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Archive for April, 2012

Sunday musings 4/29/12

Sunday musings…

1) Sun. In the sky. In Cleveland. Honest.

2) Paleo fridge. It’s empty. Seriously, how much can one young man eat when his folks are doing the picking, digging, and killin’?

3) Winston Churchill 1. “Mr. Churchill is easily satisfied with the best.” My kinda guy.

4) Winston Churchill 2. “He loved beautiful and intelligent women.” Since leaving college I have been surrounded by women. My med school class was the first in the U.S. to have more women than men, for example. The medical/industrial complex employs mostly women, and both my office and my OR experiences occur largely in the company of women.

I love women! This has made my professional life more fun, I think. I love women, and my experiences with them have taught me that I should expect to have my expectations exceeded. It’s much the same around here, chez CrossFit. Did you take a look at the performances by the women, individual and team, at the Regionals yesterday?

People can be funny about men and women being friends, hanging together at work or at play. It’s a bummer because one can never have enough friends, and not allowing for friendships with members of the opposite gender decreases your potential pool of candidates by 50%. Churchill was known to have a lot of close friendships with beautiful and intelligent women, friendships that were just that and nothing more.

Again, my kinda guy.

5) Duration. Life is long. I’ve been saying this for a while now. Life is only short if you are unlucky. More often’s the case that your life is very hard and it’s STILL long.

How often have you heard the term “long and slow wins the race”? I’m becoming skeptical about this one as well. It seems to me that the average speed of the winning racer is, indeed, rather slow. But if you watch the race itself you notice that the most successful “racers” are actually doing serial sprints. Picking their spots and turning it on. Knowing when it’s “Go Time” and being able to floor it seems to be the best strategy in the long-life race.

If life is long we need to re-interpret some of our other strategies as well. “Carpe Diem”, live for the day, becomes somewhat more complex if we anticipate that we will live another, and another, and on and on. We typically view “Carpe Diem” through the prism of the classic thought experiment, the “get hit by a bus” scenario. As in: “If I get hit by a bus tomorrow would I be pleased with all I’ve done thus far, with what I did today?” In any life, long or short, this line of thought has merit; one should strive to max out each day, wring the most life out of every single one.

A long life prompts one to rise up and view a life not from 3 feet but from 3,000 or 30,000 feet as well. What happens if I DON’T get hit by a bus? If I look at the path I am now on, the trends I have established with the decisions and actions I have taken thus far, is what I am doing and where I seem to be going likely to create a life I will look back upon with pride and with a smile if I DON’T get hit by that bus?

The reality is that you are driving the bus, pedal to the medal at times and just cruising at others, carrying as your passengers the friends who get on and off over the long life. It may be more important to avoid hitting someone else with bus you are driving than it is to worry about being hit by a bus yourself.

For the duration of the trip, however long.

I’ll see you next week…


Posted by bingo at April 29, 2012 7:11 AM


When What Is Best For Business Is Wrong For You

Outsourcing takes many roles, has many faces. My father and my mother-in-law have some very fundamental things in common. They are unaware of this, and if aware both would most probably resist the comparison. When presented with the existential option of doing what would best improve the chances of business survival (outsource) or remaining true to an existential value, both chose option ‘B’.

My Dad had a business making a product where domestic production was disappearing. Faced with this reality (my Dad was a very good businessman—this reality did not escape him) he simply could not abandon the people who worked for him or the community in which they all worked. He did not outsource, and one by one they were bled away, a workforce of 800 slowly reduced to 250 or so, until there was nothing left to do but leave the business.

My mother-in-law Sandy founded and ran an alternative school in the 70’s. When we met in the 80’s the school was on solid ground, but no money was being made and the prospects for growth that would keep the school on solid financial ground were limited by the founding principles. I chatted with her about how she could generate more money in order to safeguard the school (and her) financially, specifically by “outsourcing” her resources to a more affluent clientele (wealthy homeschoolers, foreign exchange students). The mere thought of making decisions with revenue as a goal was so anathema to her that she categorically refused to even have the conversation. Now she has to consider selling the school.

Lesson? There are really hard choices before us, not only in business but also in life. There are always consequences from the decision, even when we are so sure that we have been true to some core, essential, existential truth. We can simultaneously win and lose.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which is which.


Sunday musings 4/22/12

Sunday musings…

1) Convention. Man, it’s tough to stay with the CrossFit dietary prescription when you are on the road at a big convention.

Especially when your wine glass never seems to be empty.

2) Trouble. “If you don’t go where trouble is likely to happen, it’s more difficult to get in trouble.” Advice Mrs. bingo and I have shared with the bingo progeny early and often. Called an audible after dinner last night in a strange city and went back to the hotel.

Less trouble likely there.

3) Levon Helm. The drummer/singer for The Band passed away at 71 from throat cancer. In the world of my day job 71 is rather young; Levon’s life would be considered rather short.

Cancer of the throat is sometimes just bad Karma, but it’s more often a result of not so great life choices. I don’t mean to cast aspersions on Mr. Helm for I know nothing of his life outside of his music, but there is a lesson here nonetheless: life is less likely to be short if you choose to avoid those things known to be bad for you.

Simple, yet followed in the breach often enough that it still bears repeating.

4) Kodak. The great photography company is in the midst of a painful, excruciating death spiral. One of the most recognizable corporate names in the history of modern man is winding down to extinction. Why? It’s the “buggy whip maker” thing. Kodak thought they were a photography company (buggy whip maker) and failed to realize that they were in the image management industry (acceleration). They fell victim to the creative destruction of the digital age, the age of the internet, and the age of “social”.

How does that apply to CrossFit you ask? I think CrossFit is the agent of creative destruction now poised to disrupt an entire industry. No longer an outside, niche whatever, CrossFit is now big enough and has enough momentum that it will likely transform an industry and wreak havoc on traditional, entrenched businesses.

No kidding, bingo. Wow…verrrry perceptive insight on the fitness business. Ah, Grasshopper, but it isn’t the fitness business of which I speak at all. CrossFit is sitting at the edge of one of the more entrenched, businesses of all, and it is quite possible that CrossFit will upset the apple cart in a very substantial way, indeed, will be the agent of creative destruction.

The industry, Grasshopper, is health care.

5) Beauty. My two larger worlds (healthcare, CrossFit) are populated in part by extraordinary women. At the moment I am at a convention of my peers, many of whom are women of magnificent talent and accomplishment, just like my CrossFit world. Some of my professional peers and some of the women on the industry side of my world are also quite beautiful. Interestingly, here is where my two worlds diverge.

Beauty in my professional world makes one a target, and comes with an assumption of lesser significance. The prettier the woman the less serious her contributions are assumed to be, and the more she is resented and targeted when it is clear that she is someone who will make a serious contribution to any professional endeavor, be it business related or patient care.

Weird, huh?

This is one more way that our CrossFit philosophy–chase measurable, observable, repeatable fitness–informs our extended world view. I won’t embarrass any of the notable female Games athletes by naming names, but we all marvel at their results first, and then notice that they are also very attractive. Some of our best trainers and leaders, people who have made major contributions to the canon of CrossFit training and the growth of the CrossFit movement are women. Very attractive women. What we see of them first is their success, their value, their input.

Nicole Carrol (ANSI accreditation, co-director CrossFit training), Mikki Lee Martin (co-founder, co-director, CrossFit Kids)…these are leaders in our world and we rightly recognize that leadership first. They also happen to be beautiful women, a fact that we certainly don’t ignore but rather celebrate.

It saddens me to hear my colleagues lament the treatment they receive in my professional world, treatment that is so very different from how we recognize and relate to beauty in our CrossFit world. I thank the women of CrossFit for the lessons they have taught about true beauty, for being role models for women within and without CrossFit.

I welcome the day when this part of my CrossFit world crosses over into my professional world.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at April 22, 2012 8:39 AM


Sunday Musings 4/15/12

Sunday musings…

1) Assume goodwill and goodwill will ensue. Extend kindness and kindness will find you.

2) Own every defeat. Give away every victory.

3) The law of supply and demand is immutable, irresistible, unrelenting and unavoidable. It cannot be controlled or eliminated; it is a natural consequence of our social evolution. Attempts to regulate supply and demand have failed miserably and universally in all instances over all time.

After all, the inevitable Black Market that is born of regulation always runs on supply and demand.

4) Dinner on Saturday with Lil’bingo and his GF came around to a discussion of how expensive it is to live in Chicago (the kids are very fond of Chicago). This, in turn, led naturally to the topic of “live to work vs. work to live.” A moving target for sure, but man do I wish someone had fed me one night when I was 19 and talked about that.

Why? Well, how many folks do you know who have managed to fold together their vocation and their avocation? Their employment and their passion? How many people do you know who give the same answer to the questions “What do you do for a living?” and “What is your hobby?” Not many, eh? In the world of my day job I can name exactly two. Cleveland has been good to me, but the fact remains that I moved to Cleveland solely for the job.

Cleveland has neither ocean nor mountain.

It’s quite a bit different in the CrossFit world, though. Young “Daigle’s-On-Fire” is about to join a few dozen folks whose day job is CF HQ, a dream job he barely had the guts to dream and now he’s about to embark on a 3000 mile trip to the intersection between work to live/live to work. One of my new friends met here, chez CrossFit, is an attorney who openly calls his day job his dream. You guessed it…he’s CF’s corporate counsel. Work and passion, vocation and avocation all wrapped up into one whole. No real “live to work or work to live” stuff for them, or indeed for most of the 3500+ Affiliate owners like my sons. I’m not entirely sure if they, or Coach, truly appreciate how monumental this is.

For the rest of us, though, we must sit down and have a little chat with ourselves. Is there something that makes us truly happy? Is there a place where we have a greater likelihood of achieving that happiness, or where it might be more easily attained? Sure, there might be additional responsibilities we must shoulder (support a family, repay an obligation) that might complicate the conversation, but that still leaves room for each of us to LIVE. Could you do whatever that is? Could you move wherever there is? All of the folks I’ve met in Key West or Park City or San Diego who work at whatever in order to fish, ride, or surf come to mind.

How about me? How am I doing with this work/live thing? Actually, I’m doing much better now than at most other points in my life despite the fact that my new business reality is a somewhat lesser version of past realities. I’m really good at what I do, and I accept and fulfill the responsibility of continuing to improve; the people for whom I work fare better now than ever before.

But more and more what I do for work is just that…work. My day job is what allows me to do the stuff that is probably a truer indication of who I am, of what makes me tick. I live as fully as I possibly can when I am at work; I’m good at what I do and it’s easier to enjoy something when you do it well. But I work to live.

Must it be thus? Is it somehow my destiny to not share the lives of those for whom live to work is synonymous with work to live? Meh, I dunno. It takes a certain type of courage to make that leap sometimes. I have a friend who lives in Del Mar who once asked me “when are you going to leave that dead end job and work with me?” I clearly didn’t have the courage at the time to fully explore that. Now? Who knows?

In the end, though, I think it’s important to have that conversation with yourself. Working to live, or living to work? It’s especially important if who you are and what you do are not both found where you work.

Think of it as a life in progress.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at April 14, 2012 6:42 PM


Thoughts On A Funeral And A Home

I went to the funeral of a former business partner yesterday, felled too soon by MS at the age of 70. Ron died poorly; he suffered mightily for many years before his ultimate relief. A man of great faith and equally great fidelity to his particular Church (the Church of my youth), we were told of the comfort he realized in his departure.

(As an aside, I wrote once about a funeral I attended where the pastor clearly had no inkling who the deceased was. This recent ceremony, on the other hand, was presided over by a priest who’d babysat the children of the deceased as a teen, and had a 30 year friendship with the family. Huge difference.)

I continue to struggle with this, frankly. The intersection of religion and faith has become even more confusing to me as I round the turn at the far end of life’s track and head into the last 1/2 of the race. The intersection is kind of like a 4-way stop where 4 cars arrive at almost the same time. Who goes first? What are the rules? Who decides what rules apply? As you sit there what can you expect of the other three? Do they know the same rules? The rules part of the conversation, the religion part, continues to confuse me and has become more confusing as I’ve gotten older. At the 4-way I just sit and idle.

But faith…ah, faith…here I seek comfort. Here is where I seek to be at ease. There must be something before and after that 4-way, right? As a scientist I am compelled to go back in time, as far back as I possibly can, in order to try to understand, so that I may go forward in time, so that I may forecast what is to come. Yet there is always a point beyond which the exploration cannot proceed, forward or back. Conjecture and theory must yield there to something else.

I sit at the 4-way stop, GPS programmed for a journey toward faith. Cars come and go from 3 sides as the Celestial Garmin processes my request. The journey must be a long and complex one; the GPS continues to ponder the route. There I sit.


My Dad called me with a funny story. Seems my niece, Jen, was visiting overnight on her way to the airport and a lacrosse festival. Nothing new there, but she had a friend along, the daughter of a long-lost college friend of mine. Lydia would spend the night in my ancestral home sleeping in the primordial bed from which sprang…yours truly!

I thought a bit about this as I sat in church yesterday. Home is a funny thing, eh? The definition of home is rather a moving target. When are you considering the question? Who’s home are you thinking about? My partner Ron’s entire family decamped to Kentucky 10 years ago, but it was home to Cleveland that he returned, back to his ancestral home for eternity.

I’ve returned more than several times for visits “home”, nights spent in the primordial bed. Some good, some not so much, each ended with a trip “home”. It’s funny–for 20 years or so Cleveland did not really feel like home to me. Nope, it was kind of a lay-over, an intermediate stop on some series of flights to wherever home was going to be. One of my biggest adult surprises was returning to Cleveland in year 20 and all of a sudden realizing that I was going home, to Cleveland, for the first time. It took 20 years and 2 children choosing to live there, but when I landed I was finally home.

A lesson, I guess,  is that you CAN go home again. Ron did. You just need to figure out where home is.


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