"Love at First Sight" DOES NOT EXIST

At least twice a year, someone tells me or I hear, “When we met, it was Love at First Sight”. Each time I chuckle inside wondering if they really believe what I consider to be nonsense. Occasionally, I challenge the comment by asking them to explain what “love at first sight” means and the response is usually simplistic or based on fairytale logic.

Unfortunately, there are those who believe that a Prince or Princess will whisk them away on a white horse to a life of heavenly bliss.

The late Princess Diana was probably one of those and actually got a real life Prince Charles. Maybe she was in love and not enthralled by the majesty of it all yet the end result was a sad life with a man who would never love her. After the divorce, the Princess looked and acted positive although her soul was probably tarnished forever. Does anyone really think she would have died so tragically if she had never married her Prince?

At my son’s day-care, the most common costume on the majority of girls is (you guessed it) a Princess. It’s okay to dress up in this manner although seeing these 3-5 year olds twirling around in their fairytale costumes makes me wonder if they really believe in a dream that will never manifest in most human beings.

I found out earlier this year that young boys aren’t immune to such thinking as a father told me that all his 3 year old son talks about is “getting his princess”. This dad was clearly annoyed at this daily chatter. I’ve never heard such disdain from a father regarding the ways in which children are bombarded with fantasy via cartons, videos, books, internet etc. Like me, he found it to be nonsense.

I don’t object to children having dreams or playing dress-up or even acting like a Princess as long as a child grows up knowing that there is no magic wand that will give a person happiness in a relationship or marriage. A responsible and focused parent will typically make sure that is not the case.

For those without good guidance or mentorship, the fairytale aspect of our youth can be a factor in leading one to base important decisions like marriage on emotion. In my opinion, one of the main reasons why people get divorced in many countries is due to irrational emotion, or in simple terms “fantasy”.

Can the belief of “love at first sight” lead one to success? Absolutely but it has more to do with luck than anything else. I played a role in helping two friends meet and the woman fell for the man instantly, leaving no doubt about her love. She has told me that it was “love at first sight”. Keep in mind that she would have fallen for anyone as her previous husband was NOT a good man. She just happened to get a man who was nice and kind to her. They have been married a long time. What if she hadn’t been so lucky?

On the flip side of luck comes reality for those that carry a fantasy world view into adulthood. A close friend met a seemingly dynamic woman and fell for her like a one wing duck. It was “love at first sight” and he made up his mind within weeks that he would marry her despite the fact that almost none of his friends supported the union including his own mother. They divorced within two years after having a child. His initial fantasy will cause him a lifetime of pain.

Reality is the place that should be pressed upon our youth at least as much as the life of luxury filled with diamonds, happy relationships and no problems; a life that won’t exist for most. Past American TV shows like Robin Leach’s, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” haven’t helped with its signature line, “Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams”. MTV’s “Cribs”, which showcases the homes of famous people, is also guilty of creating a fantasy of false hope.

The show that children should be watching more often is a parental one. I don’t know enough parents who tell (or better yet lead by example) their kids the following:

Life is going to be at the very least difficult. In order to prosper, you will have to learn about yourself, love yourself, continue to evolve as a person and choose a way in life that will make you happy. No other person can make you happy. In addition, you cannot base important decisions in life SOLEY on emotion without taking into account the real life consequences of your actions. It is okay and important to dream about your desires or goals as long as you know that it will usually take HARD WORK, discipline and persistence to achieve those dreams. Responsibility as an individual will take you far in life, Irresponsibility is no different than rolling dice and hoping for a lucky 7.

Let’s replace “Love at First Sight” with a more appropriate saying:


Lusting tendencies after meeting a particular person does happen and I have seen it occur on numerous occasions. Even LIKE AT FIRST SITE makes sense to me as I have met several friends who I have liked immediately.

In my opinion, “Love at First Site” doesn’t exist because love takes time to nurture, develop and grow. It is not an instant bond that means two people belong together. If one believes in the saying, aren’t they discounting the potential lack of honesty, integrity or loyalty in a person? One surely can’t know those things AT FIRST SIGHT.

Whatever one’s definition of love might be is irrelevant although I hope TRUST is a big factor in loving someone. In my view, it should be the main ingredient for any relationship. Since one cannot possibly know a person’s TRUST level upon a first meeting, how can one be in LOVE AT FIRST SITE?

On the top of my blog, is the theme of Gswede Sunday which I call “Knowledge and Inspiration based in Reality”. For those whose bubble may have been burst by my words, I hope you got a small dose of education or a bit of inspiration to keep your life based in reality. If you do that, love will come to you. Whether you are ready for it is a topic for another day.

If not, you may be waiting quite a long time for your Knight in Shining Armor.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede was a substitute teacher for this group of first grade students in Stockholm, Sweden. Will they be searching for their Prince or live a life based in Reality?

Back to the Fundamentals


a. Of or relating to the foundation or base; elementary: the fundamental laws of the universe.

b. Forming or serving as an essential component of a system or structure; central: an example that was fundamental to the argument.

Earlier this year, I was enjoying a coffee with a close friend when the subject of business arose. His thoughts made it clear that in our new economic reality, companies in Sweden and around the world will have to get “Back to the Fundamentals”.

Fundamentals are important to embrace in numerous parts of life and the insight I gained from our conversation is that companies can no longer expose themselves to financial hardship by NOT relying on basic fundamentals.

From my business experience in Sweden and America, there are 5 basic areas that need improved fundamentals:

1) Hiring – Unnecessary, poorly researched or low quality employees shows bad fundamentals.

2) Excess - Keeping employees around that cannot or are not doing the job is fundamentally wrong.

3) Competence - Hiring experienced workers with sound judgement shows solid fundamentals.

4) Ethics – To NOT have all employees trained or at least talked to about company ethics shows poor fundamentals.

5) Strategy – A company should have a coherent and strategic mission; one that is based in reality and basic fundamentals in order to prosper and be profitable in good or bad times. The strategy should be adhered to throughout the company.

I was shocked as I read about the recent bonus’s given to top AIG employees after the US Government saved the company with billions in aid. President Obama was outraged and had this to say:

President Obama today blasted the plan of insurance giant AIG to pay millions of dollars in bonuses to traders who helped bring the company to the brink of ruin, calling the payments an "outrage" that violates "fundamental values" and underscores the need for financial regulatory reform.
( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/16/AR2009031600640.html?hpid=topnews)

AIG began as a solid and profitable insurance company although greed to increase profits substantially in the diverse financial world would be their downfall. The company was fortunate for the bailout funds and immediate plans for a fundamental recovery should have been put into action.

Instead, their lack of basic fundamentals was exposed even further when they decided to pay lavish bonus’s (1 million+) to the same executives that caused the destruction of the company! Such audacity is mind boggling.

We now know that AIG was not the only company to display such poor fundamentals as a plethora of US institutions and global companies are in the same position. What went wrong? Fundamentals, Fundamentals, Fundamentals………

Gordon Gekko said it best in one of my favorite movies, “Wall Street”, while giving corporate executives a terse reprimand as the largest shareholder. Despite his ruthlessness as an executive, Gekko's words about the fictitious Teldar paper’s prior performance and current strategy beautifully describes the current atmosphere in the 2009 global financial world:

“The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book you either do it right, or you get eliminated”.


If companies are saved by government funds or purchased by other organizations, I hope they remember Gordon’s wise words.

I have no doubt that failed companies like AIG probably began with sound fundamentals yet later neglected them when money was flowing, particularly in the 90’s when most companies could do no wrong as the world economy was scorching hot. In my opinion, fundamentals should be thought of and practiced most often in the good times so that a company is well-quipped when the inevitable downturn occurs. Mindless hiring, non-strategic acquisitions, increased debt, etc is a true recipe for disaster and should be absent in any type of economy.

The world of sports can teach us a lesson about the importance of fundamentals.

In golf, one may view the success of the world’s # 1, Tiger Woods and think that he was born to golf or his innate talent made him successful. There may be an element of truth to that although in my view it is the hard work and intense command of the fundamentals that have propelled him to the top.

Is there a better swing in the game? No. Have you seen a purer putting stroke? His is one of the best. Is his short game amongst the best? Yes. Does he consistently out drive his peers? Yes. Is he mentally tougher than the competition. Yes. His game has been nearly flawless over the past decade and his brilliant fundamentals are a main reason why.

Tiger was bold enough to change (twice) his fundamental swing in order to become an even better player. He had some frustrating years while perfecting his new swing yet each time came back a stronger player. Is there anything more fundamental than that?

Larry Bird was one of the greats in professional basketball. He wasn’t the best jumper, quickest player or fastest man on the court yet he played the game expertly and became one of the 25 best players of all time. What made him so great? Fundamentals.

He worked tirelessly as a youngster to perfect a jump shot that was second to none. He rebounded well, moved swiftly without the ball and was a superb passer. Although not as quick as some on defense, he was clever in thinking and positioning himself thus becoming a solid defender. His success when the game was on the line was tremendous. He wanted that last shot and often dispirited players and teams with his “moment of truth” heroics. Magic Johnson, also one of the best and most fundamental players said that Larry was the toughest player he competed against.

In business or sports, fundamentals will be the difference between good and great. In addition, keeping a level head along with consistently maintaining or improving fundamentals can lift a company or person to even higher levels.

In this tough economic climate, companies and individuals should get “Back to the Fundamentals" if they want to maintain success in the upstream of current financial difficulties and be prepared to thrive when the inevitable downstream of consumer consumption returns.

Here are 10 areas where individuals can improve their fundamentals:

Let’s get “Back to the Fundamentals with:

1) Health – Is there anything more fundamental for longevity than being in good health? Eating quality food in moderation, lowering sugar, embracing fruits and vegetables, lowering stress, and exercising (cardio and strength training) are just a few of the ways in which we can help improve the obesity in children and adults in many parts of the world.

2) Family – I understand that some family members should not be in your life due to their own agenda and treating the family with disrespect. If that is not the case, we need to embrace and love our family despite the petty resentment we may feel or insignificant reasons we choose to use as a barrier. Pettiness was the cause of my mother and her sisters not speaking for many years which was a shame. I am happy to report that they have embraced sisterhood once again and are enjoying each other immensely! When times are tough or tragedy strikes, is there anything more precious, important or fundamental than having a solid family behind you?

3) Finances – Save money every month, Monitor your investments closely, Change investments when needed and Grow your money. That formula is fundamental and straight forward in order to manage one’s finances in a positive direction. The key is to save money whether you are in a first time job or making over a million dollars. Even if it is only $25.00 per month, it is important to have those savings as they may be needed when difficult times arise.

In addition, learn from people you trust (advisor or family member) about how to manage and grow your money. I have been advising people for years about monitoring their retirement plans (i.e. 401k) as some could have avoided the massive losses from 2008 if they had simply been watching their investments. Instead, they thought the rising stock prices would last forever until the financial tsunami hit last year and snapped them back into reality. Some will never recover. Remember, SAVE, MONITOR, CHANGE (when needed) and GROW.

4) Children – There are a variety of ways to raise a positive, happy and productive child yet if the fundamentals of love, discipline, values, routines, time together and exercise along with quality food are not consistent, the road is much tougher. I have been shocked at the lack of routines (i.e. 2 year old in bed at 9pm one night and after midnight the next) and poor feeding habits (i.e. chips given to a 1 year old for dinner) I have seen. Our children deserve the best opportunity for a safe and healthy upbringing.

5) Spouse/Partner – What happened to holding hands in public? When I witness that scene with a couple, it usually brings a smile to my face. What about kissing every day for at least 10 seconds? Try it as you will be surprised at the results. How about writing a loving note for your spouse to read when you are away on a business trip? Sending flowers for no special reason other than to show your love? Telling a loved one how much they are appreciated? These are basic and fundamental areas that can help to improve a relationship.

6) Giving – In my book, one cannot be successful without lending a helping hand to those in need or less fortunate. It is especially vital if life has given you an abundance of blessings. You can find my article about giving on the following link:


7) Values/Ethics – One should be or work to become a loving, honest, compassionate and productive citizen of your community. Our basic values have been pushed to the side in business (failed companies) and with marriages (high divorce rate in numerous countries). If values and ethics don’t return, the road back to sunny days might remain cloudy.

8) Work/Passion – Hard work, being positive, discipline, enthusiasm, and “putting in the time” are just a few core fundamentals needed to perform well in one’s work or indulge brightly in one’s passion. Why do it if the maximum effort for success is not included?

9) Benefits – As I wrote earlier this year, “Life is (and should be) all about the Benefits”. If there is no benefit, why do it? You can read my 2009 kick-off article at the link below:


10) YOU – All of the aforementioned elements above could be wasted without making sure to put YOU and your well being at the top of your list. Take the time to improve yourself if life is not progressing as planned or make that long overdue massage appointment to relieve the negative forces of stress. Without a healthy, happy and stable YOU, other important areas of your life will undoubtedly take a back seat.

I am sure you can think of one or two areas in your life where fundamentals are sorely lacking or missing. I know I can. Let’s attack at least one of those areas and strive to improve the fundamentals so that we can become better people, improve our communities and help to change the world in a positive way.

One easy and fundamental way to enhance one’s life is by smiling more or giving someone you know a hug. I have improved my hugging immensely in the past 6 months and it started with a hug from a 5 year old. I see her most days and we never fail to embrace each other with a heartfelt hug. It always brightens my day!

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Coach Steve Freeland showing the fundamental shooting technique for youth in Gswede's "American Basketball Coach in Sweden" program. The 5th year begins in May 2009!

MAJORS or Minors?

I have frequently used the Gswede Phrase, “Are you playing in the MAJORS or Minors”, when asking certain friends about their lifestyle. Often it is delivered in a joking way yet there is usually an element of seriousness as I wanted them to reflect upon their life.

For the non-sports fan, allow me to explain my phrase.

In baseball, the better players perform in the MAJOR leagues, which is the highest professional league for the sport. They travel on charter jets, make fantastic money, have good looking wives, enjoy numerous perks and often have great sponsorship deals. In addition, temptation is always at their doorstep.

The baseball players not talented enough to play at the aforementioned level play in the Minor leagues. Buses provide their transportation and they stay in plain motels. In addition, the money pales in comparison to the MAJORS and many have dreams of reaching the top; most never do. Temptation is creeping around at this level as well.

Let’s equate baseball to the world of most people; those like you and me. If we do that, a person either plays in the MAJORS or Minors. No one plays in both!

In simple terms, MAJORS means living a high quality life while Minors is a significantly lower level.

Those that play in the MAJORS (from my experience):

An ethical person who enjoys a life that they wanted or are happy with. This typically involves those who have serious goals, dreams and ambitions yet more importantly follow through on their desires (with hard work) until they are achieved.

Common elements in this crowd are trust, loyalty, strong work ethic and responsiblity. They tend to be family-oriented, ambitious and positive as well as maximizing their benefits in life. People in this group who I admire are those who embrace living a life on their own terms. Obstacles are present for these individuals although the MAJOR leaguer will always battle until the barriers are knocked down or removed. Money can be an advantage in living a MAJOR league life but having wealth doesn’t automatically put one in the MAJORS. I know some wealthy people who will NEVER be in the MAJOR league category due to their selfish lifestyle.

In my opinion, no life is successful without an element of helping others thus all MAJOR leaguers share this characteristic.

Those that play in the Minors (from my experience):

A person who is NOT living the life they wanted, NOT living up to their potential or NOT happy with life. Some common elements of a Minor league life can include one or more of the following:

-- Dreaming and Never doing

-- Negativity

-- Lack of focus

-- Not “putting in the time” to achieve ambitions or goals

-- Not working HARD for desires

-- Living life for others or having others hold you down

-- Living life unethically or irresponsibly

-- Having a “ME” only attitude

-- Solely concerned with making money

-- Choosing Unwisely for marriage, love or friendship

-- Not being ready for love when it presents (and it will) itself

-- Not changing a pattern that isn’t working

-- Not appreciating what you have

I understand some of the reasons why people are not happy or satisfied with life; one being that life is difficult (for some truly difficult) yet that is no reason to hold one’s head down, be depressed or act irresponsibly.

Most of my close friends play in the MAJORS although I have a few (including some acquaintances) who toil in the Minors. One common thread that the Minors share is dreaming while at the same time not doing what it takes to be successful.

Those who dream BIG (which is important) yet find themselves never rising to the level of their desires tend not to “put in the time” it takes to lead a MAJOR league life. We could all learn from Larry Bird, one of the best professional basketball players of all time. He said that he was guilty of “trash talking” to opponents but he could back it up since he “put in the time” to become a great player.

Every MAJOR leaguer I know has worked hard to be successful and continues to do so in order to stay there. Life should be about consistent growth so one can achieve their goals. There will always be pitfalls and obstacles but a MAJOR leaguer is ready to battle any tough times when they appear.

One of my dearest American friends began his life like a shining star by moving to Europe at a young age (mid 20’s). That boldness impressed me and others! He enjoyed 7 successful years before moving back to New York City (NYC). I visited him in Europe and enjoyed a week that ranks in the top 10 of my life! He had it all; good friends, great apartment, a strong network and a quality job. His life was exciting and fulfilling and I was extremely happy for him because it was obvious that he worked hard to achieve his lifestyle.

When he moved back to the USA he lost his way.

He arrived in NYC in 1997 and it was clear early on that his BIG dreams outweighed his sound judgement and work ethic. He went from a sizzling steak to a prune in what seemed to be overnight. In the following years, there were some circumstances that helped to create a perfect storm for his downward spiral but with his intelligence and previous background, his friends expected him to bloom in the Big Apple. His biggest mistakes were laziness, lack of focus and disregard for opportunity; mistakes one can ill afford in one of the greatest and most challenging cities in the world.

Those that care have tried to guide and counsel him toward a productive lifestyle change but to no avail. Maybe we weren’t tough enough as friends should be although our efforts were sincere. In 2009, his life is in worst shape then in 1997.

His history in NYC is a wonderful illustration of how a life can go from the MAJORS to the Minors in the blink of an eye. It can happen to anyone especially with the temptations that life offers when you are in the MAJORS. The lesson learned is that we should never forget the steps taken in rising to the MAJOR league level.

My friend displayed admirable traits when he planned and made the move to Europe. He succeeded by working hard, focusing, learning the language, engaging new people and embracing opportunity. I realize that NYC is a tougher place than almost any other yet all he had to do was remember what made him sparkle in Europe and he would have conquered Manhattan like Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour.

Despite 12 years of going downhill, he is still young enough to get off the Titanic and steer his ship in a positive direction. One thing he needs to do is leave NYC, something I have asked him to ponder on numerous occasions. Leaving may be his last chance to get back in the MAJORS. If not, he could face another 12 years of hardship. I hope he makes the right choice.

To live a high quality life, one should strive to:

-- Work Hard and be relentless to get into the MAJORS
-- Work Even Harder to stay in the MAJORS
-- Battle ferociously when life attempts to push you to the MINORS
-- Rise Up, “put in the time” and Focus to get out of the MINORS

One of my favorite quotes in never far from my thoughts:

The antidote to envy is one's own work. Always one's own work. Not the thinking about it. Not the assessing of it. But the doing of it.
--Bonita Friedman

MAJORS or Minors? – The choice is yours.

What league do you play in?

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede's uncle on a fine spring day in Stockholm - His MAJOR league life in California has provided wonderful moments for me.

Networking Effectively

An invaluable skill to practice often and become proficient in is the ability to Network Effectively.

Networking: (dictionary.com)
A supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.

I would add to the definition above that all parties should BENEFIT in any networking relationship. To be effective, one should consistently strive to add new people, associations, clubs, groups or cultures to a network.

Networking is not easy to do. It can be difficult because of the discipline and patience it takes to excel. It’s important to have an open mind, be willing to engage, embrace the occasional discomfort, be positive, likable and follow up.

The fruits that come from skillful networking can be abundant including a potential “lightening bolt boost” to your passions, desires, family, giving or career. Networking has been wonderful for me!

A critical New York City (NYC) networking moment came in 1996 while I was working at Madison Square Garden. I was entertaining 25 clients and their guests at a professional hockey game. Although I couldn’t talk to everyone, I did shake all hands and made sure to engage the most interesting people.

One guest was particularly captivating and we hit it off instantly. He was the General Manager of a prominent NYC health club. At the end of our conversation, he invited me to his club for a free workout and I went a few months later. It was the most luxurious health club I had ever seen! It had 6 floors, a pool, a running track attached to the building, first rate restaurant, snack bars, and a basketball court along with the typical workout machines. In addition, it was constructed beautifully with marble and fine materials so it had the look of a 5 star hotel.

The clientele of the club was high level in terms of income although most of the people I met were very cordial. It also had its share of celebrities as they could train comfortably and not be bothered. I enjoyed my first workout and could instantly see the plentiful opportunities to meet new people.

The manager and I became good friends and networked extensively together. Not only was I a member of the club for 8 years (membership costs ranged from $2,000-5000), I also provided him with access to numerous events at Madison Square Garden, including NY Knicks professional basketball, concerts and championship boxing.

The club was very social and I met several of my close friends there. I could also take clients as I had free access to bring a guest for a one-time visit. Without the manager’s friendship and network, my NYC experience wouldn’t have been nearly as prosperous or exciting. Good networking goes a long way!

If you want to network effectively, the areas below can help you become successful.

A) Being interested in People – I enjoy meeting new people and getting to know those in my circle in a more meaningful way. If you want to be a good networker, enjoying the excitement and stimulation of others helps immensely.

B) Engage with Others – Be spirited with new people you meet along with your existing network of friends or business associates. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help or provide assistance for them when needed. In addition, introducing people in your network who share common interests is typically a wise move. If they hit it off, you should benefit down the road.

C) Being Open-minded – Occasionally, in social or business situations, one must share the company of those you don’t like or are not interesting. When this happens, just “grin and bear it” and try to enjoy it as best as you can. In addition, make every attempt to remove yourself from the situation when the timing is right. One shouldn't be rude but don’t hang around longer than you have to.

Being open-minded also means that you are willing to meet a new friend in the least likely situation. In Stockholm, people usually don’t talk to strangers as easily as in the USA. I never let that stop me from engaging potential new contacts. I met one of my best Swedish friends as we were running side by side on a treadmill. He wasn’t a typical Swede and we engaged each other simultaneously. We have opened up our networks to our mutual benefit.

D) Being Positive and Likable - Positivity despite the ups or downs in life is usually beneficial to you and those around you. When stress knocks you down, always try to get back up by being positive. It's no coincidence that my closest friends are more positive than most. Being likable can sometimes be out of one’s control as some are more likable than others. If you have interesting life experiences combined with showing interest in others, people will be attracted to that. -

E) Discipline – This element is extremely important in networking. To network properly, one should be in the “mix of life”. What that means is that you should be consistent in going out, accepting invitations to events/dinners/parties or being around new people to meet. In addition, don’t forget to network with your existing friends! Discipline is also crucial to practice when you are in a situation where you are not having fun or are not interested in a person or group of people. In that case, don’t linger too long; move on to the next group.

F) Help others Rise – I have and always will help (in any way I can) those I like; whether it be a friend, colleague or acquaintance. We must stop the petty jealousy or laziness shown when we don’t help people we care about. In my opinion, helping others is invaluable as I have seen an abundance of benefits come back to me from those I have assisted. Even if that is not the case, giving or helping someone is a good thing to do.

Belgrade, Serbia - Gswede's private party for over 100 guests

G) Giving or Volunteering – As I wrote about in a recent article (link is below), giving is of the utmost importance. I don’t consider any life well-rounded or successful unless there is an element of quality giving to others. I have found it quite easy to network in the “crowd that cares” as most have been very willing to teach me new things or connect me with people in my areas of interest. A good place to start is http://www.charities.org/ if you want to find out how to get involved.

H) Fundraising – A good portion of people will be involved in some form of fundraising during their lifetime. It’s a crucial skill to have as it will prove invaluable in a variety of business and personal situations. You can find my article “Fundraising - A 7 step approach" on the link below:


I have seen those who network well in their job atmosphere yet are less productive outside of business. The key is to do it well in both areas! Networking (i.e. special events or private party) outside of regular business hours can often bring good connections for fundraising. Following up with new people met and keeping in touch with known contacts is critical to raising money effectively.

I) Learn from “Master” Networkers – There are gifted individuals who make networking look easy and others who have become extremely efficient by improving over time. If you know someone like this, learn from them by arranging a meeting and absorbing as much as you can. Often the best way to learn is to attend an event with that person in order to witness how they are successful.

J) Create your own Networking Event - Since the early 1990’s, I have been involved in several networking events in NYC, Belgrade (Serbia) and Stockholm (Sweden). They have ranged from 20 to over 500 people. The element they all had in common was fun, interesting people and diversity. No matter how small or big, take the time to plan your own event. Keep in mind that arranging events is not easy and does take time although I have found the benefits after to be extremely valuable.

K) FOLLOW UP - One of the key elements in networking is the essential “Follow-Up” phase. The aforementioned criteria could be wasted with lazy, inappropriate or “NO” follow-up. An effective networker follows up with all of their quality contacts on a consistent basis. If there is a request from a contact or a need you have to be fulfilled, following up in a timely manner is a must. At the very least, one should send a holiday card (with a hand written note) to everyone in your network especially those you have not seen or contacted in the past year. You will be surprised at the power of only 1 note per year.

If you improve or master the skills necessary for effective networking, I can almost guarantee that you will experience a significant enhancement in attractive, worthwhile or profitable opportunities.

Living life to the fullest usually requires a high level of networking. Begin now if you have never networked, improve the skills you may already posses or MASTER the art of networking. Either way, opportunity will come knocking.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Stockholm - Gswede and friend Roland's networking party in 2006

Don't be Cruel

adjective, -er, -est.
1.willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.

2.enjoying the pain or distress of others: the cruel spectators of the gladiatorial contests.

3.causing or marked by great pain or distress: a cruel remark; a cruel affliction.

4.rigid; stern; strict; unrelentingly severe.


One of my favorite songs is the 1988 tune, "Don't be Cruel". I love the beat and the message is timeless; a message that speaks volumes about a portion of our world unfortunately.

There are numerous forms of cruelty whether it is from dictators, presidents, CEO's, parents, siblings, etc. I am focusing this article on relationships as I find it the most fascinating. I have seen friends and acquaintances damaged by cruelty throughout the years; some have improved their situations while others have successfully removed themselves from their life of cruelty. In both instances, loved ones or friends played a significant support role! In my wide circle of friendship, there are still those who are hopelessly floating in the cruelty abyss they created yet are scared or not tough enough to do anything about it.

Even though Bobby Brown’s song is about women being cruel, it should resound with men as well as I have seen them display different yet similar actions.

Below is a taste of the relationship cruelty I have witnessed or been told about in Sweden and America:

1) Men taking advantage of women by leading them on even though they have no intention of marrying or being with them. After dating for a while, a woman should know if the man is only dating or wants to develop a serious relationship. If a man feels or knows that a woman is "falling for him" or "in love" and doesn’t have the same feelings, he should do the right thing and tell her. The woman may still want to continue dating but at least she will know where she stands.

In the wonderful 1983 movie, Terms of Endearment, I was surprised and pleased to watch the moment when Jack Nicholson's character told Shirley McClain's character that he was starting to feel obligated by the relationship and he was not that kind of man. In others words, he wanted his freedom. He expressed his feelings in no uncertain terms instead of hiding that fact and continuing to be with her. Even if it hurts, one should not be afraid of sincerity with regards to our true feelings.

2) Men and Women treating their spouses disrespectfully in a public place. I have been shocked at the way some people talk to their spouses or belittle them in the presence of others. In the good relationships I am aware of, that kind of cruelty would never happen publicly and I doubt the disrespect would occur in the privacy of their home! For those on the receiving end of such cruelty, stand up for yourself and confront the cruel treatment. If not, you are only allowing yourself to be disrespected, not to mention the pain it causes any children involved.

The husband of a woman I know treats his wife in a vicious way mentally. Everyone close to this lovely woman knows about his degrading treatment and the pain she is experiencing. I believe she is not getting the proper support in order to to deal with this abuse. She needs a good friend to get involved or the pain will only heighten.

I treat you sweet, take you out at night
But you never say thanks girl that ain't right
(Lyrics from “Don’t be Cruel)

Written by L.A. Reid, Babyface, and Darryl Simmons

3) Women and Men not appreciating what they have. The grass is rarely greener on the other side although many idealize what they don't have or take for granted what they do have. If you are with a person that is good, respectful, and ambitious, comes from a decent family and doesn't have too much mental baggage.....be thankful. He or she may not be exactly what you were looking for but very few of us get exactly what we want in life. It is difficult to find a quality partner yet many discount the good person for a variety of reasons and end up losing them along with the exciting and positive life they could have had.

You gave me your heart I gave you my mind
But a true love affair we could never find
Although I want you bad I could let you go
'Cause there's a lot of girls out there that won't say no
(Lyrics from “Don’t be Cruel”)

4) Men and Women trying to change their partner - In my experience, people generally DO NOT CHANGE after the age of 30 but it is never a good idea to try to change your partner. Does it really matter if a man doesn't want to clean the house? Many men have never had to do this chore yet are pushed to do so after marriage. Is this sort of change really worth it? Compromise can be advantageous in this situation as this sort of attempted change is a small thing in my opinion.

In addition, I have seen men attempt to make the independent woman they liked and married less independent after the marriage. Needless to say, they weren't successful. I have always seen independence as a positive; a characteristic men should embrace! One’s focus should be on the BIG things in life (i.e. being a good parent, learning how to become a better person, influencing our youth or helping those less fortunate) not the small and often insignificant ways in which people try to change someone.

5) Woman nagging and Men trying to solve the problem instead of listening - As tough as men seem to be, all we really want is to feel important. Simple ways to do this are positive comments to him (i.e. about being a good father, loyal son or the way he works hard for the family). Consistent nagging for whatever reason will not enhance a relationship although it can provide a major irritation for the man. If there is a serious family or marital situation that needs attention, sit down and talk with your man about it as nagging won’t solve anything. In addition, do your best to make him feel important (being positive usually helps) and you will be surprised at the benefits you receive in return.

Men must become better listeners and be open minded about the issues/concerns on a woman's mind. It can feel cruel to a woman when a man doesn''t listen and tries to give a solution to the words he is hearing. We need to slow down and embrace the art of talking openly and listening intently to our partner. Communication between men and women can only be successful when we care enough to truly listen, embrace her words and not try to fix the issues on her mind.

There's really not much I won't do for you
I bought you 12 yellow roses and candy, too
I like to be up front and never play the back
But the way you treat me girl is like a heart attack
(Lyrics from “Don’t be Cruel”)

6) Adultery - I understand some of the reasons why men and woman cheat yet that does not excuse the cowardly and cruel act of adultery. If you no longer want to be with your spouse, show your backbone and tell that person! Don't be afraid of hurting him/her when revealing your true feelings about the relationship because frankly the truth does hurt sometimes. Cheating is rarely a good thing although I have seen it bring people closer together but not often.

Now you know my name, now I know your game
You want to be with me you got to be the same way
That another girl would be and if you wanna be with me

Uh don't be cruel
(Lyrics from “Don’t be Cruel”)

Last year, I wrote about two people who have experienced cruelty before and after their marriages yet continue to endure it. You can find the article "Losing Your Life: All at Once or One Day at a Time" at the following link:


At least one of these men wants out of his relationship and the other probably has not come to grips with the dire situation he is in. One thing is certain, if both don't at least address the double cruelty (by their partners and to them for enduring it) they are faced with, the tunnel to happiness will get narrower and narrower until their family flame has burned out.

In my opinion, there are only three avenues to take if you are involved in a cruel relationship: Stay, Confront or Leave. The latter 2 are the best road to travel.

a) STAY in the relationship or what I call “Do Nothing” - If so, the doom of the union is inevitable. The union may stay intact although it is likely to be unfulfilled or lifeless.

b) CONFRONT your partner or spouse and get the help needed to find specific ways to improve the relationship – You must be bold and act if you care about your well being!

c) LEAVE the relationship even though it might be painful or involve children. Displays of cruelty or cruel unions do not make a productive or happy household.

Finally, if you have a friend who is in a cruel relationship, I implore you to help them in any way you can. Far too often, friends who should help those in dire straits feel awkward about getting involved. We should support our friends in this critical phase of life. I’ve been involved in the relationships of friends and even some acquaintances in terms of support or guidance. Some of the things I said to them were tough to say and painful to hear.

Some of these relationships prospered after a rough beginning while others continue to struggle. A few have been blissful for years and others have broken apart bitterly or uncomfortably. As a friend, I was never scared to pose the tough questions or give my frank opinion when asked.

Cruelty in any form is disheartening and relationship cruelty (given or taken), can negatively affect a person, union or family for years or even a lifetime. If individuals, families and communities are going to emerge from this current economic crises, compassion must move to the forefront and cruelty must take a back seat.

I have no doubt that our world will recover from these challenging economic times but the difficulties will intensify if cruelty continues to wag its ugly tail in relationships.

Let’s pledge to do the work necessary to improve our own cruelty, embrace the art of compromise and help those in need of our support.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede in Brooklyn Heights, NYC during the summer of 1998 - Cruelty would devastate the city three years later when the World Trade Center (behind me) was destroyed on Sept 11, 2001.