The orange lesson

November 16, 2015

In the last few years Dr. Wayne W. Dyer used to always bring an orange on stage as a prop for an object lesson.

“If I were to squeeze this orange as hard as I could, what would come out?” He would asked someone in the audience, in this case a 12 year old boy.
He looked at me like I was a little crazy and said, “Juice, of course.”
“Do you think apple juice could come out of it?”
“No!” he laughed.
“What about grapefruit juice?”
What would come out of it?”
“Orange juice, of course.”
“Why? Why when you squeeze an orange does orange juice come out?”
He may have been getting a little exasperated with me at this point.
“Well, it’s an orange and that’s what’s inside.”

I nodded. “Let’s assume that this orange isn’t an orange, but it’s you. And someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, says something you don’t like, offends you. And out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, fear. Why? The answer, as our young friend has told us, is because that’s what’s inside.”
It’s one of the great lessons of life. What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezing—your mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you, it’s your choice.
When someone puts the pressure on you and out of you comes anything other than love, it’s because that’s what you’ve allowed to be inside. Once you take away all those negative things you don’t want in your life and replace them with love, you’ll find yourself living a highly functioning life.
I’ve been in this place many times. The world squeezes you and those feelings of inadequacy and fear and self doubt come out. The challenge increases when you add the necessity of  establishing and enforcing boundaries in a kind, yet firm way.  The balancing act we all face of wanting to help without harming.  I’m still working on developing that foundation of peace and love. For me it’s been a lifetime journey and I still haven’t mastered it. But I knew there was a reason I like oranges.


This Too Shall Pass

September 30, 2015

Zen stories can teach us so much. Here is a favorite. I love it because life is always throwing challenge at us and it is very easy to get caught up in feeling overwhelmed and down about our instinctual judgement of our situation. If we reexamine we can almost always reset our glass to half full. 

According to an ancient story, there once lived a king in a Middle Eastern land. The king was continuously torn between happiness and agony. The smallest things could make him really upset or give him an intense emotional reaction, so his happiness easily turned into disappointment and despair.
One day the king got tired of himself and started seeking a way out. He sent for a wiseman living in his kingdom. The wiseman was reputed for being enlightened. When he arrived, the king said to him, “I want to be like you. Can you bring me something that gives balance, peace and serenity in my life? I will pay whatever price you like.” The wiseman replied, “I may be able to help you, but the price is so great that not even your kingdom would be enough payment for it. Therefore I will give it to you as a gift, if you will honor it.” The king gave his assurances, and the wiseman left.
A few weeks later he returned, and handed the king an ornate box carved in jade. The king opened the box, and found a simple gold ring inside. The inscription on the ring read, “This, too, shall pass”. “What is the meaning of this?” asked the king. The wiseman replied, “Wear this ring always. Whatever happens, before you call it good or bad, touch the ring and read the inscription. That way, you will always be at peace.


Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect. ~ Norman Maclean

The years are rolling by, and now in my 55th year I feel more in touch with the rhythm of life.   The beginnings and endings.  The success and the failures.  The pleasure and the pain. How you need one to appreciate the other, and trying to pause to savor the moments as they come. . I wonder this year, as I struggle to keep up with my river brother, twenty years younger, how much longer these treasured trips will continue.

This was a weird year in many ways. We had a very mild winter, a very wet May and then it got hot real fast. We also broke tradition in that my compadre  left 2 days earlier than I did due to my dad’s medical condition and my trip to help care for him in SF. When I finally pulled into camp Don had procured the penthouse corner spot that we had coveted for so many years. The one up on the hill in the corner over looking the river.  I pulled out 2 camp chairs and we spent about 3 hours catching up.  Then almost without words we wadered up and headed to our favorite spot to begin this year’s hunt for trout.

We hike over the sage covered bluff and through knee high water to a place we’ve come to have so many good memories, and such success.  We sat down on the bank of the river and waited.  The river was quiet, which seemed to set the tone for the trip. It took a few days before we finally tracked down the fabled green drakes quite a way upstream and had a good few mornings as the hatch came off about 10 am. One day even doubling up, a first for the river doctors on this stretch of river. Perhaps it was fish karma, perhaps the fish Gods felt sorry for us.  The day before,  Don took an expensive swim soaking his camera,iPhone and dropping his keys in the river.  Either way this morning the fishing was good.  We had many targets to throw to and by switching patterns to a PMD we had the fly they would take, if your drift was right.

The past year we had hash tagged our way into building up social media frenzy.  Note to self fishing and social media don’t mix very well. After a few days on a morning, evening routine we decided to take a break and spend a day in the drift boat.  We were on our way back one evening from a Madison float from Lyons to Ruby. When Don’s phone rang and it was a fly fishing friend. He and another guy had come to Island Park and as it turned out set up their tent less than 20 yards from our trailer in the penthouse. Don and I weren’t happy. We were tired, hungry.  We’d stayed on the river so late all of the restaurants had closed for the evening.  We weren’t expecting, nor had we invited any guests. Needless to say we had a short “come to Jesus meeting”.  My feet, still wet from wet wading, were freezing. We got to bed about 2 am after wolfing down some of Deena’s Taco Soup. and I tried all night to get my feet warm.  The next morning when we got back from fishing the morning hatch they were gone.   Later that night we made a visit to their new camp with a 12 pack of Moose Drool to exchange stories and patch things up. We heard stories about Pyramid Lake, and exchanged photography tips, and even reminisced about old trips to the Green River, years ago.  Listened to stories about the characters who roam the banks of this fabled water and shared a little fire water.  Again we didn’t get to bed until 2am as Don’s ’98 expedition wouldn’t start.  Luckily, another Utah on the fly guy, drove us back to camp.  The plan was to fish the morning hatch on Saturday and then look into fixing the car. I told Don we should switch that up as the next day was Sunday and most repair shops close early on Saturday. Elk Creek Station and a mechanic named Joe really helped us out and after a remote service call, a special GM tool (a Hammer) and a tow had us back business. Repairing a broken starter wire. It was that morning we doubled up. The plan was to get a double selfie, but neither of us landed the spirited wild rainbows. Which prevented us from the social media problems mentioned above.  Funny how sometimes the universe takes care of things.  Still it was a fitting finish to a great trip. On another note Brad was back guiding. We spent some time catching up and we met his sister Tam who was hanging out with Whitefish Ed.  The last day we went into the Trout Hunter for breakfast and ran into Pat who had been fishing the lower river. In retrospect we should have tried at least one float down on that section as the ranch is always tough. Live and learn. There is so much good water that it can be overwhelming. But Pat had told us he had been doing well below.  We also ran into Jim from North Carolina on Sunday who said that the past few years were the toughest he’d seen in over 40 years of fishing that river. This year Flavs, and PMD’s sometimes took precedence over the predominant Green and Brown Drakes. So my HFork box expanded again as did my appreciation for this sacred water. As I like to say “The fishing is always good.  But sometimes the catching isn’t so good!”

Letting Go

May 19, 2015

I purchased it new for $600 bucks this industrial grade lawn mower. It’s a 2-cycle you know. These things run forever because they have half the parts of a 4- cycle engine. It’s hard for me to believe that was 25 years ago. Last year I dropped $400 into a rebuild of this tool because they don’t even make 2-cycle mowers anymore and by God it’s lasted 25 years. How do you top that?  That was last year. This year the blade clutch wouldn’t engage. I faced the difficult decision of replacement. In hindsight I should have listened to my wife and upgraded last year.

I lost my dad when I was 11. No, he didn’t pass away, but he left my sister and I and moved out of state and met a girl and fell in love and made another family. As I landed in San Francisco and drove North through the the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge I thought how strange it was. This was the first time I’d made this journey by myself. Usually he was there to pick me up.  This time we were both on our own journeys.  He was battling for his life and I was trying to get beside him.   I’d fought hard to rekindle our relationship once he moved back from Saudi Arabia after 15 years, and we’d come pretty far I thought as I stood by his bedside in Marin County Hospital ICU.  I resemble him so much that I could literally see myself laying in that bed 20 years from now. As our parents age and we don’t know how many good years we have left, it’s hard to put into words all of the emotions that you feel.  Lonely, thankful, introspective, melancholy and blue are among them. Memories flood over you and through you.  You ask and try to answer all of the tough questions about life.  What does it all mean?  How am I doing at it? Have I been a good son, father, husband, grandfather?  What were my last words to my pops?  Luckily I didn’t have to let go of Dad.  Not yet…

Letting go, living in the moment and accepting what the universe hands you in that moment all have to do with what is real and really all we have.  Why is it so hard to do in practice?   Why is change so hard?  Why do we fight it?  How do I evolve as I need to, and how do I learn to let go…


“You can paint it any color as long as it’s black” is a famous quote by Henry Ford. For me black is a cool color for a bike and my first cruiser was just that. But I can appreciate any good paint job. My new bike is blue. Coincidentally blue is the most commonly listed favorite color among men, as evidenced by the well-known fact that bluebies can be rigid blokes who stick to what’s familiar and stubbornly do things their way, even if there’s a better way (like mine). That’s blue’s dark side. Conversely, it’s associated with loyalty, faithfulness, trustworthiness, and sincerity. Bluebies make true-blue friends. Blue conveys a sense of calm and security all of which seem to speak to why I chose blue and why it works for me.  Not to say that my next one won’t be orange which is also a favorite color but when applied to the bike color psychology means I’m an extroverted risk taker who doesn’t keep a clean house.  


Who Are you?

April 17, 2015

Today’s business leaders are reinventing everything but themselves. Unless executives realize that they must change not just what they do, but who they are, not just their sense of task, but their sense of themselves, they will fail. ~ Tracy Goss

 Some years ago I received a kit in the mail form a local marketing company that had a box of crayons.  It asked that I log into a website and answer a few questions.  In return they provided the following feedback based upon the answers I gave.  Here are is the feedback I received based upon my answers.

 Color: So, I see that you picked the color Navy Blue, very interesting. Your selection of Navy Blue typifies an “Explorer” brand personality. This means that your deepest desire is to connect with others and your outlook on life involves developing sought after virtues while never sticking out. You love to blend in and become an integral part of a team. Way to go! 

 Hero: Your choice of Benjamin Franklin as a role model was especially interesting. Using our complex interpretative skills, this means you admire “Magician” type of individuals and most likely picture yourself in the same category. This means that your primary strategy in life is to not only live your dreams, but to fully engineer them as well. You enjoy being on the cutting edge of the fields that you’re interested in. 

 Movie: Your selection of Chocolat  indicates that, while relaxing, you display “Explorer” traits. A proper translation informs me that your primary goal in life is to experience a more authentic life by pushing personal boundaries in all aspects of your being. 

 Transport: What kind of person are you behind the wheel? Well, your selection of Harley Davidson says you should own a bumper sticker saying “Honk if you’ re an ‘Outlaw’.” This means that the gifts you offer those around you are outrageousness and radical freedom. You free the “livin’ la vida loca” out of the most conservative acquaintances and one day they’ll thank you for it. 

 Snack: Yummm… your selection of Gourmet Cookie means you’ve got great taste in vending machine cuisine. It also means that you are most like a “Ruler” brand personality. This means that in addition to your snack of choice, you might also enjoy driving a Cadillac, shopping with American Express, living at the White House, dating the IRS, all while interning for Bill Gates.

So, overall you seem like a well-intentioned and well-rounded person. Your mother or parental guardian should be proud. 

 This was very creative exercise, they are a very creative marketing company.  I share this because I think that its important that we as leaders take the time to learn more about ourselves and those on our teams.  After all how we interact defines the culture we create.  The culture we create will drive the business decisions we make and, I believe our success.

You can learn a lot more from listening than you can from talking. So the goal is to listen more and speak less.  As we take the time to listen and tune into to those around us we create an environment of investment. Our stories and our communication is built into our DNA. We long to be part of a tribe. So I believe the role of a leader is to define and establish core beliefs that the business or enterprise is built upon and then give your tribe the trust and creative freedom to shine. 


“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”

-Sandra Carey


I recently read an HBR article on innovation. In the article Scott Anthony, David Duncan and Pontus M. A. Siren Said “If you have no one fully focused on new growth, you’ve decided not to focus on new growth.”
For 7 and a half years my role as president of a small software company was primarily geared towards operational activity. Hands on working to put out fires, sell our products and keep employees and customers happy. Then all of the sudden last November, one of my mentors and the founder of our company passed away suddenly. It was like a young bird being pushed from the nest. Fly or fall, the choice was now up to me.  I had read somewhere that “life is like and echo, what you put out will come back”.  I left the proverbial nest with a screech, and began my voyage into the unknown.  I reacted in midair to right myself, looking for a glide path that made sense.  I followed my instinct and it seemed that the universe echoed back some of what I’d been putting out.  Within 6 months following that life changing event my role within the company changed dramatically.  Today, I focus primarily on growth, and bringing ideas into the company to forge change. As I write this I’m beginning a new journey.  I have worked for the same company for just shy of 3 decades.  I believe I may have 1 good decade left in me before I turn the page to the next chapter of my life.  Stephen Covey, a respected and beloved guru I admired once coined the phrase “Begin with the end in mind”.  As I begin this new assignment of what I hope will, in some small way put my signature on the career part of my life.  I do it with the understanding that I have a lot to learn.  The ideas and pursuit I make are not something I have been trained in.  This is not merley shepherding an established flock, or following a careful script.  I am and will be forging new territory, as far as our company is involved.  My goal is to bring a more strategic approach to innovation and to change the culture of the company to reflect that approach.  Outliers author Malcolm Gladwell asserts that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. That’s almost 5 years of 40-hour weeks. So this new challenge will take some time to master.  As my timetable is relatively short, my hope is that I can find help to leverage that time and turn 3 decades of culture in a relatively short span.  There is a quote that says “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”,  As my role has morphed in this new direction, doors have opened toward this end.  I have met Guru Tony Ulwick, and spent time learning new age techniques that resonate within me and I know will help.  At this moment, one thing I know for sure.  Failing is expensive and I will make mistakes. But I believe that not failing and not trying is even more costly.  In some ways I see this as a survival situation. We have to discover new markets and opportunities to survive as a company. Laurence Gonzales said “Survivors do whatever is necessary. They know their abilities and do not over–or underestimate them. They believe that anything is possible and act accordingly.” As I begin this journey I hope I can make enough right choices to make a difference. Time will tell…

Gaping Void Hugh McLeod

Gaping Void Hugh McLeod


October 27, 2014

I’ve always been interested in technology, and I guess I became a bit of an Apple fanboy as Steve Jobs made good on his declaration of “making a dent in the universe”. Building a company that’s core business is elegant design and improving the user experience is the fantasy of anyone who believes in the hidden paycheck. Love them or hate them Apple is the definition of form meets function.
Some years back I worked my way up the corporate ladder, starting as a part-time revision installer all the way to the presidency of a small software company. I’ve done my best to learn the ropes in a niche industry, as well as position our small, but talented and ambitious group toward a better future. Surviving as a technology company in the world of 2014 is not easy. Even in our small niche world I’ve had to learn lessons I never thought would come to pass. Lessons my predecessors never even dreamed of, much less dealt with. Things like patent trolls, the innovators dilemma and outcome driven innovation to name a few. For these reasons the release of ApplePay peaked my interest and attention. You have in it a classic battle in the making and I can’t wait to see the drama unfold. The opportunity lies in an ever aging system fraught with problems, and bloated with middlemen a friend of mine termed “the hungry rat” taking their bite of the transactional Cheeto as it makes it’s way through cyberspace. The credit card system of today is antiquated, unsecured, overly expensive and most importantly inconvenient for the consumer. But it’s the system we have, the system everyone is familiar with and invested in and change is hard.
Enter the idealist, the crazy ones, the ones still bent on making yet more dents in our universe. As Tim Cook put it in his Sept. 9th keynote “Most people that have worked on this have started by focusing on creating a business model that was centered around their self interest instead of focusing on the user experience. We love this kind of problem. This is exactly what Apple does best.”
It didn’t take long before the big corporations, hungry to disrupt in a different way and for entirely different reasons have jumped into the fray with their own solution called CurrentC and a plan to force consumers to use the solution that is best for them (the corporation).
I want to believe to good will triumph over evil, that the right thing will win the day and that in the end, we will have a new payment system to take us into a better future. A system that is secure, easy to use, and at least at the same price point for the consumer. Or will greed, selfish motivation, and underhanded tactics prevail? Call me a hopeless romantic but I wouldn’t bet against the user experience, after all aren’t we the ones paying the bill?



October 23, 2014

The Italian Sagra denotes a local fair, usually a celebration of the bounties of the earth–meaning food, as in a preparatation (sagra di torta di erbe) or a raw ingredient (sagra di pesce [fish]).

Larger sagre (the plural of sagra) may feature musical bands and perhaps a competition of some sort, like a bike race.

Attending a sagra is a way to get a taste of Italian country life. You order food to be cooked by locals with a passion for the local cuisine, then sit at communal tables to eat.
For many years, it’s either 14 or 15 I’ve lost count. The same four buddies have come together in October to celebrate our own Sagra. We celebrate the bounties of our lives, our families, our friendship and our love of the outdoors and fly-fishing. For 3 days we catch up on each other’s achievements, fears, and convictions. We laugh, eat, drink, fish, and sleep. We forget, for the most part about our normal daily routines, and responsibilities. We revert in many ways to the reflections of our youth, and become carefree young boys again seeking adventure and exploration. Each of us anticipates this reunion like a child looks forward to Christmas. As the years roll by we begin to turn grey, our pace slows, and our once passionate discussion is replaced with quiet understanding and acceptance. Life is about the struggle, and the will to survive. But it’s also about change, letting go, and acceptance. And , it’s about celebrating all of those things with good friends who share and care and understand. Sagra!


The CEO Blues

September 20, 2014

While reading the Gapingvoid blog today I read a piece that I take exception to. According to Jim Fink of the investment Daily it seems that founder CEOs are simply better. They care more about company longevity and can be trusted to make better decisions.
While I understand the concern in today’s make a quick buck society, I call bullshit on any kind of vast generalization. Believe it or not there are still non-founder CEOs who are deeply entrenched in the same founding principles and loyalty as the owner/founder. These CEOs often worked side by side with the founder to build the business. As opposed to “hired guns”, CEOs who grew into their position care about the business long-term. They are vested in its future survival. As a CEO born out if this mold I strive every day to make the kinds of decisions that will drive the business forward and balance the interests of the customer the employee and the board. It’s a delicate tight rope act at times and in my opinion it takes a leader with integrity and courage to do the right thing even when it’s not going to create the biggest personal payday. Maybe that’s a followup article Mr. fink should write about next. When you hire a CEO and build their incentive program on the bottom line. You get what you ask for in my opinion.



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