View From the Retirement Bridge – How to Avoid Becoming an Angry Old Man

I have been much in the past. I was a student,an activist, a soldier, a programmer, a manager of technology and finally a managing partner of a 2400 person consulting business. That last role was the height of my career – leading a $1B business for a number of years. When I left that role I started down a journey that sometimes felt like a free fall into a series of jobs that eroded my confidence and my pride. It was a dark time wherein I had to remain silence while my integrity was challenged by people I worked for. Eventually, I stopped and became an independent consultant.

During that time I  noticed that my view of life was shifting towards the negative. I became what I always detested, an old angry man constantly challenging the richness of my life, my family and my friends. During this journey I was learning lessons that ultimately changed my view of my current life and made peace with my younger, more glorious past life.

Lesson 1-Relearn Humility and Kindness

Sad to say, but I did not know anymore what it was to appreciate what I have, become humble and share that joy with others. By learning that I was one, like many I returned to my roots of humility while helping others. For many years prior to my success, I was humbled by the life I had been given. A life long partner and lover, children, simple but adequate house, car and work. As I grew into  my success, my life more and more became my work and the other aspects became secondary. I became more self-important and less kind to those that had less.

It took walking away from that life, and struggling again, dealing with deaths and unseen disappointments to bring me back to my humble origins. Yet that humility was a happy moment because it also highlighted what was really important life and pushed me to give back and help others. It made me whole again.

Lesson 2- Do not stop learning and strive towards wisdom

Like most people to begin to climb down the mountain of success you begin to feel invisible and less relevant. One day you were in critical meetings, or in the press, the next day people were not inclined to return calls or just did not see you. You would go for interviews and see that the interviewer was simply doing his/her job ticking off questions, but not hearing you and seeing past you. You felt that your own children did not see you as they were,rightfully, trying to move ahead in their own careers and relationships.

You felt your edge get dull. You were slower, your ideas not so enthralling, your concepts fairly average and not so inspiring. Then one day you realized that you still no attained wisdom. That is that with all of your knowledge, facts, figures you still could not attain a level of understanding that you could impart to others, to help them as they struggled.

So you decided to first, catch up, refine your skill of idea creation and above all, your innovation. Problem solving became a challenge once again, finding more than one answer to common problems was another sign of wisdom and above all the joy of learning was back.

This process led you back to a sense of relevance. You were what you thought ! How great was that!

You applied another skill  you thought you lost – listening. Soon your writings improved, age became a non-issue as useful new ideas never get old.

Lesson 3- Ask for forgiveness

To totally rid yourself of the anger you need to forgive those that made you angry in the first place. Tale away the responsibility from them and put it on yourself and forgive.

You then need to forgive yourself. It’s not that hard when you realize that all that you did and said in the past was your choice. And now you have the choice to forgive

Lesson 4 – Reinforce Your Integrity

Along the way you may have questioned your decisions relative to your personal integrity. You know that just questioning was a hit on how you lived your life before you were successful. You promised to always hold personal integrity across all aspects of work. Afterall, that was your criteria for receiving the rewards of your labor.

It is just as important at this stage in life to hold onto what makes you, you. To see the boundaries and to not listen to the noise that surrounds you from others. Stay the course in all that you do now. A basis of love for your wife, children your entire family has to be one that is first honest with yourself. Compassion and kindness and giving must also be based on personal integrity. The use of the question why am I doing this needs to be asked regularly. Before you know it you will feel like you felt on he first day of a new job.

That’s it. Not complex, but painful to remember. What the saying – if it is not easy than it must be worthwhile.

An Old Veteran’s Pespective on Veteran’s Day

I have seen much in the seven decades I have been on this earth. I am a historical observer and sometimes a participant in historic events.

I was in Woodstock in high school. My friend and I made the trek hitching from Wall Street(where we worked) to Bethel, NY. Jumping over the fence and merging with thousands of people, wearing the most colorful clothe I have ever seen. I was like a Renaissance Fair, less knights and jousting. Long hair, period pieces from the time of the Civil War to the medieval era. No shoes, and a lot of moccasins.

The music was the essence of spirit. Tall loudspeaker towers, some people dangling on bars and the earth would shake when a bass note was played. Depending where you sat there was a latency until ears were penetrated. That is because of the long hair and distance from the stages. and height of the speakers. So, you just closed your eyes and flew over the ground until you were sitting below the singers.

People swayed as one, looking like wheat fields reacting to a light wind. No one was singing around me, since most voices were lost in the previous hours of shouting and singing. So we all listened and watched our youth disappear in the only concert of its king. From this day on, all of us went our separate ways, some to war, some to march against the war, and some just left the US for years.

After Kent State, I decided to leave and search for my roots and my homeland of Israel. I reduced every thing I owned to a medium back pack, five paperbacks and some silver dollars I received at my Bar Mitzvah.

A friend and I boarded Icelandic Air and landed in Amsterdam. It was the still the Sixties and the jumping off place was Amsterdam. Actually it was around the Dam Plaza, a counterculture assembly point from all over the world. Steve and I bought the requisite motorcycles, loaded our backpacks onto the bikes and noisily took off.

After a month, Steve decided to go south to Morocco. I could not go since I was born in Israel wherein even my American passport could not hide the fact that I was born into Israel’s first war and independence.

I returned to Amsterdam looking for a job and landed one in an American bar, playing piano, background music to loud groups. I would get a tip anytime I could recall a college alma mater, country and western songs for the US servicemen, or just plain blues for every one else. I then went on to other European capitals until it was time to go home to Israel to finish my studies.

Four  years after Woodstock and like Woodstock I was half buried in the mud, my face choking on muddy water each time a shell hit the ground. This was the Golan Heights a day into the Yom Kippur. Now I was observing the bloody mess of my unit after the Syrians decided to increase the frequency of shells to saturate the field we were on.

After the first day, I was a veteran. I saw enough to fill books but knew I would not be able to tell this story for at least another decade or so. Observers like me see so much that some times words cannot encapsulate what you felt. For survival your mind looks for nooks and crannies to bury the sights and sounds. Kind of a safety factor similar to the ones doctors have.

And so the old veteran if finally reaching back, pulling out observations and putting them now, five decades later, in context if to justify the humanity that remained.

A grandson, sits on my knee and asks me what it was like. I close my eyes pull out the script I prepared ten years earlier that hides much of the truth. It mostly consists of talking about others as if that will retain the distance from the ugly truths.

The child is content to hear the stories of others, but I know and fear that one day he will ask me about my adventures. I have not script for that, just a series of observations that have lost much of their clarity, thank you age.

No Pivot Expected From Trump

The word ‘unprecedent’ has become a label for everything this President does. It used to have a good connotation, but given his actions to date, it has become a word that strikes fear in most. It is evidenti that Trump will continue to do and say bad things. He will continue to deconstruct his predecessor’s legacy. He will continue to live in his world of lies, but mistrust everybody else, even his closest friends and family.

The reason is that for the majority of his life Trump was never a member of society. He lived in his world constructed by his father in order to become his father successor. Not even his brothers and sisters were a part of his world. In living in your own world for so long you develop your own sense of reality. If you have the money, you can construct a tower which rises above others so that you literally feel the class difference every time you go up the elevator.

In this world, Trump read as little as possible and watched TV to understand the outside world. In his world everything was about the next deal. You did not prepare, you could count on force, physical presence to overcome objections and make a deal. You never took responsibility for anything, you always found a way to divert the blame on others.

Since Trump kept little if any records he could always depend on alibi that he was not there or not connected. The last bit is ever so true. Trump is not connected to anything except bright lights and TV. He reprises his role on The Apprentice even as he conducts himself as President. But he is not President. He is his fathers son, ruthless, bigoted and cruel.

He feels that business is war, yet has no idea of war. He feals his whole family is expandable in order to attain success. He alsways has an escape plan. He also has a reserve of hate and lacks any empathy. In short he is the anti-President. He feeds on rabble rousing and an air superiority, which his followers love.

To resist Trunp and remove him, you do not abandon your role as senator or congressman. Your 15 minutes of rebellion will end by the next morning newscast. So I ask those in Congress, complete the job, elminate this Frankenstein you created, bury the notes and lets hope he nver rises again.

Ethics, Morality, and Robots

Robot technology is entering the office or that segment of work that makes up more than 50% of the work we do. Call it the information or knowledge work, a service delivery of just basic support work.  The rapid introduction of workflow led to process automation and finally machine learning and artificial intelligence. Interestingly, not in the order. We have been working with some framework of artificial intelligence going back to the dawn of the computer. For some of us that arrived just when programming languages were developed to resemble spoken languages, we could see that ultimate replacement of basic and repetitive work that required little or no intelligence to mimic with a computer. Then large computers came on the scene we were ready to move to higher levels of processing and ultimately decision making.

So what does this mean. The business gains an ultimate tool in its competition with others. It now has a fully dynamic resource that needs no sleep, will not fall down on the job. More importantly, when volumes go up, you can dial up the speed of the robot or clone another one or two. When a business goes down, you can save money by never having to fire the robot. Over time robots not only become the permanent workforce but possible the ageless and the ‘forever worker’. It means that when new products are introduced, the working robot can compare old work to new work, create the steps and the adjoining quality assurance guidelines.

Now more than ever we need a moral and ethical core embedded in each robot. This is firmware that cannot be altered and removed. Every process step, every ‘thought’ filters through this core set of commands – digital ten commandments.

Having learned from the Bible, the first crime committed was by Cain and Abel. Thus ‘do no harm’ can be a foundational rule.Harm can be further defined beyond physical –  for example financial, do not pollute, respect all living things.

Imagine that quality control and testing is done on these robots in the form of scenarios presented with an ethical or moral dilemma.  Until the Robot passes all of the scenarios it cannot be released into society.

Stay tuned for more…

Why America First Will Never Work

The day of globalist vs nationalist is over.  That is to say, that there are no isolated countries on our planet. Even North Korea is connected to the internet and is not isolate. Similarly, every country’s GNP is tied to the world as a whole. It has not been generated within the borders of any in the country in at least 100 years. There is not one economy on earth that can say that is self-sufficient.

Whether as a country you need raw materials, weaponry, education, export your goods, get foreign investments, you are dependent on others outside your borders.

For the US, the global manufacturing companies have constructed a global supply chain where they source parts and resources from the least cost countries. They then do the actual assembly in the country which has the lowest cost labor. Thus Apple or Nike designs the product in the US, parts are manufactured all over the world on a precise on-demand basis then assembled in China. Even the auto manufacturing used to have its suppliers within a few miles of the factory. No more. They manufacture some of the cars in the US, even assemble it, but are dependent on other countries for other parts. The internet allows them to manage inventory and reduce waste in, often, real time.

Thus we can never step out of the global community and say we will go our own way. This idea of isolation when it comes to affecting air, earth, and water is bogus. Again, there is only one community we are part of – the global community. We have no choice anymore in that position. No country is an island due to the introduction of virtual vs physical.

Thus by not participating in the Paris Accord, our companies will be subjected to pollution requirements in all countries that are part of the accord, and thus not join in global standards set by all.

But how ridiculous to say America First for air and water when both do not have borders. Air and water flow freely across our globe thus it is foolish to say we will only focus on that part of the earth we call America. This is like being part of the problem or part of the solution. Really.

The New Consulting Model – On Demand Consulting

Due to the virtualization of everything, the Cloud, broadband, the gig economy we are entering the next phase of management consulting. After 100 years of consulting with the current model based on full time consultants, we are taking advantage of both the new definition of a job and new technology – we are adapting our sourcing approach to complement the full-time worker.

This is not accidental, it has been coming for some time and the last Recession was the spark that ignited the current revolution. How?

The classical model of consulting business was based upon hiring just the right amount of consultants that could bill approx 2000hrs/year/person. The economics were tied to a fixed cost and expenses. During good economic times the business would hire consultants to meet the demand. They could also reallocate consultants that completed work onto other work. Rates were high for the most part and the consultant, who owned the IP, was in effect in a position to replace full-time workers at the client’s business for project related work.

The first critical impact to the model was sometime in the 90’s when off shore consulting companies were vying for the commodity work – that is developement and implementation. The offshore came in with a low-rate business, somewhat of a on demand model where bodies were placed into accounts when work increased. Because their rate was so low, they could undercut the Big 4,5,6 on almost any large enterprise project. What ensued were major layoffs across the US consulting businesses.

The second blow was the Great Recession and the introduction of the Cloud operating on high band width lines. Another outgrowth of the great Recessiom was the emergence of many independent consultants, veterans of the largest firms, who understood the power of the internet, cloud, on-demand services and the desire of companies to flip their high fixed IT costs to variables. Since they, like other contractors had little overhead they would sign up or formulate quality, highly trained consultants at competitive rates.

Now the large consulting firms are beginning to see that they do not need to hire to capacity or over-utilization. Now they can draw upon its network of independent consultants on an on demand basis. By marking up the IC rate, they can make some money, but more important respond quickly to the market and to their clients, fill temporary roles at market base costs, and have assurance that the experience of the IC trumps the  increasing large investment in new hires.

The model will look like this going forward. There will be a core business that predominately contains product development, sales, business development, business management and some project management people. If the consultancy specializes, the specialist would also be part of the core. The remainder of the workforce would be housed in a closely monitored(scheduled) and managed virtual group(s). Incentives and other devices could be implemented so that these resources remain in the network.

Once you begin to conduct the business of consulting with more media channels (video) client/consultant distance begins to become less of an issue.


Syria, the EPA and Children

Wed, April 5, 2017

When you read this it would have been a week since chemical bombs were dropped on a rebel-held village in Syria killing men, women, and children. I would like you to focus on the children here (as difficult it is to watch suffocating children), because two days earlier, President Trump and EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt signed another executive order allowing the use of a chemical pesticide that the EPA’s own laboratories proved to be harmful to children and animals. Upon signing the order the President looked up to his right and smiling, handed the pen he just used to the CEO of Dow Chemicals.

Further to this event and the day before the bombing the Secretary of State announced that we cannot do anything about Assad and that the Syrian people will have to do something. The day after the bombing Shawn Spicer, the President’s spokesman blamed the Obama administration and its weak approach towards Assad, for the bombing and pictures of suffocating children.

Ok, so what does this all have to do with anything. I believe we are watching the ‘deconstruction’ of what makes America really great. Not that we should be the policeman of the world, or that we should stop every war that is out there, or that we need to spread our political system everywhere or that we should constantly preach the greatness of our Constitution. No, we are watching our own moral base as a nation become impervious to the wrong doing all around us.

Our forefathers must have been prescient in separating religion from state. I think they were counting on morality to be the final check and balance to the actions of the state. Well, we are facing a major moral test now. What are we going to do?

When I used the word ‘deconstruction’, I took it out of context. It was used by Steve Bannon, as ‘deconstruction of the administration,’ at a rally for conservatives. We are witnessing the deconstruction of moral truths that all parties ascribed too since 1776. We are told to equate religion with terrorism, we are told to equate nationality with people that are rapist and drug runners. We are told that women are still objects and that have still to prove themselves to men in the workplace. We are told that, while a man has total control of his body, women do not.

But the ultimate moral outrage comes from watching adults in our government and overseas ruin the lives of children today and for the future. These are beings that are born into chemical bombs dropping on them, playing in a field unaware of the poison they breathe. Or simply drinking water that appears so clean and taste so good but could lead to long-term maladies.
I often wonder if Trump a grandfather, or the parents and grandparents of children that sit in the Congress and Senate ever reflect on their decisions and what the impact will be not just to their constituents but on their familial legacy.

The operative word and the mission for the EPA are protection. In fact, it is the legal duty of the agency. Yet we are seeing the deconstruction of this agency resulting in the poisoning of rivers with coal dust, removing air pollution regulations, allowing for the drilling of more oil when none is needed and stopping the move towards clean energy. We are further told that all of this is being done to increase employment in the US (note – now that Trump is president he is accepting the Obama rising employment figuresI) I am pretty sure that if given the choice between living and having a job, I would opt for living, especially for my children. That last one, well we promised to do that with 150 other countries, who as one of two major polluters in this world can make the ultimate difference.

A consultant’s view of the ‘deconstruction of America’

I have often used the technique of deconstructing a business in order to break down the business into its fundamentals. It often means breaking down the business model first to see how the business ‘ticks’. We move onto the organization, process, technology and finally performance measures. At the end, we have components all strewn about. What may have been 200 years of activity, life and culture had not only been dissected but now lies, inert ready to be analyzed. From then we analyze these components and begin to rebuild, again starting with a new business model that will become the framework for the new construction.

Why do I bring this up – it is because I am witnessing the deconstruction of America by a President and his advisors set upon to ‘make it great again’.
In history, we call this anarchy with the added ingredient of chaos. Anarchy requires chaos to succeed else it will have opposition from rational thinking. Anarchy is not the end state of a nation or ideology but the means to reach some sort of new state based on whatever formulation of principles of some sort of order and law.

We have a President that has never known anarchy or for that matter any type of social upheaval. He does have an advisor that has studied this topic and through a history of being a lone voice, a prophet never listened to, has found a disciple. Not just any disciple, but one that had the means and lack of morality to bring this team to the most powerful office in the world.

While this may sound extreme, history has shown that it was a tactic by autocratic leaders going back to the Greeks. Similarly, when it was impossible to conceive of change through peace and or war, anarchy or self-destruction often allowed a country or people to wipe the slate clean and start again.

In my life I have witnessed war, peace rallies, protest under dictatorship, protest under a democracy, anarchists in the streets chased by police. I have seen much of the world and what we humans have put in place to control us, or to point us in a single direction and possibly avoid chaos.

But I have never seen what is happening in 2016-2017. It is almost like following a script from history. The president, as soon as he came to office executed on a mission to discredit the basic components of our democracy. He used the political ‘greed’ of the majority party to create a contract. Let me do my thing and I will support your agenda in Congress.

And so the show began. First the free and open media, or the primary tool of democracy was discredited. Then the voice of opposition (million person protests’, and then the ultimate – create chaos through the use of executive power – immigration, border walls, climate change and elimination of common sense regulations. If you notice there is a furious pace to these executive orders so as to foment increased chaos.

But history has shown us that if we stick to our principles of being human beings much can be,not only stopped, but prevented.

See the next blog

My Response To Providing the President Elect With the Benefit of the Doubt

Dear Editor

I would like to respond to the op-ed piece titled “Hate groups ignored for eight years” as both an American Jew and a veteran of the Yom Kippur War (1973).
I especially take umbrage with your conclusion, and I quote “Perhaps we owe Trump the benefit of the doubt in the same way Americans did for President Obama”.

If you look back in history it is precisely when we did give the benefit of the doubt to national leaders, Jews were either expelled from their homes or exterminated. To compare the small number of anti-Semites within the Occupy Wall Street protest to the 100+ white supremacist conference (in Washington DC) who pledged allegiance to Trump with a Nazi solute is more than a stretch, it is hurtful to the millions of Jews and Arabs (they are Semites too) in this country. More importantly, those in the conference, I believe were there to celebrate the increased level of hate crimes and anti-Semitic acts (Nazi symbols on cupcakes, really!) that have been reported since Trump has been elected. In other words they feel they and there hatred are now part of the American fabric.

I doubt that Obama or Pelosi were condoning the anti-Semitic sentiment of anyone in Occupy Wall Street, but rather were supporting the first amendment. I would compare Trump’s reaction to the nightly, protest of marchers in front of his Tower.
Most importantly I wonder how the current level of anti-Semitism and racism could have been avoided if our President-Elect would have conducted himself civilly (not pc) and denounced these hate group, before, during and immediately after the election. I also wonder what if Trump apologized to our current President for five years of undermining his very citizenship. If the language used during the election, founded on perpetual lies about American citizens and immigrants (I am an immigrant from Israel) was different and if the election was about not obfuscating the truth, but appealing to voters on positive change founded on our Constitution. Just wondering….

In reading your opinion I saw that you took the time to search for quotes that supported your argument, as well as caveat the reasonableness of your argument.
Nevertheless you were comparing two leaders and their response to hate.
I would argue that Obama, who was the receiver of Trumps racism ( birther movement) knows well that words matter, and words can also delude so that people act irrationally, regardless of past history and facts.

Michael Blum
Somers, NY

The Day After the Election of Donald Trump…Fall of our Discontent

We began our day in a deep depression. Even nature agreed with our mood as the dark gray skies hovered over the land of the free and the brave. What we witnessed last night was a classical switch and bait political extravaganza. Additionally, a scapegoating technique that worked so well for Hitler. From his entry into politics, Donald Trump identified a person(s) and ran a parallel treatment – demean them name call them and keep blaming them for everything that has gone wrong. Do not allow any one to interfere with your message, manage the media with an entertaining personality (a TV personality will do well) and keep this going relentlessly using lines and names that people can easily repeat. After awhile the people who follow you see what you see – an enemy and someone to hate.

When you have achieved the level of hate, you know that no decency or fact can penetrate that emotion. People will believe what every you tell them. The see this focused hate as the culmination of their frustration with leadership and country. The pure unfairness takes over any type of logic. The noise drowns out any type of clear thinking.

The entire election was about Trump and Trumps ideology and ideas. Hate and lack of fear and recriminations, bolstered by wealth, created an impervious candidate. You could not touch him even if you were the President of the US, the FBI or the CIA.

He did not stand up for America as he stood up for himself. But it will be hubris that will eventually have him come down in flames. For all of his promises to the hateful, they can just as easily turn on him when he defaults. The same mob he created will turn on him when he fails to deliver, when he fails to fill the gap that they see so clearly in their lives.

This can only be accelerated when his secrets are revealed. If those secrets in any way demean his supporters, their country or used to undermine the country, the mob will be vicious.

I believe the first 100 days will be spent in establishing his platform so that he can operate as freely as possible:

To that end keep a look out for the follow on steps of every dictator once they attain power;

  • Restrictions imposed on freedom of the press
  • Elimination of disloyal legislatures and Republican leadership
  • Wide spread changing of the miliary leadership
  • Elimination of social programs that he never depended on given his wealth
  • Ironically, the creation of a ruling class and a working classes
  • State run internet, TV and Radio

The only thing that can impede , but not stop his pace will be the checks and balances between the three power based in our government and the States.

Thus when most presidents say they will unite the country they do it. This president will make motions toward unity but I belive he will create an impenetrable platform to gain even more power.