Made America Great Again

Here we are again. We’re back. We’re back to the Great Depression. Back to civil unrest. Your George Floyd is my Rodney King. How does a single victim spark a riot?

The one true reason riots hit the streets is economics. Poverty and unemployment brew violence. You can point a finger at racism, but ignorance and bigotry lead to community and organization. Riots are rage and disorder. Dis-oOo-or-rrderr.

At the time of the LA Riots, the unemployment rate in affected LA was up to 18% with a poverty rate of almost 45%. Today, we have 40 million people unemployed with the most galactic gap in wealth of any society. Civil wars are about poverty.

Economics is the distribution of resources. When we’re forcibly stripped of our resources and our leaders leave to let us die, it only takes a single split end in the hairs of justice to burst into flames. This ain’t brain surgery. Test it for yourself. Find a really hungry pregnant lady and then smack the french fries out of her hand. Hold onto your riot shield.

Riots and societal chaos is beyond easy to prevent – Potato. Taters were once viewed as too ugly to be edible. It wasn’t food. King Frederick II (aka Old Fritz) used reverse psychology to create perceived value in the potato and then stealthily allowed peasants to steal from his fields. He fed them. Old Fritz reinvented the tater and now we can all have lots of tots about it.

You may see racism. You may see injustice and a putrid abuse of power. You should see that you’re poor. You should see how easily power is taken from you. You need to see that old laws and out-dated economics has a knee on your neck. We need to be a culture where all persons have dignity and no one is too poor to live. It’s safer. Heck, it’s even prettier. I like pretty.

Alas, here we are. History repeating itself. As promised.

Everyone Has A Story

Sonder is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. We each have our own motivations, values, friends, etc. We’re all living our own story.

What’s yours?

I was at my usual happy hour bar…where everybody knows my name. The bartender seemed unusually emotionally down. I sipped my wine and asked her, “Something wrong? You seem a bit low energy.” She said, “No…I’m fine. I’m good” with a distant blank gaze. So I asked, “In all your years bartending, what’s your worst experience?” She hesitated then lit up. She spoke a mile a minute, fuming about the most terrible customers taking advantage of her. I gently nodded to encourage her to keep going. When she got to the part of her story where she finally stood up for herself, I gave her a big smile. Her mood changed.

She went home and spent the weekend cleaning her home. The next day, she popped into work with her hair nicely done and makeup tidy. She returned poised and beautiful because someone noticed…and someone listened.

One-to-one conversations are the most powerful. It’s where we’re the most vulnerable. I love it. Whether it be lunch, a walk, or happy hour… One-to-one. There’s no other audience and you must tell a story. In all your years, what’s yours?

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Mortified then Magic

Imagine you’re brought on stage to sing along with your favorite band. You’re swept up in the moment. Rock on. Then you fall flat on your back in front of thousands. Yes, and…

Every moment can be beautiful depending on how we choose to react.

Long time ago, I had a friend named Jerry. Everyone loved him because of he was always happy to join you. He lived by “yes, and…” Every embarrassing moment became an enjoyable laughing memory. He dared.

Jerry would ride his bike across counties to see friends. He was a free-spirit. He hopped on his bike from LA to Irvine, slipped at the freeway off-ramp, and crushed his chest. He died.

Jerry’s funeral was big with family and friends a plenty. When friends gave their eulogies, stories of Jerry were met with so much laughter.

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou.

We choose. We can make a moment, or be mortified by it.

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Tone of Voice

We’re all essentially singing. The quality of our interactions and relationships has more to do with the tone and rhythm of our voice rather than the words we say.

George Carlin is the greatest stand-up comedian of all time. He held attention and poked into the hearts of millions. Jon Stewart clued into Carlin’s uniqueness. It was all in his voice.

Stewart: “It’s interesting, you know. As I watch you now and through all the years of listening to your albums and things, your fascination with language…it’s so apparent. Watching your work is like almost like watching a musician. You know the way you weave words and use language for emphasis…”

Carlin: “…what we do is oratory. It’s rhetoric. It’s not just comedy. It’s a form of rhetoric and with rhetoric you look and listen for rhythms. You look for ways to sing at the same time you’re talking…”

The power of voice is how we carry it. Self-awareness in how we’re delivering our voice determines our results in life. Voice is more than an avenue to fame.

Chris Voss was an FBI hostage negotiator who had to talk to the nastiest and most violent killers terrorizing our world. Voss experienced the highest-staked conversations – “Give me money or I’ll kill everyone!” He never won with logic. He learned to set the tone. Voss coined the secret as the “Late-night FM DJ voice.”

We all have unique and individual texture in our voice. The listener hears range. Opera is the exaggeration. Subtleties make the difference. When we control our inflections, we direct our own results.

Voice ain’t found. Practice.