The Power of Intentional Giving

Civil war in Syria! Tornadoes in Texas! Hate crimes in Mississippi!  This isn’t cable news: it’s a tour through my mailbox on any given week.  Oxfam, the Red Cross, the ACLU, they all want a piece of me; more accurately, a piece of my wallet.
If you’ve given to a charity, you’re familiar with this pattern: something happens in the world, and you immediately receive crisis-driven pleas for money.  Fire in the mountains?  Give to the Red Cross!  Trump signs an executive order? Oxfam needs money.  Trump goes golfing?  Give to the Mar-a-Lago Caddy Rescue Fund!
Now, all of these are good causes, but let’s be honest: these life-and-death pitches are a pretty cynical way to ask for money.  And if you give, do you have any idea who you helped? Did you make the world a better place, or did you just assuage your guilt over not being one of those tortured faces on the web site?
What if there were a better way?  
About a year ago, we heard that a friend, who I’ll call “Donna,” was losing her sight. …

Marking Time

As I leave Reed Group to start a new adventure, I find myself wondering: how do you measure 7 ½ years of work and life together?

I could measure it in accomplishments, I suppose: We built 4 SaaS products and showed the absence management market how technology could be a differentiator.We grew a software business from the ground up that now serves 1500 employers, 10 MM employees, and counting. In the process, we went from the chaos of a first release by “those IT guys” to a professional technology organization with over 300 people worldwide.We grew a small family business from 225 people to the 2000-employee-strong international company that it is today That all looks great on a resume (or a LinkedIn profile), but it’s unsatisfying to me. Here’s how I really want to measure my time since 2009: in the moments and personal milestone we shared. There are the hundreds of people who joined our technology team over the years, and while some left (hey, it’s a hot market), I’m proudest of thos…

Cleanup in aisle 2016!

For my birthday yesterday, my son shattered a glass jug of chocolate milk, spraying the sticky, spiky, dangerous mess all over our garage.  As I spent the next hour helping him clean it up, I was struck by how appropriately this moment summed up the whole year.  It feels like 2016 has been the Superfund site of calendar years, with one toxic mess following another across the national stage as well as my family's life.  But when you start your year like this...

... the best that you can hope for is that things will get better from there.  In many ways, they didn't. Yes, we went to Hawaii for Spring Break thanks to the generosity of my parents-in-law, but we also got to find out just how Hawaiian expensive emergency rooms are (answer: very!) when my daughter fell on the peak of Mt. Haleakala.  2016 was the year of expensive medical treatments, with my ACL repair, my daughter's tropical ER visit, and my wife's back surgery.  Even the dog got in on the fun, tearing ligame…

The Holiday Lights Project

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
On September 11, 2011, I was sad: haunted by memories of the events of ten years ago, grieving for my country's lost innocence.  I felt like I needed to do something to remember the friends, colleagues, and classmates who died that day, to brighten a world that seemed to darken every time this date rolled around on the calendar.  I needed to find a way to fight that darkness.

So I walked into a nearby IHOP and I asked for the manager.  When she walked up, wondering what anyone could possibly be angry enough about to actually come back in to complain about, I said, "I'd like to buy everyone's breakfast.  Could I do that?"

She was shocked.  "Everyone?"  She gestured at the restaurant full of Sunday brunchers. "Everyone in here?"

"Yes," I said.  "Can you help me do that?"

"Um, sure!&quo…

Trump won. Now what?

President Tr--.  Nope, I still can't make myself say it.  Maybe in a year or two.  Or four.

Like 48% of American voters, I'm... let's go with "disappointed" by yesterday's election results.  This wasn't how I expected it to play out.  I thought that we had better taste in leaders, I really did.  But, there it is.  The votes are in and our candidate lost.  I was upset, I didn't sleep well, and I was a little distracted at work today, but the sun still came up and the second Civil War didn't start overnight.

From the angry and overwrought messages in my social media feeds, I'd say that quite a few other people are upset, too.  Since I've carefully curated my feeds to eliminate views that I find obnoxious, rude, or crass, I can safely say that 99.9% of people like me -- I kept one conservative friend from college to prove that I'm open-minded -- are pretty pissed and scared right now.

I already asked everyone to take a deep breath last …

Let’s take a break

OK, Blue America, time for a hysteria break.

This isn’t the end of the US or the beginning of the Apocalypse. We won’t repeal all 27 amendments to the Constitution tomorrow. We still live in a diverse country of immigrants with more institutional freedoms than most of the rest of the world enjoys. We can still dissent without fear of arrest and work through our differences compassionately and reasonably.
The people who crawled out of the darkness to celebrate the worst aspects of human nature haven’t taken over, nor are they suddenly multiplied a thousandfold. They were always there; they always have been there, lurking in the dark corners of humanity since Cain killed Abel in a fit of jealous rage. They have crept out into the light again because they think that this is their time, but it isn’t. They haven’t been given the keys to the country, they have just been given a slightly louder voice by a man who seized an opportunity to win by whatever means necessary. When this election i…