Garage Sale Ethics: Lessons Learned Over 40 Years

It’s like a slow-motion drive-by shooting, only less friendly.  They are the dealers—the arch-enemy of the true garage-saler. You’re sitting on your lawn-chair beside three coffee makers, two toaster ovens and half an illegal lawn jart set. Your garage sale just opened at 9 AM. You know it’s 9 AM because the dealers have been knocking on your door for a solid hour. “Do you mind if I take a quick look?” “I’ve got to take my son to daycare, but I’d love to see what you’ve got.” “Come on, you’re up anyway! Open up!” For the rest of that Friday morning and into the afternoon, you’ll get to relive that wonderful grade school feeling of being passed over for the kickball. Cars crawl by and decide if you’re worth choosing or not. Some drivers might politely nod, some avoid eye contact. Some just stare at you like you’re trying… Read More…

Taking Back Boston

I made a commitment immediately after I experienced the terrorist attacks in Boston last year that I would be back this year.  It was so important for me to take back Boston after running 4 marathons for Dana Farber.  In addition, it was the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge’s 25th anniversary and my 5th consecutive Boston Marathon.  Hell yes I was going back! For those of you who know me, I don’t run for me. I run because I can and I run for the greater cause of eradicating cancer.  Ok…maybe selfishly I run so I can have the occasional beer or Oreo and not feel so bad about it. Every year the day before the marathon, DFMC has a pasta dinner for its runners, families and friends.  This year was an especially emotional event due to the 25th anniversary and the bombings in Boston.  Darby Stott who ran in the… Read More…

The Quarter Million Dollar Student Athlete

College is fun.   It’s a time of liberation and discovery.  It’s a time to develop self-awareness, accountability, empowerment.  What any of us wouldn’t give to go back to college? Watching March Madness always reminds me of that liberation, joy and jubilation.  It propels me back twenty plus years to a time when we were students and the Fab Five were rocking at Michigan. We jammed into Crisler Arena bouncing up and down, partying at our friends’ houses and storming South U at our victories or near victories.  What pride we had in watching our fellow students represent our great University in the hunt for a title. The debate as to whether or not to pay college athletes has been ongoing for years.  At its core it’s a simple argument.  Student athletes bring so much revenue from the two big sports of basketball and football and they deserve to share in… Read More…

Old Passions in New Hands: The Ausmus-Abrams Effect on the Tigers and Star Wars

Opening Day has always been much more than the start of a new baseball season. For the players and teams, it marks a new opportunity. For some, it is a chance to put physical or statistical shortcomings behind them. For others, it’s finding someway to harness past success and release it in time for a brand new campaign. And for many, it’s the first taste of playing in front of the tall buildings. From the fan perspective, Opening Day is a celebration of the past, and a time to party and look towards the possibilities of the future. Who will surprise? Who will disappoint? Is our team destined for play in October? Here in Detroit, I don’t think there’s been a more intriguing Opening Day than this year’s in 2014. Considering what Jim Leyland did here in his eight seasons of managing and considering what he didn’t accomplish, Brad Ausmus… Read More…

Bad Ads and Worse Puns for Rick Snyder: Inside the Koch Brothers’ War-Room

Always a fan of strange ads, I thought I’d deconstruct the possible creation of this beauty–a close second to Rick Snyder’s scuba-diving Super Bowl ad (link). Needless Disclaimer:  The following transcript could have been secretly recorded in a war-room–detailing the plan for the first wave of ads to re-elect Michigan’s Governor Snyder.  You never know… [Sound of door opening and bowing and scraping.] Koch 1:  “Okay boys, lay it on me.  Whaddaya got?” Slappy:  “Pardon sir?” Koch 2:  “In Michigan, son, in Michigan.” Slappy 1:  “Oh.  Well we own most of the senate and a lot of house members.” Slappy 2:  “And we’re taking over most of the public schools and are funneling tax dollars to Pearson Publishing for the cyber-school scam.” Koch 1:  “No no no.  I mean tell us the big plan for Ricky boy.” Slappy 1:  “Who?” Koch 2:  “Snyder.  Rick Snyder!  You know the governor.  The… Read More…

Once Cherished Detroit Journalist Turned Thoughtless Blogger – The Tipping Point of Mitch Albom’s Generational Supremacy

I’ve had a gripe with Mitch Albom for a long time. Like many, I used to be a huge fan. Tuesday’s With Morrie made me cry and The Five People You Meet in Heaven made me wonder, gasp and smile. He used to be “our guy” on ESPN’s Around the Horn or Outside the Lines. And—as a New Jersey transplant—he was the champion of Detroit when others were kicking us while we were down. Then he lied about a little detail in a Free Press article… Will Albom’s woes taint journalism? It was a small detail, but it was lying nonetheless. And since then—- A once staple column in the Detroit Free Press, Mitch Albom’s weekly Sunday pieces have tended to follow a stagnant, boring and Kale-infuriating formula in recent years. If he isn’t writing books about how scared of death he is, or he isn’t dropping an article touting… Read More…

Do you have a “beautiful question” you’d like to share with the world?

Today, March 14, is “Question Day 2014,” in honor of that master questioner Albert Einstein, who was born on this date, 135 years ago. Einstein is known for his curiosity and passion for questioning. He told us, “The important thing is not to stop questioning” and urged us to “Question everything” and “Never lose a holy curiosity.” I happen to be very interested in questioning myself. My book, A More Beautiful Question, is all about the surprising power of questioning to transform our lives and spark big breakthroughs. The book was published last week by Bloomsbury and now, of course, I’m in full promotion mode. And that’s why I couldn’t just let Einstein’s birthday pass by without marking it. An official Einstein’s birthday / Question Day connection was made in 2008 when National Question Day was declared by an entity called the Inquiry Institute. This year, in partnership with the nonprofit… Read More…

For Those Who Don’t Speak Spy: The Case for “World is Not Enough”

Chanukah 2000 was a pivotal moment in my life. One of those fulcrums in the space-time continuum. I remember it vividly. My family was in Memphis, Tennessee visiting my cousin. The trip marked my first time in Memphis, which would spark an interest and appreciation for the blues and Elvis Presley that would stretch well into later years; motivating more trips to the heart of the mid-South and grizzly versions of “Heartbreak Hotel” at karaoke bars across the nation. In addition to those very cultural pillars established that Chanukah, I received two gifts that would mold my childhood and shape much of my adolescence and adulthood. We don’t really do gifts anymore on Chanukah, and I appreciate that, because that’s not what the holiday is about, but as a kid, I would not complain, for Chanukah in 1998 I received two video games for my then-brand-new N64. The first was… Read More…

“Mr. Lincoln, All the Ladies Like Whiskers…” Long Beards, Nostalgia & Entrepreneurship

Listen to our podcast with beard-entrepreneur, Doug Geiger, founder of the beard-care and philosophy website canyouhandlebar.com… It’s hard to find many statues honoring a fashion expert, but in Westfield, New York you’ll find one dedicated to an eleven year old adviser to the president. Abraham Lincoln, in addition to his many accomplishments as a statesman, orator and joke-teller was also a bit of a trendsetter.  Grace Bedell, an 11 year-old fan during his presidential run, wrote to him and famously recommended the candidate grow some facial hair, “All the ladies like whiskers.” And while women wouldn’t have the vote for another 55 years, Lincoln made the shrewd decision to court the nation’s wives. In honor of Presidents Day, let’s look over the 20% our commanders-in-chief who have sported facial hair, and you’ll see a pattern at 16 through 27. Aside from the sideburns of John Quincy Adams and Martin Van… Read More…

Walt, Jim and George: The Wonder of Storytelling

I just saw “Saving Mr. Banks”. To my surprise, it was nothing like “Saving Private Ryan”. Regardless, it was a good flick. Without spoiling much, Walt Disney ends up convincing writer P.L. Travers to hand over the rights to her beloved “Mary Poppins”. Throughout the film, Ms. Travers struggles in letting her characters go to be turned into a typical, jolly, Disney musical filled with laughter, joy, cheer, redemption—all of the things that Ms. Travers knows all too well rarely find their way into the truths of the world. There is a line in the film, where Ms. Travers is told that Dick Van Dyke, “one of the greats”, will be playing the character of Bert. Her response is that of pretentious laughter as she tells her silly American counterparts that Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness are the greats, not slap-stick-happy Dick Van Dyke. At which point, I wanted to… Read More…

Kid Rock, Costco and Paying Dues: Keeping First-Class Without Sacrificing Coach

An American buying a Lotto ticket seems a bit redundant. After all, in the millions of years of evolution (or few thousand years–depending on which Texas schoolbook you’ve got approved) what are the odds that you’ll be born in a century with indoor plumbing, electricity and fabric softener? Then factor in that you’ll most likely not be born somewhere between the Atlantic and Pacific, north of the Rio Grande.  Instead you’ll land where 50% of the world is born–a place where you survive on $2.50 per day or less–or nearly three scratch-and-wins. (source) So as you tsk-tsk high gas prices and the lawn-service guy who’s ripping you off (causing you to get so upset you nearly spill that $4 mocha) remember the cost of being in a club. Not far from my house is the prestigious Oakland Hills Country Club–or to golf fans, “The Monster.” It’s been the site of… Read More…

“The Returned,” A Great Show to Read — Even in French

TV is getting to be annoying.  Like never before, it interferes with our personal lives.  We have no time for our chores after work, for example.  Maybe we have to clean our kitchens, bathe our kids, even feed our kids, but there are just too many TV commitments.  Just last night, for example, I set out to make dinner for my three little ones, so I baked the chicken tenders, boiled the noodles, and then Almost Human debuted, followed by The Walking Dead, and then came The Talking Dead.  At 11 pm, I went to turn off the kitchen lights to go to bed and I saw my three little girls, patiently sitting at the table, waiting for dinner.  (Before you call social services, I’m only kidding.  I remembered to feed them before Talking Dead at 10.) Now there are many ways to escape strict network schedules.  Any show can be DVR’ed,… Read More…

Go Pick on Someone the Size of a House: “Bullying” in the NFL

Yet another victim has fallen into the hungry maw of bullies. Another Rebecca Sedwick? Another Phoebe Prince? Thankfully, this is a man who did not die by his own hand, but still martyred himself to make us aware of an insidious problem. Jonathan Martin, an offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins, endured a hardscrabble life, with nothing to go on but the example of a struggling Harvard professor for a father and a mother scraping by as a corporate lawyer. He grew to be a whisp of a figure, a mere 6’5″, 312 pounds, living no doubt on Ramen noodles and a paltry $390,000 salary in 2012. He was constantly mocked at work–at one point forced to pay for the expensive meals of his teammates. Ironically, it was at the lunch table that he’d had enough. He sat down, and everyone at the table got up. That was it. Off… Read More…