Sunday Best – November 26, 2023

Dear friends, perhaps these last weeks (months? years?) have felt a little sprint-y for you, too – and even the happiest sprints can leave us breathless.

Let’s take in the air of this fresh new morning, with the help of John O’Donohue.


A Morning Offering

  by John O’Donohue


I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.


This blessing is included in one of my favorite volumes, O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us, which I turn to time and time again.

Sunday Best – November 19, 2023

There’s a curious form of time-shifting that comes from returning to a place we once knew well. When I travelled to Japan a few weeks ago, I was delighted to hear once again the phrase, “ki o tsukete.”

Usually these words are translated as “take care,” but the literal translation is a little more magical, since “ki” means spirit. Multiple times each day, we are reminded, “Tend to your spirit.”

I was thinking of this as a uniquely Japanese concept, when on my way to work I noticed a patch of graffiti advising, “Protect Yo Heart.” Perhaps this is a universal sentiment after all – or could be.

Dear ones, let us venture forth, out into the world where our spirits and hearts can flourish.

Let us tend to them as we go.

Sunday Best – November 12, 2023

“There’s more to continuity than not stopping.”   – Stuart Brand


I was lucky to hear Stuart Brand speak at the Santa Fe Institute this week, where participants discussed everything from the Aeneid to AI. Brand was noting that we often underestimate the importance of maintenance, at every scale.

We celebrate perseverance, more than prevention.

We prize creation, more than caretaking.

Dear ones,

may we persist.

May we create.

May we tend.

Both without and within.

Back cover of the final Whole Earth Catalog.

Sunday Best – November 5, 2023


Years ago, before all of the multi layered security and traffic restrictions, it was common to see someone off at the airport. There would be tearful hugs at the gate, joyful reunions as loved ones emerged from an arriving flight, and all of the more mundane hellos and goodbyes in-between. Whole plots of movies and books turned on the just-missed departure, or the drama of a final boarding call. 

It’s been so long since this tradition has been able to be practiced in the United States that I’d almost forgotten about it. But on my outbound flight to Japan recently, the entire airline team from Logan lined up on the tarmac to wave farewell. Though I’d only met the check-in agents for a moment or two, it was such a touching sight that tears sprang to my eyes. 

For the following week, every doorway I entered came with a warm personal greeting. Every departure I made included an expression of thanks and goodwill. Not once invisible. Not once unwelcome.

How lovely to be bidden farewell. How heartwarming to be greeted. How much we lose when these tiny rituals are deleted.

Dear ones, though the TSA might limit us, our arrivals and departures are worthy of notice.

Let us be welcome guests, wherever we may be.

Let us welcome others in return.


Sunday Best – October 29, 2023

The financial world has lost a legend in the passing of Byron Wien, longtime strategist at Morgan Stanley and more recently Vice Chair at Blackstone Advisory Partners.  For many years he had the courage to publish his signature “10 Surprises of the Coming Year” list, and even more courageously, at the end of each year he took account of his prior bets, publicly and objectively. As a young analyst, this kind of example from a senior practitioner had a tremendous influence on me – but these life lessons he shared later on in his carer have stuck with me even more.

May we all have teachers as generous as Byron, with wisdom as great as this to impart. 


Life’s Lessons – by Byron Wien, February 2013

Here are some of the lessons I have learned in my first 80 years.  I hope to continue to practice them in the next 80.

  1. Concentrate on finding a big idea that will make an impact on the people you want to influence.  The Ten Surprises, which I started doing in 1986, has been a defining product.  People all over the world are aware of it and identify me with it.  What they seem to like about it is that I put myself at risk by going on record with these events which I believe are probable and hold myself accountable at year-end.  If you want to be successful and live a long, stimulating life, keep yourself at risk intellectually all the time.
  2. Network intensely.  Luck plays a big role in life and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible.  Nurture your network by sending articles, books and emails to people to show you’re thinking about them.  Write op-eds and thought pieces for major publications.  Organize discussion groups to bring your thoughtful friends together.
  3. When you meet someone new, treat that person as a friend.  Assume he or she is a winner and will become a positive force in your life.  Most people wait for others to prove their value.  Give them the benefit of the doubt from the start.  Occasionally you will be disappointed, but your network will broaden rapidly if you follow this path.
  4. Read all the time.  Don’t just do it because you’re curious about something, read actively.  Have a point of view before you start a book or article and see if what you think is confirmed or refuted by the author.  If you do that, you will read faster and comprehend more.
  5. Get enough sleep.  Seven hours will do until you’re sixty, eight from sixty to seventy, nine thereafter, which might include eight hours at night and a one-hour afternoon nap.
  6. Evolve.  Try to think of your life in phases so you can avoid a burn-out.  Do the numbers crunching in the early phase of your career.  Try developing concepts later on.  Stay at risk throughout the process.
  7. Travel extensively.  Try to get everywhere before you wear out.  Attempt to meet local interesting people where you travel and keep in contact with them throughout your life.  See them when you return to a place.
  8. When meeting someone new, try to find out what formative experience occurred in their lives before they were seventeen.  It is my belief that some important event in everyone’s youth has an influence on everything that occurs afterwards.
  9. On philanthropy, my approach is to try to relieve pain rather than spread joy.  Music, theatre and art museums have many affluent supporters, give the best parties and can add to your social luster in a community.  They don’t need you.  Social service, hospitals and educational institutions can make the world a better place and help the disadvantaged make their way toward the American dream.
  10. Younger people are naturally insecure and tend to overplay their accomplishments.  Most people don’t become comfortable with who they are until they’re in their 40’s.  By that time they can underplay their achievements and become a nicer, more likeable person.  Try to get to that point as soon as you can.
  11. Take the time to give those who work for you a pat on the back when they do good work.  Most people are so focused on the next challenge that they fail to thank the people who support them.  It is important to do this.  It motivates and inspires people and encourages them to perform at a higher level.
  12. When someone extends a kindness to you write them a handwritten note, not an e-mail.  Handwritten notes make an impact and are not quickly forgotten.
  13. At the beginning of every year think of ways you can do your job better than you have ever done it before.  Write them down and look at what you have set out for yourself when the year is over.
  14. Never retire.  If you work forever, you can live forever.  I know there is an abundance of biological evidence against this theory, but I’m going with it anyway.
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