The Loss of a Friend

One of my best friends passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

His name is Wynn Etter. 

I met Wynn when he was sponsor for the Dale Carnegie Courses in Cherry Hill, NJ.  Over the years I met the most wonderful people through Wynn and was honored when he asked me to teach the Dale Carnegie Course.  I cannot imagine what my life would have been like for me without calling this man my friend.

The loss of a friend sometimes occurs when they are alive but not available for a relationship.  But in this case, Wynn was a mentor and an inspiration very much involved in my life.

When I did research for my book, he would pack up tons of motivational literature and ship it to me.  He was thanked in the book’s dedication.

He used to call me “Tiger” – an enthusiastic reminder to go after what I desired in life.

A positive man who as he endured chemotherapy never uttered a negative word even as his disease progressed. 

I have a fond memory of Wynn pulling up to tollbooths that linked southern New Jersey bridges to nearby Philadelphia and anonymously paying the toll for the car behind him.  The grateful recipient of his random kindness would step on it and pull next to his car at the top of the bridge and wave their thanks.

It’s hard to contemplate living without the benefit of people like Wynn.  But I have a consolation plan.

If I can take just one of his many good qualities and make it mine, he will live on through me.  And there is a long list to choose from.

There is a beginning, middle and end to life but the good qualities of friends can live on in their name through others.

“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us”  – Helen Keller

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  • Jerry,
    This was moving.
    This new feedyouhVe will not expand on iPhone or iPads anymore. You may want to correct that.

  • @ap215 Thank you very much!

  • I’m sorry Jerry my condolences.

Your Competitor Can Be Your Greatest Teacher

My friend Jed Duvall sent me a book recently that I can’t put down.  It’s called “Condemned To Repeat It”. 

The title is borrowed from that great George Santayana quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

I have often wondered why nations, businesses, family, people continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.  These are smart people.  Smart companies.

What is the missing ingredient?

In a chapter on “The Only One Who Ever Beat Hannibal”, the authors (Wick Allison, Jeremy Adams and Gavin Hambly) remind us to “respect a talented opponent and study his methods”.

They cite the World War II confrontation between General George Patton and the German Erwin Rommel in the battle for North Africa.

Patton was ready for it. 

As Patton watched Rommel’s tanks change position for an assault against the Allied Forces, Patton was overheard saying “Rommel, you sonofabitch, I read your book!”

In our daily lives we should remember the author’s advice: 

“Your competitor can be your greatest teacher.  After all, he’s the only one interested in your business as you are.  Watch his strategies, monitor his mistakes, and copy his successes.”

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Smartphone Addiction

Not many years after Apple totally remade the smartphone business, millions are now suffering from smartphone addiction.

A recent NY Times article identified the international technology company Atos as phasing out all emails among employees by the end of this year requiring workers to find other means to communicate.

Daimler Benz employees can have emails deleted automatically during vacations so as not to flood their inboxes upon return.

A nationwide Pew survey of 2,254 adults cited in the article found that 44% of cellphone owners had slept with their phones next to the bed and 67% admitted to checking their phone even if it was not ringing or vibrating.

I wouldn’t give up my smartphone and I don’t imagine you would either.  But with small children now carrying phones and human discourse negatively impacted by distracted relationships, I’m interested in putting my digital device in its proper place.

  1. Turning off a smartphone actually helps people stay refreshed.  There is no evidence that users who switch it off jeopardize their careers.  In fact, it’s the reverse.  Less overwhelmed, more refreshed.
  2. Just because we can work from anywhere at any time doesn’t mean it is an advantage to do so.
  3. Thinking and contemplating are two powerful career tools that are getting lost in digital addiction.  Rediscover them.
  4. Establish digital hours.  Build in downtime.
  5. Establish black out hours, you know, the kind that millions of people were forced to do when the Blackberry network goes down.  Work went on although anxiety ran high.

As I have shared with you in the past, my USC students went nuts when I made them give up their cellphones for two days, but they also admitted to liking it.

When life becomes more hectic because of a great tool like a smartphone, take steps to balance your analog and digital life. 

Don’t throw either away.

“Technology offers us a unique opportunity, though rarely welcome, to practice patience.” – Allan Lokos, Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living. 

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  • @Scott Simon Thank you, Scott.  You’re too kind.

  • Thank you, Scott.  I appreciate the kind words

  • This column is why I like Jerry. Just bought a 4G Samsung. But only for special features, not for lifestyle.

Working With Jerks

Nothing ruins a great job more than having to work with a “jerk”.

First, short of health issues emotionally or physical that may arise from this stress, there is no reason to let a difficult co-worker push you out of a great job.

A better plan, wait for them to self-destruct. 

It happens all the time, but unfortunately lots of good people leave careers they like just to get away from cynical, abusive, hurtful and undesirable people. 

The Harvard Business Review offers some advice:

  1. Focus on your own reactions. “If there is someone who is annoying or abrasive, don’t think about how the person acts, think about how you react. It’s far more productive to focus on your own behavior because you can control it.”
  2. Keep your distaste to yourself. Complaining can send a negative message about you and you might be perceived as “unprofessional or be labeled as the difficult one.” Communicate through a support network you trust – outside of work.  
  3. Consider whether it’s you, not them.  “Start with the hypothesis that the person is doing things you don’t like but is a good person,” says Stanford Business School professor Robert Sutton to HBR. “It’s reasonable to assume you’re part of the problem…If everywhere you go there’s someone you hate, it’s a bad sign.”
  4. Spend more time with the difficult co-worker.  Talk about taking bitter medicine! The idea is to try and build empathy.  However “If it’s someone who violates your sense of what’s moral, getting away [from him] isn’t a bad strategy,” says Sutton to HBR.
  5. Give the person you hate feedback.  “It may be that what bothers you is something that regularly gets in her way as a professional,” says HBR. Stick to the behavior that person can control and describe how they impact you and your work together.

“Difficult People are your key to self empowerment, you need to learn how to cope with them, not let them dominate and affect you.” — Janice Davies

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Reduce Stress in One Minute

I used to own a small card that I kept in my top desk drawer.  When I placed my thumb on it, I got a stress alert.

Red for lots of stress.  Green for cool.

Now I’ve discovered a new app from Huffington Post that instructs you to place your finger over the lens and flash of your iPhone to get an instant breaths-per-minute (BPM) reading.

In one minute, my breaths went down by 10 as I watched the face of my phone gather and display the information. The app is free and fun to try.  You can also attach stress reducers like music and pictures of loved ones to the app to help take the edge off.  You can get “GPS For the Soul” here.

Stress is the disrupter of all happiness.  A threat to our lives, well-being and relationships.  It’s worth fighting.

Whether it is an app, meditation or a walk, stress can be put in its proper place.

The key is mindfulness – being aware of the high price we pay for stress and the importance of interrupting that stress on a regular basis.  Also lifestyle changes, reassessments of values and goals and the greatest stress reducer of all – appreciation for that which we have and the people we have in our lives.

Lily Tomlin said, “For fast acting relief, try slowing down” and Ghandi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed”.

But I love the Chinese Proverb that reminds us “”Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”


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