Archive for May, 2012

What Makes Nick Tick?

May 29th, 2012

First I would like to reinforce what drives me as a person and consultant along with my purpose and passion.   My training and background is in Education, the Arts, and Healthcare Administration, but I was mentored and guided by people who added intuitive management capabilities to my skill base.  In simple terms, despite what the financial analysis and traditional business people may say, those mentors helped me understand that two plus two can equal 5 or 55; not always from a logical or traditional standpoint but from a creative and passionate one.

In July of 1975 one of my mentors was hospitalized and while I was sitting with him he turned to me and uttered his last words, “What happened to Dick Tracy today?”  He embraced humor to the very end and passed away minutes later at the age of 58.   He was my father, and the experience that our family had in that health care institution made me want to avoid hospitals at all costs forever.  Instead, I later decided that I would not only enter hospitals but would also work to lead them and change the philosophy of how patients are treated.   As a CEO, we offered integrative medicine, aroma, massage, pet, music and humor therapy as well as all other certified modalities in integrative holistic medicine, but most importantly, our patients were never asked to leave their dignity at the door.

From that day forward I dedicated much of what I do to those people who help other people with their own health by using my ability and knowledge from both my creative and innovative education to the more concrete business and reality skills that I’ve developed as a CEO and Founder of a Research Institute.    During the last 25 years I have met incredible people both nationally and internationally and have done my best to share what I believe is a tremendous failing in the health care industry; providing patient centered care with compassion by creating a truly healing environment through entrepreneurship.

My vision is simple.  Strategically help you to reach your goals in an exciting and creative manner.  This is not about a business plan, this is about a deliberate strategic plan centered in Integrative Medicine and the new techologies and with evidence based outcomes, we will demonstrate how you can fit into this ever evolving new world order as the current system continues to shift dramatically.

With innovation, compassion and creativity, the future can most assuredly be incredibly exciting.


Don’t Eat Sparkling Sandwiches

May 23rd, 2012

When I was 18 years old, I got a summer job for college in the local glass factory. As a pre-college student, I had assumed that my work would be in the corporate offices, but I was so wrong. That first night I was to report to a place called the forming department (I thought they filed forms there) but no, it was where the molten glass was molded into beer bottles, baby food containers, and fancy cut glass vases. This place glowed like the fires of hell. As I entered the building that very hot summer night, the unbelievable temperature from the furnaces hit me like the exhaust of a moon rocket, and my relationship with salt tablets, the treatment recommended for perspiring in those days, was also about to begin.

It was during my lunch break where I got my first real taste of the glass business, literally. My mom had packed a chicken breast sandwich with lettuce and mayo on white bread, an apple and a couple of chocolate chip cookies. All of the employees were permitted to use factory-made glasses for drinking their Mountain Dew, and there was even chipped ice to put in the glass to cool the hot sodas down.

I carefully positioned myself on a filthy bench without noticing the tracks where the batch cars passed overhead. As I carefully opened the waxed paper protecting my chicken sandwich and then opened my mouth to take that very first, long awaited bite, the wind blew. With that a magical cloud of fairy dust came blowing off the car above me. At first I was dazzled by the sparkles as they rained down on my body, but then I realized that the batch cars were carrying pulverized glass. They were filled with infinitely tiny recycled glass particles.

As I looked longingly at my sandwich, it struck me that the glistening topping twinkling across it was, in fact, glass, but my hunger prevailed. I took what turned out to be a little bit of a crunchy bite of the sandwich and began to chew that glass dust-coated chicken. It was after the first few bites that I seriously started to question my own sanity, but my hunger prevailed, and I ate the whole thing. To this day, my mind still wonders if any of my physical imperfections are directly related to glass consumption; GERD, nervous leg syndrome, painful itching…well, you get the idea.

Todd Robbins - Hyalophagia - glass eating - picaSo, the question remains. Did I eat that sandwich because I was starving, exhausted and overworked? Or did I eat it because the frontal lobes of my brain had not yet fully developed and, not unlike many other stupid things that eighteen year olds tend to do, it was the Gump saying, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Either way, it was probably an irresponsible, careless, foolish decision that minimally could have permanently damaged my – oh so exquisite – taste buds or at least caused irreparable tongue scars. The good news is that, to my knowledge, I have not eaten any more glass since then.

The moral of this story? Be aware of the fact that, if you are hired to work in a factory, you will probably end up actually working in a factory. If your black trousers turn white and your white shirt turns black from dirt and perspiration, don’t eat 15 salt tablets. Always, and I do mean always, duck when you see molten glass stringing wildly out of the ceiling like Toffee gone wild. Don’t ever steal uncured cut glass, because it will explode on your mom’s mantel a week or two later. Don’t sit under a batch car (whatever the heck a “batch car” is), and when your white bread makes a glass-like crunchy sound, for goodness sake, don’t swallow it!

As my grandmother would always say, “Keepa you chickie covered.”


You Had Me From the Word, Hello!

May 7th, 2012

When you’ve been around longer than 2/3’s of the folks in the United States, everything begins to look a little skewed.  My new periodontist, for example, makes the neighbor’s  children look almost middle aged, and the fact that I have a periodontist allows me to finally understand the expression, “Long in the tooth.”   This afternoon, the waitress that brought me my sandwich at the Diner seemed to be checking over her shoulder periodically to see if the truant officer was coming to take her back to the eighth grade.   Oh, yeah, and the kid who checked my battery?  Except for the tattoo on his neck and that pierced eyebrow, I thought the only batteries that he would be familiar with might have been removed from his Star Wars light saber.  


Everyone tells me that age is relative and I completely agree with that, but this isn’t really about age; it’s about wisdom and experience.  Don’t get me wrong.  Plenty of folks get older and never seem to wise up.  In fact, it seems to me that Fish Oil should be built into our cereal, milk and pancakes because lots of people today need to have something to give their brains a boost, any kind of a boost.    It has been my experience , however, that those of us with enough battle scars seem to have had to either gain that knowledge or perish. What’s the expression, we all age, but not all of us grow?


Once, after being verbally attacked by a somewhat unstable man who, unfortunately, was one of my superiors at the time, a great silence fell across the room.  He had yelled and screamed that I should be fired, but it was clear that, had the gun laws been just a little more lenient, his real desire would have been to eliminate me from the human race.  Anyway, after his tirade, an outburst that only Judge Judy could have matched, a lone voice rose from the group of people in the room who had heard his accusations and demands. 


The person who spoke up did so in a very deliberate manner and said the following, “When I was a kid, my father told me that I would be lucky in my life to end up with six friends.  When I met Nick, I felt that friendship instantly, and he has proven to be one of my six.”  (Or something like that?)  Then he said to the ranter, “Maybe you should leave.”  It’s not often that someone has the guts or the heart in a tense moment like that to stand up for a friend in the midst of a dozen or so very powerful people.  As it turned out, he was supported in his request, and my life and job went on, but that moment will never be lost.  (Thanks, Ron.)


Well, today, one of our sixth friends left us.  When I got the E-mail, my heart sank, not just a little, but a lot.  You see, today, the person who passed took a piece of me with him because, like my hero above, he had been a cheerleader, guardian, and supporter from the first minute that we met.  He was one of those special people who, no matter how bad the lightning was flying from the storm overhead, would run out to support and protect you from the elements with his very personal umbrella. 


I’m sure that his family knows how much he was loved, respected and will be missed, and I’m positive that mine does. 


In the words of Kahlil Gibran, “Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing . . . And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”  


We will miss you, Jake, and your presence will always be felt among those who loved you. 


New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer

May 4th, 2012

Today, I received an article from a friend written by Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times op-ed columnist, titled “New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer.”  Having lost my father from cigarette smoking related lung cancer (They’ve identified4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke and at least 69 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer), the headline really didn’t surprise me very much.  After all, we have gone from eating cupcakes made with flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, shortening, milk, vanilla and eggs to eating faux cupcakes made with niacin, iron reduced, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, palm oil interesterified, palm kernel oil, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil partially hydrogenated with TBHQ, emulsifiers, sorbitan monostearate, mono and diglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, propylene glycol monostearate polyglycerol esters of fatty acids, sorbic acid and a little bit of flour, sugar, eggs et al.  You get the point.

Some of the low-lights of the article included facts like, 300 contaminants have been detected in umbilical cord blood of newborn babies which means that these babies were already polluted when they were born!  The other very disturbing detail that came out was a quote from the report which says, “Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety.”  Just think of it.  Only about 79,800 other chemicals MIGHT BE DANGEROUS.  Heck, the food industry is already screaming because there is a bill before the Senate to ban bisphenol-A, commonly found in plastics from food and beverage containers.  Right or wrong, BPA has been on the endangered drug list for years.

Okay, unless you make your living from treating these folks, here’s the really bad news.  About 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, both Republicans and Democrats.  So, the issue shouldn’t be a political issue, but, because it is also an economic issue it is not being addressed equally.

As a healthcare professional, it is tough to see the new statistics involving the cancers that are becoming more and more common with children.  Could these cancers be happening because of chemicals in our food, water, air and   household products, or is it just Mother Nature trying like heck to keep the seven billion of us from destroying her planet?  You know kind of a guaranteed thinning of the herd?

The good news about the report was that it was filled with suggestions for us common folks relative to self-preservation from these chemicals.  For example, filter your drinking water.  That would seem simple enough, especially if you didn’t store it in heated plastic containers after filtration.  Then there were suggestions like remove your shoes when you enter your house.  Truthfully, I grew up in a house that was not unlike any respectable Japanese home, EVERYONE was expected to leave their shoes at the door upon entry.  I always hated that.  (Primarily because my socks were darned or had holes in them, but it was the law.)

They suggested storing your water in stainless steel instead of plastic and to microwave in ceramic or glass containers.  They also embraced organic foods and suggested that you not eat meats that are too well done.  (They must have seen me bar-b-que.) Oh, and finally they said, “Check radon levels in your home.”  They probably should have gone on to say, and do something about them, too.

Well, today, I met an 89 year old man who had been on the ground in Hiroshima seven days after the bomb was dropped, and he told me that his secret to longevity was never to think about any of this stuff, to hang out with young people, and to drink a lot of high quality alcohol.  He was particularly fond of moonshine?  We all have to die from something.  I guess CEO’s of  the manufacturing companies who use known carcinogens figure they just wanna die rich!