When a word or phrase is used too often, it can lose its punch. Consider Joseph Campbell’s oft-quoted, “Follow your bliss,” which seemed breathtaking the first time we heard it. Today’s buzzword is, of course, change. It’s taken a bit of a beating in the past weeks, which is a shame. When an outrageously creative change agent provides positive leadership the impact can be stunning—as the following story shows.
Antanas Mockus had just resigned from the top job of Colombian National University. A mathematician and philosopher, Mockus looked around for another big challenge and found it: to be in charge […] Continue Reading…

Earlier this year, the Las Vegas Sun ran a brilliant piece by Tom Breitling which began, “The economic news is relentless. Home foreclosures. Teetering mortgage companies. Tottering airlines. Brands that once rode high are going bankrupt. Job losses. Dangerous levels of public and private debt. If we’re not in a recession, there’s no denying that our economy does not feel good, which means this is not the time to be paralyzed in front of the TV. Look at the world in a new way, and build value for the future. Which, the way I see it, means it’s a […] Continue Reading…

Since my Do Talk To Strangers Policy is a vital component of traveling, I began to consider how I actually go about it. I realized that some of it is purely intuitive. For instance,  when a stranger plunks down next to me on an airplane, I take a breath, take a look and see if I’m moved to start a conversation. Most of the time I get it right. Once in a while, I know  from my opening question that  my seatmate is inclined toward solitude and I stop there. 

Whether you’re standing in line at the post office […] Continue Reading…

One New Year’s Day during my daughter’s college years, she called to  tell me about her celebration the night before. “The party I thought was going to be fun wasn’t,” Jennie said, “and the one I thought was  going to be boring was terrific.”

“What a great metaphor,” I replied. 

“Oh, Mom,” she groaned, “you think everything is a metaphor.”

She was right, of course. I love metaphor and think they’re highly underrated as learning tools. I’m not alone in thinking so. In his wonderful book, Growing a Business, Paul Hawken suggests that the best training for running a business is gardening. I […] Continue Reading…

Last Saturday I flew to Austin, TX to visit my daughter and her family in their new hometown. Before we went to their house, I got the mini-tour. When I commented on all the people we saw who were running, walking or bicycling, Jennie said, “This town isn’t about buying stuff; it’s about doing stuff.” I liked it already. I got even more interested when Hector exclaimed, “What I love about this place is all the little independent businesses.”
Those words were barely out of his mouth when we passed a parking lot where there was a shiny Airstream trailer […] Continue Reading…

They’re baaaaaack! Those annoying Internet flashing banner ads that disappeared for a while have returned with a vengeance. They make my eyes cross and my head ache. They do not make me think, “Oh, that looks interesting. I’d better check it out and see what I’m missing.” Same goes for local tv ads that are broadcast at twice the volume of regular programming. And do you know anyone who adores automated phone systems?
Also rating high on my Annoyance Index is my local supermarket. I only shop there for a few things that the delightful Trader Joe’s can’t supply. A […] Continue Reading…

My love affair with  Dale Chihuly began about a decade ago when I stumbled upon a public television airing of Chihuly Over Venice. I had no idea who Chihuly was, but five minutes into watching and I was spellbound. I grabbed a videotape and popped it into the recorder sensing that what I was about to see was worth seeing again.

“In the moment of knowing a live,” says Ray Bradbury, “intensify it.” That’s just what I did, making it a personal project  to learn everything I could about this prolific artist. Since I like to spice up my travels […] Continue Reading…

Have you visited Inspiration Station yet? My plan for that part of the site is to explore different places from an entrepreneurial point of view. The current locale is one of my favorite places—Venice, Italy. I’ve been thinking about Venice since I wrote the pieces there, so I was particularly intrigued by a story in the latest issue of Ode magazine. 

It’s a short piece about a women’s prison on Giudecca Island, which is a short distance from mainland Venice. The Santa Maria degli Angeli project is a wildly successful enterprise run by the prisoners who have a garden, greenhouse […] Continue Reading…

There are only two reasons I bother to set my alarm clock: an early flight or CBS Sunday Morning. Since my local tv station carries this unfailingly informative program at revolving times (it can start anywhere from 6 AM to 7:30 AM) setting my alarm is a calculated guess. 

I am kind of a latecomer to this program. In the days when Charles Kuralt headed it, my friend Chris Utterback would often call afterwards to discuss something she’d seen on the show. Since turning on the television wasn’t part of my Sunday morning ritual, I relied on her to give […] Continue Reading…