Archive for July, 2012

With my daughter entering her last month of pregnancy, and the London Olympics dominating the airwaves, I am reminded of the birth of my son. The Rocker was born on August 1st during the summer Olympics in LA. From our nest on the edge of a bird sanctuary in Pittsfield, MA, we got to know each other to the background of diving, swimming and gymnastic events. Without PCs or cable channels, the Olympic coverage was our only form of entertainment between nursing and napping. At his Bris, we had 2 Rabbis – the new one who had a portrait of Bob Dylan hanging in his office, and the elderly Rabbi Emeritus who has served the congregation for 60 years.

The Rocker was doubly blessed.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the Munich 11. Twelve years before my son’s Berkshire birthday, a group of Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes in cold blood in the Munich Olympic Village. And this year, while I was visiting with the Bride and later attending my brother the Viking’s funeral, I became vaguely aware of a petition that was signed by presidents and dignitaries around the world. The petition asked for a “moment of silence” during the opening ceremony, a pause to remember those athletes who had been slain in Munich because they were Jews. The IOC denied the petition. Instead they had a moment of silence for those who have died in war before the televised opening ceremony, before the Queen and her Corgis made their spectacular entrance.

Sportscaster Bob Costas said, “For many, tonight, with the world watching, is the true time and place to remember those who were lost, and how and why they died.” Then I began to hear more about this petition. It was nothing new, in fact 2 widows of the Munich 11, Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, have been asking the Olympic Committee for a moment of silence since the massacre happened in 1972.

“This is something the I.O.C. ought to do,” NY Rep Elliot Engel said. “Those in the I.O.C. said this is political, and they don’t want to have politics in the Olympic Games. It’s the opposite. It’s political not to have a moment of silence. And if it were any other nation but Israel, there would be a moment of silence long ago. It’s the decent thing to do.” http://london2012.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/munich-widows-to-meet-with-rogge-to-urge-moment-of-silence/

My first thought, after the tragedy in Colorado, upon seeing my beautifully serene Blue Ridge Mountains, was why stir up the pot. I had seen Spielberg’s movie “Munich,” and thought this is madness, a biblical blood feud. But then I thought about those widows, and the mothers of the Israeli athletes, and I thought about how political it was for all the Arab states to threaten a boycott of the games if a moment of silence were observed. http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/07/24/olympic-committee-vp-fear-of-arab-boycott-led-to-minute-of-silence-rejection/ “Moments of silence have been held at previous Olympic ceremonies, including one remembering the victims of the 9/11 attack at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.” And then I thought…never agin. We must keep remembering; it’s politics that placed the Black athlete’s fists in the air in 1968, and it was politics that thrust thousands of Nazi arms out in salute to Hitler on August 1, 1936 at the Berlin games. Politics is interwoven in everything we do, but a moment of silence is testament to our humanity.

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Bob sat down next to me at the graveside service, a handful of dirt in his hand. I gave him one of my most scathing looks and whispered, “This is not a Jewish ceremony, don’t throw that dirt in my brother’s grave.” On top of the purple and gold flowers cascading over the casket, the pall bearers filed by placing their boutonnieres in the arrangement. Then the minister started to speak about how in their reform (Presbyterian) tradition, emphasis is placed on the afterlife, and not on the body. And while reciting the prayer “…ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” the solemn/seersucker/suited/Southern preacher threw a handful of dirt in among the flowers. Bob turned and smiled at me.

“Isn’t religion useful?” I said, while driving along on our twelve hour road trip home. The book NPR was discussing with its author was What Happened to Sophie Wilder, by Christopher Beha. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/26/157424289/christopher-beha-on-faith-and-its-discontents Beha is a lapsed Catholic, a non-believer like me, and he wrote a fictional account about an old college love who converted to Catholicism. I was riveted. After the radio interview, our discussion ran deep. Losing a family member, even when it was expected and an end to endless suffering, can bring some clarity into our own lives. Life is fragile, hang onto the good times, and yes, isn’t religion “useful.” Bob and I were talking about the service, the minister’s warm and heartfelt tribute to Mike, who had told him time and time again, “You’re doing my funeral, you’re MY man!” No one could refuse my brother.

I grew up super-Catholic because my foster parents were Catholic and my dead Father had been a church-going Catholic and not a “cultural Catholic.” Sacred Heart School, Camp St Joseph for Girls, maroon beanies and bow ties followed by khaki shorts and mass every morning in the summer. Beha was asked when he lost his faith and I was thinking about my own fall from grace. Remember, I was 11 when I went to live with the Flapper forever. She married a Jewish man, a judge in our small town. I acquired Jewish step-siblings and my brother Jim went to Columbia University. My first foray into a temple was for Purim, when kids dressed up in costumes and made noise like a Jewish Halloween! The polar opposite of the Latin Mass. I was hooked. Dinner table talk became enlightening, expansive. The Flapper loved Buddhism and wanted to travel to Hong Kong; she had been raised Presbyterian I believe, but always said that organized religion was for sheep. Sundays became a day for sleeping-in, the New York Times and lox and bagels with whitefish – no more church-going for me. But since I could first form a thought in my head, I never did buy the idea that only Catholics would get into heaven…and limbo? After 9/11, I was permanently done with religion of any kind.

So what is faith and how do we keep it? Mike grew up Catholic, married a Baptist, and was buried near William Faulkner by a Presbyterian. My Jewish MIL bought my cemetery plot near hers, soon after I married her son. Was this marriage counselor trying to tell me something about ’till death do us part? My step-father is buried there, and so is Bob’s brother Richard. I once knew a rabbi who said we haven’t really grown up until we plan our own funeral. Mike lived his life his way, not looking for accolades but working tirelessly. We will never know all of his good deeds, because for such a powerful man, he was pretty humble. That was rule number one from the nuns. He loved Great Danes, and his elegant Carmen never left his room. Frank Sinatra was playing, and a brother-in-law spoke about the dog sculpture that always sat on his Vikings desk. Emblazoned on its backside were the words, “If you’re not first in line, the view never changes.”

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Because a life cannot be summed up by two business deals. Reblogged from: http://lynn-and-associates.com/blog-1/

Mike Lynn was my older brother. He passed away this past Saturday, July 21st in Oxford, MS. The cause was complications from a long illness. For the past two days, sports columnists have been writing about his 15 years as the General Manager of the Minnesota Vikings, his lopsided Herschel Walker trade with the Dallas Cowboys, and the remarkable deal he negotiated to get 10% of the Metrodome Suite Revenues for 99 years in perpetuity.

I have started this blog to let interested people know about the consulting and training programs I am developing for on-line webinars, however, I am going to depart this one time to reminisce about my big brother, and show a different perspective of the ‘Purple Prince’ I knew.

One of the things I help clients do is ‘profile’ key positions … identify the core competencies that are needed for a position. Then you can advertise looking for those skills, and create a custom behavioral interview to look for candidates who have demonstrated those skills. So here is my take on Mike Lynn’s core competencies, with some behavioral examples to support them.

Composure – mood regulation and self-control. For as long as I have known my brother, (some six decades), he has been a cool customer. He was introverted and didn’t show his emotions very often. He was hard to read, tough under pressure. In high school, his friends called him “Duke” a nick name also given to John Wayne …another tough guy. Sometimes I would come to his Viking office to visit and watch as people would come and go with all kinds of problems … drama. Mike avoided the drama. He would listen … light up a cigarette, take his time, think about what he was going to say before saying it, and then tell them what needed to be done. He had great ‘street smarts’, emotional intelligence. He was self-aware and in control of how he expressed his own emotions.

Results – Mike was a bottom line kind of guy. He was very persistent at getting what he wanted. When he got out of the Army, he went to Pace College in Manhattan for two days…that’s right two whole days. Six years older than me, he came home and threw his General Introduction to Psychology textbook on my bed and said to me …”Here you read this crap …I’m going to work and make some money.” I read the text, loved it, and became a psychologist, and he did indeed go out and make some money.

I’ll never forget the first time he told me his business was basically to “get asses in the seats”. He was (he told me anyway) at 18, the youngest theatre general manager in the Walter Reade Chain. He was a young regional manager for Dixie Mart and a regional manager for a chain of theatres in Memphis …sometimes letting Elvis book a private mid-night party at one of his theatres. From the very start, Mike had management jobs… line jobs where he was accountable for business results. My brother never had a support or staff job. Even after retiring from the Vikings he started a private supper club in Oxford Mississippi, not too far from his antebellum home in Holly Springs. Up until the end, on my last visit to see him, he was on the phone giving orders to his club’s general manger. And the psychologist in me couldn’t help but notice how his affect perked up, his energy increased, breathing steadied, and he seemed and acted at his best during those few minutes – ’running his club’ – as I observed him – in a state of flow – issuing orders. I sensed he was happy, he had a purpose.

Negotiating – He would often start out by telling some young rookie football player …”You may have been a big deal in high school, or college …but this is the NFL …and you are a rookie … you’re only worth ….” . His previously mentioned skills tie right in here ..being composed and difficult to read, he could put players and their agents on edge. He had good timing, he knew when to speak up, and more importantly, when to just sit quietly and wait. He was very good at reading people, understanding their hopes, fears, and motivations. In many ways my older brother was the applied psychologist in the family.

As the GM for the Vikings, Mike did the player negotiations and he brought in some great players in those days. He was able to both keep his composure and handle the heat. His negotiating strategy with me on the golf course was different. I was a better golfer than him, so he would just keep doubling down on our bets until he won and we were even. It was like a game, although I think it might have been a little more than a game to him!

Compassion – There was a soft and tender side to my brother that he only showed to a few people, which is why this one would surprise many, and have them question my credentials. The fact is, my brother reached out and helped a lot of people during his life, including mine on more than one occasion when I needed support. He was the steady rock, the person in the family who could be depended upon to come through and help when needed. And I think this is a skill he developed and nurtured as he aged. Sure he was a tough guy – he thought he had to be.

In charge, in control, but underneath it all was a poor kid who grew up in Scranton Pennsylvania, lost his father when he was 13, and saw his family hospitalized with a head on car crash three months later. We were hit by a drunk driver who never even got a ticket …it was 1949. I was only seven and I’m not sure how we survived as a family, but I do know that when someone in the family suggested we go on welfare, by brother was adamant …”no welfare …I’ll work …we’ll get by.” And we did. My sisters married doctors, I became a psychologist, he ran the Vikings and we all turned out okay. I hope you feel you can finally rest now big brother … rest in peace. When you were alive, sitting behind your desk, staring into my eyes … it was not easy telling you, ‘I love you’, but I do.

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I was just telling the Bride the story about the Flapper’s easiest birth. After her last doctor’s appointment had determined that baby girl was still in the breech position, the topic of “birth options” was a frequent theme – acupuncture, yoga, C-section? “How many crib sheets do I really need,” followed by, “Well she must be in that position for a reason.” My brother Mike was born at home, baby number four to a Pharmacist and his Flapper wife in Scranton, PA. My Mother was hanging clothes out on the line when she told a friend who was helping, to run and fetch the doctor. I imagined a young woman running through the backyards of that coal town, around fences and flapping sheets, hurrying by gardens and family pets to fetch the old doctor who was a friend of our Father. By the time he arrived, Mike was already coming into this world.

My memories cannot be trusted because I was not there for most of our family history. I was number six in that Year of Living Dangerously, when 13 year old Mike wanted to play basketball with a friend and so was spared the 1949 Independence Day tragedy. These are the stories I’ve heard: he was always hard working; he would gather coal to sell after our Father died; he was the most affected by our family’s loss. Later Mother told me she had to beat girls off of him with a shelaighly, he was that handsome. I believed her, to me he was like Paul Newman. But more than looks, he carried a certain confidence with him. When Mike was around, things would get done. He had a natural talent for business. This much I knew, when he walked into a room, all heads turned and the room hushed. Mike had charisma. As we entered the Layfayette Club for dinner, he’d say, “I’m here to eat, not to dine.”

Whenever we all descended on his beloved Walter Place in Holly Springs, MS he was delighted. His beautiful wife Jorja always made his Yankee siblings feel loved and comfortable. At his daughter’s wedding a few years ago, Bob got to know him a little better. They were the early risers, and so had some good talks over coffee with hummingbirds circling the backyard porch. Always the businessman, they discussed health care reform and the future of the music industry. Mike loved hearing about the Rocker and was so proud of his daughter, an Opera singer. Oh and another story I heard, Mike had a wonderful voice. The Flapper played Frank Sinatra records in the house non-stop. Later, in Memphis, he befriended Elvis. I think there was a part of him that wanted to be in show business. For one of the Flapper’s birthdays, he arranged to have Cab Calloway play at her party. Imagine that.

A generous man, he took care of our Mother in her golden years. If you needed help, you would ask him. One brother left for the Air Force and landed in Germany, another brother became a psychologist, exploring the landscape of the mind. But Mike was the pragmatist, always figuring out the best, fastest most efficient way to make a deal. And with him, a deal is a deal! He was a man of his word, telling his sons to always do, “The right and proper thing.” We will all miss you Mike. You entered this world quickly, like you just couldn’t wait to get started. And somehow we thought, you would never leave. http://www.twincities.com/vikings/ci_21129418/tom-powers-there-wont-be-another-like-mike

My love to Jorja and their children and grandchildren for always and forever.

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Tomorrow night at the Brooklyn Bowl, my son’s band, Parlor Mob, will be rockin the house. Music plays in his head and makes its way through his fingertips; always has, always will. Did I mention their latest record was voted iTunes “Rock Album of the Year?” Check it out here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dogs-special-edition/id460482531 And if you happen to be in the greater NY area, head on over the bridge!

I wish I could be there. But I’m in the Music City, helping with a baby nursery and cooking for a freezer. I love Nashville and the Newlyweds new home. Plenty of room for their 2 dogs, a baby girl (due August 31st) and her Grandma. Best thing ever, I have my very own 2nd floor suite!

Let’s all tell that baby she has to turn around pronto. She is sitting head up (breech) in the exact same spot her mama settled into when I was about 6 months along and all about natural childbirth. She needs to know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to enter this world. Although come to think of it, whatever she wants to do will be just fine. We can’t wait to meet you sweetheart. Tomorrow it’s off to find a crib mattress! Oh, and we think she will need a piano too.

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Poor Mitt. Talking GOP heads are trying to convince us all that 3 years mean nothing, that from 1999 to 2002 their guy was “retroactively retired” despite evidence that he was in fact involved and listed as CEO, president and chairman of Bain while they were actively outsourcing jobs. Who are we to believe? On one hand, that he had no “active” involvement, that he was too busy with the Olympic Committee; or on the other hand as Huff Post reported, “…that he was still listed as one of two managing members at a Bain Capital entity, …including on a filing form from 2002, and that he attended board meetings, signed documents and received a six-figure salary.” So he was paid $100,000 for each year (not counting dividends and bonuses) plus his undisclosed (like his taxes) parting financial package. Turns out, the rich are very different!

I asked my business consultant what he thought about the debacle. After all, Bob left his business back in NJ and commuted back and forth, before selling all shares and handing over the keys to one of his partners. He said that maybe a year, sure he’d give him a year to get his affairs in order. But 3 years? To us, this sounds rather misleading. When you have started a business and it’s been your baby for many years, the work never stops. Every small and large business owner knows this. Emails and phone calls continue into the night, and all through the weekend. Particularly since Bob’s urgent care was open all weekend. I remember the middle of the night call in VA from the security office in NJ, and the calls to the local police department to determine that a balloon had been setting off the motion detectors in the office. This whole “part-time,” not really retired schtick is not only misleading, it’s disingenuous.

Let’s stop all the attack ads, let’s start being honest boys. We all know that this retroactive excuse is just another point in a pattern of duplicitous deceptions. We all know you made tons of money, so show us the tax returns Mitt. Show us the money! Maybe those independents sitting on the proverbial fence have seen enough? Your poll numbers have been slipping with women; we know how you feel about Planned Parenthood, Mitt, why not try some transparency for a change and shed some light on your finances?

My little town is gearing up for another bus trip, but this time we’re heading for The Hill. Lace up your sneakers ladies, estrogen will be flowing by the Potomac in August. If you’re tired of all this male bonding (and religious distraction) over our sex lives, let’s go retro and March Rally on Washington…again.

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The new feminism! This is my next read, thank you Caitin!

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“Nothing and no one goes unchanged.” If I wanted to write my life story through a music score, this R&B classic would feature prominently. There was a time in my life when this song played non-stop in my car’s tape deck. Written by Benard Ighner in 1974, it was first performed by Quincy Jones, then later in 1977 brilliantly, of course, by George Benson. I most likely was driving through tears over some broken promise – very Dustin Hoffman rushing over the Golden Gate to rescue his lost love.

The biggest recession I’ve lived through was that 70’s show. Post-college and divorce, I filled out the application to be a stewardess for TWA (remember them). My older sister, Kay, was a Lipstick Feminist – flying for National Airlines in the 60’s when she had to ‘make weight’ and could not be married with children. My French was good and I thought I had half-a-chance for an international dream job. But TWA was laying off its pilots and instituted a hiring freeze. People were lining up for gas by the order of numbers in their license plates…that was a pretty bleak time. The Vietnam War was ending, and OPEC decided to quadruple gas prices. It was called “stagflation,” because it was a long period of time (1973-75, and some would argue until 1980) when high unemployment coincided with high inflation. The jobless rate peaked at 9%.

If we compare that time to this prolonged recession, it’s not fair to compare job growth. According to most economists, that number is a “…lagging indicator, which reflects economic conditions in the past rather than pointing to future growth.” Supposedly we’ve come out of a recession in 2009, though you couldn’t tell by most personal narratives. And now we’re heading into a “double-dip” or off the “fiscal cliff!” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/fiscal-cliff-recession-government-action-cbo_n_1537692.html And here’s the quote that hits home:

“$1.2 trillion in across-the-board reductions in spending on federal programs would begin to phase in as a result of Congress’ failure late last year to find a comprehensive deal to cut the budget deficit.” One point two TRILLION!

What kind of job did I get back then? I took a job that was funded by a government grant. There was a need for mental health day treatment centers when the flood gates opened from ancient, closing mental institutions. Patients were being returned to their communities, patients who had no idea how to function in society after so many years of institutionalization. And I was hired to actually drive a mini-bus and pick them up from their group homes, and design group activities for them in a an entry-level social work position. Less glamorous than flying to Paris, driving through hallucinations in Pequannock, NJ. But it gave me a start when I thought all was lost.

So go ahead and blame Obamacare if you must. Keep trying to repeal it, try 33 more times to vote for selfishness, and corporate greed. Waste another 50 Million taxpayer dollars. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/health-care-law-repeal_n_1666917.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009 We all know what has to change, and it’s this intransigent Tea Party Congress.

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Let the Good Times Roll

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I must be blogging. But instead of typing contentedly in my cozy aviary office, I’ve moved my laptop to the kitchen table. Why, you may ask, after all those years reporting from a corner in my dining room would I move back into my home’s food court? Simple, it’s the heat!

Yesterday the temps were soaring in the 105 degree range…again, which meant my third floor office was hovering around 85 plus. The builders of our “not so big house” warned me; “You’ve got to put a ceiling fan up there Ma’am.” If you are over 30 in the South, you are automatically called Ma’am. I’m almost getting used to it. But did I listen to those men in tool belts? I was amused to hear their tales of deer and wild turkey sightings, and how if they had their way my office would be a gun turret. Of course not, a ceiling fan, no way. My concern was having a breeze on my neck. I didn’t want a breeze from a ceiling fan which would lead to a crook spasm in my neck and before you know it, a frozen shoulder! And no guys, we don’t allow even bow hunting on the property.

OK so I admit it. They were right. A ceiling fan in the South is like a mud room in New England. Not everybody has one, they are not a necessity, but boy does it make life easier. I have a friend who has to have a fan over her bed. She claims that she just cannot sleep since menopause hit without that little breeze. And we did install one on the sleeping porch; a last minute idea. It just seemed so natural to put a fan out there to mix up the scent of lilacs with the sounds of tree frogs on a hot summer night. And like most last minute ideas, it turned out to be absolutely perfect…like installing the built-in generator.

Some people in Albemarle County have been without power during this record-setting heat spell going on 6 or 7 days. In fact, so many lost their food from melting refrigerators and freezers that our local Food Pantry desperately needs donations – preferably canned or box foods. I’m packing up a box today to deliver. We only lost our power for a few hours, and our trusty generator just automatically started up. It saved my life during our second year in the house when Mother Nature dumped 2 snow storms on us measuring over 2 feet of snow and ice each time. Bob went to the hospital early and didn’t leave, which is what directors do when they know other docs won’t be able to dig their way out of their driveway and if they could, the roads were still buried. VA road crews were not prepared for the magnitude of those storms. I never could have lasted 7 days without power in the freezing cold, without that generator. Anyone thinking of building a house today, or renovating their existing house, I have just two things to say: 1) generator and 2) ceiling fans! Mercifully cooler temperatures are predicted this week. Since I wasn’t blogging back then, and to usher in the drop in temps, I thought you might like to see some pictures of Buddha and Bean in the historic snowfall.

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