Musings on the Happenstance of my 70th Birthday

Today, at 5:53 AM, I marked the 70th anniversary of my arrival on this planet on Ash Wednesday 1951 in a snowstorm.

I was delivered by an Army psychiatrist making me the youngest person in US history to have been under the professional care of a shrink. Trust me, it has made a huge difference.

Yes, I was an Ash Wednesday baby and if you are Irish you know what that portends. I am a Brennan. Ridiculously, absurdly, insanely lucky.

Last night, I rested calmly in my cozy bed and reflected upon what, if anything, I learned in my first 70 years on our wildly spinning and rotating planet in the vastness of the universe. Though I am but a 1/1,000,000th speck of sand in that universe, I shall share some of those things with you.

Here are 50 musings. I could have gone further, but who wants to read all that nonsense? Not me.

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CEO Shoptalk — Good v Evil (Or, The Message At Midnight From The Garden Of Good & Evil)

If you are not a CEO, stop reading and move on. CEO Shoptalk is for CEOs only and, of course, you. Because you are special and one day you will also be a CEO, so read on, Alphonse.

The other day I get into a chat with not one, but two CEOs about the same issue I spoke of the other day, Performance Appraisal.

We are discussing the performance of someone who is clearly not a superstar, but is a solid utility infielder meaning they are not going to be promoted any time soon, but they are also not going to be fired.

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The Bananas Foster Theory of Embellishment of Success

Other day I read a statement that said, “You can’t really learn from your success.”

The thrust of the blog post was that a good kick in the teeth is often the packaging for a well taught lesson — fair play to that. Agree completely.

But when reading the “You can’t really learn from your success” sentence, I said, “Hmmm, really?”

This is because I have learned a lot of great things from success. In fact, it is — particularly given the busted teeth, bloody split lip alternative — my favorite way to learn.

Allow me to elaborate on what I call “The Bananas Foster Theory of Embellishment of Success.”

The Banana Trade

Far away and long ago, New Orleans was a center of the banana trade in which South and Central American countries exported their bananas to the United States thereby funding banana republics.

Workers unload bananas in New Orleans. Bananas Foster, one of New Orleans’ favorite desserts, is a lasting legacy of an oft-forgotten chapter in the city’s history: the banana trade, which spawned banana republics.

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The View From Afar — Ireland #8

We are canvassing the world to take its pulse post-pandemic and post-American election. We have been to Spain, Israel, Chile, South Africa, California, Germany/Spain, Japan/Singapore, and comes now a gentleman from Ireland who is an accomplished and seasoned medical device entrepreneur.

He has a finger on the pulse of Ireland and the European Union and has traveled extensively to the States, so his view is quite attuned and subtle. They even speak a form of English in Ireland. He is also a lot of fun to deal with.

Full disclosure: I am Irish (Brennan) on my mother’s side and feel very Irish in temperament. I used to give this client an “Irish Discount.” True fact.

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The View From Afar — Japan Singapore Asia #7

You will recall we are canvassing the world to get an idea of how folks think about themselves, their own businesses, their own countries, and the United States.

Today, our globe trotting correspondent is a Canadian ex-pat who has lived in Japan for more than three decades and has roamed Asia, the US, and Canada for his entire business career which has been focused on the science of materials, very exotic materials and problem solving using exotic processes.

His is an informed view of that part of the world. Recently, we had the great pleasure of a long, fascinating convo in the garden behind Texas French Bread in Austin By God Texas.

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The Role of the CEO In Dispute Resolution

Several years ago, I was advising a fairly inexperienced CEO — a terminal condition that everybody eventually outgrows, remember that — who found himself in the midst of a dispute in the 8/10 range — meaning it would not tank the company, but it would change the speed, trajectory, and azimuth of the company’s future progress. It was important.

There was plenty of regrettable behavior on both sides and there was an important legal issue, but it was a heated and contentious confrontation made moreso by the personalities involved. These personalities were not the CEOs’, but the management of both companies.

Push led to shove and they were on the brink of paying off some lawyer’s lake house.

They had both talked to their lawyers, but no lawyers had been unleashed. It was still solvable.

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Joe Biden Is Coming For Your Guns

The election is over. Joe Biden is our President (he is my President) and he is going to start paying off all the chits he wrote during the election.

One of those chits was putting Beto in charge of gun control — maybe not literally, but figuratively.

I care not a whit about the gun issue, as I think the Second Amendment is dispositive of the matter though it may take going to the Supreme Court to make that stick, but I do think there is room for some common ground.

Will we find it? No. Sorry. Not a chance in Hell.

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