Archive for July, 2019

Discovering a thousand relatives

July 31st, 2019


Sometimes my thoughts seem completely redundant, but that’s because I’ve had so many decades to have them.

Often, when I express these boring ideas, people are moved by their uniqueness. Usually, those people, however, are really young or have grown up not watching, reading, or caring about anything other than what they’re exposed to daily in their personal bubble. For example, family. When you mention family, reactions can be as varied as the eyes on a fly. (A fly has two compound eyes and each eye is made up of between 3,000 and 6,000 simple eyes.)

Oh, yeah, back to family. I’m pretty sure both my Italian and northern European ancestors have contributed significantly to my love of family. Recently, however, I paid about $40 to get “My Personal DNA History Book,” and, when it got to my over 1,100 DNA close relatives, it became a very revealing history indeed. If I had enough money, I’d pay for every closed-minded person in the United States to get their own version of this book. It’s not only telling, it’s humbling and a really flyeye-opener. It breaks down the geography of every relative identified through a DNA search, and let me tell ya folks, my relatives have not allowed any dust to collect under their shoes or coat tails.

Yeah, I knew that 42.5% of my relatives came from Italy, and at least 20% came from the British Isles, but that’s when it got crazy. For example, I have living 1% DNA relatives in France and Germany, Eastern Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and a few other European places like the Balkans.

But here’s where it gets really fun. They have identified more than 50 Native Americans who have 1% of our DNA. I knew I had a great-great something or other relative who was kidnapped by the Seminole Indians and taken to Florida and after 10 years he became the chief, went home and decided he liked living with the Indians better.

It also traced Asian relatives who walked into North America via what is now Russia, and some relatives from the Islands showed up, too. But here’s where the closed-minded might have a problem. I have at least 45 DNA relatives from Western Africa, 55 Ashkenazi Jewish relatives, and that makes me really happy. The reason for my happiness is it proves, once again, that we’re all the same. We all bleed the same blood, and we’re all humans. My United States relatives live in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Washington, Colorado, Georgia and Illinois, but that’s only 395 people. The other 4,165 of the 1% are all over the world.

Interestingly 54% of my relatives are more likely to have sky dived, 37% have learned a foreign language, 23% probably owned a dog, and 38% are less likely to have sweaty feet. But the most impressive statistic is 40% are more likely to be able to do side splits. By the way, I’ve owned dogs, but nothing else in that list applies to me. It would be great if all of my cousins had a giant reunion because at least 1/5th of us would not want to eat the cilantro because it tastes like soap.

Bottom line? All of you “pure bloods” out there need to send in your saliva, and put your prejudice in the same bag you use to get rid of the other garbage in the house because we are all one big dysfunctional family, and it’s time we started putting the fun back in dysfunctional. If you hate any group because of race or nationality, you’re missing the boat because there’s a good chance you are part whatever it is you hate. I’m afraid you’re going to be restricted to hating people because of religion only and that seems pretty ludicrous because it’s tough to define whose God is the better God.


Passion and drive plus vision

July 3rd, 2019

In my line of work, people often ask me how to succeed. One thing I’m pretty clear on is the lack of passion emanating from feasibility studies.

I’ve been dealing with these studies my entire life, but for the most part, these studies do not provide the results necessary to achieve the goals of someone with vision.

I know, visionary is an often inflated description for dreamers, but let’s face it, some people truly provide vision that others cannot even imagine. Being a visionary isn’t always a matter of just thinking big. It requires both innate abilities and acquired skills. It requires having an open mind to new and different ideas while carefully observing the happenings around you and realistically weighing the possibility of success.

Feasibility studies, on the other hand, are works of logic. They use carefully weighted business analysis and algorithms to arrive at appropriately measured conclusions that are typically void of passion, imagination, instinct, drive and ego.

For example, what’s the difference between a good jet pilot and a Top Gun? If it was just genetics, IQ or hand-eye skill, the federal government could save millions on those pilot trainees who never make the grade.

Being a Top Gun at anything requires a little different brain wiring that allows you to see solutions to problems differently, to weigh risks a little differently, to accept mistakes as opportunities to improve upon and to push harder and farther than your peers and competitors.

When you add to that an intense commitment to a dream that is not self-serving, you will see the magic begin.

I have found that a project that is supported by a conservative feasibility study will be just that, cautiously supported and often smaller and lacking in excitement.

But when it’s a “big, hairy, audacious goal,” when it’s far reaching, when it’s a stretch out of our comfort zones combined with a leader who is passionate, who embraces a spirit of not only helping but contributing to the greater good at some level, then it becomes a project that will be embraced, celebrated, supportedand loved.

If we can unite people toward goals that create a better future for everyone, creative passions will erupt. What’s the vision for your organization? What are your stretch goals? How do you move that vision forward? Who are the appropriate stakeholders to help you make things happen? Who are the informal leaders in your organization? What can you do to engage them? How do you inspire them away from the mundane, day to day realities that typically weigh us down?

In 1997, I became the president of a small hospital that had a very short predicted lifespan, a minimal savings account, and a revolving door of employees due to low salaries and a less than inspirational work environment.

My first decision was to examine my own background: music teacher, arts organization director, tourism CEO and fund raiser. What were the unifying factors created from this diverse and relatively unexplainable background?

The answer was simple. It became my vision to work to create a hospital like no other in the world. Then we choose the best existing example of that vision and worked endless to surpass it. Create “Camelot” for employees, patients, patient families and the community, then chip away everyday at making that vision a reality.

Twenty-two years later the legacy of that vision still stands and hundreds of millions of dollars have been contributed to support and nurture that dream.

You can do it, too.