Solve It Forward

When I was a kid I earned comic book money by pulling dandelions out of the lawn in our back yard. My mother paid me one cent for each dandelion. A comic book cost ten cents. So every week I would try to find twenty or thirty dandelions to yank out. I liked comic books. One time I wanted to make a lot of money, and I remember talking to my mom in the back yard on a hot Sunday afternoon for more than three hours while I pulled out 600 dandelions. I think that was the day my mom stopped paying me a dandelion-pulling fee and I had to find comic book money elsewhere.

But here is the catch. I only earned a penny if I pulled out the whole dandelion, including the root.

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Over the Rainbow

The first month of the New Year is fading, and with it, perhaps, our New Year’s Resolutions. It is so alluring – New Year, Fresh Start. “This year I’m going to lose those 20 pounds, earn or save more money, and make new friends or get along better with those I already know.”

I think of a New Year’s Resolution as a charming rainbow which begins in our hearts and ends over the horizon. Such rainbows are enchanting to create, and delightful to enjoy, with our very own pot of gold waiting for us at the end. But we all know that following that rainbow can be more difficult than we expected and the pot of gold we hope to find at the end can often look very different than we envisioned.

When she was four years old my daughter Sara first watched The Wizard of Oz on a video my wife and I bought for her. I was surprised, and thrilled, to see Sara play that video five times over the weekend. She memorized the lyrics to “Over the Rainbow.” Why not? I can’t think of a better song to carry with me every day, or a better singer than Judy Garland, to implant those aspirations in my soul. I’d love to wish upon a star and find a place where troubles melt like lemon drops. Who wouldn’t?

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People Tools Book Giveaways

Have you not secured your copy of People Tools yet? Well good news! We are…

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Your Money or Your Wife

At age 21 I was married and living with Jo Anne in a one bedroom furnished apartment on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles. I was enrolled in law school, but during the summer I held a full time job with the National CPA firm Peat, Marwick, with offices in downtown Los Angeles.

I commuted to work each day, and figured it was cheaper to commute by bus for twenty-five cents than to drive fifteen miles each way and pay for parking. When I returned home in the evening the cost of one additional “zone” on the bus was seven cents. Even though I didn’t like walking, I left the bus at Beverly Glen rather than ride another few blocks for seven cents more.

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Life Is an Improv

When I drive my car I sometimes marvel at all of the adjustments a driver needs to make, split second by split second. We watch carefully, listen, adjust our course a little to stay in the same lane, change lanes, stop for traffic signals, and avoid hitting pedestrians. As I tell my children, if you daydream in class for fifteen minutes, no big deal. If you daydream for five seconds while driving you could be dead. When I drive I pay strict attention.

Driving a car, or living your life, is entirely an improvisation. There are physical, social, and psychological rules but there is no script. Even when you know what the scene will be – an employee review, appearing in court, or asking someone you love to marry you – you can only practice your part of the opening dialogue. You don’t know what the boss, the judge, or your intended will say, and there are so many possibilities that it’s impossible to prepare your answers in advance. But isn’t that part of why we each want to wake up tomorrow morning? To find out what will happen.

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(For my daughter Sara) Rice grows in water from the river. We both sweat in…

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