Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Lying liars and lingering trust

Waking up this morning, I was thinking about honesty and its effects on trust.

I went to school in the 80's. The rebellion of the 70's was in my rearview mirror. Teachers slapped their students, both parents went to work 40 hours a week and kids ate ready made food out of a box. Parents smoked two packs a day with the windows closed while watching The Dukes of Hazzard on Friday nights.

There was a smell of trust lingering everywhere. We were told to respect authority. We were told to respect adults, whether deserving or not. 

And we did.

Our freedoms had to be appreciated. We were taught to hate communism because their aggression was pushing nuclear war. We didn't want to be controlled by the government like the people of Russia. Communism was our enemy and democracy was our saviour.

We put our trust in government to do what was right. We expected them to put our needs first. And they seemingly did, until we caught them.

They lied to us. They stole from the public coffers to pay for personal gains. They cheated on their taxes but told us to pay our share.

These leaders are orators. They talk with a smoothness of Marvin Gay and the confidence of Chuck Norris. They know how to use words like Shakespeare to make it seem like we were wrong. So we believe them or vote them out, hoping the next leader will make things right. Then we find out the new hope lies too.  The new boss is like the old boss. 

The Who wrote about this in their song, "Won't get fooled again".

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again, no, no
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

So when do we stop believing these liars. In 2016, I predicted Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States. Trump sounded nothing like a politician. The population was tired of hearing the same-old rhetoric. Trump didn't do that. He appealed to something deeper within the voters by using his genius in marketing and branding. 

He lied to the public so many times, it's hard to see the difference between truth and lie. 

Liars exist in every country, communist government and democratic.

In Canada, Bill Morneau, the Minister of Finance resigned in the summer of 2020. The Minister of Finance is one of the highest positions in Cabinet other than the Prime Minister. Morneau took $40,000 from the public coffers to pay for a humanitarian mission to Ecuador for him and his family. When discovered, he apologized and paid it back before resigning from his position. 

Morneau's hand was caught in the cookie jar. It was only $40,000 of the $300 billion from the Canadian taxpayers, the equivalent to a cup of coffee from an average person's salary. 

In my first business, I caught an employee stealing from me. Thinking the person was sorry, I gave them a second chance, which allowed them to get smarter and steal from me again. With a little forensic accounting, I'll bet Morneau had more indiscretions than we know. He had power, and took advantage of his power. 

We want to trust these people, but it's getting harder knowing that power corrupts.
This lack of trust is translating to more than politics. It's touching education, healthcare, transportation. As an example: 52% of Canadians don't want to take a Covid-19 vaccine. They don't trust its efficacy. 

How many more times will the people allow this?
Without trust our democracy is a Shakespearian tragedy in the waiting. And it's getting hard to trust these lying liars.

If they'll lie about stealing money for personal use, then they'll lie about anything for personal gain. 

Russia wasn't our enemy. It's always been ourselves. The Great Roman Empire survived and thrived for 500 years, yet it imploded on itself from lies, overtaxation and government corruption. 

Es tu Brute?

Thursday, November 26, 2020

What a fool believes...

As you navigate over the ocean of your life, you learn lessons that help you get to safe harbour when storms are on the horizon.

If you don't learn the lessons, your hull gets slammed, your sails rip and masts break like toothpicks.

You know that because you're still here. Boats can't handle too many storms before being ripped apart and sent to the bottom of the bay.

Fools keep doing the same thing without a trying a different response. 

You're no fool.

Fools don't think for themselves. 

Fools make up stories and relate them as facts.

Fools spend 30 minutes on the internet and tell everyone they have done their research.

Fools hover over Facebook groups, Reddit and chat rooms telling everyone they are wrong because they don't agree with someone else's opinion.

Fools love opinions, especially when it's theirs.

You're no fool. 

Neither am I. That's why you won't see me posting opinions on social media.

My mom once told me to not read the Tabloids because it would rot my brain.

Social media, the internet and even certain television news channels are so heavily opinionated, it has become the new Tabloid media. They make me angry, not for their content, but for their context.

Donald Trump has been blamed for the social divide in the United States. 

If that is true, then who caused the divide in Canada? Our Prime Minister isn't popular among certain groups but he hasn't been as abasive as the outgoing POTUS.

So where did the divide come from?

Is it social unrest caused by COVID lockdowns?

Is it anger stemming from fear?

Is it social media targeted messaging reinforcing a personal bias making it appear as clarity? Watch the Social Dilemma if you want to dive deeper into how Google, Facebook and others target messages to their users.

Is it regular people trying to "protect" us from things we do not see?

What if it is all of the above?

What if the perfect storm is brewing off our coast and our boats aren't ready for it?

Never in my lifetime did I think I would see so much social unrest in North America. It's here, so now what?

Fools used to call the radio stations to spew their nonsense, but the gatekeeper would keep them off the air.

Fools used to write to the newspapers but someone was there to protect us from publishing their rants.

No one is keeping the fools away today. They broadcast their messages at will without filter.

Now, they can do whatever and say whatever they want. 

The gatekeeper job is now yours. Keep fools away from your airwaves. 

They'll rot your brain.

To quote The Doobie Brothers:

But what a fool believes he sees
No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems to be
Is always better than nothing
And nothing at all keeps sending him...

Friday, October 23, 2020

Would you like cheese with that?

There is a polarization effect happening right now in 2020. 

The world is not fair. Who cares?

You follow a code, a belief system. If you're over the age of 8, you have an opinion on many things. Sharing those opinions is your right in a free, democratic country. Forcing them on others is wrong.

Just because I let you speak doesn't mean you are going to change my mind on what I think is truth and what is fake.

So please be kind to others. Understand we all very different and we have the right to be different. 

Masks, vaccines are just the tip of the iceberg. We are heading towards troubled waters and if we're not careful, we are putting everything we cherish at risk.

And that makes me sad.

I grew up in a world that told me to be good, help others and freedom was mine.

The world told me to not worry about what others did and only worry about what I was doing.

She taught the importance of being strong, if not for myself for those who counted on me.

She explained that not all people would agree with what I have to say. I should shut my mouth and let others speak twice as much because of the ears to mouth ratio.

She asked if I wanted cheese with my whine when I felt it wasn't fair.

She laughed when I cried, so I stopped crying.

I'm tired of the Covid fighting because I fear the worst. The worst in us comes from civil unrest, over taxation and polarization of principles, thoughts and actions.

I'm tired of leaders who don't lead, social media that is not social, and whiners who seek attention.

If you want to wear a mask, congratulations on trying to save the world.

If you don't want to wear a mask, congratulations for exhibiting your rights in a democracy.

Both sides make arguments that are biased and laced with self determination to move the other side to their way of thinking. 

The ironic thing is neither side will ever budge from their nest. Their beliefs are so firmly entrenched in cement that we waste our times trying to change them.

So what's the answer?

Damned if I know. I'm gonna keep my head down and try not get caught in the crossfire.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The labels you place are like permanent tattoos on your brain

Labels are like tattoos on our brains. Attached with super glue, it’s nearly impossible to rip, scratch or peel.

Be very careful what or who you label. Your brain will store it in that unerase-able safe.

Speaking to a businessman in his office, someone walked in, without an appointment. Excusing himself, he met the customer and after a brief, muffled conversation, he returned quite frustrated. He started a rant about the word “brother”. The customer had called him “brother”. He rubbed the top of his bald head and looked at me and said, why do people think I’m their brother? They might as well use the word nigger. I’m not their brother. It’s so derogatory and frustrating. It’s ok for two black guys to refer to each other as brother. It’s ok for two white guys to call each other brother. But I ain’t your brother. Do you understand what I’m saying Bro?

Well, did you ever think that brother is just another word for friend. Some use the word pal or man, or bro. Maybe it has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with being friendly.

You don’t know what I’ve seen.

Fair enough. I have similar conversations with my African-American daughter almost every day. She’s 15, confused, scared, and feeling alone in a white town with one other black resident. I don’t know, but I know there are lots of people who don’t mean to use hurtful words. They are just labelled on their brains.

Yeah labels. Like cops.

Exactly. Some think all cops are bad. Some think they are all good. 

The label is based on whatever reality you experience. 

The label is based on absolutes, like everything is binary: black or white, truth or lie, right or wrong.

Your truth has absolutely everything to do with labels

Yet we forget about those little gray lines between the absolutes.

When we place a label, we use past experiences to form an opinion. We stop working together to find a solution. The more we separate from each other, the more we become polarized. 

I was thinking of the song “Signs” by The Five Man Electrical Band this morning. Written in 1971, that song is as relevant today as ever. 

It’s a song that sees the beauty in the natural world and the songwriter struggles with the labels and limits others place on him because he’s the guy who’s living in a perfect world while everyone else is living inside a box, trying to make everything perfect.


The rebels see the song as a rallying cry. The conformists think it’s a song about rebellion. I think the song is about the removal of labels in order to live a peaceful, enjoyable life.

I’m as guilty as the next person to place labels. My personal experience with the police always comes down to that one time when Constable Dufour assaulted me and threatened to arrest me for something I didn’t do. He knew I wasn’t afraid of him. And when I told him I was going to talk to my law professor to see what I could do, he let me go. 

But I’m not black. And I can’t imagine what could’ve happened if I was. 

Maybe I’m not your brother. 

Maybe I don’t understand the shit you’ve gone through.

But I can sympathize with your struggles.

And I would love to help you. 

That’s what friends do.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Coronavirus is not the zombie apocalypse

As the world reacts to the threat of a pandemic, markets crash, toilet paper sold out and Purell is counting cash.

What aren't we being told?

3000 people died in China in 3 months. That is the equivalent of 25 people in Canada because of the population differences.

12 people die every hour in Canada due to heart disease based on Health Canada data.

Based on facts, shouldn't we be more worried about Big Macs?

Or is there some other agenda?

Is the Coronavirus more scary? Are world governments protecting us from mass hysteria, similar to George Orwellian theory?

Or is it not a problem and other governments are shaking the American economy to its knees. An investor friend hypothesizes that the recent price reduction in gas has to do with Russia and Saudi Arabia flooding the market with excess oil as an attack on the US economy.

Could this be considered an act of War?

What's really going on?

Financial markets are crashing.
Money is being lost.
Governments are installing travel bans.
Professional sports are shutting their doors.

Did I mention Oil is cheap?
What about governments committing money to Coronavirus relief fund?

Canada is approaching 1 trillion in debt and is committing to a relief fund.
How are we paying for this?
Does this mean our taxes will have to go up when this hysteria ends?
Or does it mean our country is one step closer to bankruptcy?

And if we are closer to bankruptcy, what happens then?

I have so many questions.
But none of them have anything to do with Coronavirus.

Because that's not the issue.
It's bigger than that.
And only time will tell what is really going on.

Have fun.
Stay safe.
Drink a Corona.
Try not to worry. Coronavirus is not a zombie apocalypse.

That'll be the next thing we should be scared of.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Lesson about marketing from a Las Vegas Beggar

The difference between making noise and making money in the marketing world is the same as the difference between a beggar and a busker.

The beggar asks for money, but offers nothing in return.
The busker parts you with your money in exchange for entertainment.

The homeless guy's tool is sympathy.
The Busker hammers the drums with entertainment.

We give more time to those who entertain us.
We give more money to those who command our time.
It's a fact.

If the beggar interrupts and makes us sad, he's a busker.
If he gets us looking in the opposite direction trying to avoid eye contact, he's a beggar.

The busker interrupts but he makes us smile.

Most marketers ARE beggars.

Information is a beggar's tool.
Traffic is a beggar's hope.
More traffic does not mean more money.

Emotion is the entertainer's tool.
Traffic is the entertainer's strategy.
More traffic means more money.

Here are two examples of good marketing from the streets of Las Vegas.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Luck is a lady named Serendipity

Inspiration comes from a room. There are no windows. There's a door but it's locked.

You can try to break it down. But you're wasting your time. The one who locked it knew you'd try, so it has been reinforced to handle 5000 pounds of pressure.

Trying to break it is wasted energy.

You can try to pick the lock, but you're wasting your time. The one who built the lock knew you'd try.

Instead of wasting time to force the door open, use your time to find the key.

The key to the door unlocks all inspiration you'll ever want.

The first time you find the key seems like luck. But it's not. It's a process. And your methods are not necessarily good for someone else.

But some odd reason, the key is never in the same place as you last left it. It's as if the one who built the lock has children who play with your keys.

Once you know the process, the keys mysteriously appear.

I'm embarrassed to admit my way to inspiration.
But it works every time.

I listen to Frank Sinatra.
I'm not joking.
My favourite song ever is "My way".
It's my life's story.

I was thinking of "Luck is a lady" this morning.

Luck happens when good things happen despite not having planned for it.
I don't believe in luck. I believe things happen for some reason without our understanding.

That being said, yesterday my mind was troubled.
I had work commitments on Friday.
My son had a hockey tournament in the morning.
Aline (my wife) was going to take him to the game.
The weatherman was calling for a storm.
It looked like the tournament was going to happen regardless.
Which meant my son and wife were going to be on the road in a potential storm.

As we're preparing for the reality of her traveling, we're debating if they should go.
We want to please our son.
We want to protect him.
We don't want to let down the team.

As this is twirling around our tongues, our son had a league game the night before the tournament. The best player couldn't come. And the boys didn't play their best game.

With 26 seconds left in the game, there's a scrum in the corner for the puck. A boy from the other team comes out with the puck. As he's emerging from the cluster of kids, my son gives him one final shove.

The kid falls down.
A whistle is blown.
And my son is given a penalty.
With 26 seconds left in the game, with no effect on the game, my 13 year old heads off to the dressing room.
The penalty wasn't a serious crime. No one got hurt.
The referee called a minor penalty. But with 26 seconds left, he added a game misconduct to the punishment.
Which means, my boy has to sit out a game as a consequence to his 26 second infraction.

Luck is a lady and her name is Serendipity.

When you are dealing with a problem and you're not sure. As long as you've done everything you can do to prepare, the rest is up to Serendipity.

In my experience, things work out.
So don't stress out.
The key to the locked door will be found when you're ready to receive them.