Scene 4: The GOOD LIFE tour rolls on

My family spent one week in Provence (Roussillon), south of France. It is a place with beauty, lovely homes, interesting village life, vineyards, incredible valleys and a wonderful climate. I enjoyed a picturesque scene daily during my late afternoon run.

The home of my wife’s childhood friend was our abode and it was pure relaxation. Many countries were represented with the 3 families including Sweden, France, Italy and America. The dinner and lunch conversations were always engaging! We didn’t even have to leave the property as it has everything for adults and kids; pool, huge lawns, swings, ping pong table, numerous outdoor terraces, toys and great food. One morning, we went to the village of Bonnieux (above) and another day my wife enjoyed a morning in Roussillon. It was a fabulous ending to a summer of pleasure.

My article on the 3 Scenes of the GOOD LIFE a few weeks back focused on the visual aspects of leisure in the summer time. This week (along with a few photos) I want to explain what A GOOD LIFE means to me.

The 10 Main Principles of A GOOD LIFE (not necessarily in this order):

1) Productive and Positive Person – One must contribute consistently to his/her family, community and the world in a positive way. We all make mistakes in life but the key is to learn from them and become a better person from it. If you lack this principle, every effort should be made to evaluate why and make the necessary personal improvements even if it takes years to see changes.

2) Family Oriented – In my book, family (both main and outer) should come first. Having a positive family around you makes life much easier. If you are in the unfortunate position of having mean spirited or unhappy family members, don’t be afraid to tell them so or if needed, disassociate yourself. I have seen numerous friends treated poorly or held down by certain family members yet not strong enough to do something about it.

3) Help Others – I will talk about this until the day I am no longer here as I consider this principle a must for a GOOD LIFE. So many of us are fortunate to be healthy and enjoying life and to not help those in need or less fortunate is pure selfishness. Both time and money are important. ( is one of many ways to give)

4) Work you are Passionate about - As we spend so much of our time working, having a happy and productive work life is important. If you are not satisfied with your occupation, seek out new opportunities by being bold and embracing change.

5) Friends - There is a saying by Williams James that goes “Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world”. Good friends are essential to having an interesting and worthy life. They can advise, make you laugh, help you in tough times, connect you with others, etc. Without my friends, my GOOD LIFE would be less interesting and less successful.

6) Choose Wisely for Marriage - The most important decision that most people will make so it needs to be treated as such. If you have not read my article on this topic, it can be found in the March archives. Choosing Wisely does not guarantee success but an unwise choice gives you little or no chance for happiness.

7) Network Effectively - I have not written on this topic but will by the end of 2008. I have always enjoyed meeting new and interesting people. Many of them are good friends and have benefited me immensely. Some are only acquaintances but we help each other. A select few I hardly see but we network for our mutual benefit. My network base is strong and continues to grow every year. The key is to network effectively in all situations so that you build up a base of contacts year after year. Most of these contacts should help you in some way throughout life and vice versa.

8) Maximize Benefits and Control Your Agenda (CYA) – Everything in life should have a BENEFIT. I repeat, Everything in life should have a BENEFIT. If there is no benefit, why do it? Occasionally people question this principle but then I ask them to give me an example of something that does not have a benefit. They never have a credible response. You will be able to read more on this critical life topic in the near future.

In addition, the best way to maximize benefits is by Controlling Your Agenda (CYA) which means living life the way you want to and not for others. It is wise to take advice or guidance from people you respect and have your best interests in mind. In the end, it should be your choice.

9) Mentor - My first mentor was a man that taught me to play basketball. I spent most of my teenage years playing basketball with him and talking to him. He is the main reason I was able to obtain a Division 1 scholarship for basketball which was the springboard for my GOOD LIFE. He is someone that I still keep in touch with and get inspired by. If you don’t have a mentor, seek one out. If your mentor is not benefiting you in a positive way, seek out a better person. Everyone should have at least one mentor throughout life especially in our younger years.

10) Living Abroad or Abundant Travel – Living in a foreign country for at least one year is something that more people should do and it usually enriches a life. It doesn’t always work out well but it has for me. If you decide to do it, don’t base it solely on emotion as I have seen many of those situations flame out rather quickly. Make sure to research and visit the country to evaluate how living there would be for a foreigner.

Since most people are not bold enough to take that step, travelling outside of your home country is essential. To embrace and learn about other cultures is what we need to have much more of in this world. Sweden ( is a great place to start for those USA citizens that have yet to leave the borders.

It is hard work to master all ten principles but aiming high for success in these areas will help you obtain the GOOD LIFE you desire.

Principle # 6 is the most important. An unwise choice in this area makes it difficult to live and maintain a GOOD LIFE.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Hours per day spent at the pool overlooking the valleys of Provence.

Where we enjoyed delicious lunches and fabulous dinners every day

Take the EMOTION out of it

When I talk about "Taking the emotion out of it", people often think I mean ALL emotion! Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Gswede term is one of my favorites and difficult for most people to understand or execute properly . I referenced it in my March 23, 2008 article titled "Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?.

Definition for "Take the EMOTION out of it"

For important decisions in life (marriage, car/house purchase, where to live, stocks/401K, relationships, friendships, etc) one should "Take the Emotion out it" in order to properly evaluate the huge step you are about to take. It requires "stepping outside of yourself" and looking at all the other elements regarding the decision WITHOUT the emotion and determining if your decision is a wise one. It should be a decision based in reality not emotion.

An emotional attachment to someone or something often makes a person forget about the potential downside and only focus on the upside. Emotion is a great thing but it has to be used with caution. Emotion with wise decision making is the best way to live life and often leads to success. Emotion with unwise decisions will give you a life at best, decent and at worst, miserable beyond belief. Who really wants the latter?

What my term DOES NOT mean is that you take ALL emotion out of the situation. Just every now and then. It is imperative that it at least be done when the decision is about to be made.

Two close friends in New York City have the BEST emotion I have ever seen. They are a joy to be around but have made critical relationship mistakes because they sometimes couldn't "take the emotion out of it". These types of people often have the toughest time executing my philosophy because emotion has been essential to their success in life. One of them is doing well now and has learned from his mistakes. I fear the other is still letting emotion dominate his life and I worry about his future happiness with his family.

With the current housing crises in America, how many people bought homes on EMOTION when the economy was good and low interest rates were abundant? With the foreclosures in America doubling since last year, that question is easy to answer. Did they ever consider that rates might go up? Economy might sour? Doing a fixed rate instead of a variable rate? Many have lost or will lose homes because of the lack of "taking the emotion out of it". Some will never recover and will have the aforementioned life I spoke of earlier.

An American friend fell in love with a beautiful Swedish woman and based on emotion, moved to Stockholm, Sweden. He never considered how tough life might be for a foreigner or how anti-foreigner many Swedish companies are or a host of other important things about moving here. Emotion ruled his decision. His time in Sweden has been tremendously rough and I don't foresee it improving.

Emotion got the best of me (only once) with a woman I was dating in the 90's. She was dynamic in every sense of the word and made my knees weak and my judgement cloudy on more than one occasion. I was emotionally attached. True to Gswede nature, I was able to "take the emotion out of it" every now and then and her true colors (i.e. often spoke negatively about her father but never said why) peaked through. They were hard to see but without removing the emotion from time to time, they would have been impossible to locate.

Once, she went crazy with a slight look of the devil in her eye. It was scary! After that display, I knew I could never be with someone who had what I considered demons from childhood. She now has children by different fathers and I cannot imagine that her life is what she planned it to be.

If you still don't understand my term or why it is important, consider for a moment women who are beaten by their husbands. As you probably know, many of the them stay in relationships until they are heinously battered or sometimes killed. Why? Emotion. They are not able to pull away until they "take the emotion out of it" and realize or someone helps them realize how destructive the characteristics of a wife beater are to a woman and her children.

Finally, a good friend in Stockholm understood my term promptly as his heart was aching for the woman he left in NYC. He knew they didn't belong together but emotion kept him tied to this woman and prevented him from moving on in life. I said to him one night at a basketball game, "can you try to take the emotion out of it and then see what you have"? He said, "if I do that, the decision is easy" and a burden seemed to be lifted from the satisfied look on his face. I think that moment helped him as he is loving life these days.

If you are not happy or your life is not advancing in the way you desire, chances are that emotion has ruled important decisions causing you to make unwise choices. Learning to channel your emotions wisely will help you avoid the needless drama that can:

a) make life difficult..... OR
b) waste precious time as life is short..... OR
c) cause tremendous pain in life.

Life is easier if you master the ability to "Take the Emotion out of it".

Don't be afraid to try it. You may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The emotion above is okay but for important life decisions, one must "Take the Emotion out of it", or risk the potentially dire consequences.


Above - Enjoying the beach, Below - Father and son watching the birds.

Our July holiday in Skåne (southern Sweden) was glorious. The weather doesn't always cooperate in summer but this year it did.

Being 45 feet (15 meters) away from the sea, there is nothing better than hearing the waves caress the night air as you drift off to sleep. Once awake, breakfast outside followed by the the beach or visiting friends. Late afternoon begins the family or friend dinners in the evening sun. A sprinkling of golf, running, tennis, writing and a lot of lounging makes the holiday complete.

My longtime friend from Boston visited with his Swedish wife and child. We had a wonderful week and their daughter was in heaven playing in the sea, exploring nature and splashing in the kids pool! The GOOD LIFE as he called it. Indeed.

My son's happiness in this lovely part of Sweden was infectious. He has grown up in a variety of ways with all the new nature experiences, family, friends, the sea and fabulous weather. It was a joy for my wife and I to witness.

Below are 15 pictures throughout the 3 weeks. As you continue down the page, you will see more photos in three scenes;

GOOD LIFE, Scene 1 - Boston and Stockholm friends together
GOOD LIFE, Scene 2 - Friends and Family from the first two weeks
GOOD LIFE, Scene 3 - Visiting friends on Donsö, Sweden (small island of 1200 in the west)

Since a picture speaks louder than words there is no need to elucidate further.

A toast to The GOOD LIFE.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

My son after a quick dip in the sea

My wife loves the outdoors

Gswede and son

Brother-in-law reading to my son

The beauty from the house in the south of Sweden

Our Stockholm friend with her 3 month old daughter

A summer walk to dinner with our friends from Boston

Bubbles fill my son with joy!

Enjoying an afternoon and evening at the summer house of our Stockholm friends in the south of Sweden. 4 couples (Stockholm and Boston) and a few friends spent the week together

Swedish friend (lives in Boston) with her daughter and playmate.

Aunt, Father in Law and girlfriend taking us out for a family dinner at the local restaurant. It has become a summer tradition

My son helping sister-in-law peel some potatoes for the family dinner

Brother-in-Law after one of his favorite activities

Returning from a day boating excursion in Donsö, Sweden. We were tired.

Our son really enjoyed the children of our Swedish friends in Donsö, Sweden

Good Life, Scene 1 - Friends from Stockholm and Boston, MA gathered for 1 week in the south of Sweden. Great weather, dinners together outside and kids in the sea/pool. A lovely week.

Good Life, Scene 2 - A couple of weeks in the south of Sweden with family/friends from the area and USA.

Good Life, Scene 3 - 2 days in Donsö, Sweden (small island of 1200 on the west coast) with Swedish friends that lived in NYC until 2004.

Boston Celtics – Misunderstood in a City that Frequently Sleeps

Watching the 2008 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angelas Lakers, it never occurred to me that Boston had 12 black players and a black coach.

Boston is consistently talked about when it comes to race relations especially in the area of sports. In numerous conversations personally and heard, the city has been accused of being anti-black in life and sports.

I lived in Boston in the late 80’s and the experience was uninspiring except for the fact that I met three of my dearest friends there along with their network over time. I have rarely heard anyone speak favorably of Boston other than those who grew up there and a handful of foreigners. If New York is the city that Never sleeps, Boston is a city that Frequently sleeps.

Despite Boston's blandness, its diverse yet segregated population, and lack of sizzle, I am grateful for the experience primarily because I wouldn’t have met my Swedish wife as one of those aforementioned friends introduced us!

I was treated well and experienced no overt racism in my almost 4 years although I did notice the underlying tension regarding interracial dating. At times, that tension was intense.

Being a former Division 1 basketball player, I have always respected Red Auerbach and known about his accomplishments. There is a lack of education regarding Red and the Celtic organization and this sports city suffers for it.

Reading the words below (click on link for full story) from Jason Whitlock’s wonderful article should open a few eyes.

What gets us through the good times and the bad times are our leaders, the men and women wise enough, bold enough and confident enough to recognize our differences, conceptualize our potential and act without fear of failure.

Because of Auerbach, the Celtics are one of America's most racially liberated institutions. Because Auerbach's thinking and approach were so ahead of their time, the Celtics are still to this day completely misunderstood.

Some of us still foolishly believe the franchise is anti-black solely because the Larry Bird teams were primarily white during an era when black players dominated the league.

The truth is the Bird teams were primarily white because it was the right thing to do at the time.

No different than Boston drafting the first African-American player in 1950.

No different than the Celtics starting the NBA's first all-black lineup in 1964.

No different than Bill Russell being the NBA's first African-American head coach.

A free mind is such a beautiful thing. You can say and do things others can't imagine.

Long before it was popular, Auerbach supported his once-in-a-lifetime center with a roster that made it easy for Bill Russell to lead and command most of the attention.

When Larry Bird came along, Auerbach did the exact same thing, stocking the Boston roster with players who easily fit into an environment Bird enjoyed

I think Larry Bird aggravated souls because he was so good along with being a white man in a predominately black NBA. It was a tough pill for many to swallow so they resorted to petty dislike and jealousy.

I have often heard that “Larry Bird is not or was not that good”.

Uneducated and complete Nonsense!

White, Black, Red or Purple, Larry Bird was a GREAT player. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn’t know basketball. He understood the game, had great leadership qualities, won 3 rings and always worked hard. Magic Johnson talked about Bird being the player that he feared the most. That alone should be enough to end any negativity about Bird’s talent.

Could I live in Boston again?

Probably not but it does have many positives for my family including architectural beauty, Martha’s Vineyard, fantastic sports (Red Sox/Patriots/Celtics – does it get any better?) and a few close friends.

Having been back to Boston often in the last 18 years, the needed "city awakening" was never apparent to me although in 2006 Massachusetts did elect its first black Governor, Deval Patrick; one small step in the right direction. If living in the city of Boston were more like the racially liberated history of the Celtics, it would be one of the most exciting places to live and would sparkle immensely! I hope it gets there one day.

I was happy for the Celtics because they won an NBA title in 1 year (with a new roster) which is extremely difficult to do. Red was a big part of title # 17 and a man whose legacy should be understood not misunderstood.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede with a young Rick Fox (left) at a Boston sports event in the early 90's - His best years were spent after his tenure as a Celtic, winning 3 NBA titles with the Los Angelas Lakers.

Are you making POWER MOVES?

Talking to a friend after a thrilling basketball game at Madison Square Garden in 1996, I said to him, “Are you making POWER MOVES”.

He laughed and didn’t quite know what to make of the question. I was at the height of my career, successfully working for Madison Square Garden (the world’s most famous arena). He was also shining brightly with finance as an American in Europe so he probably wondered why I was asking such a question.

I guess somewhere in my mind I knew that he wasn’t making the right power moves especially since he was planning a move to NYC, a move never to be taken lightly! As it turns out, I was right.


Moves that one makes in life to advance personal and business goals, increase quality of life, help others, inspire and be a productive citizen / positive family person. The moves must be primarily positive and advance the aforementioned areas forward more often than not. In ANY situation, POWER MOVES should be top of mind.

·Advance Goals - Everyone should have career and personal goals. If you don’t how do you know what you want or where to go in life? These goals should be written down and referred to often. Every year, you should be meeting and/or improving your goals and when necessary, targeting new ones. Don’t be afraid to DREAM about what you want in life!

·Increase Quality of Life – This entails knowing what type of life you want to have (can be a goal) and taking the proper steps to obtain it. Maybe you want to live in a nicer house or move to a new city. Or find a quality relationship? Whatever you desire, you should consistently move toward it. And remember, increasing the quality of life does not have to mean financial although money can often help in this area. Volunteering is one of the best ways to improve life and it costs very little.

·Help Others – We should all know what this means but sadly many don’t even care about it. The community, various charities, your country and the world need the help of people willing to give of their time and/or money. If you don’t know what to do or how to make an impact, email me or ask someone you know that helps others.

A great American Civil Rights leader said it best with this quote:

Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

·Inspire – Any interesting, memorable or inpactful person that I have met always inspired me. Some of the qualities they possess include intellect, entrepreneurship, humor, caring for others, passion, focus, ambition, courage, humbleness, strength, tenderness, energy and thought provoking. At the very least, work on being interesting as that can usually take one quite far in life!

·Productive Citizen – In order to be a productive citizen one must obviously abide by the country law along with impacting your community and other parts of the world in a positive fashion.

·Positive Family Person – One that respects the teachings and values of their parents by the way they live their life. If raised improperly, one must work to improve as a person so as to be ready to raise a quality family of his/her own.

If one adheres to the values of honesty, integrity, trust and loyalty, being a productive citizen/positive family person should come easily.

My friend did make that move to NYC but for the past decade, he has failed to make POWER MOVES so his time in the Big Apple has been full of struggles but powerful in life lessons.

One reason he didn’t blossom was the lack of preparation in coming to what I consider the best city in the world. He knew the phrase, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” but neglected to do his homework.

He thought he could easily get a job in finance but didn’t realize that success in Madrid is not that impressive when trying to get a position in the world's financial capital, Manhattan. Getting a job or making strong connections beforehand would have been beneficial.

Another reason is once he arrived in NYC, he didn’t work like a dog to network and build his brand. Networking is invaluable in this city and he should have known that especially with many friends living there to confide in. Today, 11 years later, I still don’t think he is networking effectively.

Finally, he was offered a job not long after he moved at what would become and still is a top internet company. Would you believe me if I told you that he turned it down? He did. Being that he couldn't find a good position in finance and had no job, he should have taken that opportunity. It was a way to pay the bills while still pursuing his dream.

He is one of the people I LIKE the most but he hasn’t inspired me in the way I know he is capable of. He is a diamond in the rough and he needs to bloom before it is too late. Maybe he should move out of Manhattan? I have told him to consider that many times over the years. Now may be a good moment. After long years without success, a new venue could be fruitful.

I have recently expanded the POWER MOVES questioning and recently asked a close friend in Stockholm, “Are you making POWER MOVES or powerless moves?

This time, there was no need to clarify the question.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Even though Gswede Sunday was 4 days late, it is NEVER a dollar short. I was busy making POWER MOVES during the beginning of my vacation and had no access to a computer.

One of the best POWER MOVES I have made - Gswede volunteering in the program "Everybody Wins" (reading to a child weekly) in NYC. This picture from the mid 90's speaks volumes!