I just spent 4 days with a group that knew how to swing.

From silly laughter to penetrating seriousness. From keen questions to irreverent banter. This group knew how catch a mood. Swing with it.

I cherished the group.

Relished the mood swings.

We were gathered at a learning event outside of Frankfurt, Germany. A mash-up of individual and Euro-cultural sensibilities. Collectively, these sensibilities traveled a wide expressive range. And they knew how to swing to the ends of the road.

I consider them my Euro-swinger-friends.

Sometimes we get lucky.

We’re with folks who catch the collective swing.

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Simple little word, isn’t it?

We don’t like it in sentence construction. It signals run-on-sentence hell.

We like it everywhere else.

In the canon of powerful words, AND ranks right up there with YES, NO. As a form of thought construction, AND heralds the opportunity-creating, mind-expanding, value-adding thought.

Do you use the word AND often enough?

It is my job to talk myself into things, not out of them.

I remember this phrase as I chat with my friend Rob Doucet about life’s third acts. We banter about the notion of retirement. Whether retirement is an at all desirable thing.

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Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer is on the road, promoting her new Fox television series Red Band Society.

As I catch an interview with Ms. Spencer on New York Fox News, I am captivated by a brief bit of chit-chat.

It’s about Octavia Spencer. It’s about presence. It’s about how we show up.

You didn’t start off as an actress, the interviewer prods.

No, I was a PA [production assistant] on movie sets, Ms. Spencer explains. On every set I worked on, the director at some point would say to me “You’re so animated” and ask me to read for a part. I always declined.

And then you worked on ‘A Time to Kill,’ the interviewer prods again.

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I am happy for you.

Powerful words, right?

And my two favorite variations:

I am so pleased for you (a bit more cautious).

I am thrilled for you (yes, over the top).

When something good happens to a colleague or a friend, we tend so say Congratulations. We may even send a congratulatory note.


But I am happy for you elevates the well-wishing. It puts ME into the congratulatory expression. And it gives the other person the gift of MY supportive emotion.

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Raw and fearless.

In the onslaught of tributes to comedienne Joan Rivers, these are the adjectives I hear most often.

Raw and fearless.

To people who didn’t like her, Joan Rivers was crass, loud, unabashedly insensitive.

Too much.

I liked Joan Rivers. A lot.

One thing was abundantly clear as I watched the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work: Rivers was first and foremost an entertainer. She lived to be on-stage. She abhorred not being on-stage.

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I stand on the sidewalk in front of my house, chat with Sylvie, my gardener from Quebec. Sylvie tells me of the life challenges her teenage grand-daughter Jordana is facing. Sylvie ends with a sigh.

There’s a story behind every door, she says.

Another sigh.

The slogan in the television ad for, the discovery-your-roots website: Discover your story.

My friend Tom Asacker, branding guru and best-selling author, affirms that We all become the stories we tell ourselves.

In Georgia, my neighbor Philip Friday explains, we say why tell the truth when a lie would be just as good.

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Where do you get your lunch? 

Mo, the proprietor of the sublime Sozo Sushi in Ft. Lauderdale, wants to know. 

We run down the street to Doris’ Market in Hollywood, I answer. They have a $5.00 lunch special. Sandwich, chips, and a soda.  

Doris’ is your classic old Italian market, less than a mile from my firm’s office, right on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Florida.  

Yes, there really is a Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

Lunch rush at Doris’ Market means you pull a number and wait your turn.

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Consider this the vacation issue.

 I just spent a couple of days in Amsterdam.

 A room in the magnificent Hotel Pulitzer, window looking out over The Prinsengracht, a superb feast of Turkish meze in the Jordaan, richly stimulating conversations with my friends Melanie and James Roche.

Amsterdam perfection.

And yet, I’m not one of those people who crave a vacation.

What makes our spirits soar? A change of scenery?

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It wasn’t a happy travel day.

I arrive at my airline departure gate, no service agent in sight, no sign of my flight. Once I find the large electronic board in the terminal that lists all departures for the airport, there it is, no longer any doubt. FLIGHT CANCELLED.

No, I will not tell you a travel-war-story. This is a story of happy pain.

I see a little elderly lady standing at the gate, looking lost, another displaced soul from this flight.

I am going to the other terminal and find a rebooking counter, I say to her. I hesitate, and then I figure I should ask. 

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I like to joke that I get help for everything.

I see a therapist, a coach, a trainer.

My life is better because of their help.

It’s the beauty of getting older. I no longer need to be the best at everything or do it alone.

All of the above are hired help. Every day, life gets better yet when we invite un-hired guidance.

The moment we ask, collaborative energy gets released. Collaborative good will kicks into motion. Helping energy accelerates success. Ours – and that of the person we ask.

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