Monday, December 31, 2012

Best Holiday Letter Message of 2012

I always consider myself fortunate to be on Kevin Kelly's ( annual holiday letter.  This year the family letter came with Kevin's journal/photos of his 1976 Himalayan Journey.  So cool.  But cooler was inside of his letter when he brought forth a close out of 2012 and look forward to 2013 message.

Thank you Kevin for your continued inspiration and friendship!

"We tend to think - and are often taught - that we determine our lives. We do, but only partly. Much is given us. Seeing how much of my father runs through me - and me through my children - throws a shadow on my compass. Not all directions are open. That means we can't be great in many things. But we can get better in everything. Life is about improvement, not perfection, and it is always measured from where you begin. It took me 60 years to figure out, but I am mostly what has come before me. I am mostly my parents, my friends, my society, my species. The truly original part of me is no bigger than my eyelash. So with all my eyelash I wish you a great coming year."

Here was his closing message from 2011 as well :

"Every song, odd costume, food dish, or bit of artwork is another data point in our collective definition of what it means to be human.  As we continue to expand the ways we live through technology and geography, we expand our definition of who we are. When a human somewhere on earth does something amazing, something we never imagined anyone could do (see YouTube), that shifts the definition of all of us. So in order to fully understand ourselves, we have to understand the greater circle of human achievements. Thus we owe it to ourselves to explore full diversity of culture, because it enlightens us individually.  We cannot fully understand ourselves without understanding the outer limits of who we could be. That variety of potential (for good and bad) is far greater than we usually think. Which suggests we should re-conceive of ourselves as more capable of amazement than we usually think. We need others - their fullest variety - to tell us who we are." 

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Rusty Rueff Books Read and "Best Ofs"

I had a good year of reading and am pleased to share my 2012 Books completed list.

I've also included what I felt were my "The Best Ofs" for the year.

Another year to also compare reading Statistics/Mediums:

24 Books read
25% read digitally (d)
12.5% were audio books (a)  (I ran two Marathons in 2012 so lots of long training runs for these)

Confidence Men - Halpern - *Most eye-opening of 2012               
First Things First - Covey                       
(d) A Visit From the Goon Squad - Egan - *So much better than the title                        
(a) Stories I Only Tell My Friends - Lowe - *Most surprisingly better than I thought it would be
Hunger Games - Collins                      
Catching Fire - Collins                      
Zippermouth - Weeks                    
The Mockingjay - Collins                      
The Silver Cord - Masseroni/Kelly - *Best graphic novel      
(d) Wolf Hall - Mantel - *Most glad I finished it and now will read sequel
Unusually Excellent - Hamm - *Best business book and most applicable
Heaven is For Real  - Burpo                      
Luminarium - Shakar                  
(a) Wild  - Strayed - *Most unbelievable that it really happened                   
Eat and Run - Jurek                       
The Moment of Truth -Simpson/Bowles - *Most wished it hadn't turned out to be fiction   
(d) Gone Girl - Flynn -  *Best unexpected twist and page turner
Love and Shame and Love -Orner - *Best use of language                      
A Hope in the Unseen - Suskind - *Most inspirational                
(d) The Art of Fielding: The Novel -Harbaugh - *Best book of the year for me                 
Zero Hour -Baldacci                  
(d) Fall of the Giants - Follett                       
(a) Bonhoeffer - Pastor, Prophet, Spy - Metaxas                   
(d) Winter of the World - Follett 

First on tap for 2013:

(a) Rod Stewart's Autobiography
Telegraph Avenue - Chabon                       

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why Do It?

"There is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.  This is the price and the promise of citizenship". 
                                                                      - President Barack Obama, January 20, 2009

Sometimes, it just comes down to this.

Friday, October 12, 2012


I recently finished the novel Love and Shame and Love by Peter Orner. I love the way he writes. The book takes place over multiple family generations and is set in Chicago. One of the chapters is titled, Class.  The chapter starts this way:

"The Rosencrantzes were classier than the Poppers.  At least the Poppers thought so.  The Rosencrantzes were more educated, more cultures, more sophisticated conversationally. It wasn't about money. This may be because class is so often defined not by thos who have it but by the people who are worried sick they don't. How can you buy it if the whole point is you can't buy it?"

I was struck by this paragraph as here we are in a time where the word class has become everyday nomenclature and people are being segmented and stratified by others and then speaking and acting out into the class they are placed.  Maybe we all need to spend more time concerned about the definitions and slotting of classes and instead focus on ensuring that all can get ahead and that all are doing their fair share to provide that the rest of those around them have an equal opportunity to improve.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I just took an hour and sat down and read "The Moment of Truth - The Final Report of The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform" Chaired by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles.

It's a quick read because they wrote the report in words that the layman can understand. They lay out the guiding principles and values by which the Commission worked.  They are hard to argue against:
  • We all have the patriotic duty to make America better off tomorrow than it is today
  • Don't disrupt the fragile economic recovery
  • Cut and invest to promote economic growth and keep America competitive
  • Protect the truly disadvantaged
  • Cut spending we cannot afford - no exceptions
  • Demand productivity and effectiveness from Washington
  • Reform and and simplify the tax code
  • Don't make promises we can't keep
  • The problem is real, and the solution will be painful
  • Keep America sound over the long run
We could stop there and if Congress would just adopt these principles and values, then we would be making a huge step forward.  But, they went further in their study and made strong recommendations for sweeping changes that would change the course of our economic future.  The preamble of the report provides the tone and the direction that they chose to take. I encourage you to read it here:

The vision was there to bring together the Commission. The courage was there for individuals to risk their political careers to sit on the Commission and give 8 months of their lives to the effort. The give and take was there for recommendations to be made that could bring us together.  The fortitude and resolve was not there to complete what was started.  As I read the report, written in 2010, I realized, more than I desired, that another two years have gone by now since 2010 and soon we will reach another moment of truth. I hope we can face it, resolve it, move forward and live up to the first principle of the Commission: "We all have the patriotic duty to make America better off tomorrow than it is today".

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tour de Force: Adopting New Technologies

Blog I wrote for HireVue:

Interested in your thoughts.


Monday, July 16, 2012

The Cost of Cheap

I loved this sketch and article by Carl Richards in the New York Times.  See:
Mr. Richards' thesis was that waiting until we can afford to buy good things that will last, or that we will use for a long time, is a better economic decision. The old adage, "We're too poor to buy cheap things" was quoted and it reminded me of the many times in my own life when I have forgotten the power of delayed gratification and I purchase out of impulse because of the catalyst of a sale or seeming bargain. Of course some businesses are built on the principle of cheap, available and disposable, but I'd prefer to think that after time the "Old Navy's" of the world become something else.  We have a store not far from our Rhode Island home called "Benny's".  Our best friend's twin girls over the years (they are 16 now) have come to call the store, "Broken Benny's" because whatever you buy there seems to break or wear out within a few week or months of purchase.  And when you add up the dollars spent, you find that you ended up overspending versus buying quality the first time. As I once told a professional services vendor, "Look, I'm an American consumer, and that means I want it now, I want it perfect, and I want it free or at least cheap".  What Mr. Richards points out so well is that we can't have our "cheap" cake and eat it too.

Friday, June 29, 2012

"It's Not. But It Could Be"

"It's Not. But It Could Be"

If these words don't mean something to you then you missed the premier of what could end up being the next best thing on TV; "The Newsroom" on HBO.  I am unabashedly a fan of Aaron Sorkin; pretty much everything he has written.  The opening monologue of anchor Will McEvoy, while I don't agree with all he said, does indeed strike a chord with me and where we stand today as a country. If you happen to have watched, will watch, the opening monologue, I'd be interested in your take.

Thank You Harry Levinson

This last week the business world lost one of the most influential thinkers and writers of our time.  Most people wouldn't know the name Harry Levinson but they have likely benefited in their jobs from his thinking and writings.  All across America and the world there are positions in corporations called, "Chief Learning Officers".  This position emanated from Levinson's 1968 book titled, "The Exceptional Executive".  Quoting from this obituary in the New York Times, "Dr. Levinson argued that a psychological contract existed between employees and employers, laying out the expectation each had of the other.  Employees who feel that their employers have violated that contract will feel depressed, he said, and may well become underachievers".  Probably the most influential CEO to adopt Levinson's teachings was long-time General Electric CEO, Jack Welch.  Welch built a powerful leadership team and modeled Levinson's theories in how he set up the HR philosophy and practices at GE. Dr. Levinson's passing is a reminder of how influence can occur for generations when the most of us would have no idea where that influence started.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Upcoming Debt Ceiling Fight - Part 2

We can expect that the next fight will be just as bad as the last one. I found this in Wired Magazine and it certainly shines some light on the historical models/examples that get drawn upon:

"It's not like the debt ceiling hasn't been raised before. The percent change during the following Administrations:

Kennedy - 5%
Johnson - 18%
Nixon - 36%
Ford - 41%
Carter - 34%
Reagan - 199%
George H.W. Bush - 48%
Clinton - 44%
George W. Bush - 90%
Obama - 34%"