Noah-isms: “The Best Things Don’t Expire”

Greetings.  This weekend marked a wonderful event in the life of our family as our daughter Carly had her Bat Mitzvah.  After a year of studying Carly read and chanted from the Torah (Old Testament), bringing her wonderful smile, warmth, creativity, and voice to a tradition that started very differently in Biblical times and today is carried on by Jews on nearly every corner of the earth.  It is an experience that's all about "coming of age" and becoming an "adult"–surrounded by family, friends, and the community.  And a remarkable moment that is filled with many hopes, dreams, and expectations…but not likely to include the regular cleaning of one's room.

As part of the service, Carly gave a short speech about her part of the Torah which happened to be the story of Joseph as a young man.  Many of us know him as the fellow who: (a) had the most stylish (and multi-colored) coat in the Bible, and (b) was the star of a very popular and long-running Broadway musical.  But it turns out that Joseph wasn't the nicest young man in the Holy Land, regularly boasting to his eleven brothers that he was the best and the brightest.  So Carly spoke about the importance of being kind, considerate, and making a difference in the world without calling attention to yourself.  And she shared her honest, caring, and humorous thoughts about sibling rivalry and the value of family.  It's really a great case of the eventual power of "servant leadership" and teamwork in bringing about change.  But in his early days Joseph so enraged his brothers that they first thought to do away with him and then settled for selling him into slavery in Egypt.  He would eventually rise to a position of great power and become a nice guy, but that's a story for another day.

And as part of the modern custom Carly received many wonderful and thoughtful gifts from family and friends to mark the occasion and her passage to adulthood. But the one present that really caught my attention was a book of coupons from her brother Noah who will have his Bar Mitzvah in two years.  It said on the cover: "COUPONS THAT DO NOT EXPIRE" and it included the following:

  • A coupon for breakfast in bed
  • Two coupons for back massages
  • A coupon to play with his PSP (game system) for an hour
  • Another to play with his PSP for an hour and a half

And a final coupon that would allow her to take any one thing from his room for an entire day.  All to be used whenever she chose to.


We win in business and in life when we honor and give new meaning to important rites of passage.  And when we realize that the best things in life don't expire.  Things like family, friends, community, an ancient book, a commitment to make the world a better place, and coupons for a back massage or to use our best stuff.


Politics as Unusual

Greetings.  It's mid-term election day in the U.S. and a chance for citizens to give their feedback to elected leaders.  It's kind of like getting a performance appraisal every two years for a host of things that are and aren't totally within your control. This includes a wide range of seemingly intractable challenges that require real leadership, innovation, collaboration, curiosity, open-mindedness, and even a bit of genius to resolve.  Skills that are in less than abundant supply judging by the behavior of most members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.  But, then again, nobody's forced to be a politician.  Though the picture below did give me reason to pause and question the central premise supporting this blog and all of my work to help companies and organizations to unlock the brilliance in all of their people.

If you're a regular reader of the Surrounded by Geniuses blog you know that I believe everyone has the potential to be a genius.  But our current state of political discourse makes me wonder if this notion needs to be amended.  

In a very basic sense, politics should be all about customer service and delivering compelling value in meeting the vital needs of constituents, the nation as a whole, and the world we must figure out how to share. And, it should be about acting responsibly in using limited resources to address these needs in new and better ways.  Because politics as usual isn't helping us at all.  And the folks who sign up for the job–and the egos and special interests that drive them–rarely have this purpose in mind.  In a place that should be all about servant leadership, it's striking that we find so few thoughtful leaders.

Politicians are geniuses
We win in business and sometimes in politics when we focus on doing the right things with a spark of genius.  And when we never forget what really matters to those we have the privilege to serve.

Cheers and please make sure to vote!