Leading The Way….

I was reading a couple of articles the other day on China. One was from the perspective of Xi Jinping and whether his actions would eventually bring us to war. Sufficiently depressed I turned the pages to an interview with Henry Kissinger who has been in and out of our foreign policy for the last fifty years and at the age of 93 still holds some sway..at least with His Hairness.

Both have represented history. The former Secretary of State has been of counsel to several presidents from the whacky Dick Nixon to the more conventional Bushes. Interestingly he noted that Obama had never sought his counsel. I wasn’t sure if this was puzzlement or pique. President Xi is part of a 70 year actualization of the writings of Chairman Mao. There have been some interesting twists and turns.

I couldn’t help but muse on the whole concept of leadership. So many movements in history have been created and furthered by one man or one woman. We are not talking about this or that radical sect but entire nations with sometimes billions of people uniting behind one person. Why do we follow at all and often with such reckless abandon?

From all visible signs people want to be led. I am not sure if this is a human failing or if it is baked into our DNA. From birth we love being nurtured and shown the path. It is easier that way and you are not subject to criticism. Someone said man’s three primal needs are to be safe, to belong and to matter. A good leader could fulfill all of those.

But why does someone step out in front of the crowd? He or she has an idea or a creed and by sheer will and charisma is able to effectively convey that and generate enthusiasm for their cause. It makes sense to people. They like what they hear and bang you are off to the races. This can be true in business, Washington or cathedrals, temples and mosques. The election of Trump typifies this. For better or worse people were willing to follow and the supposed pros were caught flatfooted.

That firebrand, management guru or disciple has a choice. They can remember where they from or they can start believing their own press releases. The opiate of power is a strong one. Sensing the popularity of their ideas, they surround themselves with sycophants. The crowds get larger but their inner circle becomes smaller. They reap enormous benefits be they economic or psychological. The largesse and praise heaped upon them only serve to inflate their egos more. Then it is not the cause but themselves that becomes the reason for being.

It’s funny because most do not set out to amass personal benefit. Clergy do not strive to be archbishops and popes. A politico doesn’t eye the Oval Office from the onset. People feel something in their hearts but that falls prey to personal aggrandizement. Principals and morals are compromised and family, friends and decency fall by the wayside. An article in the Harvard business Review noted “The once great, have stopped listening and being open to input from others” The symptoms were:
▪ Lack of humility
▪ Not listening to others
▪ Withdrawing and becoming reclusive
▪ Justifying your position
▪ Lack of openness and objectivity
▪ Not allowing your decisions to be questioned or challenged

Oh ye in higher echelons, does this sound like someone you might know?

The ideal of service enters stage right as the counter to this. You are here because you want to give. You devote your life to helping make people better. You try to make yourself better. You develop leaders everywhere in your organization. They are not a threat but an enhancement. You seek not only value to the shareholders but to the entire entity. You understand the failure or success of your endeavor is the result of the whole team not your prowess as El Supremo. This is of course idealistic and from all sides in the recent election not necessarily in vogue but we have to start somewhere.

Further there is an omnipresent vision of who we are now and where we want to be in the future. There is an enthusiasm and passion to your message. Optimism abounds but is tempered by pragmatism. To this perfect organization there has to be a responsibility taken down to the least employee. They are not only a cog in the wheel they are an integral part subject to both reward and criticism. When they see the product they understand they had a hand in its design or manufacture. They feel empowered and that is an incredible force for innovation as well as ongoing pursuit..

Do these places exist? Of course they do. The top 50 best places to work compiled by Business Insider cover the spectrum from technology to energy to pharmaceuticals to consumer products. In perusing the list there seems to be a combination of factors ranging from a reasonable balance of work and private life to philanthropy and wellness. 3M has for many years fostered the ability among its workers to come up with new and different ideas. Leadership has been creative and practical and their stock price represents inherent value rather than squeezing every last drop of blood from the stone.

Leadership takes many forms from the management suites to the shop floors. You can see it in school boards to neighborhood associations. Enthusiasm in contagious and the results become all the more phenomenal if the majority jumps in rather than letting someone else do it. Get out of your seat and take part. As the saying goes, “If you ain’t the lead dog the view is always the same”.

As always
Ted The Great

Leaders are not necessarily born. They rise in response to certain occasions.This is where some lead and some follow. In other words, to really become a good leader, one must be put in the position of having to step up to the plate.
Several Leaders of sorts had interesting starting assignments:

Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic was a record producer
Dmitri Medvedev of Russia was a street cleaner.
Pope Francis was a nightclub bouncer
Angela Merkel of Germany was a barmaid
Mark Cuban was a disco dance instructor
Adolf Hitler was a wallpaper hanger
Mao Tse Tung was an assistant librarian at the Univ of Peking

As per Mark Twain,”We are all perfect just at different things.”
As Per Groucho Marx,”Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men — the other 999 follow women.

Speaking of women: A detailed study by the Harvard Business Review of some 7800 superiors,peers and subordinates ranked executives in 16 different categories of leadership. Women surpassed men in 12 of the 16. Today’s workforce starts at 50/50 men vs women but winnows to where women make up only 3-4% of CEO positions. Sorry guys but their effectiveness rate is far superior to men. Almost four in ten businesses in G7 countries have no women in senior management positions. Globally, the proportion of senior business roles held by women stands at 24% Not good. I guess all this will get me a one way ticket out of the fraternity house.

Thanksgiving 2016

On Monday I dropped off a turkey to Fr Michael at Samaritan House, the homeless shelter where I used to volunteer. The padre was off doing good somewhere and I left a note saying that the gobbler was chosen from some of my closest friends. It was then off to Churchills for a cigar and a scotch or two with some dear amigos who of course were happy I didn’t pick them for the fowl donation.

For those who have been talked off bridges and have put the hemlock back in the cupboard as well as those who just shrug their shoulders at our recent democratic exercise,Thanksgiving conjures up some mighty strong emotions. There are those who love the traditional almost to obsession. Everything has to be just the way we have done it for the last umpteen decades. Not a ritual to be lost and God forbid we would accept anything but rigid conventionalism.

Then there are the rowdies and the upstarts who want innovate and try something different. Like substituting Mac and cheese for those God awful turnips. Perhaps a roast instead of a Tom. Gadzooks, this is the beginning of the fall of civilization as we know it. What would out forefathers think? All of a sudden I can see a nation at this dinner and we are all sitting down for the feast.

Seating is the initial step in the process. There is a kid’s table and an adult one although to some they could be mutually interchangeable. El Supremo sits at the head and everyone falls in line thereafter taking great note as to who is on either side. This can be meted out as to status or longevity but there should be no attempt to mix and match so as to avoid spontaneity or putting someone with brains anywhere near the top.

Don’t get me wrong, change is not always for the better. We have morphed major holidays into commercial events. People have gotten so carried away that they have completely lost sight of the original intent. For instance we have to eat at a specific time in order to fit into the day all the really important stuff like a football game or doorbusters at Macy’s. Sorry mom and dad, everyone is getting together the Ale House. Don’t want to disappoint.

In a totally perverse way holidays lead to both sadness as well as gladness. People conjure up detailed fantasies of how things should be and when they are not perfect in the slightest way they cannot accept that like life, it is not so. But then there is the joy of a separated friend or relative sitting at the table or at least sharing a call. And still others long for lost loves be they a broken romance or just someone who has passed on to a “better place”. By the way whoever came up with that concept? I don’t now about you but I have been pretty lucky. Heaven will have to be really special to beat this.

Ah, the repast! Now here is where it gets interesting. The bird is presented in all its glory and it is indeed a beautiful thing…that is before we start carving it up. Everyone wants this piece or that. Dark meat? Really? I have my standards. Okay kids let’s get this straight there are only two drumsticks. Have to compromise. Somewhere, somehow, someone’s nose is going to get bent out of shape.

As we continue to pass various goodies we always overdo. You know eyes bigger than your stomach.Pour on the gravy so your plate overflows. Some hog takes more than their fair share and you are left with the china reflecting a mere shadow of the heaping brimfuls that were there at the start. We thought there was enough for everyone.

Then comes desert and the age old question. There a lot of people looking for their piece of the pie. Barring a loaves and fishes miracle that circle is only so big. Now does everyone take a smaller wedge so that all may enjoy or do we let those at the top take what they want and let the cards fall where they may? Survive of the fittest, you know. Don’t worry. Next year we will just make a bigger pie. Yeah, we have heard that before.

Lastly after the feast we sit around the table with perhaps an aperitif. We wax eloquently and try to heal hard feelings. Some are filled with gusto and some are filled with self pity. Some wish they spoken up and others are glad they kept things to themselves. Thankfully most of us are just happy to be here. It is not just a feeling of contentment but of accomplishment. Moms and dads can look at their brood and say we done good. We welcome the new guard and pray their way will enhance and improve all aspects of life. Passages mes amis, passages.

We end on a note where we should have started. We are grateful for what we have. We can crow and say it is the result of all our hard work or we can forgo the personal huzzahs and say maybe there is a Higher Being that helped. Back in Plymouth they didn’t have a lot and were facing starvation. They saw the raw countryside and knew it held a plethora of life sustaining possibilities, yet they were afraid and in that fear did what all of us should do. They said a prayer of thanksgiving. Not only for what they had but the bounty before them that was yet to be reaped.

They did not rush out the door but sat and contemplated their plight and at the same time their good fortune. Whether at the table or just walking down the street maybe we should say thanksgiving to whatever God we know. Just be grateful for all we have and oh so cognizant of our fellow man and woman that helped us get here. I think that is something we should all drink to. Happy Thanksgiving,

As always
Ted The Great


In 2015, more than 233.1 million turkeys were raised. More than 212 million were consumed in the United States. We estimate that 46 million of those turkeys were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter.

If you feel groggy after an old-fashioned Thanksgiving meal, the bird on your plate may be partially to blame. Turkey meat contains tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate sleep.

Thanksgiving was almost a fast — not a feast! The early settlers gave thanks by praying and abstaining from food, which is what they planned on doing to celebrate their first harvest, that is, until the Wampanoag Indians joined them and (lucky for us!) turned their fast into a three-day feast!

Wild turkeys can run 20 miles per hour when they are scared, but domesticated turkeys that are bred are heavier and can’t run quite that fast.The largest are around 35 pounds. Turkeys sleep in trees to avoid predators. Each gobble is unique.

Rattling Cages….

I love shaking things up. An anarchist I am not but I love to look at the conventional and staid and place a hand grenade right in the middle of the discussion. In truth I am always looking for a different way, something no one has never thought of before. This Trump thing is turning people on their ear and I am relishing every moment. You know me, I fight against the elitists and higher authorities all the time whether they are political or ecclesiastical.

Why do I tilt at windmills? There is a beauty in thinking about innovation and more efficient ways. Dark alleys and dead end streets that finally break through. Researchers and professors do this but become so engrossed in their studies that they believe their own press releases and that no one could know more about a topic than they do. Each week we find an entity that claims to finally have the perfect theory on this or that. Then it is just a matter of time before someone disproves that theorem and it is on to the next one.

Now this should be healthy progress but we tend to hang onto flawed reason with a death grip. As we unlock all the secrets of cosmos and ourselves we become very susceptible to pride and arrogance. We never leave any room for further discovery or a totally different way of looking at things. Then comes the final declaration,“Well we have always done things that way” to put the kibosh on anything novel.I jumped out of an airplane a year ago. Rational people are not supposed to do that but the sheer excitement of doing the forbidden opens you up to more and more of that great molecule called discovery.

With all this freedom we have to have rules but let’s make them reasonable. We crave the reliance on edicts to bring order to our lives. People become so engrossed in minutia that they lose sight of the prize. That complexity also serves to perpetuate the bureaucrat’s existence. Obamacare has become burdensome from the idea of documentation alone. The law itself is 2800 pages long and just the regs are 20,000 pages. The IRS code is 76,000 pages long. You wonder why we need accountants and lawyers and then government staff to ensure compliance? And this is just the Feds.

When one considers what just happened on our political front you can see the frustration of a lot of people. The small businesses can’t support staff or service providers to keep up with all this paperwork and then is also forced to pay a minimum wage. Life is complex enough but we have now taken things to a new extreme. Entrepreneurial America is a slave to the insanity of government.

I have been listening to the news since we got home on Monday. Everyone is losing it because His Hairness has not yet announced his cabinet. I mean it has just been a week. What the hell is going on here? Wolf Blitzer after blasting Trump night and day hopes that the new administration will play be the rules and adhere to the decades of propriety when it comes to the Fourth Estate. I hope they don’t. Not as an apologist for the Donald but because I just want to see a different way of doing business.

As I peruse the WSJ lobbyists, hacks and even nations are scrambling to figure out what this all means? I think uncertainty is wonderful. Think about the last couple of years and all the life ending bullets we have dodged or at least kept down to a flesh wound. ISIS, oil prices, Crimea, EBOLA, Zika, Somehow we have made it. Go back in history to Y2K, Rock and Roll, Hitler, Martin Luther and of course the earth being flat. We are flooded daily with unending coverage of this crisis to that in order to properly report on our impending doom. Give me a break. We will be just fine.

In the long run there has to be a balance. Sure we are facing a crisis when over half the people of old age don’t have $10,000 in the bank. Granted we can’t continue on our road of entitlements and largesse without facing this mountain of debt that we have run up. But the solution does not lie in our current institutions where we throw just more and more money at things. This push to pour dollars into infrastructure can’t be carte blanche but rather with a keen eye to our most pressing needs. We had the chance in 2008 and we blew it.Let’s hope history does not repeat itself.

Long story short is we have chance to rattle some cages. This is not a testimonial to the Orange Man which is the farthest thing from my mind. It is a prayer that the powers that be might have finally understood what the hell is going on. We need incredibly creative people to come up with some shocking and even radical new ideas. The bitch is if you look in small towns and garages there are McGyvers everywhere that have figured out crazy ways to do things. It is called ingenuity and grit, not a PHD.

This election has demonstrated more than ever that the big shots really don’t have all the answers. Not only in DC but in news rooms, board rooms and executive suites throughout America. There are great minds out there but not everyone stands at the levers of power or with fat wallets. Let’s give them a chance.We need all the help we can get.

As always
Ted The Great

I found this definition of Brainstorming:

Brainstorming is the name given to a situation when a group of people meet to generate new ideas around a specific area of interest. Using rules which remove inhibitions, people are able to think more freely and move into new areas of thought and so create numerous new ideas and solutions. The participants shout out ideas as they occur to them and then build on the ideas raised by others. All the ideas are noted down and are not criticized. Only when the brainstorming session is over are the ideas evaluated……Do you think people involved in our government think this way?

Rattling one’s cage:
Mess With One’s Head
Push One’s Buttons…..not bad for starters
Americans spent over 3.24 billion hours, which is about 369,858 years, preparing and filing tax returns in 2012. We spend well over $500 billion per annum just doing our taxes. This to me is the greatest example of useless enterprise.

Election Takeaways.

WOW! That is the best I can do for an opening line. Who would have thunk it? A week ago at this time Hilary was planning her grand entrance and picking out furniture while the Donald was on the ropes. Now many of you thought it was a race of personalities. Others the fine art of distinguishing bad from badder. After a few days I look at it in a different way.

It was appropriate that in our technological age that the internet should play such a predominant role. Just not in the way people thought. In Obama vs Romney most thought that Barak’s geeks got the best of Mitt and they were probably right. Worked for him so it had to be so for Madame Clinton. Not exactly.

The most unlikely master of cyberspace was Trump. It is ironic that Silicon Valley was so against him and it proved to be their foil. Twittering until all hours of the night Orange Man kept his name in the forefront day after day. The more outrageous the better off he was. It is estimated that he derived anywhere from $2-3 billion of air time for free. He did the same with TV where the anchors from all stations couldn’t wait to update you on the latest shenanigans and react with disdain and horror. And he laughed all the way to the bank.

I think this really leads into what I will call the idiocy of the elites. Joe Scarborough pointed out in the day after that one could drive West after leaving New York and not encounter another blue state until Oregon. Both coasts were Democratic but the midsection of the country was red. And that is where the country is fed up.

The cognoscenti really took their lumps. The algorithms and what ifs did not take into consideration the ire that has gripped the not so educated. Plain old Americans have seen their type of country go up in smoke. They are hard working, church going families with a husband and wife present and accounted for. They have lost their jobs and have seen the country lose its morality. Gun violence and drugs have a stranglehold. The status quo no matter who was putting out the Kool Aid has seen no sign of growth in 25 years.

Hilary was the establishment in so many ways. She was preaching more of the same. Throw more money at it and it will get better. The Great Society has disproved that theory. But then again Bernie was successful. Why? Because he was plain and simple different. It is almost as if people were grasping at straws. Anything new. Anything refreshing and yet the pros didn’t see it coming.

There is a condescending attitude that pervades the East and Left coasts. Just sit back and let us run things. They ran a lot of people out of a job. Just send us your money and we will provide…for the party hacks and K Street lobbyists. The voting public never see their representatives except at election time. The pols are too busy doing the work of government whatever the hell that is.

It is not just the politicians but the titans of industry and finance who cause people to bristle. How many of the cognoscenti told their clients to sell when Dow futures were down 800. Better yet how many told them to buy. Oh yeah, I forgot buy and hold. Companies pay outrageous amounts of money to the CEOs and the rest of the corporate suite. What do they do? They lay off people for efficiency and bringing down overhead. They have replaced workers with robots who run 24/7 without complaining. Have to take care of the stockholders you know.

Therein lies the saddest part of this farce. Both the Donald and Hilary said they would create jobs…out of thin air. For the most part there are no new jobs. Factories and furnaces have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Even if we retrain there are only so many new industries to absorb millions of laborers. Universities for profit thrived in the initial foray and now they are dropping like flies with them all the hopes of Joe Six Pack.

In an absurd way Trump is just like Obama. Both preached change to get elected and one has already failed miserably. Maybe we have a miracle man on our hands and I for one hope we do. But if we come back to my elitist theory we are going to get nowhere. Most of us would yearn to see the whole thing blown up and start over again. But there are so many fiefdoms and seats of power who can pull the levers to be obstructionists I have my doubts.

The last straw of arrogance in this campaign occurred last weekend with the glitterati coming out of the woodwork. I am as open minded as any man but do you really think that I am going to vote for someone because the Boss or Cher or Beyonce told me to. If you don’t think that pissed off middle America even more then you really don’t have a clue.

We ALL need a giant dose of humility and realism and my senses tell me that will not come from His Hairness nor the powers that be. We have to understand that just because you don’t have a college education that does not mean you are any less a person than you or me. We have to come down from our ivory towers and finally get that our current way of life is not working for a lot of people. By that I mean over 50 million who voted one way. I don’t care how smart you are that is not just a drop in the bucket and we better take heed.

My final takeaway is that we need so much and it will take a superhuman and sobering effort on everyone’s part to go forward. One group has already discovered that. I wonder if all of us highly educated snobs can come to the same obvious conclusion.

As always
Ted The Great

None. Why confuse the issue with facts.

Good Old # 30…..RIP

I got my new tooth yesterday. The old and battered one had been taken out a few months back. Extraction didn’t come easy. Seems that molar liked where it had been living for over 60 years. The nurse coldly referred to it as #30. Didn’t she know I am Ted The Great? The doc needed a couple of tries to retrieve it which almost got comical akin to a Three Stooges skit. He finally broke it in two and at least avoided applying a jack hammer to my jaw. Then it was tossed unceremoniously into a steel bowl and who knows where it went from there.

When I got home I cursed the fact I had left my old friend. I was sure if I put it under my pillow I would have gotten a shekel or two from the tooth fairy. I wonder if it is political correct to use the term “fairy”? Whatever! I have dated myself with that coin thing. Today you probably get a bike, a cell phone or color TV. But now I am being mercenary. This baby was part of history and it got me thinking.

In school it helped me “Duck and Cover” in the air raid drills at St Mary’s Elementary.That was actually a portent of things to come during food fights at Georgetown or the real thing in Viet Nam.It had accompanied me in walking down streets all over the world. Wall Street. Main Street.The Champs Elysees. A gazillion places and #30 never said a thing.

Every so often it would ache when I abused it with hard candy or a caramel. Needed a few repairs every now and then but took a licking and kept on ticking. It was a little mossy on a morning after a bad night but it had company with other parts of my body. At its most basic it helped me chomp on some 60,000 plus meals of all sorts. Home cooking and fancy cooking. In a far off place, some came in boxes and cans called C Rats. Never argued with me when I opened a can of eggs and ham that had been produced in 1950 although the time of absorption was 1970. Gotta do, what you gotta do.

As far as meals I think our favorite was a lunch at a vineyard in New Zealand. The red wine of choice to tickle that enamel had to be Silverado or The Prisoner. As for the whites it could only be Rombauer Chard.They call it California Crack. For spirits it was a single malt we tasted in Hobart, Tasmania. The best champagne was the day I got married.Nothing sweeter.Helped me to say I Do without garbling the words. As for water as WC Fields used to say,”I never touch the stuff.” There is a saltier version of that but I will spare you.

That speaking thing has served me well. As for my favorites that is a three way tie. He helped me hit it out of the park for my friend John’s and my mother’s eulogies. The other choice was when I had to stand in for my brother Kevin at a black tie dinner at the Pierre for the glitterati of the municipal bond business on Wall Street. He was supposed to get an ward but  was having brain surgery the next day…. in San Francisco. I told everyone not to look so glum. We were not talking about a vital organ here. I then proceeded to roast him for 20 minutes. They roared and clapped. I love it when a plan comes together.

Over the years he has seen presidents from Ike to Barak. He might be forever grateful he exited before next Tuesday. Popes have come and gone but he confided in me that he really liked this Frank guy. Funny how for all the folderol given to important people, they have moved on just like #30. Nice but forgotten.

That bicuspid had seen numerous cars. Some of them old heaps and some German beauties. He got bugs impaled on him when I used to drive the kids around town in my orange VW Thing with the windshield down. Gotta keep smiling no matter what. He had been with me when I found loves and friends. He had seen heartbreak and triumph. Joy and sadness. As the saying goes,”If these teeth could talk”.

Teeth are important to your grin. I have had so much fun he was always out there. A good belly whomping joke or a tender smile of a proud husband, parent or Padge. Perhaps it was just meeting an old friend or making a new one. I have been incredibly lucky and I better continue to keep that broad expression even if part of it is not original equipment.

There is a lesson here and I will try to keep it short. At least for me in this age or replacements parts, scraper houses, and our dispose all society, we would do well to consider things before we toss them aside. It is not saying we should not move forward but still respect all that has gone on before us. Take a look at your hands, your feet and even that face you think needs work. Like family and friends just think how fortunate we are to have them. Life is good and although we get used to new teeth, the latest car and maybe even loved ones, there is a lot of people and things that have served us well. As usual,that’s all that I ask. Just stop and think.

As always
Ted The Great.


In 7BC some genius made dentures out of gold and teeth from cadavers or animals. Later in the 17th century they were fabricated from wood which is like the beauties that George Washington sported.

No two people have the exact same set of teeth, meaning a person’s teeth are as unique as their fingerprints! Today, around forty percent of people over 65 years do not have a complete set of teeth.

If you’re right handed, you will chew your food on your right side. If you’re left handed, you will tend to chew your food on your left side.

Dentists would recommend that you keep your toothbrush at least six feet away from your toilet to avoid many airborne particles that results from flushing.Yuk!
The bristles of toothbrushes were originally made from the hair of hogs and cows. I guess this might be a little bit of the hair of the dog that bit you.