Dear Dad:

This is my letter of gratitude. To share with you that my decisions in life are largely because of your nurturing. As well they are from my nature – some also from you, some from mom and some from those that came before you. You were an incredible father who so positively influenced me to be a better person throughout my life. 

So much of who I am and the choices that I make are because of you. I attribute my upbringing to so many things that have helped me to achieve success, peace, meaningful relationships and be an effective contributor to others. 

My confidence, my giving nature, my deep appreciation and care for animals, my understanding that you take care of the land it takes care of you, that people are good, that starting with trust is not a fault, that humor helps us connect with each other, and that I can do anything I set my mind to, are all things that I value from your nurturing.

It comes at this time of our country’s election that I feel compelled to share with you how the link to your character informed my choices in politics this year.


Work Ethic

You would call yourself a simple man living a simple life. And I agree, simply real, without an expectation that you deserved more or different, and with deep gratitude for everything you had earned or received. Nothing more.You would self-deprecatingly joke about being dense, having gone to school at age four and then skipping kindergarten since you were the only one, and having only gone to trade school. Yet you would take great pride in being able to build anything and fix anything. Anything. You loved your job as a mechanic laureling in both learning from colleagues and teaching them in the Ford Garage in Las Vegas and then on the ranch with hired hands.

Your ethic for work may have been over the top for some, but it was the thing that centered you in the world. You were most happy when you were working the land, often with a horse or cow involved, for your own provision or to support another land-owner. You would work 12-14 hours a day and then enjoy a meal telling jokes, recounting and retelling (and retelling) stories that made you laugh so hard you could hardly tell them. You would engage others in helping you work, both for their benefit of learning and an income, as well as a benefit to you getting more done. You didn’t like to ask for help or receive help but you did like to help others learn so this was how help. happened for you. With hired help, you would trust that they had the work ethic and they often would rise to that level of belief. It was normal that you would take care of any number of a variety of animals, work on machinery that had broken down (and you fixed everything), teach others that were helping you while you did this, and then support your wife and kids with whatever projects they had. During calving season you would sleep in your chair in your clothes so you could check and assist any new mother with a difficult birth. 

You (and Mom) were entrepreneurial, idea people. You were developers of others. You started five businesses spanning 40+ years and helped your kids start their own businesses. You employed many people to help you, teaching them life skills and providing for their income to get a leg up.  You would fully engage in the process of ideation, design, creation and prototyping. Then you would sell your product or service. Along the way of creation to production, you would build lasting relationships that you would call friends.

Being Resourceful

Whatever you did, you did so, fully. You would establish a new life in Nebraska on a homestead ranch of Mom’s Grandmother, noting to me from an early age, what a wonderful place to raise a family. You took pride in this decision, more of an evolution of your life. Pride in the cattle that would sustain you and force you to live on twice-a-year payments. Whose value would oscillate but we would not feel the squeeze because we used every piece of equipment ‘until it died.’ Buying ‘used’ was the first option. There was no internet, no CraigsList, no Google. Just some community trade magazines and friends of friends. Learning, doing, managing all came from resourcefulness, friends, family, the occasional magazine but mostly from intuition and trial and error. You modeled this frugality and resourcefulness to me. You would have tribulations, some causing great harm. You would get back up and go again. And again. Never commenting that the world was against you, only that you might do it different next time. 


Your level of giving was always completely selfless. Others would say you were ‘giving to a fault’. But your consistency of giving meant that others could rely on you. For. Anything. As well you had the peace of mind that you had done everything in your power for anyone in need, and without judgement. You never thought you were superior to another person. Or had more or deserved more.You loaned equipment to neighbors and friends at a moment’s notice ensuring they would not be held up or out a bunch of cash for what was often a one-time or quick project. Yet you didn’t ever ask what they were doing or why, you just gave. 

At your funeral a young man shared with me how inclusive you were to his dad and how that left a lasting impression on his mind. That you were never above anyone. That any person had as much say as you did. 


From this you imparted honesty and trust. To always speak the truth and believe others will as well. To trust. And even if that trust was betrayed, you held any judgement and just moved on. You knew that their lack of integrity resided with them. You taught me this as my honorable example. I recall a business challenge where you conveyed the rent was too high and the other party confirmed a reduction. Later, when our business was finally cash-flowing, they would pretend that verbal transaction did not occur and threaten to sue you for back rent. We were forced to close the business. The other party was then left with a property that they could not re-lease and lost the only good tenant in a decade. I recall the vivid memory of telling this mister, that he had taken advantage of your trust and would never meet a business partner with as much integrity. In a way we all lost. I learned the value of a person’s word and pride associated with honesty. Even if you have to walk away.


You loved adventure and taught me to love one as well. In organizing photos for your tribute, I recounted with so much joy and pride, your travels from New York to Florida, to Texas, to California, all states surrounding your home of Nebraska, to Utah, to Arizona, to Alaska, to Canada, to Australia and to India to meet your son-in-law’s family. In each place you retold (and retold) stories of the people who were with you on your adventures. It wasn’t the things or the places but the people and animals (and often the machines…, equipment, gear.) When you met son-in-law’s grandfather, you ate your first (and only) meal of authentic Indian curry while engaging in heart-rich stories of G.B.’s life and his animated appreciation for stories of yours. In the car leaving his home in Delhi, you would be overcome with emotion as you reconciled how similar his character was to your own father. 

My own adventures would begin with a trip to Spain to visit the exchange student that you and mom sponsored for a year. It was a rare thing for a rural family to want to sponsor an international student, especially for this length of time and a rare thing that a student would want to experience the life we had. Most (including ours) sought New York or Los Angeles. This trip would spark an ember in me for travel, for connection to other cultures and appreciation for diverse thinking, diverse living and diverse beings. I would become an expat in Australia for two years and you would come visit. I would meet an Indian (from India; not the Lakota Reservation where you would lease land long term to grow alfalfa,) and would marry him. You would completely welcome him into our family with love, humor and acceptance. 

Care for Land & Animals

You took pride in working a ranch that wasn’t yours, that was leased from Mom’s side, for over four decades. You took pride in caring for the Sandhills not as if they had been given to you. But for the opposite. Because they had not and you knew that they are and will always be fragile. You recounted to me the stories of hundreds of years previous to our living in the special spot in the world, that it was a special terrain and why. I grew up with pride in where I lived. A 100 year old house with horrible windows, a floor furnace that heated only parts of the house, mice in the ceilings and a cellar full of moisture with happy spiders to ‘guard’ all of our preserves! 

You helped me see the land as something to take care of. To think long-term about it. That certain things went in the trash and certain things did not. That water was not to be wasted, even though we had a well. That everything had a price. Even the tons and tons of hay we would cut and stack every year for the cattle. That we could grow everything we needed, can it, preserve it, freeze it. (A lot of this came from Mom but you were her primary partner in creating the space in which to do it all. And the primary taster and cheerleader of home-grown, home-cooked food.)

You imparted to me a respect for others, the animals and the Earth. Fostering a close relationship with Grandad, your Father, whom you would involve in any opportunity to work a horse. You respected his expertise as a horse-whisperer, creating opportunities for me to learn while you did. Grandad would become another man I would look up to. That I would go to for clarifying my many questions, for helping me with my horses and for taking care of us when needed. I respected him and all of my grandparents as much as I did you and mom. ​​​​​​​This is because of your expectation and practice that I come to know them. That I spend time with them and they be trusted to parent me as needed. 

I learned that taking care of animals and people meant that they could take care of each other and me, and provide for what was needed. Baby anything was something to be nurtured. From calves, to chicks, to turtles, to ducks, to racoons, to puppies and to the many many kittens. I was riding my own Welsh pony from the age of two. Often by myself, out of sight of the home ranch. I recall the autonomy I had in getting Rusty saddled (or go bareback), to make him walk (not run) toward the barn and to create my own adventures that would last hours. You trusted that I would be fine because of the many hours of horse-time I had daily with you and grandad. 


You supported mom with anything and everything she wanted to do. And she did a lot. You didn’t just support, you encouraged her. You got involved yourself. You built wooden crates to hold the Sandhills Salsa jars for the gift packaging of Sandhills Ranch Products. You made a disco ball shaped like a boot for Bootscoot’n Country Supper Club. You prepared picture perfect (and flavor filled) meals for many guests at the Bunkhouse Bed & Breakfast when mom had to be at her hospital director job. You would sit by her side for the 18-month battle for her life after a surgical error. You would drive 400 miles each way, from home to Omaha, multiple times per month, to support the possibility that the Nebraska Medical Center could rectify this error. We would never hear you complain about any of this or show any anger. Only guilt for not influencing this medical matriarch’s initial care in a different way. 

It is from work ethic and engaging others in shared projects, often with land and animals dependent, that you modeled a complete lack of bias or preference. You treated everyone the same, with the same opportunity to work – succeed or fail. Not once did I witness you being punitive or demeaning. You didn’t adjust your expectations for females over males. You did approach females with utmost respect and asked before assuming anything. You would note you were traditional in your own beliefs and were chivalrous. 


You were always involved in your community. From the cattlemen’s association, to ranching associations and religious affiliations. Mom likely influenced your affiliation with the Presbyterian Church. Your mother was a devout Christian and I don’t recall ever seeing grandad in a church. Your church was really the land, the cattle, the horses. So often your church would be our church and the building in town would be without our voices on many occasion; tithing extra at the next service. Your reverence for a christian service, a wedding, a funeral, was always clearly defferant to those being revered or honored. Your mother would take me with her to summer bible school. I would stay with grandma and grandad for a week in town. My primary time outside of bible school would be with Tracey and Sherry, whose mother was a church member. They were adopted. Lakota girls in a white world. I don’t recall identifying any differences about them. Only that they wanted to play with me. And they were more confident about things like the big grocery store, or the streets, or the berries on the trees in the high school yard. If it were not for grandma’s church affiliation and your trust of my time with this learning, I would not have become friends with humans different, culturally, from me. 

You affiliated as a Republican your entire life. You believed that the party stood by you and you stood by the party. You fully trusted the process of a candidate elect being representative of the party. This Boomer attribute of being committed and loyal is prevalent across more than politics. It is true for friendships, business dealings, and religious beliefs. Few things happened to upend this continuity of party loyalty. 

Grandad would affiliate as a Democrat, his entire life. He believed similarly about the party as you did yours. What is remarkable is that you were very similar men with very similar if not same values. It was not so remarkable not so many years ago when the Democrat and the Republican were more similar than they were different. As when the Iowa Democrats were more similar to the Nebraska Republicans, to illustrate. It would have been hard to know the difference between a set of folks in each group. Some might lean more socially liberal and some might lean more fiscally conservative but generally there was significant overlap. Especially in the plains states. 


Being around ideas, bringing them to fruition, learning how to help a baby calf or it’s mother, taking the land and producing from it’s resources enhanced my curiosity and gave me a deep agency. That I have taken with me from the time I left home and am still appreciating and navigating today.  

As a loyal Nebraskan, I was grateful to leave home (except for Summers) and receive admission to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. You were proud of me trekking across the state to become a Cornhusker. Your love of college football and near heart-attacks every televised game, significantly influenced my decision to stay in Nebraska, to go to Lincoln. There I was exposed to a firehose of experiences. To diverse people, challenges and beliefs. I experienced my first cult church (and then another one), complexity in relationships with boys (not yet men) and also met friends that would become like sisters to me. It was all of the experiences, trust, and agency that was developed in me that would guide me into becoming my own person. I would openly try new churches only to find out they might be a cult. I would need basic medical care and learned that the easiest, most caring and supportive (and economical) place would be Planned Parenthood. I would be betrayed by friends, run out of money, pick the wrong major, and I could always call home. 

I have voted since I was old enough to vote, 18. Thanks to your guidance. It was a given that I would register to vote within days of turning 18. Like you, and mom, I affiliated with the Republican party. I believed in fiscal responsibility and social conservatism.

Over time, starting in Lincoln and evolving in Dallas and Sydney, I would clearly become Independent, changing my affiliation to this. I remain fiscally moderate and socially more liberal. I mostly wanted the freedom in process and my heart to vote for the person not the party. This became so clear when I wanted to vote for fiscal measure that would empower free market-based results and entrepreneurship but also vote for the rights of people who need representation or community services to support them – the social needs of our community. 

From my travels and living in different parts of the world, I have come to know amazing people. They are not white, they are not from my same socio-economic status (many have less) and they are not defined by a binary gender system but instead by LGBTQIA. I have never believed that anyone would chose a life where being different meant discrimination; and as a Christian know that it is not my or any human’s place to judge. 

Because of your non-judgement, I hope to never judge; sometimes I fail. You modeled a complete lack of judgement and to never thought of yourself as superior. 


I’ve been wrestling with confusion regarding this year’s presidential election. Mostly for the wonderful people like you who have always been ‘ok’ voting your party. Your party has provided good to great representation. 

I’ve struggled with how to connect the dots between your character and integrity and the lack of character and integrity of so many of our nationally elected leaders. Even those that are affiliated with the party you are affiliated with. How can it be that there is so much difference between how you live your life and how those we elect to represent the free world  live theirs?  

I’ve also been struggling to understand how what was true during my childhood and young adulthood is not true today. I admire you and respect your affiliations, decisions and the way in which you live your life so fully. I wonder if the things that defined your political values across your life have shifted? I wonder if on the continuum of your beliefs, you have remained steadfast but those representing you have moved down the continuum beyond what even you would tolerate? I wonder if you would think it is ok, and even strong, to not vote the party line and instead vote for the person that is the least bad in this world of limited options? 

Having been a registered Republican more of my voting life than not, I have seen the shift. 

Think of a 12-inch ruler. At the end with 1 (or the left side) the color is deep dark blue and at the end with 12 the color is deep dark red (the right side.) As the colors cross at number 6, red and blue mix and create purple. At number 5 the color is a purplish royal blue and at the number 7 the color is a purplish apple red. 

According to the principles of conservatism when you were a young man, and throughout your adult life, you would have placed yourself at 8. Grandad would have placed himself at 5. Because historically each side has represented half of the ruler, this shift by our elected leaders no longer represents your values. Because we all think of this as one big bucket of blue or red, conservative or liberal and pour all of the defining elements into each bucket, we feel like we are forced to associate with the bucket instead of the attributes along the ruler.

Keeping with this metaphor, if a leader’s position puts them at 5 today and you have historically been between 7 and 8, then that leader, albeit on the blue side of the ruler would be closer to your values than the leader who is on the red side but sitting at 11 on red scale. Your views and Grandad’s were more similar than different because your political values were only a few apart. My political views are more closely represented by any leader who is at or between 4 and 7. I am a registered independent; I got tired of watching the colors get more deep and dark and decided to disassociate with either. 

The polarization of the two parties is more extreme today than it was when you were first affiliating and across the majority of your voting years. I don’t recall a debate, let alone an argument, in our family across political party lines. I don’t recall there being any judgment either.

Today’s representatives of conservatism (not all of them but those in key positions), through their actions, have positioned themselves at 9-12 and the representatives of liberalism position themselves at 1-3. You don’t associate with many of the views of those that sit at 10-12, deep dark red to gray (offo the red scale.) Grandad definitely did not associate with many of the views of those that sit at 1-3, deep dark blue (off the blue scale.) So your party, via the president, and many (not all) officials are not representing your values. 

Now the situation is serious; and requires strong leadership to bridge people and put us back into the position of a country to emulate. We are currently viewed as weak, lacking in strong leadership and a joke by our former international allies. Those countries we have always sought strong ties with.

The actions of extremist groups are usually what you would read about in a third world country. Yet our country has torture, death, discrimination and harm from extreme positions, every day. Our country has never been in this state of civil unrest.


I never talked to you about what happens when the party fails you or if it had. It feels to me that the party is failing you and those like you Dad. Good, hard-working, God-fearing people that live a simple, caring life to provide for family and others. Farmers, ranchers, tradesmen and women, and the many people living below the poverty line in our county in Nebraska. Isn’t the conservative party creating a marketplace where people are thriving, based on their trade, and building their work with their hands, brains and hearts? How come more people are unable to make a living than before? Why are people living on so little per month? The leaders of the conservative have failed to focus on the balance of helping hard-working people with the right support.

You have been loyal with unchanging values aligned to fiscal responsibility and social conservatism that includes giving to those in need, and taking care of the land. Grandad was able to be loyal to his unchanging values and did not see his party fail him. But it too is failing its members. 

With all of this confidence, worldly experience and agency in my life, I know it is ok to not vote the party. I wish I could unshackle the ties of party loyalty that is binding so many people as wonderful as you with as strong of character. We are so far from the reality of who is representing us in our party affiliation. We can only know them through what we read or what is reported and this is full of revenue-based bias – ‘what will sell?’ and ‘what will create an emotional reaction?’

The current president of the United States is the opposite of you dad. He lacks consistency, he is entitled, flippant, emotionally charged and believes he is superior. The other candidate isn’t you either. But he is more like you than the president. He stands for values that are closer to yours. I know the alternative, a Democrat has been defined by the liberal media as a socialist. He is far from that as his is vice presidential candidate. Those with socialist views had to concede that their person was not elected. So they have very boldly moved to support the the Democrat. That does not mean his leadership will serve their platforms. He has proven through leadership with a former president that he has friends and makes decisions from a bi-partisan position. Our country needs that. 

If your mother were to be casting a vote this election, she would most certainly agree with Billy Graham’s granddaughter who urged evangelicals to not support the current president. She would have gained perspective from multiple news sources including CBS Evening News and would understand that the republican ticket does not uphold the Christian morals that she based her entire life around. That saying you are evangelical does not get you to heaven. It is your actions. She wouldn’t like the alternative and may chose not to vote. I bet she would vote for the Democrat to ensure that our country can recover from the intense level of hate that is pervasive in all communities.

And we know grandad would vote his party this year. And we know why. We know it is ok to acknowledge that your party failed you and know that this lack of integrity does not define you. Especially if you chose to vote against it. If not this election, the next one. I hope all people can get to a place of voting for the person, not the party. This polarization with extreme views is not going away anytime soon. We have to hope that candidates want the job and can associate with the middle of the ruler more than the ends. 

Thank you for giving me so much love, support, encouragement and for modeling how to live. Thank you for staying true to your values always. I hope to stay true to mine, built from yours. 

In loving memory of my dad Clyde September 1942 – September 2020. Lymphoma front line soldier.

What is Strategy?

It’s how decisions are made.  



Strategy is not a thing nor is it an event. Annual strategic planning is not strategy. Having a strategic plan is not strategy. Strategy is not linear. Leaders who gather one time a year to develop a strategy is not strategy. Science alone is not strategy. Art alone is not strategy. An officer in charge of strategy is not strategy. Having profit goals is not strategy. Customer focus is not strategy. 

Why start out with what strategy is not

To support a reset. To challenge conventional understanding. Books about performance, execution, implementation and outcomes remain among the most recommended business books. 

Leaders and managers in all types of organizations have fallen into the ‘pressures of results’.  Pressure that publicly traded companies assume on ‘managers’ to perform which equals return a profit to shareholders. The flaw in this focus is that it is not only narrowly defining what success means but it also puts weight on the outputs and not the things that go into creating a growing, high performing organization. (We’ll delve more into this in a future post.)

Strategy is a lot of things but most simply ‘strategy is how decisions are made.’ 

Nothing helped me to distill that simple ‘tweet length’ definition better than the engaging, curious and challenging dialogue with master’s degree students in sustainability. With an open mindset they also reconcile that ‘business as usual’ is not working and success looks differently. That opened my own mind to consider the limitations of a business model that had relegated strategy to a function, person or event. 

No matter how much or how little planning or formalization goes into defining a decision or the decision-making process, is informed by strategy or lack of one. 


The RitzCarlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission. We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.” – 

In alignment with this mission, Ritz-Carlton has granted every employee with $2000 budget, daily, to use at their discretion to rectify a customer concern. Consider the time when a member guest did not receive a wake-up call at the requested time and missed his flight. The hotel agent receiving this situation was able to mail him and his wife (known as part of the customer profile) an embossed robe shipped to his home with overnight service with a note of apology. 

Ritz-Carlton’s strategy is to ensure that they deliver on their mission through empowering every single employee with decision-making power: a no-questions-asked-budget to rectify any customer issue or to provide service that delights them. This spurs creativity, agency and ownership of the brand which pays greater dividends than the cost of using the budget amounts. 

Whether a barista in a coffee shop or a manager on a manufacturing floor or a teller at a bank or the founder of a start-up, the information an individual uses to make a decision is largely and sometimes exclusively driven by strategy, good or bad. 


Comprehensive definitions of the components of creating strategy include aspects that 


are science based and components that are art based. Military leaders have provided a model of leadership that balances information, tactics and knowledge with deduction,lessons learned, insights and even intuition.

The things that comprise a strategy include the components core to an organization’s reason for being: vision, mission, values and purpose. Strategy is also informed by decision-rules, organizational structure, and most importantly the promise to the customer. (yes, this last one is informed by mission and purpose in a well-founded organization but I’ll share later why I call it out as separate.)

Some questions that inform an understanding of how decisions are made: is the organizational structure hierarchical or traditional in managers having command and sharing information? Are ideas formally asked for or is there a culture of trust with a ‘no fear of failure’ where any idea is something to consider and vet? Are all individuals tied to the mission or customer impact or just a specific customer-facing group? Is the purpose of the organization aligned to the day-to-day work of the organization? Is time dedicated to strategic thinking, as a distinct exercise different from planning or implementation? 


As part of my own learning to teach strategy after years of consulting on strategy, I most serendipitously met Julia Sloan. She is the world’s expert in Learning to Think Strategically and just gifted me the 4th edition copy of her book.  

How we learn to think sets the foundation for how we actually do strategy. And if we are not prepared to learn and grow from that learning, we are limited in our ability to ‘do’ strategy or be strategic. Her research with leaders about the role that thinking plays in doing strategy has informed all that I do. She sets forth a simple triangle. 

Her lectures confirm that there are tensions that connect each aspect of the strategic IMG_20191117_085240.jpgprocess: thinking, planning and implementation. They change all of the time based on circumstances and factors that affect business and organizational interactions. This requires that the manager of strategy be comfortable in such tensions and navigating a changing environment. Using structure to honor the role of thinking by all players, is the ultimate objective of any leader. 


Strategy is dedicated time for thinking. Ensuring the problem is defined correctly before diving into solving. Ensuring ideas are exhausted to best position for innovation. Ensuring trust is established to welcome the identification of the proverbial elephant in the room. 

Strategy is a system. Interdependent parts of art and science each being called upon depending on the situation at hand or the objectives aspired. 

Strategy is supported by all roles having clear expectations and contributing in alignment – aka complimentary or mutually supportive, to the purpose of the organization or it’s reason for existence. 

Strategy is bringing inputs – people, resources, knowledge, information and potential all together in the most essential, thoughtful and consistent manner possible. 

Strategy is realizing (that means subsequent to something) that the inputs you have brought together will respond, creating outputs. These in turn will yield outcomes, good or bad. 

Strategy is most often associated with business practices or large organizations. But any organization of people, for profit or not, incorporated or community organized, either formally or informally evolves from strategy that is strong or strategy that is lacking. 

So after reflecting on both the living of strategy in organizations, the teaching of strategy to business students worried about shifting business for good and my own process of learning, I remain committed to this definition. It invites us to consider the inputs, the complexity of those and that our leadership creates impact, taking time to shift that impact. 

Strategy is how decisions are made.


Dr. Jula Sloan and I at NationSwell East Summit 11/2019



Leela ‘the Actor’ GSD & Mowgli the ‘Director’ ISD (Indian Street Dog)


Today is Sunday. Two days until the turn of a new year. It is sunny this morning north of Seattle. Just me in a quiet house in a quiet neighborhood and two sleeping dogs. One that looks ‘wolfy’ and one that Embark said is 1.5x more wolfy than most dogs. Naturally he is the smaller one. We are peaceful. We have trust in our safety in a well insulated house, crisp with recent sheets of rain. We are as warm as we wish to be. We are fed and have water. 

As the dogs sleep, I laurel in the open calendar and free time to write. To create a report that recounts months of work into digestible chunks that are also palatable. I am enthused while also overwhelmed. A normal feeling that goes with the time of year, the day of the week and generally post any large project.

Yet I would be diverted. There it is the open page of the dog-eared must-read article, albeit from October. Waiting patiently since early last week for me to opt in during a bio break. (This, my latest tactic to try and get through my favorite magazines and it is working quite well.)

“Hope is a sometimes cranky optimism, trust, and confidence that those I love will be OK—that they will come through, whatever life holds in store. Hope is the belief that no matter how dire things look or how long rescue or healing takes, modern science in tandem with people’s goodness and caring will boggle our minds, in the best way.”Anne Lamott, Oct 2018 Nat Geo


National Geographic open to an important diversion (en mi baño.)

With my self-assurance off the charts, unreasonable optimism and constant energy forward, I feel like I have a fair amount of hope. It is part of the ‘there isn’t anything I can’t tackle’ mantra. I’m often times bewildered, a little irritated  and even dismissive when people in my life express sky-is-falling impressions. ‘Of course the sky is going to fall someday but it isn’t falling yet.’ Or ‘What are you doing to help the sky not fall?’ Or ‘What about this Joe? His sky is falling much faster than yours is and he is still pushing upward and forward.’


This year my optimism and hope have been challenged and I have seen others’ challenged as well, even for those of us self-assured and positivity-driven. Anne’s listing of hopeful events stirred thoughts about my own observations of hopefulness. If only to intentionally recognize them. To be hopeful and as a result also grateful. Here are some that have me especially hopeful: 

  • People are living with cancer. My Dad is one of them. Years of battling Non-hodgkins Lymphoma including nearly a year of C-Diff, he remains humble, kind, caring and as ever, more concerned about others. He has no anger about the likely chemical-based culprit that caused his illness during his many ranching years. He knows that what is unknown is his reality. Yet he hopes. He loves his work of running a commercial-sized excavator. He keeps his average up in bowling and is faithful participant in two local lodges. He loves his partner of many years and he loves the dog he shares with her. His hope is keeping him positively going one day at a time. 
  • Cancer doctors are patiently and compassionately working with puzzles of options. They are hopeful in how they address the commonly occurring patterns to uniquely presented symptoms and responses. Dr. Bociek at UNMC and Dr. Bjorling at Regional West Health have hope and give Dad hope. They aren’t without realities but as seasoned oncologists are here to keep things in balance while also moving them forward. They are irritatingly patient. They like my Dad too. 
  • Social Impact endeavors and innovation in civic governance are emerging all around the communities in which I live and work. This gives me hope that awareness, call to action and optimistic change is happening. The Social Enterprise Alliance and the organizations it collaboratively elevates as new models of intersecting social with business, gives me hope. Leaders across these hybrid business models redefined business-as-usual during my time on the local board. They are humbly crafting solutions that empower those lost to a traditional system of systems – the blind, the incarcerated, the homeless and the differently-abled. And have been doing so for decades.
  • Empowering people at risk or those teetering in the gap between success and loss, define some of the most innovative solutions in our community. Sue and Roz at What’s Next Washington are building a system to support the formerly incarcerated. One that educates and advances a talent pool completely overlooked by a system constrained by archaic human resource practices. They are giving hope to those at complete dead ends to reinvent themselves – by rewiring the constructs so we can enable talent that has grit, humility, determination and gratitude. How does a young spirit retain the innocent hope they are born with if they don’t have a warm home? Washington Kids in Transition gives homeless kids hope and that gives me piles of hope. This organization is helping to keep hope alive.
  • Teaching Business Strategy at Presidio infused me with hope. It was the change-making students that challenge everything about everything that gave me hope. Their hunger to hear. Their hunger to learn. Their willingness to develop a growth mindset amidst a sometimes naive but immensely hopeful future view of the world that is vastly different than the one they are living in. The trust they have that they can change the word, the belief they have in themselves all give me hope. I remain hopeful that the three core foundational roots of Pinchot’s legacy will eventually infuse the long-term strategy of the school. Roots of:  deep diversity of thought including strategy for conscious impact, bold approaches to learning models, and intensive investment in leadership development.
  • Business leaders in non-profit and for-profit organizations who refuse to accept the status quo associated with past models and practices give me hope. As partners to them we can shift the lens on what success means to new sources of value and new measures of value. I have hope that business for good is slowly surpassing business as usual. Our partners in our consulting and their measures of impact give me hope. The potential impact we are on the hook to help our client partners realize, gives me hope.
  • Organizations that are integrating this new movement collectively and catalyzing faster connections and more meaningful change give me hope. Conscious Capitalism where my business partner Kori has invested time and leadership and Nation Swell a new space for me to engage in, are both examples of public/private intersections of innovative change.
  • The animals in my life ground me in the moment. In their appreciation and joy for life. They give me hope that at the end of the day we can chose to just appreciate those we are with. 
  • International organizations like OI Pejeta Conservancy, that create awareness, advocacy and conservation for the earth’s animals, many endangered, give me hope.  Sudan, the last northern white rhino has left a legacy of daughters and the possibility of raising more in the future. National Geographic is part of this final point of hopefulness I see today. Creating awareness about how people and animals live, thrive, suffer and evolve in all parts of the world.


Having hope doesn’t reduce or ignore the crimes on human and animal existence. These are all complicated issues or wicked problems. Projects of possibility and hope create a parallel way forward amidst harsh and heart-breaking realities.

There is a place for protest, for anger, for putting a stake in the ground. It is also crucial we carve a path forward amidst the harsh realities. I’m often in the minority group that wants to innovate the next action, to challenge for all perspectives and to bring light to see the other side so we can more quickly realize shared understanding. Am rarely if ever in the group that is calling out the inaction or the bad action. Spending any time in that critical space depletes my ‘self-assured’ way-forward energy. From this forward energy, hope is released creating connections, possibilities and eventually solutions.

“Shared understanding means that the stakeholders understand each other’s positions well enough to have intelligent dialogue about their different interpretations of the problem, and to exercise collective intelligence about how to solve it. The best way to grasp shared understanding is to consider what happens when it is missing.” – Jeff Conklin, CogNexus Institute


My reader glasses remain at a +1.50 and have for the past decade. I am hopeful this slow pace of decline continues as I can handle incremental increases. Should things continue without life-alteration, I begin a new decade of life on earth this May. As with my readers, I hope to continue to refine and hone my view on living life, incrementally adding a half plus every so often. That the decline is in my pace – to take pause in what gives me hope. To use that path to reconcile all that there is to be grateful for.  This list gives me focus for this new year. Maybe you will make your list and continue Anne’s inspiration. 

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.  – Robert Fulghum


PostScript #1: While there is always so much to be done, to take time to think, to make connections, to write about those, means that we get time back. We get grounded and that informs all that work that is still there waiting. Make your ideas a priority and your tasks secondary to that. I have struggled with this awaiting the perfect time or the clear calendar. Those two will never arrive and certainly not together! 

PostScript #2: I love NatGeo more than ever. The reporting of human and animal life. The stories embedded in the reporting and the photography that brings us closer to every story. Consider sharing a subscription with a neighbor. Or maybe the library is convenient for you. This is a magazine that gives me hope. I can see why there is alignment to Anne’s perspectives she brings the world.

Scheduled Optimism

Each year, within a general period of a few days, people from all parts of the Earth establish formal and informal goals, resolutions and aspirations for the upcoming year. It is multi-cultural and multi-denominational and non-gender oriented process of renewal.

It has become generally accepted that through these aspirations we believe that we can do/be more/different that we are. We are optimistic about our role or our realization of a better future state. We commit to this optimism, (albeit with great variance and therefore variable success.) Additionally we reconcile the past year to ‘close it’ or ‘file it away’, to make space for a ‘fresh start.’ We give ourselves permission to ‘start again’ with a ‘clean slate’ or ‘new page’ in the ole’ book of life.

We do this as individuals. We sometimes do this in written form and sometimes we share it with those we love. We rarely if ever consider if not act upon the impact of collective optimism.

What if we, as a global group of resolvers, synchronized or shared our optimism more intentionally during this time? To give energy to our thinking. To create a collective of thoughts. To connect our ideas associated with this thinking time. What if we could connect more and more resolutions together, at the same time? What if we did so with more frequency?


When we determine our aspirations for the new year, we engage in thinking. I believe thinking creates energy. Thinking is not doing.

Wintery sunset over western Nebraska. December 2017

The power of shared thinking creates multiplication of this energy. Not in like or same thinking but in sharing of thoughts. Sharing of thoughts does not equal clicking ‘like’ or even posting a blog. Sharing indicates a meaningful exchange.

Consider sharing a piece of cake. You don’t just drop off a piece of cake at someone’s door or say that someone’s cake looks yummy. Sharing a piece of cake indicates that you each have a fork and partake of the morsels together in a likely exchange of bites until the last crumbs are crushed into one set of tines.

What might be possible if instead of just clicking ‘like’ or reshare, we sat down with two forks and one plate and shared a thought at a time? Each taking an intentional chunk of a thought and considering it’s flavor. 


Thinking inevitably is a space for ideas to emerge, to coalesce, to evolve. Our thinking time becomes a multiplication of energy with a future return – not only do we develop aspirations or goals, but new considerations and possibilities unfold from this ‘fresh start’ space. Ideas spur creativity, which spurs innovation, which solves small and large problems. Ideas will float around the universe until they find an ‘owner’ to help them develop. If you have ever felt like “hey, I thought of that! how did he know?!” then you experienced an idea that got tired of waiting for you to ‘get aroundtuit’ or for you to have the perfect time to think more about it.

What might be possible if instead of waiting for the perfect time or the affirmation we expect, we could connect our same ideas with other individuals, at the same time (or close) as we are having them? Instead of an idea finding one owner, the idea would find a family of owners. 


There are nearly 7.6 billion people alive on the earth today. Births are doubling deaths each day and so our population is continuing to grow. We read and speak with frequency of the burden of food shortages and the many associated wicked problems of population growth. We do not read or speak of the opportunities that exist if we shared in defining wicked problems together. Imagine the collective optimism that is possible from connecting individual aspirations together like a web or system of webs. With technology we are connected in ways that are called ‘share’ but are the opposite. Through this same technology we could truly share – thinking, ideas and therefore energy across these thoughts. We could address all wicked problems with collective force.

What might be possible if instead of passive judgement of the world’s most pressing problems, we contributed our own thinking to a collective of thousands of individuals, an idea, thought or concept as the focus? Participation would require a position, a thought but also a commitment to a new definition of community. 


Based on the calendar and years of cultural acceptance, we greet the new year with affirmation and optimism. We set goals of all types and scale. We resolve to improve ourselves. Our organizations engage in ‘annual planning’ (or some do and some do less often.) Yet the majority of us fall back into our reactive, responsive, ways. Serving immediate gratification over long-term well-being benefits of extended life expectancy. We are human animals. Our society, including the organizations we serve, fall to the same short-termism. Reacting to customers, changing the marketing flavor each month and paying the quarterly dividend. With so much hope and optimism at the new year, we could leverage our quarterly conditioning and through a liberating structure, we could repeat new year’s resolutions every quarter with an eye on reconciling our current aspirations with an extension into the three months beyond the current year. (Of course we need to think about 10, 20 and 100 years ahead of now, but baby steps are required.)

What might be possible if instead of thinking about our opportunity to change one time per year with a lifeline of about three months, we instead thought about our opportunity to change with an ongoing lifelines that we revisited every three months? And what if we engaged in this optimism as a collective? 

With yelps of anticipation, we approach the park.

The one for canines. And with a beach.

Morning duties are the first order of business. It’s ‘my’ park this morning. Too early, too cold for the ‘General Joe’! However, we hear barks in the distance. Just off the coast.


Never mind that water-based dog. Let’s get this frisbee swimming business started!

The Sounder trundles by carrying our other human family member to his city. Wonder if he sees us playing? Wonder if he sees the sea dogs?


It is peaceful again. The waves, the water barks, the land barks demanding the next toss. The snowy covered mountains. The sun rising from the normal spot.


Crisp. Small. Wet. Life. Breath.

Synchronicity of Spring

Last Thursday the apple blossoms bloomed on 3rd Avenue. The same morning the birds were singing about 15 minutes before dawn of day. 


This week we finally reach the 50’s during the day with some consistency. The sun-breaks are more frequent and the chill in the air is less so. 

After one of the wettest February’s on record, March has continued with a competitive and name-sake spirit. Downpours without notice. That make me reconsider the decided brilliance in adding skylights to our MBR during our remodel this past Fall. 

The push to go to validate the monthly gym membership 3-4 days a week seems to be less of a push. In fact, my opposition to even set foot in a gym after work has been challenged with two evening classes in row this week. Albeit they are only 30 minutes so the incentive is there.  (Each have kicked my ass properly.) 

The inclination to shed the extra 6-8 pounds I have only once ever lost, has resurfaced with a newfound belief in possibility. 

So the blossoms, the birds, the extra sun all bring a new energy. Optimism. Hope. Possibility. Happiness. 


The first song played on my shuffle today.

Grew up listening to Anne Murray. Could sing every word of every song. As a teen I got to see her at Vegas dinner show with my parents. She is a brilliant and self-deprecating entertainer. I remember learning about how expecting a singer to just sing was a silly notion. She made us laugh and think.

I hope you take a listen to Anne’s rendition of this legendary song by Bill Withers.

“I write and sing about whatever I am able to understand and feel. I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror. Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you.”
— B.W.


Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

Please, swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load
You have to bear that you can’t carry
I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load
If you just call me

Call me (If you need a friend)
Call me (Call me uh-huh)
Call me (When you need a friend)
Call me (If you ever need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (If you need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me

Food. Appreciated.

I walked through PCC Market (a 1%’er grocery store) today feeling a bit pouty about all of the things that are not on my ‘Ludwig’ low-carb plan. I was hoping to find some new, cutting edge organic products made from beans or vegetables to fulfill my craving for the carbs that I am trying to forget.

Almost as quickly as I felt remorse I felt happiness and deep sadness at the same time. I was reminded of my Mother’s deep appreciation for food. How she would watch the Food Network with complete joy. This while she was unable to eat any food at all. With hope that she might someday eat again. The virtual recollection of tastes, textures, and smells of cooking and baking. We used to shake our heads and suggest a channel change while tending to her TPN and changing abdominal dressings. She would chuckle and ask for her notebook to jot down recipe ideas or a chef’s name.


Mom. Billie.

There is so much to share about my Mother’s life and her death. In time. For now, I am thankful that I have the access to quality food and that I have my health to choose what I eat when I desire. I am most thankful for the appreciation for cooking and baking that she instilled in me as a young girl.

My first allowance was as a pre-teen helping her prepare 3 meals a day for our hired crew on the ranch. A full breakfast every morning at 6am. A proper mid-day dinner when the cutting of meadow hay was at the ‘home place’. Proper = a meat of some sort (if beef or chicken – home raised, and grass fed/free range), potatoes of some sort (often garden produced), vegetables (fresh or canned from garden) of some sort, salad of some sort and a made from scratch dessert of some sort. And of course a proper supper. (No left overs and same item categories as dinner.)

Tonight I was more humble about what I prepared. It also seemed like the flavors were stronger than they have been in the past. Might be my carb-dependent taste buds are finding a new normal. Might also be my mind was focused on Mom and how she taught me that food centers our health and well-being. She gave me a virtual reminder today and I am appreciative.

Day 3 Began Today. A Food Addiction Unravels.

I have a home office. With access to my kitchen therefore. We didn’t hide/toss the kettle chips, kind bars or Pumpkin Spice Almonds. We did fill our fridge and pantry with good protein (some less good), good fat (some less good), fruits (non tropical) and veggies (non starch.) So everything I grabbed yesterday fit the new bill.

After lunch I learned that my good carbs were a bit higher than the goal of 25% so I had Feb1-AHto adjust my snack in the afternoon and consider my fruit for the balance of the day. Veggies would have to be my ‘go to’ snack and satisfier.

Definitely I had cravings. For the things I am so used to having. Even the small quantities of items I have come to rely on, have had a place in my needs.

It is a bit more difficult for me to go to sleep. Typically I am asleep within 10 minutes. Once asleep however, the past two nights have been restful (according to my Hello sleep pill.) Last night I felt a bit of hunger (low blood sugar) and significant RLS (restless leg syndrome) which used to be common for me and now is only when I am dehydrated or out of whack. Likely I am out of whack. Tonight I’ll eat a bit more for dinner. I am happy to be patient with this ‘reset’. Overall I feel lighter – less ‘heavy’ and I know that as this proceeds, I need to consider what I won’t eat again. Ever. I like that part of this process and approach to this ‘project’.

Those Pumpkin Pie Spice Almonds from CostCo really are beginning to lose their luster.

Day 1: My New Relationship With Carbs

Today I had only fruit and vegetable derived carbohydrates. Yesterday I had mostly only fruit and vegetable derived carbs. I’m certain I eat too may ‘bad’ carbs.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had an unhealthy relationship with carbs. Even after becoming gluten (15 years ago) and soy (5 years ago) intolerant, I have only replaced what I used to eat with new starchy, sugary inventions by our consumer-based food marketplace. I absolutely do crave grains, potatoes and breads. I would not have admitted it however. I eat reasonable amounts, I manage moderation and am only about 5 pounds over-weight. I never eat more than about 10 potato chips to accompany my tuna salad or 14 corn chips to make my aged cheddar nachos, or 1 slice of my ancient grains gluten free bread with sunflower butter. As part of my intolerances, I have come to justify gluten free carb-heavy happiness! French fries are at the top of that list. (With an abnormally low cholesterol level to add some reinforcement.)

As with any food we enjoy with ‘staple’ consumption, we tend to realize our addiction only when we consider not having it. I have been caffeine free for 3 out of the 5 years we have lived in Seattle and regularly take chunks of time out from regular alcohol consumption. These things compare as easy relative to my cutting out the non-fruit/veg carbs. File_004

My husband heard Dr. Ludwig speak on a podcast and so I read his book: ‘Always Hungry‘. Today, we started his plan – an eating reset. Not a diet in my take as you adjust to what works for your body. Forever. Your intent is to manage sugars, stave off diabetes if that is of concern, and achieve what is a normal weight for you. By design you allow fat cells to do what they were intended to. Not find refuge in your body. This isn’t Adkins or SouthBeach and he speaks to the similarities and differences.

The first two weeks of the Ludwig Food Reset: 50% fat, 25% protein and 25% carbs, daily. No sugar. (With the exception of a small amount of 70% or higher dark chocolate.) No alcohol. No grains. No high starch vegetables. We are retraining our fat cells to do what they are supposed to do. File_002File_003

Tonight we had an eggplant parmesan lasagne with chicken, fresh basil and zucchini. I substituted chicken for soy and romano for ricotta. Strawberries for me for dessert and grapes for my husband. Lots of water today and a cup of tea and a cup of decaf.


It was a bit of a challenge for me today. Day 1 is done. I am ready for a good nights sleep. I  know the next 13 days will be a reset that won’t hurt anything and certainly will help me be a more conscious and balanced eater without my ‘staple’. I expect I’ll confirm a ‘zone’ of dependency that I thought was comfortable but it reality is was anything but.