Issue #2 – Rule 118: Keep Moving

Rule # 118- Keep Moving

The question submitted this week was from Andrew- How did I get my first job?

I graduated Penn State in August of 1981 during the rise of the recession. Good news is I graduated in 3 years, bad news I graduated into a 10% unemployment economy. Mortgage rates hit 18.75 the month I graduated- the highest ever . Nothing in the economy was working.
What made matters worse I had planned to eventually become a land developer and work for a major builder. I had a degree call “ man-environment relations (MER)” , and it was Bachelor of Science degree that supposedly prepared me to do site planning and environmental assessment . Unfortunately during the summer of 1981 no one was building or developing anything.

So I set out for my first “real job” unprepared, unqualified but very enthusiastic.
I had taken jobs starting when I was 15 when a friend of my Dad’s got me a prestigious job of raking up cigarettes butts from the gravel at the old West Point Amusement park. No, it was not as glamours as it sounds, it was far worse.
My Dad was extremely disappointed in me when I quit it after only 2 weeks. Giving up my opportunity in the entertainment industry.
I was confident that I could get something better than picking up butts and trash from gravel- I wanted the exciting world of food service.

The closest fast food place to my house was GINO’S , a now closed chain specializing in hamburgers ( Gino giant) and chicken ( KFC).
They were not hiring in 1976 but I applied 5x and was just annoying enough to get in the place.

Yes, I begged to make $1.83 training wage in 1976 and was overjoyed to proudly wear that poly- shirt and paper hat. That job gave me my own money, redemption from my father’s West Point disappointment and some of the best friends I have ever known. I was one of the worse chicken cooks they ever hired- but what I lacked in skill I made up for in dependability and resilience. I quickly realized the fact that I had no social life, and lived only a 10 min walk away gave me the most important skill of any job I ever had- I showed up. I showed up a lot -enough that I averaged over 40 hrs a week.
And when I wasn’t working I was going out with co-workers – Jim, Jeff, Al, Marie, Ken, Rick. The list goes on. This job changed me in ways I can never fully thank the company for, it taught me what working could give you.
Not just a paycheck, but pride and a place in the universe. I amassed some pretty impressive wins in my life, and significantly more than my old $100 pay checks, but everything I needed to know to be successful came from those first 2 years in the chicken room.

So when I started to look for my first post graduation job I approached it with the same excitement and confidence. I took 80 + interviews at Penn State and sent out 500+ letters- and received a grand total of 1 offer. From Franco Harris, of immaculate reception fame, fast food chicken franchises in Pittsburgh as an assistant manager. I declined the offer but only after getting to meet Mr Harris in Pittsburgh. Yes it was 13k a year, but he was Penn State royalty (rest in peace)

I then took a internship with Montgomery County planning commission- making virtually nothing but at least having a platform for another job. It lead to an offer as assistant township manager for Soudertown, Pa – but it was clearly a low pay, dead-end job. So I kept looking- kept moving.

I was never the most qualified for a job, I just had the persistence to keep trying. I applied everywhere- I mean everywhere.

Eventually a friend of my dad’s told him they were hiring trainees at Harleysville Insurance- so I got an interview. While waiting in the lobby I picked up “Philadelphia Journal “ that had a pic of the woman I was going to interview with receiving her CPCU. In those 10 mins I read what a CPCU was, what a underwriter was and had just enough Info to handle the interview.

I sounded sincere and excited about wanting to become an underwriter and pursue a CPCU ( whatever that was) – she bought it and I got $13,500!

Throughout all this process I now realize the only reason I got a job , and eventually a career in insurance was I never stopped. I kept pushing even when the job was above my head and I was not qualified. Facts be damned, I needed a job and I wasn’t going to stop.

I think that’s the secret- never stop moving. Never listen to those who say it won’t happen- just keep moving.

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New Series – Children’s Questions- Issue #1

Starting this  Christmas I am returning to my abandoned blog and podcast.

I sort of lost a bit a inspiration due to business and family issues, and like many of us during the COVID years felt a  lost of motivation. In a way I didn’t stopped the blog, but quietly quit my effort to it.

Andrew gave me a subscription to “Storyworth” which allows for my kids to submit questions to me that they would like me to write a response to in the blog. I felt inspired by the idea- and motivated to answer their questions.

So as long as they keep the questions coming – I will make a commitment to a once a week blog entry and a weekly podcast starting the second week of 2023.

Nothing is off limits and I will try to answer the questions as completely as possible.

The first question was asking what my Mom was like when I was a child… I try to keep on topic but as usual I follow my own drumbeat . I hope I can share more of these stories with my kids ( and grandkids) and make the blog meaningful to them.


 What was your Mom like when you were a child?

I am a child of the 60’s and 70’s – a late generation baby boomer with my earliest complete memories coming in late 1960’s around when I was about 5. Most of those earliest memories were centered around my mom- Peggy.

My mom was a true 60’s-70’s mom- experiencing everything that era has from studio 54 in New York to hosting Tupperware parties. She had an outgoing, friendly personality that was hard not to like. I know of no friend or family member that has a bad memory of Peggy Hill. She was just that type of genuinely kind person that drew others to her for warmth. When she passed in 2000 the many hundreds that paid their respects had stories of kindness and love.

She was born to less than perfect circumstances with an alcoholic father (John Mulligan), and a fragile mother Elizabeth (Potts) who passed away only 16 months after she was born. The 5 Mulligan children were left on their own after father became increasingly lost to abusive behavior and drink. Two ended in Philadelphia orphanages, and fortunately a maternal uncle took my mom in when my mom’s older sister (Aunt Skeets) agreed to care for her needs.

Mom had fragile health as well, including an early bout of rheumatic fever/ St Vitus Dance which likely impacted her neuroglial condition, and may have contributed to her early Alzheimer’s disease. But by all measure her early life was hard.

She told me a story that she never knew her dad, and that one day her and her sister were going by a stoop in South Philly and saw a couple drunks passed out. Her sister said that “that’s you Dad” and she struggled to figure out which one was him. John Mulligan died in April 1947 when mom was 12.

Not a great start for any child.

Mom went to Catholic school and was a very good student. She was very proud of the fact that she graduated salutatorian of her high school class and seldom mentioned that there were only 30 kids in the class. For a poor girl from Philly with no family support or resources, college was not even a remote option, and she went to work for the Phone company. I always believed that mom had the intellect and drive to have succeeded in anything she tired, and I credit her drive and intelligence as the force that made me reach for more in life.

In my childhood mom was an involved with all the things a 6o’s housewife would gravitate to if you were writing a sitcom character. She was in the women’s bowling league, President of the Junior Women’s League and constantly hosting either Tupperware parties or game nights with “the girls of the neighborhood”.

My mom had deep friendships with neighbors and hasdus call them names like “Aunt Joan” or ” Aunt Eliane “. She found deep friendships and built a network in the neighborhood and church that was made of connections and trust.

The church was very important to her, and my sister and I attended mass at the catholic church regularly. Even though I was asked to leave the ” catholic education system” in the 3rd grade due to a stutter and behavioral problems, mom pushed religious education on me through CCD. She even taught CCD for 5 or 6 years while my sister and I were attending.

When I turned 10 and could be an altar boy, she demanded that I be allowed to service mass even though I was not in a Catholic School. As the only non-parochial altar boy, I got the 6 am masses – and she would get up and make sure I was there on-time at 5:45. Damn if the church was going to keep her boy from that experience.

She was like that in everything she touched – from running a cub scout den to taking me to try virtually every sport (I sucked at all of them)- she was my advocate and champion in the world. I was chubby, shy and had a stutter, but she would not have me denied any opportunity. She pushed me in spite of my short comings to do more and be more.

She wasn’t a saint and had a short fuse when frustrated. She had used ” nerve pills’ to get through the challenging days and would become overwhelmed from time to time. She was human and had her limits and could be angry and upset. But generally, she maintained a positive attitude.

My dad traveled at least three times a month for trips as short as three days to one’s lasting over two months. The burden of raising kids fell largely to her. I rarely heard her complain but these absences had to place a burden on a woman without her own mother or mother-in-law to lean on.

When I was about 11 she started working outside the home- first at as a line packer for the old Harriet Carter gifts, then as a teller in a local bank. She liked working and was proud of the job she did, eventually moving to more responsibility within a collateral loans department of a bank. She was loved by her peers and had a committed work ethic that has earned the respect of others including senior management. Even though she worked every day she never missed a performance or event – she was a consistent cheerleader, even when my dad travelled.

In the late 1980’s, when I was finishing college, she started to notice slippages in physical health, memory and processing. It would not be till the early 1990’s that this was called something, with my sister recognizing the symptoms before my dad and I would accept it. The disease took much from my mom- her job and slowly her cheerful personality.

In the 90’s I was buried in a challenging marriage, raising 4 small children and building a career. It is my greatest regret in life that I left the noise of life take me from being there when she needed me most. She never complained to me, it wasn’t her style, but the pain I caused her was real, and unforgivable. I try to live my life in a way that would make her proud, and hope that she realized how grateful I was for her being there for me.

As I think of the lessons that she taught me the ones that influenced me most are about attitude and resilience. She always moved forward and pushed her children to reach their potential. It’s that constant moving forward that I took as the most important message. She had so many reasons to fail and give up- yet she never did and through it taught her children the importance of pushing forward.

Her birthday is on December 19th and growing up poor she often had her birthday combined with Christmas. As an adult she fought to have her birthday celebrated distinct from Christmas. Remembering her on that day through a prayer, a toast or just a kind word -she would consider it a perfect Birthday gift.

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Rule #51: The Cowardly Lion Rule

Rule #51: The Cowardly Lion Rule
“What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk
What makes the muskrat guard his musk – COURAGE”
Cowardly Lion Wizard of Oz.
In watching the tragic events in the Ukraine over the last several weeks I have thought a lot about Courage and Evil.
The first line of the Lion’s speech in the Wizard of OZ was powerful.
” What makes a King out of a Slave- COURAGE “
Against staggering odds, the brave Citizens of the Ukraine  are teaching the world what the word courage means. That they are defining by their very lives the character and purpose of facing evil no matter how frightening it appears. They know they not only face death, but nearly certain death. Yet they continue to fight with resolve and purpose. As I watch this I am humbled by their strength and character.
It also worries me when I look at our society and ask if we have the Courage as a people.
Yes, for certain we see it in the military and first responders – that willingness to charge into the fight or fire with no promise of safe return. We have well trained people willing to protect us.
But are we as a society strong enough to have courage to face what the Ukraine people are facing?
Are we teaching our children to be have Courage when needed.
In the past several generations we drifted from  wanting to be dangerous to the wanting  to be protected.
I get it. I’m part of that drift.
When your belly is full  and your biggest immediate concern is how to get around the new Netflix security, keeping what you have seems so much more important than fighting anyone. We forget the battles our grandparents and great grandparents fought to get us to that ample table.  Keeping what you have seems really important.
And instead of fighting to see your kids survive, we now what to make sure they not only have a level playing field but one sloped towards the goal. We have taught our kids to be fearful of  being offended, and to expect that their rights have priority. People should not be allowed to offend them or disappoint them . That they can win a game by just showing up, and the score doesn’t really matter because we they are all winners.
When I see celebrities like  Lori Loughlin cheat the system to get her child in the best schools, I worry because I have a little too much Lori in me.  Whatever influence and power you have, channeling it to give your child an uneven playing field advantage seems to make a lot of sense. It feels good to have the means to move barriers to success out of the way for your kids, that their ability to win is a personal success.
But seeing the Ukraine and real adversity, I wonder if I did not do more harm than help.
Part of the ability to be dangerous is the ability to face down obstacles and at times evil and spit in the devil’s eye. Its the ability to kick the bully his ass when  you need to.
In a world that is now offended by things like language usage we may have forgotten to give our kids the skills to recognize evil, and more importantly the ability to stand up to it. Besides Putin and Russia there is much evil in the world today, and the last weeks have shown us that it can not be negotiated with , or reasoned with.  There will be no a class action civil rights attorney available for every grievance of their lives, we must teach our children to stand up for themselves and suck up most of the small offenses of life.
Its not that we need to make our kids dangerous thugs that are looking for a fight. But we need to help them become a little more dangerous in a dangerous world.
It is to teach our kids that falling down is part of life, and what takes courage is the ability to get up, And that when they fail they will likely be ridiculed for trying, which they need to ignore and move on. The world does not give us guidance counselors for emotional support for every fall down, often our kids need to rub some dirt on it and get back into the god damn game. Tell them stop feeling sorry for themselves, that falling is part of growing , and that they need to feel the pain to understand the victory.
I often talk in this blog and podcast about life being hard. It is fucking hard.
It is unfair, and often times the bad people win, and the bully pushes down the little guy.
But life owes them nothing. You as parents owe them nothing. This has to come from inside, because being dangerous and having courage can not be given it has to be learned.
Generally with a loving wife, 6 kids, a thriving business and a measure wealth I am consider successful. But along the way I had negative net worth twice and way displaced from 9 jobs. Life sucks often, but if you get up you can make parts of it wonderful.
 I consider myself dangerous not because I can beat up the next guy, because let’s face it I can’t. But I’m dangerous  because I know I can get up, that I know that the next flood is not going to drown me  and the next firing won’t be my last.  Dangerous means you have courage to fight life’s problems and win through attrition if not through strength.
I want my kids to learn that – that when I am gone -the ability of learning to be confident, dangerous and courageous remains. That they are ready to hit back at life when it hits them. To keep moving and never stop.
Its most important that I teach them to be able to take the hit, and maybe not work so hard at having them avoid the shots of life.
My wish is for my kids to be fighters, and seize from life its joys and smack down it obstacles.
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Rule #6: Bad Dad Rule

I apologize to my listeners and readers for my disappearance. I had a personal crisis which took me away from my new podcast and 2catrule postings while I sorted out my emotions and decided how I could regroup.

I’ve long ago realized that the definition of my life was not going be what I acquired or achieved- but the definition of my life would be found in how my children and grand children lived. How they learned to treat others.

In all these blog postings and podcasts the two consistent lessons of life are 1.Be Kind 2. Be Grateful. Everything I want to teach my children about life come down to those two themes.

As I have said from the beginning of this journey I am a flawed man. I think in the end my children will learn more from my mistakes than my successes.  I have realized that the journey I am on is an imperfect one, and I have made many mistakes. Its is certain that I will make many more.

I know that  my children respect and love me, but at times disagree with me. At different points in their lives they have seen me as an authoritarian, a bullshitter (I know its hard to believe), and generally the road block to their joy. My parenting approach was not to try to be loved or even liked, but to embrace the role of parent and hopefully, in the long run, find that love with my children. I knew that being a parent it was impossible to be liked when I was the keeper of resources and the dispenser of discipline.  I wanted to raise good people more than I wanted to be liked.

What put me on a tightrope of emotions was I was doing this as a divorced father. This made it hard to get the consistency necessary to deliver difficult messages when needed. I fortunately had a partner in Bobbi who supported me in my actions even when she disagreed with me. It is the consistency in messaging and the consistency in love which allowed me to cross that rope with a couple of scary stumbles but no falls.

In the early heat of emotion of the divorce I saw this impact on my kids and knew I had to get them off the battle field- someone had to be an adult, they needed parents not combatants. Whenever things got bad, and bad things were said about me or to me, I kept telling myself that my kids need a parent – my kids needed  me to be an adult or their lives would fall into a state of constant turmoil. Sometimes you have to suck it up and focus on what your kids need even if at the moment it makes you look terrible.

It still sucked for them. Divorce is an unstable state where the kids are rocked back and forth on an emotional boat. They need to have something to grab on to and trust, something that reaffirms that they are not alone.

When parenting its hard to see the hits you take along the way will yield results- but they do.

As I look at all six of them, ages 19-34 today, I could not be more proud of them  Yes, they all have been successful academically and financially. But more importantly they are truly good people that understand those two lessons of kindness and gratitude. They are all imperfect like their father, and I see some of the flaws that I have passed down to them. But by a large margin they are winning at the game of life by being good people.

What stopped me from publishing this podcast and blog was when one of my children called me a “bad dad”.  It was in regards to a discussion of actions and consequences, and a disagreement over how I was approaching a situation.

In the 34 years I have been parenting I have sought advice from books, websites, therapists and friends – and most consistently Bobbi. I never claimed to have all the answers, and always tried to respectfully listen to advice whether it was solicited or not. My Dad gave me lots of it, some I listened to and used, other I listened to and went a different way. In all this advice I was the final decision maker on how to parent- it was not a democracy.

Effective parenting looks more like a benevolent dictatorship than an open democratic exchange of ideas. A smart parent listens, a smart parent isn’t afraid to change and grow, a smart parent must always puts the interest of the child first- it is a process that stops with the adult, with the parent.

Everyone that knows me knows that both my father and I loved to negotiate. I am always open to a good deal, and finding win-win solutions. But in the end with parenting, the negotiation must end and a decision has to be made- in parenting the buck stops with the adult.

The ‘disagreement” that lead to my definition as a bad Dad was about my choices and use of consequences. As my children became teenagers and adults I had a limited number of non-physical consequences to chose from. These could be a reduction of privileges or a reduction of access to assets.

The older the kids got the more limited the choices.

When Matthew was about 5 years old he was a terror at bedtime, a true terror. I remember one night in the struggle of wills I removed first his toys, then books and moved on to covers and pillows . It was his will against mine, and as the room was left with only a bare mattress he finally blinked. As cruel as that may seem it was a defining moment- I had to make my point and could not backdown – not for my sake but for his. I had to use everything at my disposal and I almost was out of options. Thank God he blinked.

But when it comes to older kids I have use cars, credit cards, allowances and even when necessary college tuition. With four of my kids I threatened it, with two I actually withheld it.

Very few things are as important to me as seeing my kids well education. But raising kids that are kind and grateful is far more important to me than the degree they have. So when necessary I used the arrow I had available and aimed for where it would be felt.

I’m not sure how my kids will remember me- maybe as a tyrant, maybe as a saint- but neither is true. In the end all I really have tried to be is a Good Dad. Its sort of how I define my life, and when that was questioned it hurt my feelings to the point I could not continue with these messages without understanding the purpose of it. It made me question if my kids missed the point.

But after reflection I see they aren’t missing it. They may not agree with all my postings, but they listen respectfully and use what they feel is useful. I’m good with that approach, it is what I did with my Dad.

Yes I was deeply hurt but the comment, and yes the aftermath of me telling them to” fuck off” when the comment wasn’t retracted has  had the disappoint consequence of isolated from them. I regret my anger and language, but remain steadfast in that my definition of being a “Good Dad” does not require me to be liked. But it does require me to be an adult. And as an adult I am going to do what I believe is right and in the interest of my child no matter what vote is against me.

The lesson in this rule is one of parenting.  What parenting truly means.

If you are going to raise good people ( the ultimate goal of good parenting) you must be willing to risk everything. Your time, your fortune and your pride – nothing is more important than the mission of raising good people.

You will face a time when your kids hate you. Maybe that will happen when they are 5 , maybe when they are 50 but it is not only possible, it will happen. Being the adult in the room is the one that says no to ice cream, no to cars and sometimes no to college.

If you have kids you have an obligation to them, and the world, to raise the best human beings possible. You are the last barrier to the world, the last chance to give clear lessons and consequences, even if it means you need to be called a Bad Dad. In the end its the only way you can truly be a “Good Dad”.








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Christmas Hope

Christmas Hope

Part of becoming an adult and finding happiness is a process of trying to find your own true meaning of Christmas. We are all in our own version of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” trying to sort through our lives and be a little less Scrooge and a little more  Fezziwig. The quest at its foundation is a search for hope.

The whole foundation of Christmas is to celebrate the arrival of  the savior of mankind who is offering us hope for salvation and purpose.

One of my favorite movie scenes of perhaps the second greatest Christmas movie of all time ” A wonderful life” is when the Senior Angel is speaking the the angel in training Clarence.

 “Senior Angel A man down on Earth needs our help.

   Clarence Splendid. Is he sick?

   Senior Angel No, worse. He’s discouraged.”

I think many times in life that is danger we face- the danger of discouragement. A life without hope.

In 2021 we have the challenges of a Virus that has changed our lives, and in a way robbed us of hope. We have all become somewhat discouraged.

Discouraged not from incompetent leaders or scientists, although they have contributed they are not the cause of our discouragement- they were there before the virus and will be here after. The cause is that we have lost hope, we have lost our way, many of us are planning for a future that will be less bright- and simply worse.

Adding to that we are beginning to see each other as enemy’s without salivation. To see people as either as too stupid or too evil to have worth because you disagree with their politics or medical treatments. When you don’t believe we have been promised salvation- hope disappears and our discouragement makes enemies out of friends.

When I think of Christmas and the birth of Jesus I really focus on what his birth meant and why after more than 2 millennium we continue to debate not only his existence by his purpose. I think what makes the Christmas story sustainable isn’t Santa Clause but the idea that we have been promised eternal hope.

Christmas is a time to reflect on the promise of Christ’s birth, the promise to all of us that we have the opportunity to better ourselves by how we treat one another. That the gift of Christmas is the birth of Hope through the birth of a Savor.

I know as I write this many of my readers and children question the existence or purpose of Jesus and God generally.  But even if you don’t believe, you can celebrate what Christmas represents – that tomorrow offers a brighter future for everyone, no matter their past choices and mistakes. That Christmas is the the promise of hope in our lives.

So no matter how you choice to celebrate it, I want to wish you a lifetime of hope and the Merriest of Christmases.



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Rule #59- Out by 9

Rule #59- Out by 9

I had the chance this week to visit Pennsylvania and my family that lives there. Rachel, Andrew and Ashleigh are all doing awesome, and my granddaughters become more adorable by the day. I am truly blessed.

I’m not one that believes that you have to physically be at the grave of  someone to remember them. Rather I think you remember people by actions, and in particularly the way you treat others and the lessons that you learn from the loved ones.

But I was in town and stopped by my parents graves. When I did so it was surprisingly emotional even though its been more than 7 years for my dad and more than 21 years for my mom. I miss them and just taking the time to focus on that was hard, they were both gone too soon. I let myself pretend that their passing didn’t impact me, but that’s a lie.

My emotions range from sorrow to anger to catholic guilt. You know that good old fashion regret sort of guilt where you run through your every mistake in your mind praying that the next replay will have a better outcome. I am a very flawed man, and sadly a flawed son. Neither of them ever made me feel that way ,but I know now that I could have been a better son. I regret much.

My way of making penance with them and God is to remember their lessons. A lot of this Blog and Podcast is a way of passing on the lessons I learned from them to my kids and grandkids. My hope that Aubrey and Hailey will read or  listen to these postings and share the thoughts with their kids. In a real way I hope that this become real remembrance of my parents, who they did not get a chance to meet. My Mom would have adored them, and I feel that she does now in her own way.

As I sat by the grave I thought about one of the lessons my dad taught me, its how he kept sane after my Mom passed so early in 2000 at the age of 64. Being alone was hard- they has done most things as a couple. Parties, dinners and travel continued as a couple long past when it should have because of both those wills to fight against the robber of Alzheimer. It stole so much from them both but they raged against it till the end.

After she passed my Dad was sort of lost, he would sit in a darkened room with the cat she loved and he tolerated and sort of zone out. It was only through the gift of friends that they had both made that he started functioning again, first going out to dinner and then events.

I had the chance to ask him how he did it, how he got through it all.

He told me that the secret wasn’t hard, it just to get out of the house every day by no later than 9 am.

He said that getting old and being alone its easy to feel sorry for yourself. He told me that “the walls whisper to you” they tell you that your back hurts and that you are feeling bad. The house sort of consumes your spirit and the aloneness is like a dangerous drug that appears more normal the more you take it.

During the Holiday season that aloneness can turn to self pity and bitterness, blaming the world for what its taken from you. You can feel forgotten and you will start to give up.

My Dad’s secret lesson for the next 14 years of his life was to get out of bed, and go somewhere. Sometimes is was the mall to walk – he loved walking past the Victoria Secrets Store.  Sometimes it was a movie or breakfast with old work buddies. But he got out.

That process of ” getting out  by 9″ had him rejoin things like the School Board that he had given up when Mom was the sickest. He found passion in the community choir although he had the same musical talent I had, none. He used these times out of the house to reconnect with the world, and through it found purpose and happiness.

As I think about how simple the rule  of ” out by 9″ is I realize how these simple lessons can be applied to so much. It isn’t just when you are old and alone – it when you are feeling depressed and overwhelmed by life at 40. The process of getting out forces us from ourselves and makes us engage.

As I approach 62 I realize that the quirkiness of  Dad had hidden wisdom that I was either too business or to arrogant to embrace when given. But eventually even the blindest of squirrels finds the nut and learns to survive.

So kids if you ever get the chance to visit your grandparents graves or perhaps mine if I ever die, I ask that you do not reflect on the sadness but on the lessons. The simple lessons of life like “getting out by 9”.

It can make all the difference.

Podcast Link:


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Rule #39 : Live a life of Abundance

Rule #39 : Live a life of Abundance

A good friend and long term mentor Mike Miles dropped me note today, catching up on each others adventures. Good friends will become more important as you get older, they are the glue that keeps you together when the world is pulling you a part.  They should be cherished .

He mention in our correspondence that he was moving away from a life of scarcity. It was an interesting phrase that had a lot of value tied to it. That made me think, what do you move to and why?

Scarcity is what we are taught early in life, to accumulate and prepare. To not waste. To be the prudent ant and not the grasshopper fiddling away the summer.  Its about building wealth, security and stability. Scarcity is making good long term choices and being ready for what the world throws at you.

In a Gordon Gekko view, scarcity teaches us that Greed is Good. That the world is effectively one large pie, and the slice of your pie leaves less for others. So if you don’t get yours someone else will. Its the voice that tells us to horde toilet paper and grab the big piece of chicken off the plate first. It keeps us safe but makes us small.

Small, in that viewing the world as being filled with people trying to get your share, makes you limit you friends and connections with the world. As you build your tower of success you get further and further away from people with whom you can enjoy the successes.

Small in that every interaction with people comes down to an equation of net sum gain. We are only winning when others are losing. Its a small view that tells us that everything has an hidden motive and that people only do things which result in benefit to themselves.  It focuses more on protection from harm than enjoying the abundance of life.

This fear is real and grounded in fact. Lots of people live their lives to take advantage of other people.

For example.

Bobbi was coming out of Target the other day and saw a man playing a violin with his small child next to him He was playing beautiful Christmas songs. She was touched and dropped a $20 in his tip jar.

She called her friend to tell her about it. She learned then it was a scam, and it was recorded music, and  that a group was going around tricking people into tipping them. The more she investigated the more wide spread this scam seem to be. It was disappointing.

But this will not take Bobbi’s Christmas spirit, and she will be likely scammed by many others. Bobbi’s act of generosity was not because she wanted something, it was just to share the Christmas joy she felt. That $20 did not lose its impact on her happiness, rather she felt sorry for them having to make a living that way.

There will always be a scam artist or dishonest person thinking they are getting the best of you when you are feeling sentimental or kind. But to try to protect yourself from them takes more from yourself then that the loss of the $20, it makes you live your life in a very small way. Bobbi remained her abundant self.

One of my business partner Greg’s favorite stories was when he was in New York rushing to a restaurant for a meeting with an important client. He was approached by  pan handler pleading his own ” fake violin” case for money.  Greg reached in his pocket and only had a $100… he thought for a moment and said what the hell… gave it to him. The man was overwhelmed and kept thanking him all the way to when he went inside the restaurant.

The dinner went well and he left the restaurant with the clients in a good mood. As they walked to the cab, that same pan handler screamed across the street… ” That’s him .. the greatest man in New York, The most generous man in New York” . Greg smiled, and the clients left with the impression that they were with the King of New York.  Some time abundance comes to you in strange ways.

Being Abundant is about living life in an open large way. It is looking to impact people with our time, energy and money that is about the joy of the moment and not the the result of the exchange.  Its living life in fear of not connecting rather than in fear of losing. For in being closed off and scared of being cheated we cheat ourselves out of joy.

One of the greatest secrets to a successful life is that when things look overwhelming in your own life, and you feel helpless – the solution is to find someone to help. Its is only through an open abundant life that we can find our own pathway through challenges. Abundance grows joy in the world while scarcity steals it from us.

Life is often very hard and some people become bitter and evil because of this hardness. But the more open and abundant you live your life the smaller these people’s world will become.

Living a generous open life of abundance will greatly increase your chance of loss, but it exponentially increases your chance of gain. When we focus on others we become much larger.










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Rule #123: VEGAS Baby

Rule #123: VEGAS Baby

I have recently returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Vegas with my family. I have been to sin city many times over the years but its only been on my most recent trips have I gained prospective on the city and its role in my life.

I like Vegas a lot. Its basically an adult play group catering to virtually every vice a man could dream up. Its a Disney World of  E-ticket rides ( dating myself a little with that reference- google that one kids) where gambling is mixed with roller coasters and strip clubs. What always attracted me to NYC and Vegas was the 24 hour lifestyle, Anywhere you can get good Chinese food a 3 am has it charms.

But what I realize now after about 30 visits is that Vegas is a life lesson.  It is a experiment in what is possible in our life and like life what you get out of Vegas is from a mixture of self restraint and risk taking. Vegas offers all of what life offers but in a convenience of a one town shopping experience.  Because its all there- sex, drugs, gambling, entertainment, food and drink its impossible to imbibe in all of it and stay alive. You must make choices.

Vegas requires a personal philosophy and a plan. Like life it can be enjoyed by yourself, with a significant other or in a group- you choose. And since Vegas has the ability to consume the wealth of billionaires you have to budget your time, energy and money to successfully survive it. Vegas isn’t a place it a state of mind.

Since experiences are all so abundant and assessable it is important not to try to live there or stay too long , or you will be consumed by the limitedness of it all. I’ve considered buying a property in Vegas, but quickly realized that lacked the personal discipline to drive by the casinos without wandering through them too often. I admire those that can do it, I’m just not one of them. Vegas to me is and will remain a 4 night town- the perfect lost long weekend.  3 nights give you too little time to embrace it, 5 nights begins to corrupt your soul and your bank account.

People make the mistake of using Vegas as the place for bachelor or bachelorette parties – what you should be doing is taking your significant other there for 4 nights. By the end of that 4 nights you will truly know who you are marrying.

If they are an alcoholic, or  drug or sex addict you will find that out within 48 hours. Trust me you will know if they have problems with these vices pretty darn quick.

The subtler observations will come over the 4 days. Do they choose things that you both can enjoy, are they capable of managing money, and can they plan activities. It will show you quickly what type of life partner they will be, and reveal their personal priorities in life.

The big reveals will come when you are exhausted and had to stand in lines, go to the ATM more than you wanted or dealing with hangovers. The moment when Vegas wears you down and pulls your arm behind you back and makes you scream uncle will be a telling time. It will show character- do they rise to the occasion and remain attentive and loving under pressure. If you still like and love each other after 80 hrs in Vegas your relationship will last.

Vegas is life in a pressure cooker with all the distractions and challenges life will throw at you supercharged into a few hours. You will either cook into a nice meal, or explode. It has the opportunity to define character.

Finally Vegas teach you one of the most important lessons – life isn’t about winning its about surviving an enjoying the moment. Life is hard, and often the result unexpected despite the best system applied against the house. The house always wins.

The lesson is that is about the ability to find joy in the moment- the show, the dinner or even losing at the craps table- joy is there if you value the experience more than the win. In life no one gets out alive in the long term, and in Vegas no one wins in the long term. Its who you are with and how you play the will determine your joy.

Be safe, be smart and visit Vegas.


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Rule#98: Always Brine the Bird

Rule#98: Always Brine the Bird

Life is complicated and hard. And some of the things I say in this blog are meant to simplify and focus your choices in life. I try my best to be profound, but with the passage of time, when I’m long gone, you might find them to be the ramblings of a delusional old man.

There are sprinkled in these life rules for my kids some absolutes- things that I am certain of beyond a doubt . This is one of them … Always Brine your Bird.

As a young man I wasn’t sure I’d ever get married. I certainly wasn’t thinking I would one day be the father of 6 kids. Life as it often does, sort of happened to me, and I went with the flow of where I felt I was being guided by the universe.

So along the way I had to learn life skills, survival cooking was one of them. I learned how to cook for my family, and actually found that I really enjoyed it. But like a hack comedian I like playing to a big room – the more people the better I think I cook.

Turkey is one of those foods that screams groups and family. Nobody thinks at 5 pm on a Tuesday , ” Boy I’d like to cook a turkey for us to eat while watching the new season of Yellowstone”. You think about turkey when you are going to have “company”.

Company requires prep. You have to clean the bathrooms, pick up the clutter and think about a meal that every one will need to wear their stretchy pants. Turkey is one of those foods that immediately comes to mind.

Turkey is warm, plentiful and if done right juicy. It is perfect because people can bring there own sides to help add to the feast. In fact my turkey dressing has been known to cure cancer.

But Turkey is always center stage. And if you are having a bunch of your friends over for a meal that bird better dance, or the whole meal will end with people stopping by the Taco Bell drive through on the way home. Its critical that you do it right.

No matter which brand bird you choose, fresh or frozen the most critical step is in the prep. Specifically the brine. You MUST brine the bird, even if its only for 4 hours- but 24 is ideal.

Turkey as with all poultry can be pretty bland and tasteless. It can also become terribly dried out in the cooking process ( if possible I recommend smoked).

As all things in life .. your relationships, your work and your family it is the prep time that matters. Life can be pretty bland and boring if you are not thinking  of things to spice things up. We have to take what we are given in life and add the spices to make it fun and exciting. This is especially true when it comes to turkeys. It also works with wives and foot rubs.  But that is another rule…

So for a Brine recommend  a citrus brine…

  •  1 cup Sea Salt
  • 1 Lemon , cut into Wedges
  • 1 Orange , cut into wedges
  • 1 medium onion , cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves of garlic  ( because the soul is made of garlic)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon if dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 gallons of water
  • 1 cup of bourbon ( because, why the hell not)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar

I always use a completed defrost bird, and after mixing the ingredients together submerge the bird in a bucket- adding about 1/2 a cup of ice before refrigerating.

You can’t rush prep in life. Time is the secret ingredients to a good sex life, successful business and good turkey- take you time. Too much and your wife falls asleep, too little and everyone is disappointed. Time matters.

At least 4 hr, but no more than 24 remove the bird and pat it dry. You can then add your own special dry spices before cooking. Finding your unique signature to your bird is part of the fun and magic of cooking. I like using fresh rosemary and dried thyme- coating the bird a mixture of mayo and butter. Yes, I said mayo- don’t judge until you try it. It is ideal for smoking a bird and helps with a prefect browning.

Lastly cooking a turkey requires carving and presentation. This is a prefect time for reflection. Reflection on the gift of friends and family, the joy of sharing a meal with those you love and the blessing of being together.

Happy Thanksgiving.





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Rule #279 : Life is complicated ( the lifetime channel rule)

Rule #279 : Life is complicated ( the life time channel rule)

As the holiday season approaches I am seeing the warnings for one of the most dangerous times of the year- lifetime holiday movie season.

I was sort of happy that Lori Loughlin went to jail . Not because she did anything worthy of it with the pay for college scandal, but because of the damage to people’s lives she has done by making  all those Lifetime Channel movies. Each story starting with all too nice of people facing conflict and finding inner strength and truth, which leads them on a path of happiness and joy. In the perfect 2 hr format ( with commercials) all issues come to a head, the bad guys lose, the good guys triumph and love saves us all.

People see these movies and try to live Martha Stewart existences with perfectly folded napkins and that gorgeous Christmas tree.

But life is like the real Martha Stewart who used insider information to cheat other investors, a convicted felon, twice divorced who now makes money taking edibles with Snoop Dog. By all measures she should be losing, but has over 400M in net worth and lives a life of luxury. WTF? where is the justice of the Lifetime story, where is the fairness- why are the bad guys winning?

I’m sure people look at my life and see a man that has made a life motto out of ” Michelob Ultra and bad choices” and think the same thing. Yes I truly try to make “good choices” and be a good person, but I fail a lot. Sometimes consequences impact me, and sometimes I still win despite picking the wrong door. The Karma and consequences of actions sometimes doesn’t all add up to results. Look at Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods- how can these guys be successful after doing terrible things?

Well life is complicated.

I’ve learn the lesson that sometimes things don’t  go the way Lori Loughlin promised, not even for Lori.

In my nearly 62 years I have been shocked when I open the door to bedrooms and peak under the covers to see what is going on in people’s lives. You see it all- infidelity, drug use, alcoholism, spousal abuse, internet porn addiction and sometimes complete secret lives. I have been to now 4 funerals that became venues for secret families to discover each other…now that’s a lifetime movie that would get some ratings. I think the success of the books like 50 shades of Gray and the consent adding of letters to the LGBTQIA+ world has opened up the understanding that the world is much more complicated than we all thought.

How you survive the “good things happening to bad people” phenomenon is to focus not so much on people’s personal live but on how they treat you and others.

You must demand a level of respect and kindness from others. No matter what anyone has going on in their lives and which sugar baby is wearing the catholic school girl outfit for them, we should demand to be treated with kindness and respect. I have ended a number of relationships because a person shares their stories of sexual infidelity with me, I find including me in those discussion both disrespectful to the the person they are cheating on and to me by asking me to accept the actions. If you feel a need to get naked and be fed Oreos by prostitutes enjoy it, just don’t include me in the discussion.

You have to develop your own moral lines for a world that is filled with immortality. For me that line is when someone else is in danger, being abused or being left neglected and needs help. Things like spousal, child and elder abuse are the lines which for me that demands immediate action.

Look less for the right things but the healthy things for you and your family.

I focus on behavior. What are they doing to others- are they providing care, and they dealing with long term issues of finances and needs. When I divorced I immediately said child support and spousal support are not an issue, and lets divide all the assets quickly and fairly. I think I stood up for my responsibilities and made sure my kids all went to college and were engaged in my life. Does this make me a good person – Hell no. Does this make me right in anything I did or did not do in the marriage- HELL NO. I was not, and am not a perfect person, personally I struggle just trying to be a good person. But actions matter- and the pathway to decent life starts with the right actions.

As you navigate this world and encounter the unfairness I recommend you focus not on the fallibility of man, because it will consume and anger you. I recommend you focus ordinary men doing extraordinary things. Asking them not to give up the Oreos but to make sure the finances are set up for their families, that they take there responsibilities to heart be their with the support their families count on in their lives. It being there that matters- showing up after failing is far more lifetime worthy than just showing up.

Lifetime movies are not real.

Doing the healthy thing is very real, and can make all the difference.

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