Archive for the ‘life’ Category

“Behind every great man is a great woman”

We hear that statement (or some variant: “Behind every successful man is a woman”) so often, particularly in politics. It’s so popular that with the rise of successful women in business and politics we hear the gender role reversal: Behind every great woman is a great man. Regardless of the gender roles, the statement has an underlying tone that the spouse of a great/successful person is hidden “behind” the successful person.

Maybe we see the significant other on the stage… Maybe the great wo/man is mentioned in an acceptance speech… Maybe in the memoirs…

The reality is that *Beside* every great wo/man is a great wo/man. It’s just a preposition, but this preposition swap accurately reflects the true spirit of this popular idiom. The spouse of a successful person stands besides them, not behind them. When they walked down the isle, they walked beside each other. No one individual was behind or in front of the other, and it’s the same in success and greatness.

When I achieve success in business or life, my wife is always beside me; not behind me. And I know that the same holds true for her. We’re on this adventure together. One of us certainly takes the lead depending on what obstacle is in front of us, but when we cross that finish line… When we achieve success, it’s beside one another.

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There are several ways to know that your relationship with a woman is over. Usually, their toothbrush might disappear from your bathroom. The tampons will disappear. Dishes will begin to pile up in the sink. House plants will start dying. There are so many signs she’s no longer there. However, there is nothing more damming than the missing flip off frog!

When my last girlfriend left, she took back most of the gifts she gave me during the years of dating. The comforter set she bought me for my birthday three years ago was probably the biggest thing that she took back. However, I was shocked when I went to water my house plant. She brought me one of those vine plant things. I think they are spider vines. I’m not really sure. Anyway, there used to be this frog in the planter that was sticking up its middle finger. When I poured the water in, the frog was missing! She took the flip off frog! I couldn’t believe it! Of all the things to take… Oh well, it suites her.

We all know that smoking is linked to a myriad of diseases. We see all the campaigns about the dangers of smoking. I have encouraged people to stop smoking. I’ve evern purchased the gum and patches for an girlfriend I was dating years ago who was having difficulty quitting.

I never thought I would meet someone who almost died from quitting smoking. Technically, I didn’t meet him, but I did meet his daughter. A couple of Fridays ago (Friday the 13th to be precise) I was heading back to LAX on my second redeye of the day. I got to talking with the lady sitting next to me about things, and we got onto the topic of her dad. Her story was one of the ironic stories I’ve ever heard.

Her dad had been smoking for decades. For years, everyone had been telling him to quit smoking. He smoked a couple of cigarettes on his way to work and on his way back home. He also smoked during the day, but most of his smoking was in his truck because it was a long commute and stressed him out. One day, he decided that it would be best for him to quit so that he cold live a longer, more fulfilling life. He worked hard to resist the urge to smoke while driving.

After a few months, he ended up in the hospital with severe headaches and an increasing loss of mental capacity. He was diagnosed with brain damage. It turned out that his truck had a cabin leak that was pumping carbon minoxide into the cabin. While he was smoking, he always had the windows down to let the cigarette smoke out. After he quit smoking, he kept the windows rolled up.

There is one upside to this story. It generated awareness in his neighborhood about the dangers of carbon minoxide poisoning in their cars and homes.

When you date the same person for more than 5 years they become part of your life unlike any other. Some of the parts of their life that intertwine with yours become second nature. You do things without thinking about it.

I had this experience the other day when I was booking an international flight. The airline was requesting an emergency contact for the unlikely event that something goes wrong with the flight. Now, I’ve done a lot of traveling over the last few years. I’ve used the same person as my primary contact for many different things over the years.

Earlier this week was the first time I put my mom’s name and contact information for my emergency contact in about four years. I actually started filling out my ex’s information without even thinking about it. It’s just second nature; I’ve filled it out so many times. There was a certain sense of finality that came with this experience though.

The other day, I felt like I was going crazy. I was bursting into uncontrollable laughter. I had received a message on Facebook that I was tagged in a photo. It was one of those collage photos, so I figured I check it out sometime later. Those things can be pretty entertaining. I eventually got around to checking it and discovered I had been tagged as “the asshole” in the picture.

Now, the person who tagged me as “the asshole” is the real reason I was laughing my ass off. This is the same woman who I had been dating off and on for five-and-a-half years when she told me that my friend Rich committed suicide because I’m such a lousy friend and then left me because she was so hurt by me. Mind you, she did this 10 days after Rich killed himself.

To be sure, I’m no innocent person. I happen to be a human being, and I’ve made some very big mistakes in my life. I’ve hurt quite a few people along the way, and I have no problems with people considering me an asshole. I have certainly been an asshole to many people, and anyone who has dealt with me in business will tell you that I have a brutal streak of shrewdness.

Still, I’m not sure that someone who I helped build her career and her personal life should be calling me an asshole. Of course, I’m sure she has long forgotten about how so much she has in her life right now has come from the support that I have given her over the years.

Now, the whipped cream and cherry on top came today. Her best friend decided to tag me as “the asshole” as well  on what would have been Rich’s 33rd birthday.

I feel for them both. That somehow they feel comfort in labeling me as an asshole while I am wandering through the grieving process  of having lost a close friend of nearly 20 years is beyond me. Is it too much to ask them to at least wait a couple months?

Usually, my best thinking is done on the toilet. However, I realized something the other day while I was driving to a dance class. I’ve come to realize that often times (if not all the time), when I’m hurting emotionally, it is because someone else is/was hurting. Two recent poignant examples…

A good friend of almost 20 years committed suicide in early February. I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. I know that he was in a tremendous amount of pain. Losing someone close is one thing, but suicide is something else. The best way I can describe it for me is that is feels like I’m burning from the inside out. Rich was someone who used me as a personal reference when he joined the Air Force, applied to Cal Poly (which he graduated from), and applied for a job at Intel (which he got!). The influence we had on each other’s lives was profound. We rode motorcycles together, shared stories of skydiving together (although we never jumped together), shared everything about our love lives, went to clubs, talked about deep social and personal issues, encouraged each other, and inspired each other.

Perhaps the most difficult part of Rich’s suicide was knowing what a positive influence I had on his life. Had he just been a close friend who I talked to every day/week/month/whenever… But Rich was not just someone I was close with. Rich was someone I inspired, and he let me know I inspired him. He was also someone who inspired me, and I let him know. The pain of losing someone with so much mutual admiration is incredible.

A few days after Rich committed suicide something happened that I still can’t believe. My closest friend, someone that I spent countless hours with every week, someone I’ve go through hell and back for, someone I’ve stood for through insurmountable crap went on a tyraid and started slinging some of the most vicious insults I have ever heard in my entire life. I am still having difficulty wrapping my head around the words because I have never been attacked like that before.

Now, getting back to my theory… In the case of Rich, I know he was hurting tremendously inside. We had spoken about the burden he felt in his life many times over the years. In fact, his letter mentioned the amount of pain he felt. In the case of my other friend, I know there was a lot of pain there as well. What was said was coming from the pain that my friend was feeling. In both cases, my friends were hurting.

Pain is almost like something we pass along because we don’t know what to do with it. It’s like playing hot potato. You hold onto it with your bare hands, and you are going to get burned. So, instead, we toss the hot potato from one person to the next out of natural instinct. We don’t think, “Should I hold onto this potato?” No, we just toss it along. It’s a natural things.  Same thing with pain. We pass our pain to the next person because that’s the natural instinct.

Once I realized this, my own pain began to ruminate in the back of my mind. It was almost like another section of my grey matter was activated and started diligently working on this concept.

Then something else dawned on me: I don’t really know everything that is going on inside of me all of the time. We all have this, those moments when someone points out something to us about ourselves and we realize that we just weren’t aware of it. If you are thinking that there is nothing about yourself that you aren’t aware of then I rest my case 😉

So, if I don’t even know everything that is going on with me all the time, how could I possibly know everything that is going on with someone else?

Tying it all together, my brain came to the following conclusion:

Pain is transfered from one person to the next because we don’t realize that we are doing it in the moment and partly because we don’t really know how to deal with our own pain. Working through that pain looks different for everyone. Some write songs. Others paint paintings. Others turn into axe murders. Some start smoking, doing drugs, or drinking. Some take up some other form of addiction: gambling, adrenaline rushes, sex, etc. Some dance. Some write blogs. Some just shut off. The list goes on and on.

In most cases, if we knew in advance that what we were going to say or do was going to hurt someone, we wouldn’t do it. However, that still leaves us with the pain that we likely don’t know how to deal with. Some people will never deal with it and just keep passing it along, and it will always keep coming back to them amplified. Some people will never deal with it and internalize it to the point of no return.

Dealing with pain is a matter of understanding the root cause of the pain. Think of it like treating a fracture. You may feel the pain in the tendons or muscle, but you’ll never heal a fracture by giving yourself a massage. Same thing with emotional pain, but the origin is a bit tricky. The origin of the pain is not some deep seeded emotional baggage you have from childhood or some emotional scare from years gone by. The origin of the pain lies in the other person. While you may not be able to understand the other person, you can empathize with that person. After all, whatever pain you are feeling must be several times worse inside of them.

Of course, this all left me with one gigantic question: Aren’t I just making excuses for other people’s behavior? At first, I thought yes. Then I thought about it some more.This isn’t a justification of any choice or action that someone takes. This is an acknowledgement that someone has done/said something and there are consequences. The choice we make is whether we want to continue to pass along pain or not.

In short: Life Happens, deal with it.

Urban Entrepreneur isn’t some PC term I’m using because I don’t want to talk about the crap life that homeless people have. It’s a marketing term I’m using to talk about the genius folks I see each morning, picking the recyclables out of the trash cans in downtown Los Angeles every day.

I love these folks! I don’t have time to make it to a recycle bin after my juice in the morning, and it certainly isn’t realistic for me to carry my empty juice bottle around with me all day long. At the same time, I don’t want to *not* recycle. I have bags of recyclables at my house. They cover the cost of my monthly haircut, which is hardly enough to live off of, but the folks in downtown are pulling that in just about everyday. They are doing us a favor my collecting our trash and recycling it while helping themselves out with some cash. Proof the entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t die just because you have a cardboard box over your head.

I keep hearing about how the Bush Administration and Congress don’t want the auto industry to fail. They don’t want the banking industry to fail. Yet most entrepreneurs will tell you that they’ve learned more from when they failed than when they succeeded. I’m betting that banks would learn more from failing than from getting bailed out.

There is something humbling about failure. There are so many lessons that come with failure. Perhaps the biggest is that we can recover. We can rebuild. We have it within our capacity to go beyond what we have failed at. That is the biggest life lesson we can ever learn, and I think it would behoove our Congress and President to let some of these businesses learn these valuable lessons.

I have news for people who voted Yes on Proposition 8. The California Constitutional amendment is invalid. Here’s why:

in 1959, California ratified the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. Article 1 states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges (emphasis added) or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

California’s Constitution does allow for amending our Constitution with a simple majority vote. However, it also requires that when two amendments conflict with each other that the amendment with the higher vote wins out over the amendment with the lower vote. Since Proposition 8 passed with only 52.4% it becomes invalid.

I highlighted privileges above because a lot of people seem to be talking about “rights”. In fact, the title of Proposition was listed as “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”. However, the 14th Amendment extends FAR beyond mere rights to all privileges. Whether marriage is a right or not is of no consequence. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Proposition 8 is invalid.

A few interesting things have come up in the discussion taking place on my blog about the California Proposition Results for 2008. Lila posted information about California Health and Safety Code 123450, and there are plenty of sources that point to the fact that the Supreme Court of California has ruled that minors in California have a right to health privacy, even from their parents.

First, I agree that people should be afforded a certain level of privacy, even minors. However, I see some very serious problems with this ruling about minor medical privacy. Not because of abortion rights but because of health concerns. Parents have a legal obligation to protect and provide for their children. Isn’t health and medical information important for a parent to provide for their child?

Second, how can a minor not consent to legal contracts but consent to medical services? A minor cannot get married, join the army, sign a contract at a gym, register to vote, sign credit applications, and a myriad of other contractual activities. However, a minor can walk in and get any medical service without parental consent? A minor can’t even purchase cigarettes, alcohol, or nyquil, but they can get any prescription from a doctor without parental consent?

Here is a scenario running through my head:

A son is injured badly in a car accident and the parents arrive at the hospital only to discover they are not allowed to know any information about their son’s well being. A little ridiculous, I know.

Or how about this one:

A daughter goes to a doctor and acquires birth control pills without parental consent and those birth control pills give her an ovarian cyst (not uncommon for many women on birth control).

Or maybe this one:

A son contracts tuberculosis while traveling abroad over the summer for a summer camp. A doctor provides treatment but the parents don’t have rights to that medical information. Tuberculosis is highly contagious and DEADLY (especially for the young and elderly).

In either of these cases, it seems logical that the parents should have a right to know medical information about their child, right?

So why did I vote no on Proposition 4? Proposition 4 was a ballot measure that put the decision making process of abortion into the hands of judges and creates more government were more government is not needed. We don’t need government mandating child-parent communication. Proposition 4 was also focused only on abortion. The issue should not be abortion. It should be parental rights to information that allows them to provide for and protect the wellbeing of their family.

What I would support is a Parent-Child Medical Rights Proposition. Not to make it a requirement for doctors to notify parents of medical treatments they are providing their children. Rather give parents the right to view their child’s medical records upon request AND sue doctors who have performed medical treatments where the parent had not given consent.

If a doctor wants to prescribe medication to a minor without notifying the parents, they can do that. But they should be open to malpractice lawsuits for providing medical services to a citizen who cannot enter into contractual agreements without parental/guardian consent.

Now, people will say what about the abusive parents scenario? Certainly, this is a major issue. Anyone (not just doctors) who becomes aware of abuse taking place against a child by their parents/family has an obligation to report it to law enforcement. If a doctor suspects (or a minor reports) abuse, law enforcement should be notified immediately.