Pressing the Pause Button

Smaller Doses of Life and Leadership by Jerry Rosenthal

Smaller Dose #8. It’s good that you came back for more…..


Reading Time: 4 minutes

Length: ~900 words

It’s been nearly three months since I published my last Smaller Dose. That wasn’t the plan. Life was put on pause and priorities have changed. Not just for me, but for all of us. There is enough content out there already about what has transpired. And for each of us, there is much we agree with and much that seems totally absurd. I did not want to contribute to either pile, so I’ve remained quiet. Intentionally stuck on pause.

Many of my readers have reached out asking if all is well on my end and if they missed a Smaller Dose. I’ve responded that we are well and that when the time is right, a new Smaller Dose will be shared. That time is now.

So here we go…..

I’ve worked for a few large corporate entities. Nearly all of them had detailed policies and procedures in place for various emergency situations:

  • Electrical disruption

  • Water main break

  • Tornado warning

  • Active shooter

  • Road closures

    • Note: This was newly created by many businesses here in Philadelphia over the last few years to deal with events such as:

      • The Pope’s visit in 2015

      • The Democratic National Convention in 2016

      • The NFL Draft in 2018

All these great PLANNED events kept us near or in our home for one or more days. Enough time to make simple preparations or leave town and avoid the party atmosphere created by each event. And yes, there was indeed a celebratory environment when the Pope was here as people came from all across the country.

Nobody was truly adequately prepared for this pandemic. Yet I’m certain a new set of policies and procures will be created to not only deal with returning to life, but with proactive measures to deal with a situation like this WHEN it happens again.

Where has your life been put on pause?

As of this writing, more than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment; over 15% of the workforce. My numbers might not be precise and there might be some debate about that. That isn’t my point. Bottom line is that all of us know people who have been impacted by the loss of a job, disruption of income, separation from friends and family and perhaps even the loss of life. This event has connected all of us as I imagine there is absolutely no one left unscathed in some small or large way. As 9/11 was an anchor for many of us, this is another reflection point that will impact life in ways yet unknown at this time. The pre and post Covid eras.

Gratitude

I’ve struggled with this for most of my life. I’ve tried flipping the switch and altering perspectives as often as I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. When I am stuck in traffic, I get upset about being late. I can flip that switch and value that I am safe and warm and dry (if it is snowing or raining) or that I have someplace to go (which isn’t the case for many people right now.) It’s the idea of looking at a challenge and taking the time to see the other side. Being grateful for the circumstances we are in or that we have created is not an easy feat, especially when you don’t have the luxury of perspective and are in the moment of challenge.

And here we are with the finger on the pause button. Have we taken the time to consider not just the challenges, but also, what are the benefits? I don’t have the answers. That is for each of us to figure out. Perhaps the finger needs to come off the pause button for some aspects of life and some might just need to stop completely. This is one of those rare lifetime events when you get the chance to consider the value of something without blindly resuming, just because it was the way it used to be. It’s the art of contemplation. Each of us can allocate time for reflection about what suits your situation and vision for your future. One of the many benefits of a free society.

My Pause Button

Monday, March 16, 2020

My finger is still on pause for many aspects of life. I realize that it isn’t as simple as on or off or start or stop. I can put some aspects of life on pause and allow other aspects to continue. That’s where I am now. Slowly taking things off pause and resuming life where I can, in a way that is safe and brings value, happiness, and joy to my journey. One day at a time. Baby steps. And no, it isn’t easy and I don’t have a solution other than making some time each day for contemplation of what works best for me and what will suit me well on my journey through this episode and beyond.

I ask you to do the same. Contemplate and don’t blindly act just to get your finger off that button.

I wish all of you well and look forward to sharing my next Smaller Dose with you soon.

Now what?

I’m not going to be shy about asking for support. Please share this Smaller Dose with three (or more) friends, colleagues, associates, and anyone else who might find some value in my words. Tell them about me and my book. Tell them how you know me and perhaps how we met. Tell them to sign up for Smaller Doses and to read my previous seven thought pieces. Help me grow the size of my community by 10-fold by the end of the year. Can each of you do that for me? I know you can. Some of you will and some won’t and that’s ok. I have gratitude for each of you for being part of my journey.


Books make great gifts that can be enjoyed, shared and promote discussion and the exchange of thoughts and ideas which elevate everyone. Consider purchasing my book, Small Doses: Common Sense to Common Practice as a gift for yourself or anyone who could use a little wisdom. Get yours today by using the link below. You’ll thank me later.

Small Doses available on Amazon.com

If you are interested in learning more about me and my work, check out my website.

Jerry's Website

Feel free to respond directly to this e-mail to provide your comments and feedback anytime. And don’t forget to share this Smaller Dose with anyone who could use some occasional wisdom.

Until next time…..

Jerry

Next in Line Bias

Smaller Doses of Life and Leadership by Jerry Rosenthal

Smaller Dose #7. It’s good that you came back for more…..


Reading Time: 3 minutes

Length: ~800 words

Dear Friends,

I have a story to share with you, so I’ll get right to the point…..

During the summer of 2018 I had a conversation with a former colleague, Jim DeLash. Jim and I worked together when I was at GlaxoSmithKline. Jim is an outstanding storyteller and has taught and influenced me greatly in this space. And it was during one of our many conversations that Jim coined the phrase “next in line bias.” I told him I was going to use that someday. And that time is now.

So here we go…..

Not long ago, my wife and I were doing some errands and it got to be late in the day. One more store to hit and it was nearing closing time. It was a retail store at our local mall, and the store manager was wrapping up with typical closing activities and handling the last few customers of the day. My wife was that last customer of what must have been a very difficult day for this “leader.”

So, what did Jim and I define as “next in line bias?” It is the idea that each customer should be welcomed and treated as if they are bringing a lifetime of transactions to the establishment and not just a single visit. And customer experience should not be prejudiced / biased based on the transaction with the previous customer. Every customer should be engaged with by allowing for and creating a clean slate. Any customer service representative should do all they can to avoid “next in line bias”, and welcome you with the energy as if you were the first person to walk in the door that day.

As my wife stepped forward to complete her transaction, the associate (a.k.a. the leader) was less than helpful and instead of looking for ways to make the transaction go smoothly, she found a wide variety of things to prevent the successful completion of a simple exchange: merchandise for payment. After several minutes of back and forth banter, my wife paused and said to the associate:

“It sounds like you have had a very challenging day. I’m sorry to hear that”.

Even those empathic words did nothing to bring the transaction to something that most would label as normal, simple and unmemorable.

The transaction completed. My wife left the store. She shared with me what transpired. And I thought of Jim and “next in line bias”, as this is exactly what had just occurred. A multitude of challenging customers, difficult transactions, problems with employees or other stores or managers or perhaps things outside of work impacting this associate’s day. A flat tire on the way to work. A call from school about an incident with a child. A sick parent. All are possibilities, yet we will never know. It simply doesn’t matter in this context.

I agree we could all use a bit more empathy, but that goes both ways. Being a store manager, a leader, means going just a little bit above and beyond for each customer, even in the most challenging of situations or bad days. One customer, especially the last customer of the day, does not deserve to be the recipient, the receptacle of all the negativity that was absorbed by this leader on this day.

So, what does this tell us about life and leadership?

I think many of us can relate to or have experienced exactly what my wife did that evening. We are all human and most of us can’t compartmentalize or separate every aspect and dimension of our lives. We live in a world where we are bothered with anything that interferes with what we must do. Perhaps we must go to the store to get some groceries and a friend needs to talk. And we are challenged in the moment what to do.

Do we deal with our own priorities or do we give of ourselves to others?

My challenge to you is to give of your time, patience and energy when you can. Listen. Don’t judge. Look for solutions instead of reasons why something can’t be done. Don’t conflate a previous conversation or engagement with where you are in the moment. Not easy all the time. It starts with awareness and overcoming your own personal biases.

Why? So what? Why does any of this matter?

I think of The Golden Rule and The Platinum Rule. I think of how we treat others and how each of us want or need to be treated. No matter the time and place, none of us want to be treated by another based on a previous interaction with someone else. All of us are unique and the relationship between two people is unlike the relationship between any two other people. That interaction should be valued and allow for the exchange of information to flow with ease and enjoyment in a way that benefits all. It’s that simple.


A quick note of thanks to Jim DeLash. Perhaps a reader out there knows him, has crossed his path, was one of his students at Temple University or has seen him speak at a variety of marketing conferences. If you see him, tell him you have learned of his idea and perspective and perhaps it has helped you see things a bit differently.


Books make great gifts that can be enjoyed, shared and promote discussion and the exchange of thoughts and ideas which elevate everyone. Consider purchasing my book, Small Doses: Common Sense to Common Practice as a gift for yourself or anyone who could use a little wisdom. Get yours today by using the link below. You’ll thank me later.

Small Doses available on Amazon.com

If you are interested in learning more about me and my work, check out my website.

Jerry's Website

Feel free to respond directly to this e-mail to provide your comments and feedback anytime. And don’t forget to share this Smaller Dose with anyone who could use some occasional wisdom.

Until next time…..

Jerry

When Did You Arrive?

Smaller Doses of Life and Leadership by Jerry Rosenthal

Smaller Dose #6. It’s good that you came back for more…..


Reading Time: 3 minutes

Length: 750 words

Dear Friends,

I hope this installment finds everyone doing well. It’s good that you came back for Smaller Dose #6.

So here we go…..

Last summer I had a conversation with my good friend Martin. Now, to know Martin is to know his passion for soccer. He was an incredible athlete, and at the age of 16, he was offered the opportunity to become a professional soccer player. And to quote him, he thought (as he shares with me and others) “I have arrived.”

His feeling at that moment was one of achieving the pinnacle of success where no additional effort was needed. Or so he thought. Life turned out differently and Martin’s path is about making a difference in the lives of others as opposed to the soccer field.


Last fall, my wife and I attended an event which was for people who had come from an area of eastern Europe to live in America. When meeting the host of the event, my wife was asked “when did you arrive?” And she proudly answered “1980” (the year she came to this country from Moldova.) The host responded with “oh, no, I meant when did you arrive at the event this evening.”

Now to provide additional context, both the host and my wife were speaking in English, neither of which is their first language. So, what happened still leaves us a bit puzzled. Was something lost in translation? Was it a valueless throwaway question? A conversation starter? Did the word “arrive” become mistranslated in some way? A follow-up question was never posed and all of us simply moved on to another drink and to socialize with other guests.


My thoughts: A simple question, a simple statement, a frame of mind with a potential for a multi-dimensional response. There was the opportunity to gain some new insights, yet all was lost in the moment. A moment to reflect on where one is now and what the next destination may be.

So, what does it mean to arrive? One can physically arrive at a destination. One can achieve status within an organization. One can achieve a goal. One can overcome a life challenge. So, my question to you is, when you arrive, is the journey done or is it time to set a new goal, and start advancing towards that new destination?

What are the lessons here in these examples about life and leadership?

I think of asking good questions to engage people and show interest in getting to know more about them. And I think about times in my life when I arrived and what that meant and felt like in that moment. Did I feel complacent or did I tell myself to start preparing for the next destination? Did I feel gratitude?

I can recall times in my life when I thought that I had arrived. The job. The car. The house. The completion of a large and highly visible project at work. Perhaps when I was younger there was only the element of accomplishment and satisfaction. And it’s ok to celebrate that success, that achievement, that arrival. Yet the idea of what’s next is one that comes with age, experience and maturity.

So yes, I have arrived. I am exactly where I am supposed to be now. And having a plan and striving for that next destination, that next arrival is always on my mind.

  • Being a better person.

  • Giving more of myself.

  • Being a better spouse and member of the community in which I work and live.

All destinations to which I will arrive someday. But not today. There is more to do. And miles to go before I sleep. (Note: Robert Frost gets credit for that line – written June 1922)

What is the connection to leadership? Setting goals for people. Achieving those goals. Celebrating. And setting new goals, new standards, new achievements. Challenging people to get them to believe that not only have they arrived but there are far greater destinations that each of us can achieve. You can’t expect others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.

You will arrive and I hope that in some way my ideas will be there to challenge you to ask yourself “what’s next?” And continue to ask yourself “when will I arrive?”


Books make great gifts that can be enjoyed, shared and promote discussion and the exchange of thoughts and ideas which elevate everyone. Consider purchasing my book, Small Doses: Common Sense to Common Practice as a gift for yourself or anyone who could use a little wisdom. Get yours today by using the link below. You’ll thank me later.

Small Doses available on Amazon.com

If you are interested in learning more about me and my work, check out my website.

Jerry's Website

Feel free to respond directly to this e-mail to provide your comments and feedback anytime. And don’t forget to share this Smaller Dose with anyone who could use some occasional wisdom.

Until next time…..

Jerry

A Mythical Place Called Canadialand

Smaller Doses of Life and Leadership by Jerry Rosenthal

Smaller Dose #5. It’s good that you came back for more…..


Reading Time: 4 minutes

Length: 900 words

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! I hope this installment finds everyone doing well and starting off 2020 on a very positive note. It’s good that you came back for Smaller Dose #5. Something a little bit different, yet still contains lessons about life and leadership.

So here we go…..

My father passed away in April of last year. He was an interesting man, and some would say he was a great storyteller. Once such story came to mind recently. A story he would tell my younger sister about a place called “Canadialand.”

Let me start with some context. We grew up in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York. And anyone who knows something about the Western New York area, knows the following to be absolute truths:

  • It can and has snowed eight months of the year and the summers are simply amazing

  • Niagara Falls is only 30 minutes away

  • Wings, Beef on Weck and Genesee Cream Ale are key staples of the local diet

  • President McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo on September 6th, 1901 at the Pan American Exposition (World’s Fair) when Buffalo was the 6th largest city in the nation

  • Jack Kemp was more than a member of the House of Representatives; he was the quarterback for the Buffalo Bills from 1962-1969, winning the AFL championship twice

  • And Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada is just across the Peace Bridge (construction completed in 1927) which is in downtown Buffalo

Traveling to Canada as a kid was a memorable experience. Crossing the border from one country to another was much simpler than it is today. Not only was Fort Erie close by, Toronto was a mere 90 minutes away. And, in my opinion, Toronto was the cleanest and friendliest metropolitan area I had ever known for many years. Little things like exchanging US Dollars for Canadian Dollars was interesting. And buying gasoline in litres (note the intentional use of the Canadian spelling) instead of gallons was a novelty.

So, Canada was our travel destination, our vacation place in the 1970’s and 1980’s. And in our stories, my dad’s stories, we had Canadialand, which took the experience to an entirely new level.

One such story was about streetlamps. The very uninteresting and uninspiring topic of streetlamps. Things we take for granted today, but that was not the case some 200 years ago.

Imagine walking down the street in the 19th century to a saloon, a hotel, a barber or dry goods store in a world where things were much simpler and more peaceful (although peaceful is a relative term.) And as you were walking you notice something; streetlamps. But you don’t know what they are, and they aren’t lighting the way. You wonder why and so you ask one of the residents of this mythical place. You are told that streetlamps exist so that when electricity is invented, this place will be well ahead of all the other non-mythical places. Their homes have electrical outlets too so that when appliances and devices are invented, after the innovation of electricity, that they will be ready.

It’s one thing to read this simple story and yet it was another thing to hear my dad tell the story. Ridiculous in some ways, yet profound in other ways. Innovation. Second order thinking. Being able to see beyond the near future. Ignoring the facts and realities of the day and the history of the time. Electric streetlamps were first used in Paris in 1878 and by some accounts there were gas lights as early as 1810. But none of that matters in the story of a place known as Canadialand.

You might be wondering what made me think of such a story. And I would tell you, it was my good friend Donald Trump. You see, he gave a speech on Independence Day last year and mentioned airports during the time of the Revolutionary War (something obviously missing from all the history textbooks.) Perhaps President Trump was aware that General Washington knew that there would be airports because airplanes would be invented some 127 years later. Just like the people in Canadialand knew that electricity would be invented someday soon, and they would be the first to have visibility in the streets at night in their little mythical town. Washington was a visionary. Only until Donald Trump, we didn’t know the full extent of that vision. Profound? Silly? Insane? It doesn’t really matter. I’m sure dad would have had a funny comment about it or came up with a story to explain it. For now, we just have the memory of Canadialand, and that’s fine with me.

So, what does any of this have to do with leadership? A leader, a good leader, should be able to create a vision, a reasonable vision, and take people along for the journey. A leader should be able to paint a picture that people can feel and see themselves as part of the future state. Leaders who do this separate themselves from those who either don’t or can’t create that vision. Or perhaps they create a “vision” that is so unrealistic and unbelievable that people simply don’t buy in. And that is when leadership fails.

So, if you are a leader, and all of us are leaders in some aspect of life, consider this little story of what could be, and the role you play in creating that vision and bringing people along for the ride. You may not realize it, but people are looking to each of us for guidance.


Books make great gifts that can be enjoyed, shared and promote discussion and the exchange of thoughts and ideas. Consider purchasing my book, Small Doses: Common Sense to Common Practice as a gift for yourself or anyone who could use a little wisdom. Only $14.99 for paperback and $9.99 for the Kindle version. Get yours today by using the link below. You’ll thank me later.

Small Doses available on Amazon.com

If you are interested in learning more about me and my work, check out my website.

Jerry's Website

Feel free to respond directly to this e-mail to provide your comments and feedback anytime. And don’t forget to share this Smaller Dose with anyone who could use some occasional wisdom.

Until next time…..

Jerry

Don’t Surround Yourself with Yourself

Smaller Doses of Life and Leadership by Jerry Rosenthal

Smaller Dose #4. It’s good that you came back for more…..


Dear Friends,

I hope that you had an outstanding Thanksgiving and had some time to reflect on life. And perhaps some element of gratitude even came to your consciousness. On that note, I am grateful that you are taking time to be part of my journey. Enjoy.

Reading time: 3 minutes

Length: 800 words

Smaller Dose #3 (11/24/19) referenced a line from one of my favorite movies. For this installment, I’ve decided to reference a line from a great classic rock song.

So here we go…..

What happens when the people in your life agree with you and don’t provide any type of challenge to your thoughts and ideas? What you get is what is known as confirmation bias. Everything that you think, feel and believe is reinforced by those around you. Everyone caters to your ego in some way, rarely, if ever, challenging you to think differently and perhaps consider an alternative perspective (a key element needed for personal and professional growth.)

During my undergraduate studies, I was selected to be a member of the mock-trial team. For a brief time, I considered attending law school. I took a few philosophy classes to learn more about reasoning, logic, debate, etc., and mock-trial was a pathway for testing my basic, yet fundamental skills, prior to making a significant life choice.

One of the most impactful lessons I learned during the preparation phase of the mock-trial experience was that one must study and understand the other side of an argument or perspective better than your opponent. Only then can you truly prepare your offense to equal, and perhaps defeat, your challenger. And as obvious as this sounds, as a young 20-year-old, this had a lasting impact on me. I never went on to law school, yet that experience has stuck with me to this day.

So how does one prepare for trial, debate or healthy discussion on topics from politics to the office environment and life in general? Why not consider engaging with those who are not like you, in one or more ways, and be open to listening to what is said? You don’t have to agree. You have your truth and the other person (or side) has theirs. Just listen without responding. Perhaps you will learn something new and valuable which you had not yet considered.

I’ve occasionally thought that a presidential candidate should select someone from another party to be their VP candidate or members of their cabinet (I’ve been told that Abraham Lincoln did such a thing, and more recently Chuck Hagel served President Obama as Secretary of Defense.) There are pros and cons to this. Yet, at a philosophical level when there is a culture of openness and safety, alternative perspectives can be heard which may lead to better solutions for all. Perhaps I am being overly myopic or utopian, but there are ideas, concepts and methods which can be practically applied to our daily lives.

Last week, I listened to some sports radio. One of the hosts was discussing the topic of “What is wrong with The Dallas Cowboys”. Someone called in and provided the following commentary:

“The Cowboys are simply too full of The Cowboys.”

The caller went on to explain that, in his opinion, Dallas lacked diversity of thoughts and ideas and that only looking at the “Cowboy way” of doing things was not going to lead to a different outcome.

Diversity of thought can start when your surround yourself with people who have different perspectives than you do, challenging your belief system. And this is the start to creating a new outcome with different results.

What happens if you are of a political leaning and you only watch one TV network? You experience confirmation bias as your beliefs are reinforced repeatedly. What if you watch several networks, read divergent opinions and listen to the arguments of others? You may not agree with all or any of it, but you will have the chance to better consider your side when you understand the perspectives of others. It is my hope that you take away this lesson from this Smaller Dose.

There is a concept that some believe which states something like this:

You are the sum of your five closest acquaintances.

I’m not sure if there has ever been a study done to validate this. Regardless, I think we all know that those we spend time with have some influence upon us. Take a moment to think about those “top 5” in your life and consider what each of them are doing to contribute to your journey in some way.

So, what does a song recorded in 1970 by the group “Yes” have to do with the concept of diversity? Don’t surround yourself (physically or otherwise) with yourself. Seek out others (or other sources) to challenge you and provide an alternative perspective. Perhaps it will help you to reinforce your position, or alter it a bit, as new information is brought to your consciousness which did not exist before. In either case, you will be richer in knowledge and wisdom than you were prior to engaging with those that are “not yourself”.


The holiday season is upon us. Books make great gifts that can be enjoyed, shared and promote discussion and the exchange of thoughts and ideas. My book might even reduce the amount of tension and family arguments this year and beyond. Consider purchasing my book, Small Doses: Common Sense to Common Practice as a gift for anyone on your list. Only $14.99 for paperback and $9.99 for the Kindle version. Get yours today by using the link below. You’ll thank me later.

Small Doses available on Amazon.com

If you are interested in learning more about me and my work, check out my website.

Jerry's Website

Feel free to respond directly to this e-mail to provide your comments and feedback anytime. And don’t forget to share this Smaller Dose with anyone who could use some occasional wisdom.

Wishing all a very Happy Holiday Season and Healthy New Year full of Health, Wealth and Happiness!

Until next time…..

Jerry

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