Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category

Service of Do We Use the Tools We Have?

Thursday, June 6th, 2024

You might’ve heard this parable before, but it’s worth repeating. Ian Bassin retold it on Nicolle Wallace‘s show “Deadline: White House” on MSNBC the other day. Bassin is cofounder and executive director of Protect Democracy.

The parable starts: a minister is drowning and prays to God to save him.

A canoe comes by and the paddler invites him to jump in. The minister refuses and says “No thanks. God will save me.”

Next a motorboat stops to pick him up. He thanks the helmsman, passes on the ride and says, “God will save me.”

Finally, a helicopter buzzes overhead and drops a ladder. From a megaphone the pilot urges the minister to climb the ladder to safety. Again, he declines the offer and says, “God will save me.”

He drowns.

When he gets to heaven, he asks God why he didn’t save him and God says “I sent you a canoe, a motorboat and a helicopter and you turned down every offer. What more could I do?”

The point, said Bassin, we often have the tools to solve our issues and challenges, yet we don’t use them. It also has to do with stepping out of our comfort zones. [I’d be afraid of climbing that ladder to the helicopter but, as my mother used to say about other issues, “it’s better than the alternative.”]

Years ago before social media I had a friend who was an uber talented interior designer who asked me for suggestions for attracting new clients. She already belonged to the right organizations and designed rooms at decorator showhouses. I said she should show before and after photos of her work that addressed design challenges and present them—taking questions—to the groups of affluent people. She was attractive and articulate but refused to do any public speaking.

On the other hand, I shudder to think of opportunities I followed up on that I shouldn’t have. I took a new business meeting a few days after my husband died. I should have passed as goodness knows what version of Jeanne Byington showed up. It turned out to be a nonstarter as the business owner dragged me back for months, changing her goals each time. Eventually, after the umpteenth proposal, she sent me $500, thanked me for my time and said she wasn’t ready for PR.

What do you think of the parable? Have you missed opportunities or grabbed at inappropriate ones?

Service of Luck

Monday, February 6th, 2012

A quote by New York Yankee Lefty Gomez, that he’d rather be lucky than good, appeared in Lisa Sanders, MD’s diagnosis section of her analysis in a New York Times Magazine article, “A Head Full of Pain.” Sanders wrote that she heard that quote a lot when she was a TV journalist.

She noted that the same holds true for medicine. “It was lucky I was studying. It was lucky I ran across this mention of this half-remembered disorder. It’s humbling to know how easily I could have missed this diagnosis. But does it have to be lucky or good? We all aspire to be both.”

Discussing football players during a radio interview on the Friday before the Super Bowl, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg observed that if someone consistently plays well that it’s due to skill, not luck.

The old saw about being in the right place at the right time may be luck, but is it? What did you give up to attend an event, join a committee or sign up for a class where you met your next client or boss: Nights and weekends to catch up on work deadlines? Wasn’t this equal parts luck and motivation?

Monique Sanchez is a talented young actress who produced and starred in an off-Broadway play while juggling a job and other obligations. During this busy period the only thing she missed was sleep. The risks and tasks involved with producing a play are no joke but she took them. She didn’t wait for a showcase role to come to her, she created [a great] one. Nor did she hope the right people came to see her: She saw that they did. Is it timing, talent, luck, perseverance, energy–or all of these things–that account for her being cast in increasing numbers of television shows?

What part does luck play in success? In the outcome of many of life’s twists and turns?

Service of Help from Obvious Places

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

In a Wall Street Journal article, “In Jane Austen 2.0, the Heroines and Heroes Friend Each Other,” Arden Dale and Mary Pilon write about 19 year old Ben Kemper, a Jane Austen fan/member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, who planned to dress up in period clothes for the annual Austen birthday tea in Boise, Idaho.

As interesting to me as the Austen craze among mostly young women that the article describes is Kemper’s proposed solution to fulfill his dress up plans: “The outfit will be ‘the whole shebang’ says Mr. Kemper, who hopes to scare up some yard work so he can pay for the new threads,” wrote Dale and Pilon.

With the exception of babysitting which seems to be a thriving business, [older teens with driver’s licenses can get $12/hour while tweens with parents nearby $3-ish per hour according to] it’s been eons since I’ve seen or heard of youngsters doing yard work or odd jobs or asking for same.

At least I don’t see young Americans doing yard work in our upstate town. Wonder if they are applying themselves to career-enhancing internships? Have all figured out how to pay the pocketbook-boggling college tuition fees ranging from $20,000 to almost $60,000/year by lining up scholarships or did they all land with rich parents and do they have transportation to get them to and from higher-paying KP or order-taking jobs at MacDonald’s or Burger King?

I’m not convinced that youngsters are paid more at these places then at home. My mom hired a sister and brother team to paint her apartment. These college students were careful with her and her furniture, did a spectacular and clean job and she was happy to pay them a higher-than-average wage for their attention-to-detail and to her needs. They came when they said they would and finished on time. What normally is a disruptive and horrible experience turned out to be kind of fun as she also enjoyed the kids’ company!

Do you think Kemper turned to such work because he’s of another period, the 19th century, or because he lives in a part of the country where normal things still happen? How long has it been since you’ve hired or heard of a youngster doing crucial odd jobs for you or for anyone at home?

Service of How Do They Do It?

Thursday, April 15th, 2010


There’s a Chinese restaurant in midtown Manhattan, around the corner from my office. I just bought a portion of won ton soup in a sturdy container–the expensive kind. It came with five HUGE, tasty dumplings, a bag of fried noodles and a smile. Cost, including tax: $1.85. Most soup in the neighborhood starts at $3.85+ for a smaller portion.

mugsSome of the bargains at TJ Maxx also make you wonder: How can the store pay someone to open a shipping container, unwrap and place an attractive ceramic bowl, dish or mug on a shelf, keep displays neat and clean, and when someone goes to buy the breakable item, wrap it up, take a credit card or cash-all for as little as $2.95?

Meanwhile at Yankee Stadium a hot dog costs upwards of $6 and at a major department store, the online price of a square 3.5-inch ceramic dish costs $20, plus tax and shipping.

Imagine going to a baseball game with a few teens and not offering them more than one hot dog–and we didn’t mention anything about the hefty price of drinks?  The cost of such a snack, while part of the ballpark experience, is a sure indigestion-inducer.

While this is going on, there are drug companies that seem to be playing games resulting in just the opposite. In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Jonathan D. Rockoff wrote “An Old Gout Drug Gets new Life and a New Price, Riling Patients.” The game was to gain exclusive marketing rights on a drug that has worked for 100 years. The FDA is at fault here as well. They didn’t know the drug was safe and effective after a century? I digress.

pillsThe company ran the drug through clinical trials to [further] prove that it’s safe and effective and then raised the price to $5/a Colcrys tablet from a few cents that the generic colchicine pill cost. In addition, the company is trying to stop the competition from selling the generic version. Is this the time and place?

How do these companies sleep at night? What do the first two do to keep their prices so low and still make a living ? [I don’t think I want to know in the case of the restaurant.]

Department stores formerly wrapped gifts beautifully and today, with a nod to do-it-yourself, customers are most often handed a box and tissue paper in a bag along with the gift. So what’s the point?

How can the drug company keep a straight face knowing the zero value added it provided to sick people by going through some paces not to prove that an innovation works and is safe,  but simply to be able to overcharge for its tablets?


Service of Opportunity

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

My wallet was lifted from my purse in a library in a bucolic upstate New York village last week. When the state trooper took down the particulars and I asked if he thought that the economy was the reason for a sudden spate of robberies in this normally crime-free town’s library, he politely and quietly said, “and opportunity.”

I use the word spate as the library director’s pocketbook was stolen from her office three days before Christmas–two similar crimes in less than a month in this library is a first.

I wasn’t home for long when I got a call from the library’s director. She apologized. Her immediate response, the phone call and her concern were a surprise to me even though I’ve lived in this town for quite a while. I was born and bred in a city where you are largely anonymous and where a lifted purse is considered no more serious in the scheme of things than a head cold.

She really made me feel better.  She mourned for the time–until now, really–where theft wasn’t an issue at her library. She said they’d have to consider installing cameras [the state trooper wished they already had them]. She repeated several times as we spoke, “We’ve been so spoiled.” She is right. And I felt spoiled that she took the time to reach out to me.

So what else did I learn as a result? So much obvious stuff–what I put in a “gosh-gee-whiz” category and others would give a great big “duh.” I nevertheless share my findings in the hopes you will never need to use any of them.

**Just because you’re not in the five boroughs of NYC doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be vigilant.  [Darn].

In an early Woody Allen play, Don’t Drink the Water, he spoofs a typical American tourist in Europe. In the opening scene, she’s ironing, with her oversized pocketbook swinging from her arm. I try not to be a city slicker in the country, but I will no longer be shy about dragging my bag with me even for the seconds it takes to cross the library from the computers to pick up a paper from the printer.

**Remember where you squirrel the sheet of paper onto which you’ve copied the fronts and backs of all your credit cards. In my panic to call the bank and credit card companies, I couldn’t find it and my bills with the numbers aren’t stored at the house.

But all you need is your social security number.

Do make the calls the second you realize what’s happened. The perpetrator had already charged up money for an online purchase.

Don’t forget to cancel the bank card you use to pull out money from ATM machines. In my case, it required speaking with a second department at the bank.

The state policeman asked for the credit card numbers and it would have been simpler had I had them on hand.

**Make a list of any entities that automatically suck money out of a credit card account. I am sure I forgot one and it’s driving me nuts.

**You can get a temporary ATM card from the bank. [I must remember to return mine and I know this only because I asked. Wonder what the fee would be if I tossed it?]

**Turns out that I must wait for 12-15 days before I get my credit cards which seems nuts to me–they have all my information and know how I pay my bills. I obviously can’t use something I don’t have–aren’t they missing business? I’m told that American Express gets you a replacement card almost overnight.

**I keep a credit card holder as well as a wallet in my purse and I should have put more in the holder–spread things around. I do this with cash and have emergency money tucked here and there. But I use my driver’s license all the time to get into office buildings in the city and all but my business credit card gravitated to my wallet: Big mistake.

**Speaking of driver’s license, while I can sign up for another one on line, it could take up to 15 days to get: Another head-scratcher. Are people supposed to hitchhike for half a month?  So I plan to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles in person to get a temporary one.

**Ask the police for a written record of the theft. I was told I won’t have to pay for my temporary license if I have it and you never know how else it might come in handy.

**A friend suggested I check with the local post office to see if the person had dropped the wallet in the postbox. There’s only one box in town, in front of the office. The staff looked while I was on the phone and it wasn’t there.

**Try not to think of the money lost, whether in train tickets, on a subway/bus MetroCard and in cash. It doesn’t help. I miss a shot of my Mom as a teenager stored in my wallet and other mementos. My new wallet will be streamlined.

Do you have tips to share to help smooth the mop-up of lost ID and credit cards or to prevent their theft to begin with?

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz