JD’s Christmas "SMS" Message

What I enjoy about my friend JD is his love of life and family, his humour, his care for others, his positivity and his genuine nature. He’s one of the most fun people to be around!

Like me, he’s a former Division 1 basketball player so we share that unique bond. We were recently reminiscing about our college hoop years at a small going away gathering for yours truly. JD’s stories had everyone laughing! In addition, he loves the power of words and we both enjoy sending inspirational sms’s to our inner circles.

His Christmas sms/text message was not only touching but had me reflecting on a deeper level about the blessing of family, friends and loved ones during the holiday season. The gratefulness I have in my heart at being able to spend another positive holiday with those close to me was enhanced by his beautiful words.

JD’s sms is below:

At Christmas, a man is at his finest towards the finish of the year. He’s almost what he should be when the Christmas season’s here. Then, he’s thinking more of others then he’s thought the months before. And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for. When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Thanks JD.

Happy Holidays and Happy Gswede Sunday!

Santa visiting during the holidays!

Holiday Cards – Are they important to you?

I’m a firm believer in sending holiday and/or Christmas cards. It’s a yearly priority that has been important since I became an adult. For me, they serve a variety of purposes:

1) Most importantly, they give me a chance to send a warm holiday message to those I care about and are close to me.

2) For those people I rarely get a chance to see, it’s great to say hello and keep them abreast of how my family is doing.

3) As a networking tool, it has proved invaluable.

I’ve tried to convey the importance of sending holidays cards to those in my inner circle as I sensed that many wanted to although making the time to do it was difficult for some.  Having “no time” is a bad excuse because if something is important to you, you should find the time.

I’m as busy as anyone especially this year with travel to the USA, work, kids, moving to another city and much more. In addition, my wife has a new job. Together, we still managed to get 70 of our over 100 cards out by mid December.

I suspect that many of you reading this would like to improve upon or begin sending your holiday cards. If so, I implore you to do so. Yes, it will take some hours out of your November/December time although if you begin early, the time necessary won’t seem so cumbersome.

Cards of this nature may hold no interest for you. If that is the case, I would like you to consider this – sending at least 1 or more hand written notes/letters to those you care about during 2011. Maybe you do this already although most do not.

The art of the hand written note seems to be lost in the age of email/twitter/facebook/technology, etc. One of the gentle surprises I enjoy the most is getting a note from someone in the mail. It never fails to brighten my day.

Finally, the power of a holiday card was on full display as I was talking with a group of 10-15 executives a decade ago. As one person in the group was preparing to leave, he said “Thanks for the Christmas card George, I appreciate it”. His words came with a big smile and were loud enough for the whole room to hear! A wonderful moment.

Happy Gswede Sunday!
     

Southern Sweden during the Holidays!

CVC (Cablevision) – A Stock for your Portfolio?

Not long ago, I wrote an article about one of my favorite stocks – SIRI (Sirius Satellite Radio). The link is below:

http://gswede-sunday.blogspot.com/2010/10/stock-symbol-siri-great-product-but.html

Not dissimilar to SIRI, I told a group of friends about CVC when it was around $22.00. In fact, I’ve been telling those close to me about this stock for years as it has several elements I like:

1) 5 million cable subscribers in the New York Metropolitan area!

2) A good management team along with a diversity of businesses.

3) A company that has shown boldness and risk.

4) A stock that has been volatile over the years which can be good for making profits.

A good friend acted on my recommendation. He purchased it in the low 20’s and today, it is in the $33-35.00 range. I’ve been doing well with CVC since the 1990’s and it has rarely disappointed.

If you want to consider CVC for your portfolio, I suggest that you do your own thorough research as my stock tastes may not be what you desire.

I’ll leave you with these parting words:

 In my view, this stock is a very good one for the long term

 For short term profits, it’s important to watch this stock closely if you want to do well

All the best with your investing and Happy Gswede Sunday!


There's no Cablevision in this part of the world - Southern Sweden by the sea.

Having a "GPS" Will Save You Time

I received a sms from a relative recently saying, “missed my turn, uurrrgh” as she arrived at least 30 minutes later than she planned to her new job.

A few years ago, numerous friends were going to meet an American couple visiting Sweden including my family. The couple was staying in a remote place outside of Stockholm. I remember saying to my wife, “I am glad we have GPS as this place would be tough to find without it”. Indeed. It took another couple 45 extra minutes to get there.

Four years ago, I was driving with a colleague to a university. We found the college easily although the campus was quite vast. We were lost trying to find the building we needed. She had been there before so being lost was a bit surprising to me. I said to her, “why don’t you have a GPS”. I don’t remember what her answer was yet it was clear that she wanted one that day.

She informed me that when she began her job (which required visiting universities) in Sweden, it took her much longer to accomplish things because of the time spent looking for universities and buildings.

What do the aforementioned 3 scenarios have in common?

1) If they had a GPS (Global Positioning System), they would have gone directly to their destination.

2) And most importantly, they wasted valuable time – something I don’t think anyone embraces.

It’s interesting to hear people defend the non-GPS way, believing that internet directions or someone giving you directions is better than GPS. When I ask them to tell me how directions on a paper that you have to pick up and look at while driving is better than having exact directions (hands free) to any place in your country (with or without sound), I have yet to get a cohesive answer.

I realize that many are comfortable with the old way of doing things although that same mindset might as well use a typewriter instead of a computer. Did I mention with paper directions, you have to spend time on a computer and then write or print the directions? Or if you dare go with directions someone is writing down for you or giving to you over the telephone, I hope you see the various pitfalls with that path. With a GPS, you simply punch in the address and drive.

If you cannot afford one or don’t travel much by car, not having one is understandable. If you are a car person, a GPS is a must if you care about getting to your destination promptly and not wasting time.

In the last 4 years, I only had one incident where it took me an extra few minutes to find a place because the street wasn’t on the GPS. Why? It was a newly built area and hadn’t been updated to GPS. 99.9% of the time, my device took me straight to my destination.

The woman I mentioned in the third paragraph, wasted more time in one day without a GPS than I did in 4 years with mine. In addition, since I have been lost in far too many cars as a passenger, I rarely travel in that manner unless I have my GPS with me. There’s another benefit, a GPS can be portable!

Can you survive without a GPS? Of course you can although the average car person without one will probably spend needless hours per month trying to find places. You can buy a good one for $100.00 (700 kronor) and the printing of directions and looking at them while driving (very dangerous) will be a thing of the past. In addtion, many mobile phones have GPS which makes it quite easy to use.

Life is complicated and challenging enough for most of us so why complicate it even further. Wasting time is something I try to avoid on a daily basis as it takes away focus, hinders the reaching of goals and lessens the fun in life.

We all have things that waste our time – some out of our control and some in our control. Going places directly and efficiently is something anyone can control.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

In this weather, a GPS will be very useful. (southern Sweden)

Sean - A True Friend

One of the great things about true friendship is the diversity of experiences……those you can learn from - those that are pure fun - those you can laugh about - the ones that surprise you and those you gain inspiration from.

I’ve learned from my friend Sean in a variety of ways although one moment was poignant for me:

It occurred at a drying cleaning place on one of our business travels. I was impatient and rude with an employee because my shirt collar was not done to my satisfaction. Sean immediately confronted me on the disrespect I was displaying to this woman. He wasn’t done. After we left the shop, he got in my face and told me how lousy my attitude was and that I should not have treated her that way.

He was right. It was a moment I still cringe at when I think about it as it was less about the woman and more about my lack of PATIENCE. No friend has ever been in my face to that degree although I am glad he did. From that day, I vowed to become a more patient man and it might not have happened if Sean wasn’t bold enough to tell me exactly what I needed to hear. Today, I’m proud of my patience.

The pure fun we’ve had is extensive and some of the best moments of my life. I’ll touch on one—our times in the Big Apple. I lived in NYC for 10 years and Sean often visited for business and pleasure. I was able to introduce him to a great connection for his sales job and he closed the business quickly. The big sale required him to be in NYC from time to time and that was when our NYC time together blossomed!

Our times were sizzling and always interesting, including time spent watching the exciting NY Knicks basketball team, Bill Clinton fundraisers, attending glamorous events along with meeting some of the USA’s most dynamic business people. The beauty of NYC is that unless you have lived there, you won’t ever have an idea about the pulse, energy and day to day life of what I call the “best city in the world”. For never living in NYC, Sean came about as close as one can to knowing what it would be like to be a resident.

Now, what is friendship without a good laugh?

Since we both share a passion for golf, this moment has to be mentioned. We can laugh at it now but it wasn’t so funny for Sean at the time.

Sean is a good golfer although there was a time when he lost his “mojo”. His simply couldn’t hit the ball. Let me clarify. If Sean was standing on the beach and his only goal was to hit the ball into the open water, it would have been a tough task. I’ve never seen anything like it but being the competitive person I am, I knew I had to take advantage of it and him.

I’m a competent golfer although I had never beaten Sean in all our years of golfing prior to his downfall. So when his “golfing gone wild” moment occurred, I pounced on the opportunity and beat him six times in a row…….and I was having a ball! I had to laugh occasionally as the inability for such a good golfer to turn briefly into an aimless beginner was frankly laughable. I did feel for him sometimes yet I knew this tough moment wouldn’t last long.

He eventually got that fine golf swing back and I’ve never beaten him since but those six times were pure fun. Just as enjoyable were the hundreds of times we’ve played golf as a twosome or foursome, often meeting at 6am to tee off! Few things are better than playing a round of golf with true friends.

I’ve learned to embrace surprises over the years, particularly the unexpected ones. Those that have occurred less frequently for me are the gentle surprises – ones that touch the heart. One of those occurred at my wedding in Sweden.

At a typical Swedish wedding, there are many toasts to the bride and groom, sometimes 15-20 speeches. When Sean stood up to give his toast, I expected one about our time together yet I was gently surprised at what came out of his mouth.

Now keep in mind that Swedes are not religious people. Sean knew this about Sweden but as a man of faith, he stayed true to his self and asked all the guests to bow their heads and then proceeded to bless us with a prayer – a prayer that moved me immensely. Even though there weren’t many religious people in the room, I know they felt his eloquence and the power that is prayer.

In my opinion, a necessity of true friendship is inspiration. One of those times for me was at the funeral of Sean’s father. He talked about his father in such a loving and eloquent manner - capturing the essence of the man. I didn’t know his father but was blown away and inspired by the speech he delivered that day. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would need that inspiration only 4 shorts years later when my father died.

Preparing my speech for my dad’s funeral, I drew strength from Sean’s words. I don’t know if I would have been as effective in honoring my dad that day if I didn’t hear his speech 4 years earlier.

Sean is one of my closest and dearest friends. He’s one of a handful of friends that I trust implicitly and know that I can rely on him for whatever my needs may be. I’m a better man because of his friendship.

Even though I live thousands of miles away, the bond we share will never be broken.

The psychologist and philosopher William James said it best with this quote:

“Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world”

Sean, I am glad and grateful that you are a part of my world.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Sean and his two sons

A Thing of Beauty or Nothingness?

The beginning of a John Keats poem (Endymion) is one of my favorites:

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing

Most probably aspire to have elements of life that are “A Thing of Beauty” – I know I do. When a person passes away, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for someone to say that his/her life was “A Thing of Beauty”.

The word “Nothingness” is powerful in the poem as well and something that most people probably would like to avoid.

In my opinion, a life with elements of Nothingness comes in many forms including but not limited to:

 A life lived for others
 A life with little or no “Me Time”
 A HIGH stress life
 A life with little or no risk/boldness
 A life where irresponsible mistakes are made over and over again
 A life without love
 A life with a pattern of chaos and/or drama in relationship after relationship
 A life ruled by emotions
 A life of worrying
 A life ruled by food
 A life of negativity
 A life of arrogance
 A life of not helping others
 A life spent complaining

Living a full and well-rounded life is not easy although if you are just sitting around waiting for life to happen to you, you will probably be waiting for a very long time. If you can relate to any of the aforementioned points above, I implore you to do something positive about it and don’t let your life simmer in Nothingness.

Grab life as hard as you can while there is still life to grab! Don’t be afraid to be laser-like in going after your dreams or goals. Time waits for no one.

A final question to ponder:

Does your life resemble “A Thing of Beauty” or are you more closely aligned with elements of Nothingness?

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Snow is always "A Thing of Beauty" - November 2010 on the coast of Southern Sweden (Picture by Fredrik)

Being Black on Amtrack

Although John Edgar Wideman is a celebrated author, I've only read a few of his novels. I've actually read more about his personal life as it is compelling. He was a Rhodes scholar and won the PEN/Faulkner Award, has a daughter who played professional basketball and has the double tragedy of a brother and a son in jail for life. 

A snapshot of his life:

John Edgar Wideman is one of the leading chroniclers of life in urban black America. An author who intertwines ghetto experiences with experimental fiction techniques, personal history with social events, Wideman is the only artist who has won the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for literature twice.
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For Wideman, an Oxford-trained scholar, that process of absorbing a community and relating its history artistically has provided grist for complex revelations on family relationships, isolation, and the search for self.
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The novel Hiding Place deals with a young boy on the run from a petty robbery that turned deadly. The situation is very similar to the circumstances surrounding the incarceration of Robby Wideman. Robby, the author's younger brother, was sentenced in 1976 to life in prison for his part in a larceny/murder case. Wideman sought to understand his brother's plight, publishing Brothers and Keepers, in 1984. The book, Wideman's only major nonfiction piece to date, attempts to address the difficult questions of "success" and "failure" on white society's terms as well as the sense of guilt Wideman felt about his brother's fate.
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Tragedy struck again in 1986. Wideman's second son, Jacob, fatally stabbed a fellow camper during an outing in Arizona. Both boys were sixteen. Facing the death penalty, Jacob Wideman agreed to plead guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. John Wideman has steadfastly refused to comment on the case in interviews. "I don't like to talk about it," he said.
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In 1965 he married Judith Ann Goldman, an attorney, with whom he has three children: Daniel, Jacob, and Jamila. That marriage ended in divorce in 2000. In 2004 he married a former French journalist, with whom he resides on the lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City.
(http://www.answers.com/topic/john-edgar-wideman)

In early October, he wrote an insightful op-ed for the New York Times called, "Seat Not Taken". 

I’m a man of color, one of the few on the train and often the only one in the quiet car, and I’ve concluded that color explains a lot about my experience. Unless the car is nearly full, color will determine, even if it doesn’t exactly clarify, why 9 times out of 10 people will shun a free seat if it means sitting beside me.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/opinion/07Wideman.html?scp=1&sq=wideman&st=cse)

I implore you to read it as it clearly presents how race still matters in the USA despite the progress made - progress that has given America our first black President.

As a man of color, I could easily identify to the "casual experiment" the author describes. Throughout my life, I've noticed similar instances although never thought to formalize my observations.

The article is printed in its entirety below. I feel it's important for everyone to read especially those who have little or no knowledge about this aspect of race in the USA.

Happy Gswede Sunday!
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October 6, 2010

The Seat Not Taken

By JOHN EDGAR WIDEMAN

AT least twice a week I ride Amtrak’s high-speed Acela train from my home in New York City to my teaching job in Providence, R.I. The route passes through a region of the country populated by, statistics tell us, a significant segment of its most educated, affluent, sophisticated and enlightened citizens.

Over the last four years, excluding summers, I have conducted a casual sociological experiment in which I am both participant and observer. It’s a survey I began not because I had some specific point to prove by gathering data to support it, but because I couldn’t avoid becoming aware of an obvious, disquieting truth.

Almost invariably, after I have hustled aboard early and occupied one half of a vacant double seat in the usually crowded quiet car, the empty place next to me will remain empty for the entire trip.

I’m a man of color, one of the few on the train and often the only one in the quiet car, and I’ve concluded that color explains a lot about my experience. Unless the car is nearly full, color will determine, even if it doesn’t exactly clarify, why 9 times out of 10 people will shun a free seat if it means sitting beside me.

Giving them and myself the benefit of the doubt, I can rule out excessive body odor or bad breath; a hateful, intimidating scowl; hip-hop clothing; or a hideous deformity as possible objections to my person. Considering also the cost of an Acela ticket, the fact that I display no visible indications of religious preference and, finally, the numerous external signs of middle-class membership I share with the majority of the passengers, color appears to be a sufficient reason for the behavior I have recorded.

Of course, I’m not registering a complaint about the privilege, conferred upon me by color, to enjoy the luxury of an extra seat to myself. I relish the opportunity to spread out, savor the privacy and quiet and work or gaze at the scenic New England woods and coast. It’s a particularly appealing perk if I compare the train to air travel or any other mode of transportation, besides walking or bicycling, for negotiating the mercilessly congested Northeast Corridor. Still, in the year 2010, with an African-descended, brown president in the White House and a nation confidently asserting its passage into a postracial era, it strikes me as odd to ride beside a vacant seat, just about every time I embark on a three-hour journey each way, from home to work and back.

I admit I look forward to the moment when other passengers, searching for a good seat, or any seat at all on the busiest days, stop anxiously prowling the quiet-car aisle, the moment when they have all settled elsewhere, including the ones who willfully blinded themselves to the open seat beside me or were unconvinced of its availability when they passed by. I savor that precise moment when the train sighs and begins to glide away from Penn or Providence Station, and I’m able to say to myself, with relative assurance, that the vacant place beside me is free, free at last, or at least free until the next station. I can relax, prop open my briefcase or rest papers, snacks or my arm in the unoccupied seat.

But the very pleasing moment of anticipation casts a shadow, because I can’t accept the bounty of an extra seat without remembering why it’s empty, without wondering if its emptiness isn’t something quite sad. And quite dangerous, also, if left unexamined. Posters in the train, the station, the subway warn: if you see something, say something.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/opinion/07Wideman.html?scp=1&sq=wideman&st=cse)


Would the space between them be just as wide on Amtrack?

An Article a Friend Might Enjoy? - Send it!

Something I do on a regular basis is sending articles I've read to people I know.  In our busy world, it's refreshing to get an article via email or regular mail not to mention the thought behind it. I try to make sure it's enjoyable or interesting for the person.

Recently, a good friend sent me a newspaper clipping of a building in my former Brooklyn neighborhood. This friend and I lived directly across from the dwelling for many years. It was abandoned during much of my time there although I did witness the transformation to condominiums.

A few paragraphs from the New York Times article are below:

The 4.5-story building, known more popularly as the Graham Home for Old Ladies, was the creation of John B. Graham, an apparently generous 19th-century lawyer who financed the living quarters “in consequence of his sympathy with the indigent gentlewomen who had, by previous culture and refinement, been unfitted to accept willingly the public asylum provided by the state,” according to the Clinton Hill Historic District Designation Report of 1981.

Back in the 1800s, to be accepted as a resident, “a lady had to be over 60 and bring satisfactory testimonials of the propriety of her conduct and the respectability of her character,” according to an article in The Fort Greene Association Newsletter, published in 2001, the year the building was converted into 25 condos, “and come provided with a good bed and furniture for her room.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/realestate/31Deal1.html?scp=1&sq=a+refuge+lives+on+as+a+condo&st=nyt

Next time you come across an interesting article, take a few moments to email it to someone or drop it in the mail. I don't receive many in the aforementioned manner although when I do, it always brings a smile to my face.

I encourage you to read this historical piece particularly if you have lived in Brooklyn.   Thanks for sending it T!

Happy Gswede Sunday!


Condominiums today, this is how it appeared in the 19th century.

Being Sick Often EQUALS Being out of Balance

While listening to Tony Robbins (www.tonyrobbins.com) last month, he mentioned that he hasn’t missed an event since he began motivating people. He wasn’t bragging, only letting listeners know that it’s possible to remain healthy despite a hectic travel schedule – a schedule that is demanding and exposes him to numerous viruses.

The audio tape was on the subject of health including the “whys” which make us vulnerable to disease. He spoke in detail about how the body works and the way many of us don’t put ourselves and our health first. It was clear from his dialogue that when one is out of balance with unhealthy habits (i.e. improper nutrition, high stress, lack of exercise and limited “Me Time”), it’s easy to fall victim to sickness.

It was refreshing to hear this from an expert as I have been baffled at times by the prevalent sickness I’ve witnessed (children and adults) during my life, particularly here in Sweden during the last 6 years. After listening to Tony, it now makes perfect sense.

I agree with his health philosophy, and fortunately have experienced remarkable health my entire life. In almost 5 decades, there have been less than 10 days where I didn’t feel good; a few days with an upset stomach and two days of a high temperature. I’m grateful for this blessing as it has helped me to fiercely target my goals and dreams. My good health is no fluke as I put a high priority on being in balance and maintaining a lifestyle conducive to good living.

My focus has been laser-like in making sure that my stress levels are low and getting big doses of “Me Time”. In my opinion, these two vital areas are essential to feeling good and staying in balance. I simply cannot do without my “Me Time”, especially the passion I love most, writing.

Keep in mind that one doesn’t need to excel in every area of a healthy lifestyle – the key is to have a strong balance. I sleep less than the average person (6 hours) and enjoy delicious yet unhealthy food occasionally although I balance it out with extreme patience, helping others, a positive attitude, not worrying, a loving family and doing things I enjoy on a daily basis.

Here’s a quote from the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden:

“Balance is crucial in everything we do. Along with love, it’s among the most important things in life. I strove for balance in my leadership and coaching and taught that balance was necessary for Competitive Greatness: The body has to be in balance; the mind has to be in balance; emotions must be in balance. Balance is important everywhere and in everything we do”
(Wooden on Leadership, chapter 8, McGraw Hill publishing)

In previous articles, I’ve written about the importance of TAKING CARE OF YOU. I’ve also shared my view with acquaintances and some of my inner circle, particularly when they express how often they are sick or how difficult life has been.

When I inquire and dig deeper into their lifestyles, 95% of the time it boils down to stress (job, family or kids), lack of “Me Time”, worrying, bad nutrition, no exercise or not living the life they desire. They often realize that they are living life for others or their jobs or their family and not doing what should be priority 1 – taking care of themselves.

If you or those you love can relate to any portion of what you have read, I implore you to begin the process of caring for yourself BETTER and MORE INTENSELY. If a good friend or family member is suffering in this manner, don’t be afraid to lovingly confront them in order to inspire them to improve their life.

I love life too much to let sickness or unhappiness tarnish even one precious day. What that means is my mind, body and soul are priority 1! Most importantly, this makes me a better husband, father, son and friend because I am usually in a strong and happy frame of mind when I am dealing with the daily challenges of life.

Being in balance keeps me fresh, energetic and ready to tackle life’s obstacles. Can I improve in some areas? Of course and I consistently work on ways to enhance aspects of my lifestyle. As long as I have balance, I’m confident that my body will take care of itself and avoid sickness.

The words of a former Coach Wooden player sum up it up well:

“He always talked about balance: body balance, scoring balance, team balance, and most of all, mental and emotional balance. Your feet have to be in balance. Your body has to be in balance over your feet. Your head needs to be in balance with your body and arms. He said if you’re not in balance, you’ll eventually fall over, and he meant it in more ways than one.

I came to see balance as one of the keys to success not only in basketball, but in life. When things get out of balance, it’s generally not good. Everything needs balance. That one word he kept drilling at us – balance – has stuck with me, became important in how I try to do things.”
(Wooden on Leadership, chapter 8, McGraw Hill publishing)

Are you in balance?

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede's first priority is living a balanced life. What about you?

Not Appreciating what HE has

An unappealing characteristic is “Not appreciating what one has”.

Below is the snapshot of a man who falls into this category and he was okay with me writing about his life as long as I didn’t use his name. He thought that maybe it could be insightful for others who might relate to his experience.

A husband and father and from what I observe, he is good in both roles. He takes his responsibility seriously although he knows he can be a better husband and more patient with his children. He’s well liked and people enjoy being around him yet high stress is a constant in his life – something most people don’t see.

In addition, he isn’t concerned with recharging his batteries and soothing his soul by having weekly “Me Time” – time that is essential for all of us.

His wife is kind and calm. From what he tells me, she could improve in the wife category. According to him, she is a wonderful mother and he admires her loving and patient ways with their children. She’s one of the most likable people I know.

Both are career oriented/ambitious and have been successful in their occupations. Infidelity has never been a problem in their marriage as far as I know. The stress of marriage with their small children presents daily challenges.

What he talks about, sometimes incessantly, is how unhappy he is with his situation – primarily his marriage. It was puzzling the first time I heard it and continues to baffle me. In my opinion, he has a good life (which I have told him) – a life admired by more than a few.

I’ve counselled people on both sides of the fence, those truly unhappy and those who say or feel they are unhappy yet are only masking the true unhappiness - themselves. This man falls into the latter category and my advice to him is usually similar to the advice I give to people in his situation. I let them know in no uncertain terms to “Appreciate what they have”.

One of his issues is thinking that his life should be super exciting all the time. He gets irritated when the small kids are whiny or the wife is tired from a long day and only wants to rest or his job inbox is overloaded or life in general is stressing him out…just to name a few. In addition, his outer family members (generally) are not the caring types which he allows to affect his mind and behavior.

He must have thought that life with kids and a wife would be similar to his previous single life. I’ve told him time and time again that life with small kids, dual careers and a marriage is hectic and challenging for most people I know. Also, nobody has a thrilling life all the time!

The key for him is appreciating the positive blessings and not dwelling on the tough or negative moments. A little positivity could help him immensely. He tends to put the blame on the marriage (or other outside elements) instead of looking inside himself at the real problem – his damaged soul.

Another plus in his life is that he and his wife have “date nights” which I’ve told him to be thankful for. After speaking to numerous people about their lack of time alone with their spouse since their kids were born, what he has is special.

His main issue is thinking that the “grass is greener” in another life he dreams about or admires in others – again looking outside instead of inside. Unfortunately, far too many men (and women) share this same warped sense of reality and often leave situations they later regret.

In my experiences with the relationship breakups/divorces of those close to me, the grass is rarely greener. Sometimes yes, most often no.

Let’s look at his positives:

 He and his wife have successful jobs and careers
 Both are healthy
 They have “date nights”
 Their children are happy, smart and healthy
 While his outer family is nothing to be desired, they are supportive towards him
 His wife is patient, calm and deals with stress much better than he does
 She’s a wonderful mother (his words)
 His wife is one of the more likable people I know
 He is very likable and has numerous close friends – more than most

Is there really any point looking at the negatives?

Everyone has negatives (or challenging moments as I tend to say) in their life or things they don’t like although I find no use in dwelling on them especially when the positives far outweigh the negatives - as they do for him.

If the negatives outweigh the positives, then a change should be a consideration. A good friend married a person no one thought was good for him. We did a positive/negative list with him before the marriage and the negatives were more than double the positives. He got married anyway. Needless to say, the relationship was soon over and everyone is happy that he made the change. The “grass was greener” for him as his is now happily married the second time around.

When a simple list like the aforementioned is done with people contemplating a major life change, they usually see the light. Fortunately, for this man, he has a few close friends who he trusts and opens up to about his life. For the most part, they have given him advice similar to mine. That’s what good friends are for.

To have a more fulfilling life and begin the healing process of his soul, he needs to improve in three main areas:

1) Patience – Being impatient has very few benefits. Most of the people I admire or respect are patient people.

2) Stress - A high level of stress can make life difficult in many areas including a major breakdown. I realize that it’s not easy to lower one’s stress although to not work on improving it can be extremely detrimental to one’s health.

3) “Me Time” – Maybe the most important to master for one’s happiness. I wrote an article about it and told my friend “that there is nothing more important than daily or weekly “Me Time” to do the things that you enjoy”.   He read the article and knows that I get mine EACH AND EVERY DAY so I think it has helped him.

The link to “Master your Me Time” is below:

http://gswede-sunday.blogspot.com/2009/05/master-your-me-time.html

He’s doing better now and his complaints have decreased considerably which is a step in the right direction. He still has a long way to go in order to improve in the “Me Time” and stress area although his patience has improved. It would be sad and disappointing to see him leave his family only because he wasn’t happy with himself. It’s very difficult to be happy in most relationships if you don’t take care of number 1 (YOU!) first.

In my opinion, I could almost guarantee that his “grass wouldn’t be greener” in any other situation.

If nothing else, I know he has a better appreciation of the positives in his life.

I wish him well.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

One can appreciate the beauty of autumn, yet fail to appreciate the beauty in their own life. (Picture by Helena)

Mississippi - Two Women, An Outrageous Injustice

When I first read about these two women, I was beyond surprised as I had never heard of something "so utterly inhumane" as Bob Herbert of the NY Times wrote this past week.

If ever there was a punishment that DIDN'T fit the crime, it's this one. Keep in mind as your read the paragraphs below, that there have been murders in America released from prison in less than ten years.

Here's a snippet from the article about this severe injustice:

It was not the kind of crime to cause a stir. No one was hurt and perhaps $11 was taken.

They were convicted by a jury and handed the most draconian sentences imaginable — short of the death penalty. Each was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in state prison, and they have been imprisoned ever since. Jamie is now 38 and seriously ill. Both of her kidneys have failed. Gladys is 36.

This is Mississippi we’re talking about, a place that in many ways has not advanced much beyond the Middle Ages.

The authorities did not even argue that the Scott sisters had committed the robbery. They were accused of luring two men into a trap, in which the men had their wallets taken by acquaintances of the sisters, one of whom had a shotgun.

It was a serious crime. But the case against the sisters was extremely shaky. In any event, even if they were guilty, the punishment is so wildly out of proportion to the offense that it should not be allowed to stand.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/opinion/12herbert.html?emc=eta1

Not only is a sentence like this completely ridiculous, it's an outrageous waste of taxpayer money.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour should do the honorable thing and release these two women. If not, this inhumane sentence will continue to shine an unfavorable light on a state that has had more than its share of darkness.

One of these dark moments was the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evars:

Dropping out of high school at 17 to join the army, Evers served in World War II. Returning home, he finished high school and later graduated from Alcorn A & M College. After working at Magnolia Mutual Insurance, one of the few black-owned businesses in the state, Evers became an NAACP field secretary in Jackson. His civil rights work made him many enemies, and on June 11, 1963, Evers was shot and killed by white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith. His wife, Myrlie Evers-Williams, carried on his work.
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0878426.html

Do the right thing Gov. Barbour........ We are watching.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Musician Jonathan Butler - 2 Random Conversations

My first encounter with the music of South African guitarist and singer Jonathan Butler was at a sold out concert in Boston, MA.  Although I knew some of his music, I was blown away by his nimble guitar playing and extraordinary voice. That night, he became a Gswede favorite!

One year later, I was on vacation in London – aimlessly walking around a huge flea market. I‘ve never been that interested in these type of all day selling places so I was passing the time by "people watching" which is never boring.

I spotted a man who probably had my same mindset as he was sitting alone on a step. He looked very familiar. As I got closer, it became very apparent who it was. I’m not surprised very often although this moment was a big one – it was Jonathan Butler.

Never being shy about approaching well known or famous people, I told him how much I enjoyed the aforementioned concert and how his music had touched me.  He was gracious and we spent a few minutes talking.

As you probably inferred, I was not happy about going to this flea market. I compromised that day as my girlfriend at the time wanted to go.  Since then, I have tried to make a habit of embracing situations/invitations I wasn’t fond of as one never knows what interesting moments may occur.

About ten years later, I became Director of PR and Advertising for a financial organization.  Part of my responsibility was promoting the company utilizing sports sponsorships and concerts – one of the most fun aspects of my new job. There were numerous events throughout the year including the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers along with a diverse group of concerts. A Long Island jazz concert would give me my second random meeting with Jonathon Butler.

My company was the major sponsor of most concerts we were involved in and this jazz concert was no exception. I had carte blanche for this event including but not limited to backstage passes and guest invitations. Never being one to exploit my privileges in business, I only invited 3 close friends.

It was a beautiful and warm summer night and I was more excited than usual as I knew I would have some quality time with Jonathan Butler. I didn’t mention to my friends that they were going to have special VIP access, including pre-concert drinks to mingle with the artists.

They were beyond thrilled when we arrived and were escorted to a private area filled with great food, drinks and interesting musicians. After meeting and greeting nearly everyone in the VIP section, I asked Jonathon to sit at our table so we could get some private time with him. My guests learned about his life and rise to stardom despite the conditions he grew up in. It was a wonderful thirty minutes for all of us.

For those who may not know his music or anything about him, below is a snapshot:

Butler grew up in the townships of South Africa, the youngest of 12 children. He started singing and playing guitar at age seven. Even before he reached age ten, he traveled cross-country performing in villages with a 100-member troupe making money to help support his family. The audiences would vary from poverty-ravaged black townships to opulent halls open only to whites. Traveling accommodations were dismal and atrocious. In his travels, the young entertainer could neither comprehend the extreme destitute nor the harsh treatment he endured and bared witness to under the reign of Apartheid. Afrikaans was his native tongue, but he learned English in his travels. (http://www.jonathanbutler.com/bio)

Our time with Jonathan was special as he inspired us with stories of his challenging childhood along with his love of music. In addition, he couldn’t have been more kind to my guests; not dissimilar to our first meeting ten years earlier.

To gain a small taste of his life and talent, take the time to watch this ten minute video interview (he sings!) from the Tavis Smiley program. 

http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/archive/201010/20101005_butler.html#video

Every time I hear his powerful and soulful voice, it moves me. If you love music, you may be moved as well.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Jonathan Butler - (http://www.jonathanbutler.com/)

Stock Symbol SIRI – Great Product BUT …should you own the stock?

In the summer months of 2009, I told a group of friends about Sirius XM Radio, Inc. (SIRI). I encouraged them to consider a purchase. The stock was around .60 cents at the time.

In mid 2010, I informed a similar albeit smaller group of friends that they should consider a purchase of SIRI. The price had risen to .90 cents.

As far as I know, only one person acted on my recommendation which surprised me.

Many of them knew about my success over the years with this stock. I wanted them to share in my success although I only gave them a tidbit of information about SIRI (www.sirius.com).

I could have written specific facts and easily convinced some to buy the stock but I believe it it’s essential for anyone considering a stock purchase to do their own homework and research about the company. In addition, one should talk to people who are in the financial field or those you respect who have managed their finances well.

Those I told probably didn’t want to “put in the time” to review SIRI thus missing out on a good investment.

This past week the stock was in the $ 1.20 range.

For those in the USA who don’t know about this product, I encourage you to explore it as I love the product and enjoy it immensely when I am in one of the 50 states. While driving in a car, there is nothing better in my opinion.

A brief description of the company is below followed by a recent news link on the stock:

Sirius XM Radio Inc. has two principal wholly owned subsidiaries, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and Satellite CD Radio Inc. The Company is engaged in broadcasting its music, sports, news, talk, entertainment, traffic and weather channels in the United States for a subscription fee through its satellite radio systems, the SIRIUS system and the XM system. The SIRIUS system consists of four in-orbit satellites, approximately 125 terrestrial repeaters that receive and retransmit signals, satellite uplink facilities and studios. The XM system consists of four in-orbit satellites, over 650 terrestrial repeaters that receive and retransmit signals, satellite uplink facilities and studios. Subscribers can also receive certain of its music and other channels over the Internet. (Reuters)

http://en_gb.www.smallcapnetwork.com/What-Traders-Are-Buying-Today-SIRI-CSIQ-BIDU-NFLX-and-FAS/s/article/view/p/mid/3/id/449/

For those who own the stock or are familiar with the company, you’re probably as big a fan as I am. Whether it be talk radio, sports or news… nothing compares to the line-up of SIRI. Just having the music is worth it yet one gets so much more with this satellite radio giant!

To give you some aspects of my financial insight, below you will find 2 articles from the Gswede Sunday archives:

“World Financial Crises, are you Swimming or Sinking” from October of 2008
http://gswede-sunday.blogspot.com/2008/10/save-for-sunday.html

“Big Bank or Community Bank” from 2009
http://gswede-sunday.blogspot.com/2010/01/big-bank-or-community-bank.html

Here’s my plain yet potentially profound SIRI advice:

If you enjoy the stock market and like some risk and volatility (I do), SIRI could be a stock for you. As you may know, stock volatility can be a good thing for an investment if one pays close attention to a stock’s inevitable ups and downs.

Should you buy the stock? That decision is up to you.

If you asked me, I would simply say to consider SIRI for your portfolio. If you are a first-timer in the stock market, SIRI is probably not the proper choice. At the very least, make sure you have this wonderful product in your car or home, especially if you like to listen to a vast assorment of entertainment.

And yes, I currently own the stock.

Happy Gswede Sunday!


Remembering Elmer – Good Friend, Good Man, Good Times

Although I thought nothing of it at the time, a “moment” with a friend would turn out to be the beginning of his end.

The moment was in December 2006 and guests were enjoying our latest networking event. My friend Roland and I had planned it and were the hosts. Near the end of the night, Elmer Blackwell mentioned that he wasn’t feeling well – something I never heard him say as he was always full of energy. I could tell that he wanted to stay since he was never one to miss a fantastic night. He left shortly after our conversation.

Less than a week later, I received a phone call from a close friend of Elmer’s. The news was not good – Elmer was in the hospital and it was serious. Although the friend was vague, she left no doubt that his health had taken a significant blow. Elmer told her to call me. I later found out that I was one of the first friends he asked for.

When I received the call, I was tired and heading home from work. Despite only wanting to go to my apartment and relax, I immediately went to the hospital. It was soon clear that I made the right decision.

Entering Elmer’s hospital room was bittersweet. I was glad to be there as a good friend although my heart was heavy as he informed me that it had been a rough couple of days – days where he was fighting for his life. He seemed comfortable and we had a warm conversation. There was little doubt in my mind that his two years as an ex-pat in Stockholm were coming to a close.

I also saw the fighting spirit in Elmer that night as the ordeal he described could have easily killed him but he was determined to live.

Elmer and I shard many good times together whether it be with friends, at events or enjoying a fine dinner. One of the things I liked about Elmer was his spontaneity, often calling me the night before to see if I would join him or his friends for dinner. I appreciate when one is spontaneous so I usually joined him if my schedule allowed.

In addition, he was frequently open for organizing or participating in an event, including hosting gatherings at his own apartment. Two events at his home come to mind when I think of Elmer:

1) A social networking event in late 2005

Roland, Elmer and I organized this Friday, after work gathering and it was a fabulous mix of Swedes and foreigners – a mix that is far too infrequent and is sorely needed in Stockholm. We had great food, good music and most importantly, our guests met interesting people and engaged in diverse conversations.

2) A Halloween Masquerade Party in October of 2006

This night was of one of the best events that I have ever been associated with. Again, organized by the aforementioned threesome, it was an invitation only Masquerade party. The diversity of the costumes and guests exceeded our expectations. We even had a spontaneous “best costume” contest where participants proudly showcased their look, often dancing across the floor.  As a host, it can be difficult to enjoy your own event although I loved every minute of this night!

Each year since our October party, someone has mentioned the event and it always brings a smile to my face. You can gain some aspects of the excitement at the link below:

(http://gswede-events.blogspot.com/2006/10/october-28-2006-2006-masquerade-party.html)

Within a month after seeing Elmer in the hospital, he was stable and on his way back to the USA. I was happy that we both kept in touch after he left Sweden. He was frequently upbeat after a positive treatment in the USA although when his health was less than stellar, his emails reflected his tough battle.

Subsequent emails were tough to read as his battle with a rare form of cancer (Multiple Myeloma) was taking its toll on him. One day, the emails stopped.

Although our friendship was less than two years, Elmer was a man I liked and respected. He worked extremely hard as the CEO of 3M in Sweden yet still had super high energy outside of work hours. In addition, he was funny, smart and relentlessly upbeat and positive. His positivity was refreshing especially in a country like Sweden where such positivity is a rare thing. Also, he was genuine, never trying to be anything other than himself

Despite a strong fight for three years, the end finally came – Elmer died on September 18, 2009. If you want to read more about his life, you can visit the following link:

(http://www.tributes.com/show/Elmer-Blackwell-86811193

Elmer was a good man and a good friend. I was fortunate to know him and enjoy his friendship for two years. There is not a year that goes by when his smile, positivity or energy is not thought of. Had his health not deteriorated, I can only imagine how much fun my inner circle and I would have had with him. Life often confounds when a young life (he was 46) is swept away although I am grateful for our short time together.

Rest in Peace Elmer.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The late Elmer Blackwell (left) and Gswede friend Kevin Ryan in 2006

"White Shadow" couldn't help Turkey as USA wins World Championship Gold

It was very interesting to read how one of my favorite TV shows (White Shadow), helped the popularity and expansion of basketball in Turkey. Their dedication to the game helped them to reach the Finals of the World Championships.

Though the show had modest USA ratings, in Turkey it was a BIG hit.

I implore you to read the article titled, "Turkey Channeled "White Shadow" as Basketball Caught On". A few paragraphs and the link are below:

Turkey’s rapid rise as a basketball power can be traced, in part, to “The White Shadow,” whose 54 episodes appeared on black-and-white TV here from 1980 to 1982.

“It made people aware of basketball in Turkey,” said Alper Yilmaz, a former national team player who works in the front office of Efes Pilsen, a club in Istanbul that has won 13 Turkish League titles since its founding in 1976.

“There was already basketball in Turkey,” Yilmaz added, “but after that show, everyone started playing.”

“ ‘The White Shadow’ effect is real,” Aytac Erenler, a former player at Middle East Tech in Ankara wrote in an e-mail. “It immediately influenced crowds and even made parents look more positively to their children’s passion for shooting a ball to a rim attached to the electric pole on the street for hours.”
(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/10/sports/basketball/10whiteshadow.html?scp=1&sq=white%20shadow&st=cse)

The inept attitude and play of the USA over the years at these championships was never surprising to me as we were lazy, unfocused and had a lousy structure. Not any more.

To see our dominance not only in these games but in all areas of basketball (USA holds every world title) is not surprising either because we finally have a system in place that gives us the opportunity to play our best basketball despite the differences in international rules and style of play.

The paragraphs below (followed by the link) tell the story of how times have changed:

Durant’s dominance underscores the larger theme of this American victory. The team came here without a single member of the 2008 gold-medal-winning Olympic team but won in part because of the larger infrastructure Jerry Colangelo has built at USA Basketball since 2006, in the wake of several embarrassing performances in the past decade.

American basketball now holds every major world title — Olympic, world championships, FIBA Under-19, FIBA Under-17, FIBA Americas Under-18 and FIBA Americas Under-16. The United States also qualified for the 2012 Olympics in London and overtook Argentina for the No. 1 world ranking, sealing a renaissance that had been years in the making.

“It’s a tribute to the structure and foundation we have for USA Basketball that we can turn over as many players that we have and be as successful as we’ve been,” said Colangelo, the organization’s managing director.

Krzyzewski’s international record in the period since taking over the team again in 2006 is now 49-1. He completed an impressive triple crown by winning the world championships gold to go with an Olympic title in 2008 and an N.C.A.A. title at Duke in 2010. After losing in his two previous tries at the world championships, Krzyzewski appeared emotional after the victory.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/13/sports/basketball/13fiba.html?_r=1&ref=sports)

Over the past 16 years, some of my European friends would tease me or give that sly proud smile when the USA went down in defeat time after time. I don't think any of them are laughing now.

I tried to explain to them that if we ever truly cared, got focused and put a plan in place with the proper players, it would be EXTREMELY difficult to beat us despite the location. Being a former Division 1 basketball player, I hope they took my words to heart as my background should have elicited a bit of credibility.

Coach Ken Reeves from the "White Shadow" did a wonderful job of molding his kids and teaching them the game of basketball. Turkey gained a great deal of inspiration from the show and that is a beautiful thing. The rest of the world will need a bit of that "White Shadow" magic in order to take away our title as the World's best.

I wish our competitors well although I have a feeling that we will reign supreme for many years to come.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The end of a a thrilling practice - my "American Basketball Coach in Sweden" program in 2009.
(www.Gswede.blogspot.com)

George & Richard - "Running to Remember" September 11, 2001


This past Saturday, my colleague Richard Puttock and I ran the "Stockholm Half Marathon" in memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11, 2001.

It was a gorgeous day (exactly 9 years after 9/11) with intermittent sun and clouds. I didn't train in my typical fashion and had an August injury although I was determined to run the race. Richard trained well and was raring to go!

Our beginning was strong and we maintained a 2 hour pace for 60 minutes yet quickly decreased after the first hour (10K), due solely to my limited training. Richard was strong throughout and I encouraged him to go ahead of me several times as he could have done 1:45-2:00 hours. Being a good friend, he ran at my pace for the entire race. We finished at 2:22 and it was my most enjoyable half marathon experience.

During those tired moments, I thought of the 9/11 victims I knew:

-- Two gentlemen I played basketball with on a weekly basis. They were at the top of one of the towers.

-- A client who was the Head of HR for a financial company. Most of her employees and guests were ushered to safety due to her fast thinking and guidance. Unfortunately, the second plane hit before she was able to get out.

September 11 was a day I will never forget and I was grateful to play a part in helping people. The following link details my day:

(http://gswede-sunday.blogspot.com/2008/09/sept-11-2001-my-view-from-brooklyn-not.html)


Another goal for the race was to raise money for a charity who helps in the effort, aftermath or deterrent of tragedies like 9/11. The charity I chose is "The Children's Health Fund". In addition to focusing on children, I like that they respond in times of a national crisis.

Their website is http://www.childrenshealthfund.org/.  My youth basketball program (http://www.Gswede.blogspot.com) will donate $100.00 to the fund.

Here's a taste of what they do and have done:

The Children’s Health Fund (CHF) is committed to providing health care to America’s most medically underserved children and their families through the development and support of innovative primary care medical programs, response to public health crises, and the promotion of guaranteed access to appropriate health care for all children. Founded by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and pediatrician/child advocate Irwin Redlener, MD, in 1987, CHF launched its first program, the New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP), with one “big blue van,” a state-of-the-art mobile medical clinic that brought medical care directly to children with the greatest need and least access to care

The Fund also responds in times of national crisis to ensure the well-being of children, whose families would otherwise not be able to access primary and mental health care services. In the aftermath of 911 and Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew, CHF was among the earliest responders. During Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, CHF mobile clinics mobilized to respond to the hurricane evacuees’ health care needs. CHF has designed and designated mobile medical clinics that are prepared to respond to disasters or public health crises around the country.

If you would like to contribute to this charity, please go to the following link where you can donate in a variety of ways:

https://secure2.convio.net/chf/site/Donation2?df_id=1480&1480.donation=form1

For my collegues who may want to give, you can visit the CHF company matching link below as our organization participates in matching our donations for this or any qualified charity:

https://secure2.convio.net/chf/site/Donation2?idb=2058169387&df_id=1440&1440.donation=form1

Giving comes in many shapes and sizes but the main thing is to be consitent with your giving. I wrote a 2008 article on the topic called, "Giving is More Important than Ever" (http://gswede-sunday.blogspot.com/2008/12/yes.html).

Pass it along to someone you know who many need a little push to open up thier heart and begin the giving process.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

"Running to Remember" 9/11 - The joy of finishing a half marathon

Love's in Need of Love Today

When Stevie Wonder was a twenty-something, he gave us an album called, “Songs in the Key of Life”. For a young artist to produce such a beautiful, profound and relevant collection of songs was (and still is) inspiring.

One of many favorites from this classic 1976 album is “Love’s in Need of Love Today”.  A few verses are below:

Hate’s going round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
Before its gone too far

The force of evil plans
To make you its possession
And it will if we let it
Destroy ev-er-y-body

We all must take
Precautionary measures
If love and peace
You treasure
Then you’ll hear me when I say

Oh that
Love’s in need of love today
http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/steviewonder/lovesinneedoflovetoday.html

While listening to this song, one may think of the global terrorism threat (the force of EVIL plans, to make you its possession). Terrorism is indeed one of our biggest challenges although other underlying evils include but are not limited to:

-- The rising tide of anti-intellectualism and hate in America since President Obama was elected.

-- The discrimination many foreigners face when they apply for a decent job in Sweden.
(http://gswede-sunday.blogspot.com/2009/05/sweden-equal-society.html)

-- The greed of powerful banks and organizations around the world - arrogance that led to the world financial crises.

-- The awful food many of our children are given (particularly in the USA) at school and in the home.

In addition, hate and evil manifest in the way some of us or people we know treat family and friends, when narcissism rears its ugly head with those solely concerned with their own well being or in the lack of empathy, care and action displayed for those less fortunate souls around the globe.

To improve on these evils, we must adhere to Stevie’s words when he says, “We must all take precautionary measures, if love and peace you treasure”.

Precautionary measures come in many forms but the one thing they cannot lack is the boldness to peacefully confront, acknowledge your disdain for or keep out of your life those:

-- Who spew uneducated, hateful or racist words/actions.

-- Who discriminate against a qualified job candidate mainly because they aren’t comfortable with him/her.

-- Who are allowed to risk shareholder money with little or no consequences when the risk turns sour or puts the company in a dour financial situation.

-- Family or friends who don’t act in your best interests or are hateful/jealous.

-- Who care ONLY about themselves EVEN if they are a part of the family.

-- Parents you know or family members who give their precious children chips for dinner, coke at 2 years old or don’t prioritize proper nutrition. I have seen all the aforementioned and have heard of much worst. (the chips for dinner was given to a one year old in Sweden)

I implore you to listen to the song and reflect on which side of the fence you and those around you are on. Are you an asset to the evil or lack of love side or do you fall into the category of  “Compassion, Love and Peace”?

Let's all remember the words below and be diligent in spreading more positive love in our own circles, families, occupations and to our struggling brothers and sisters around the world.

Love’s in need of love today
Don’t delay, send yours in right away

Happy Gswede Sunday!


The beauty of sky, flight and water - Picture by Mia

The NBA's new "Miami Vice" - James and Wade

Like Crokett and Tubbs in 1984, the 2010 version of Miami Vice (sans guns) will be starring two of the NBA’s finest - Lebron James and Dwayne Wade.

Even though I’m a long-time Los Angeles Lakers fan, I’m excited to have another formidable foe in the East. In addition, the NBA must be happy to have Lebron out of the uninspiring Cleveland market.

I wasn’t surprised by his decision to take his talent and star power to Miami; I expected it as it was the right choice for a superstar who wanted to maximize his championship opportunities.

No other team could come close to offering James the succulent fruit of the Miami Heat. Here’s a taste:

-- Proven winner (5 NBA championships as Coach) in President Pat Riley

-- One of the NBA’s best players - Guard Dwayne Wade

-- A recent NBA championship in 2006

-- A third star and gifted big man who signed this year with Miami - Chris Bosh

-- A sizzling City - Miami, Florida

Could Cleveland, Chicago or New York offer the aforementioned heavy artillery? No way. I won’t even mention the other teams that were interested in James as their chances were slim to none in signing him.

Since James was a free agent (could sign with any team), his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers were in a good position as they could offer him more money than any other team. Although Cleveland was successful during the 7 years they had James, they never did much to add a Tubbs (#2) to his Crockett (#1).

I’ve been critical of James in the past as I felt that he could have led his team to at least one NBA championship considering they had the best regular season record in the NBA the past two years. In my opinion, Lebron knew that Cleveland had seen their best days. Both parties were at fault for not winning a championship which meant a breakup was not only the right thing to do but the best thing for everyone involved.

After reading what Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert said (“cowardly betrayal” was one) about Lebron’s decision, I’m glad he is no longer a Cavalier. Who would want to work for an owner who maligns a former employee because he exercised the option in his contract to seek employment elsewhere?
(http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5365793)

Lebron was the primary reason the Cleveland organization was successful and the value of the team undoubtedly increased as well. For that, Gilbert should be thankful. In addition, he was a model citizen who propelled the NBA to new heights.

Not choosing to sign with the Chicago Bulls was wise as it would have been an uphill battle following the legacy of the greatest basketball player ever, Michael Jordan (MJ). Lebron will never be an MJ and the comparison (by the media and friends) always irritated me as it wasn’t fair to either player. I wrote about Lebron and MJ on my sports blog earlier this year which you can read at the link below.

(http://gswede-sports.blogspot.com/2010/05/comparing-lebron-to-jordan-must-end-now.html)

Having worked at Madison Square Garden (MSG) in the 1990’s, I would have enjoyed watching Lebron perform on the the stage of “The World’s Most Famous Arena”. With the incompetent basketball leadership over the past decade at MSG, everyone knew that Lebron would never want to be a part of the underwhelming (I’m being nice) NY Knicks organization.

In 2001, James Dolan (current Chairman of MSG and Cablevision) was instrumental in pushing out Dave Checketts, who had done a very good job during his tenure as President of the New York Knicks, followed by his promotion to the top spot at MSG.

The statements regarding Checketts resignation were flowery on both sides but most people close to the situation knew the real deal. The Knicks began their Titanic sink after the 1999 NBA Finals (lost to San Antonio) but losing Checketts in 2001 was the beginning of the end. I was an employee during part of Dave’s reign and his leadership skills never failed to impress me.

The next seven years for the Knicks were a disaster at best including the hiring of Isiah Thomas, dismal performances, bad drafts and bad trades. The icing on the cake was Dolan’s unwavering support of Thomas when he was charged with sexual harassment, (MSG lost in court and paid millions) a choice that surprised many people including me.

Under Dolan’s leadership, if the Knicks had been coherent and even mildly competitive or competent, they would have had a great chance to sign Lebron. They blew it along with the tremendous sparkle they would have enjoyed for a decade. With James, New York City would have been the hottest ticket in sports.

In my opinion, here’s why Lebron made the right decision:

-- Didn’t want the Pat Ewing “No Ring” Label - Pat Ewing was a NY Knicks superstar who filled the seats at MSG every night but seemed to never complain or talk to management about getting a quality 2nd player. Translation - No NBA Championship.

-- Pat Riley (former coach and current President of the Miami Heat) - He was a collegiate star and quality role player in the NBA. In addition, he won 5 NBA titles as a head coach. I have yet to see an executive (except Dallas owner Mark Cuban) more passionate or intense about winning. It probably didn’t take long for Lebron to figure out that Pat was the best person to help guide him to the next level - An NBA Title.

-- Bosh and Wade - Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade were two of the most sought after free agents other than James. Why not team with them? James indicated that he wanted to have fun and with this dynamic triangle, fun should be ubiquitous.

-- City of Miami - Lebron’s appeal, image and sponsors should increase in a sizzling town like Miami. A superstar (like Kobe in LA) of his stature should be in a place that shines.

-- Wants to Win the NBA Finals - Lebron probably understands that an NBA Championship is the ultimate measure of success. By the way, it’s an opportunity he took less money to achieve as staying in Cleveland would have paid him the most.

Under the wise counsel of Pat Riley, this team could be magnificent. Jeff Van Gundy (former NBA coach and current announcer) said (link below) they are “indefensbile” and will break the NBA’s single season record of 72-10, currently held by the 1996 Chicago Bulls. At the very least, the future of the Miami Heat is very bright!

(http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/07/1766361/abcs-van-gundy-heat-will-break.html)

With James and Wade as the catalyst and Bosh as a dynamic third option, I expect this team to fiercely challenge the NBA’s top teams. If injuries stay to a minimum, I believe that they will win 2 NBA Championships and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a decade similar to my Lakers (2000-2010) with 4 or 5 titles.

Don Johnson (Crokett) and Phillip Michael Thomas (Tubbs) took fashion to a new level and were the main reason Miami Vice was one of the hippest and coolest shows on TV. The NBA’s New Miami Vice, James and Wade, have some of that same appeal and from the beginning have generated a boat load of PR and buzz along with great expectations.

Will there be some growing pains for this team? Probably. But once they begin to gel and find their rhythm, it will be a show that you don’t want o miss - just the like the original series that my college roommate and I never missed on a Friday night.

After their first NBA Title, I can envision James and Wade leaping into a sleek motorboat to celebrate (dressed in fancy pastels like Tubbs and Crokett) while heading to the Miami Heat championship party on the water.

The TV Series lasted 5 years. Let’s hope the New Miami Vice lasts longer and has just as much impact.

As an NBA fan and lover of basketball, I can’t wait.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Crockett and Tubbs took care of business yet always seemed to have fun. Will the new "Miami Vice" be as successful?

I've joined the Twitter Revolution!

From the moment Twitter blossomed, I realized it was going to be popular as everyone seemed to be talking about it simultaneously.

I don't think many people realized how powerful it would become although a good friend (entrepreneur and technology lover) probably envisioned its potential. Here's what he wrote to me:

Twitter is a real-time microblog/public SMS that allows people to share whatever they please, unedited, in the moment. While most things are inconsequential it's proven to take the veil off events that are usually narrated by media outlets and has been used as a revolutionary tool in events such as the Iran election protests. At the end of the day it will be defined by the users-- like any new media or tech resource.

A lawyer friend added his view:

Twitter is a message multiplier and an incredibly powerful tool for communicating with people all over the wold. From issues advocates in your community, to US Senators, to journalists across the globe.

I knew I would join the Twitter craze at some point especially since I have a weekly blog www.Gswede-Sunday.blogspot.com that is near and dear to me. Like Facebook, the Twitter Platform provides a great outlet for me or anyone seeking to spread or promote a message.

I wanted to wait a bit as I tend to let new technology evolve while keeping a watchful eye on it. At no point in the Twitter era did someone close to me complain or talk negatively about it - quite the opposite actually as friends kept singing its praises.

This month I joined the Twitter Revolution!

You can search for or find me at "Gswedes" if you want to follow me on Twitter. For those people, causes or groups I find interesting, I will add them to my list of followers.

Another entrepreneur (and architect) friend had these thoughts:

Just as I’m deciding to take the time to write this email to you, I get a CNN Breaking News update about another oil rig explosion of the coast of Louisiana…again!

I had a knee jerk reaction to first send out a mass email…but I couldn’t decide who to include and who to exclude. So, I immediately thought of posting something on Facebook from my Blackberry. I have both aps on my phone by the way.

So, in a nutshell when I want the world to know what I’m thinking, I post it on Facebook and when I want to the whole world to know what I’m thinking but I don’t mind a few folks knowing where I am mostly and maybe what I’m thinking, I post it on Twitter.

For those who may not know much about Twitter, below you will find a few paragraphs and a link from an article which provide a good description.

From its initial success, it seems that Twitter is here to stay. I'm glad to finally be a part of it.

Happy Gswede Sunday!
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Twitter, which was created by a 10-person startup in San Francisco called Obvious, is a heady mixture of messaging, social networking, "microblogging" and something called "presence," shorthand for the idea that people should enjoy an "always on" virtual omnipresence.

Twitter's rapid growth made it the object of intense interest and a fair amount of ridicule, as it was derided as high-tech trivia or the latest in time-wasting devices. But its use in Iran in the wake of the disputed presidential election of June 2009 to organize protests and disseminate information in the face of a news media crackdown brought it new respect.

"Twitterers" or "tweeters" send and receive short messages, called "tweets," on Twitter's Web site, with instant messaging software, or with mobile phones.
(http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/twitter/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=twitter&st=cse)

An entrepreneur friend who consistently utilizes Twitter