10 days after 9/11. A Houston Texans football star asked his Twitter followers to send money for Hurricane Harvey relief in 2017 and $37 million poured in to the JJ Watt Foundation.

A lot of vitriol spewed forth from many sides during the past year: mask or no mask… science vs politics… legitimate or fraudulent election. Then last week, the state of Texas endured its coldest temperatures in 30 years – and the power grid froze as solid as the ice that covered our freeways, leading to widespread blackouts.

Our house had no electricity for 43 hours and no running water for five days. Yet two miles away, some neighborhoods never had any issues. Once the roads cleared, friends in those areas offered to bring us food, provided drinking water and filled gallon jugs so we could flush toilets. People around the country called, texted or emailed to make sure we were safe. Clients reached out to see how we were doing.

My hope is one day it won’t take a monumental moment for humans to care deeply for others. Love is built into our DNA. We need to let it out more often.